Commander of 98 Division, Brig.-Gen. Dan Goldfus, the complex days of fighting his divison, comprised of the paratrooper and commando brigades, experienced since the morning of Shabbat on the Gaza Perimeter.
"All in all, the situation has been restored, relatively speaking," Goldfus told reporters, "There is contact here and there with the enemy, squads in the area, and the infiltrations in various places. We're working on restoring the settlements to a normal situation. It will take time."
"At present I don't know of (fighting) locations but I say in the most realistic manner, there was a terrorist who went into a closet in a home and waited, we are all in all with many search efforts and clearing the area, but I won't jump out of my chair if there's contact with a squad which hid under a house. We are open to other options, infiltration, tunnelling. We will make efforts at Gaza division to repair the obstacle, to hermetically restore control of the front line. I don't know of immediate contact, not direct contact, yes missions of clearing the area and again, I won't be surprised if there will be."
30 Killed and 150 Wounded
Goldfus said of the division he leads, including reservists called up rapidly to the Gaza Perimeter and conducted battles with hundreds of terrorists that: "We are talking about hundreds of terrorists, dozens of infiltration points, difficult scenes, killing of civilians, homes and war rooms burned with their inhabitants."
His unit suffered a very high casualty rate: "We are soldiers who fight to the death to repulse the terrorists, to save the civilians, and put ourselves as the front line. Because of this, there are many wounded and killed. In the division we have 30 killed and 150 wounded."
"There was fighting with bravery by commanders. I ask that you not ask me if this is a good situation or not a good situation, this is a difficult event, we are driving back and organizing now for phase two - attack."
202 Battalion commander: we took out 20 terrorists in Kfar Aza. (IDF Spokesperson)
Throughout the fighting, soldiers encountered dozens of terrorists carrying out ambushes with light arms and anti-tank weapons. "There was serious fighting not only within the settlements, the central routes were under anti-tank and light arms ambushes. The ability to reach settlements and encounters was complex. This is a large number of weapons, the road to the locations was long. The loss of commanders was also not simple, although the chain of command operated well, you can understand it's not simple, it creates a gap in control and decision making. Relative to the fall of commanders and the complexity of events, there was a push forward all the time."
Nachal Oz is a Very Serious Event
Goldfus himself had to manage a number of events at the same time, including the party at Reim: "I arrived in Kfar Aza on Shabbat morning, in the different encounters I understand that this is a much bigger event, start to move settlement by settlement and pour troops in."
"I arrived at eight in the morning to Reim, to the party, I cannot describe the event to you. I and another four people move from place to place, from settlement to settlement. When I enter Kfar Aza, my intelligence officer gets a bullet, there's no-one to talk to, I'm just trying to understand where to send forces. I take on a sector to myself so I can divide up forces for the event. We see the enemy and we repulse him, we don't deal in bodies and dead. We do everything to get to people requesting extraction. I and another four or six people (are) running everywhere. The matter is to save the civilians and repulse the enemy, that's what the soldiers did there. Nachal Oz is a very serious event, both at the post and in the kibbutz. Reim parking lot is a difficult event."
To the question of whether there were offensive tunnels into Israel, he answered: "We checked a number of suspicions and we ruled out the phenomenon; even in the suspected places we checked, we didn't see an opening or shaft."
We Are Now in the Broad Offensive Stage
On the next stages of the fighting, Goldfus said: "We are very strong, ready to continue. After this thing, we'll have to ask ourselves very hard questions, including me. Now we need to lift our heads, we don't need to become mired in this thing, difficult images are all around us. We lost soldiers and civilians, our job is to protect civilians. It was complicated and difficult, forget about it for a moment, the scary building up of pictures is not the heart of the matter, there's strengths in this story of the IDF. We were hit by this terror in the gut, we took control of the front line, from Gaza division to Southern Command, we are now in the broad offensive stage. This does not detract from the responsibility and hard questions we will ask ourselves."
"We were all in some difficulty and by the nature of things commanders show up first to events, they're mobile, they bring a few people in the car. In this respect, I tell you, we're all in and representing despite the blow we got to the head, and we got hit. Ask hard questions and save a little for later, afterwards you eat our pancreas, and rightly so. The commanders and the soldiers down there, now is the time to maintain determination and win. This is a super-cruel enemy, massacring people, taking women and children captive, I'll spare you the difficult images that were there."