Amir Avivi, a former brigadier general with the Israel Defense Forces, said Friday that Israelis are “resolute” in facing a “very long war” after Hamas carried out a terrorist attack killing 1,200 Israelis, including civilians and even babies, last weekend. He also responded to the United Nations’ claim that it is “impossible” for Palestinians to follow Israel’s directions to evacuate Gaza.
“The government has defined the goals of the war, and the goal is to destroy Hamas and make sure that it will never come back,” Avivi, who spent time among the IDF troops in Gaza earlier Friday, said in a phone interview with The Daily Signal. “When you translate that to what is needed to be done militarily, you cannot do that without conquering the Gaza Strip, without spending months and months going neighborhood to neighborhood, destroying the infrastructure, all the leadership, all the terrorist activists, all the rocket launchers.”
“This is a very long war—we have to clean out the whole Gaza Strip,” Avivi, the founder and chairman of Israel’s Defense and Security Forum, explained. “It’s not something you can do in a week or two.”
Yet Israeli forces are prepared to fight a long war.
“I was at the headquarters and the towns and the ground forces,” Avivi said. “Everybody’s strong, resolute, motivated and determined to destroy Hamas.”
Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on the last day of the Jewish festival of Sukkot, as well as the Sabbath day of rest and the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The terrorists slaughtered over 1,200 Israelis, including about 250 at a music festival, and kidnapped more than 120, authorities said.
The U.S. State Department confirmed Wednesday that 22 Americans had died in the attack.
Hamas terrorists shot civilians at bus stops, on roads, and in their cars, photos show. Videos reportedly show Israeli civilians, including women and children, being abducted and taken to Gaza. At least two videos raised concerns of sexual assault or rape. An Israel Defense Forces commander told journalists that soldiers found beheaded babies in the carnage left by Hamas terrorists. According to maps obtained by NBC News, Hamas terrorists targeted elementary schools.
“There isn’t a single Israeli who doesn’t know somebody who died,” Avivi said. “One of every thousand Israelis has been murdered brutally.”
The former general compared the attack to the Islamic State and the Holocaust. He said Israel is committed to fully rooting out the terrorist organization responsible.
“I think that any decent human being in the globe must stand with Israel against this evil,” Avivi said. “Hamas is like ISIS. They behave also like Nazis.”
“When you deal with ultimate evil, there is only one answer—complete destruction,” he added. “We’ll hunt them down wherever they are, not only in the Gaza Strip, but globally. What we saw and what they did we haven’t experienced since the Holocaust. It’s an event of biblical dimension, which will resonate for generations to come.”
Israel began “localized raids” in Gaza on Friday night, and Israel warned the residents of Gaza City to evacuate within 24 hours. The United Nations said it would be “impossible” for them to evacuate without “devastating humanitarian consequences.”
“I think that the U.N. should be focusing on demanding the Egyptians to open the border, on building infrastructure and tents and whatever is needed to assist the Palestinian Arab society,” Avivi said. “They need to move south. They need to get out of the Gaza Strip. Hamas wants to use them as human shields.”
“The fact that Egyptians are blocking the border and locking the Palestinians in a war zone, it’s something the world cannot agree to,” the former general said. He encouraged Palestinians to evacuate Gaza, a place where “they will be in grave danger.”
Avivi also insisted that the Hamas attack traces back to Iran, and he praised the U.S. under President Joe Biden for sending Iran a clear message that if it gets involved in the war, it may have to face America.
“It’s all Iran,” the retired general said. “We are not dealing with a local war between Israel and Hamas. It’s a global war, and it comes as no surprise that the U.S. is sending warships, and Britain is sending warships.”
He warned about a rising “axis” of Iran, Russia, and China “expanding in the Middle East and in Africa.”
Avivi urged the U.S. to continue building “a Western-Israeli-Sunni alliance that will be able to deter and block this expansion.”
He noted that the prospect of a peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which would amount to “normalizing relations with the whole Sunni world,” scares Shiite Iran, which would see this “as a very big danger.”
Avivi said Iran “decided that they will obstruct this by launching this attack.”
He praised Biden for warning Iran against getting involved in the war.
“I think that this huge change in American policy is a big opportunity for the region and the world, and when we finish dealing with Hamas, we’ll have to build this coalition and deal also with Iran and Hezbollah,” he said. “Ultimately, we cannot have this evil axis continuing its aggression in the Middle East and beyond.”
Avivi also praised Israeli society for banding together in the face of the horrific terrorist attack.
“I’m so proud of the Israeli society,” he said. “Everybody’s volunteering and helping and assisting.” He said that more people than were drafted showed up to fight, by 130-150%.
Despite the profound evil of the attacks, the response has been a “very inspiring and strong moment for the people of Israel,” he said.
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