A U.S.-born sergeant major in the Israeli Defense Forces’ Special Operations Engineering Unit said Monday that the military is focused on preserving life and limiting the number of casualties among both Israelis and Palestinians after Israel postponed its planned ground invasion into Gaza.
Israel has warned citizens of northern Gaza – the Palestinian territory governed by the terrorist group Hamas – to evacuate as the military continues its response to the Hamas attack that slaughtered Israeli civilians and took an estimated 150 to 200 hostages last week.
The delay of its operation was ostensibly due to rain and low cloud cover in the region and has been postponed, Chaim Malespin, who is currently serving in Israel’s Yahalom unit, said on “America Reports” on Monday.
“I did hear word that the major entrance to dismantle Hamas is delayed for a few more days,” Malespin told FOX News anchor John Roberts. “Of course, you know there are missions going on that we don’t talk about, but the big one is supposed to be in a few days, not tonight.”
“We are all ready, we are trained, we are prepared,” he added. “We don’t want to be here. We have families, I have three little kids. I made my immigration from America 25 years ago here, Jewish family, but we have to defend our kids, we have to secure our borders and yes, we are doing our part.”
Malespin said his elite combat unit, which specializes in confidential rescue operations and other military activities that are hidden from the public, is bracing for significant danger as they prepare for booby traps and the potential of “Russian-supplied mega bombs” at the entrance of Gaza’s underground tunnel systems.
But, he said, Israel’s special forces are working around the clock to make the operation as precise as they can.
“I can say I’ve been in many tunnels, having done this times in many, many wars and missions including in Lebanon in 2006… our unit knows that the risks are real,” he said. “Tom Cruise in ‘Mission Impossible’ would have a very hard time getting through the tunnel threat. It’s intricate, it’s elaborate, all booby-trapped, there are concerns that Russian-supplied mega bombs may be awaiting under the ground even before we get to the tunnel. So there’s a lot of speculation. I can’t give exact information. We are doing our absolute best with the top precision,”
“Now it’s time to show these criminals, these grotesque terrorists that terror is not going to continue,” Malespin added. “Our families will be safe and security will be restored.”
Asked about Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s accusation that Israel has surpassed its self-defense response and is now engaged in collective punishment of the Palestinian people, Malespin replied pointedly, “We didn’t want a war.”
“I would say to all people who love freedom, to all patriots out there, we didn’t want a war, it was a peace festival for crying out loud,” he said. “To see people kidnapped, 199 of them, it’s probably more, and raped and murdered. It’s about dismantling an organization that’s bad, Hamas is bad for their own people, and rescuing the Palestinians from that.”
“Here is the thing,” he continued. “We have to recognize… I think that people who have not had enemies at their door for a long time fell asleep, they forgot what it is to have enemies and so when you have a real enemy you need to address that, you need to stand up…and so that’s what we are doing.”
Malespin said Israel’s focus will be on rescuing the hostages and limiting the amount of casualties in combat, adding that the IDF provides soldiers with specific training as part of their “purity of arms” program to avoid collateral damage.
“It’s a training to minimize the amount of casualties and [includes] calls [to Palestinians] saying please get away from the terrorists and let us do our job, and yes, Egypt will open up — and they will let them come through, and we are excited about that, they will get out of harm’s way. We don’t want collateral damage, we don’t want any civilian injuries, it’s not our way,” he said, “Because we are defenders, [We are the] Israeli Defense Force, just here to defend the homeland.”
“People don’t want to be here,” he reiterated, “But we have to.”
Malespin referenced a passage from Ezekiel 34, which discusses the importance of shepherds of Israel looking after their scattered flock and rescuing them from places they were stranded in before they are united in their own land.
“It talks about good shepherds who go and rescue the sheep. You can’t let your home be overrun. You have to respond and finish this dismantling [of] Hamas,” he said. “…When you have a real enemy you need to address that, you need to stand up and be a good shepherd yourself. And so that’s what we are doing.”
Fox News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.
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