Israel sends message to foes to North and South

Surgical strike on global jihadi weapons manufacturing expert in Gaza signals to Hamas Israel’s unwillingness to ignore rocket attacks, while large-scale IDF drill in North is warning to Hezbollah and Iran.

May 1, 2013 07:32
2 minute read.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz_390. (photo credit: Ori Shifrin/IDF Spokesman)

Tuesday’s air force strike in Gaza was a surgical, precise attack on a weapons manufacturing expert who, according to the security forces, played a key role in developing the rocket capabilities for global jihadi groups in the Gaza Strip.

It is these small but highly radical al-Qaida-inspired organizations, led by the Ashura Council of Holy Fighters in the Environs of Jerusalem, that refuse to recognize or abide by the Israel-Hamas truce, and that use both the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip as a rocket launching pad to strike at southern Israel.

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The air strike contains a number of messages for Palestinian armed factions in Gaza. For global jihadis, it signals Israel’s ability to wait patiently for its intelligence services to mark out those behind ongoing rocket attacks, and to act without hesitation once the targets become exposed.

If the remaining terrorists are busy hiding from Israeli aircrafts in the skies over Gaza, they are less able to plan and execute future attacks.

For Hamas, the air strike signals Israel’s unwillingness to ignore rocket attacks. The strike’s precision is symbolic of the IDF’s efforts to limit its response to those directly involved in aggression against Israel, and to draw a distinction between Hamas and the global jihadis.

But Hamas knows that should it allow the global jihadis to escalate the situation further, it may get dragged into a damaging new conflict with Israel, something it wishes to avoid at all costs at this time.

This is why, in the hours after the air strike, Hamas security forces reportedly spread out around areas in Gaza used to fire rockets, and doubled down on their efforts to prevent the global jihadis from launching more attacks. Only time will tell whether these efforts are effective in the long-run. It is in Hamas’s own interests to do a better job of enforcing the cease-fire.

Meanwhile, in the North, the IDF’s surprise large-scale drill involving the call-up of 2,000 reservists should be seen as more than a mere training exercise. It is true that the IDF has attached utmost importance to keeping reserve forces in optimal battle fitness, as part of lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War.

But the drill’s timing – during a period of heightened tensions with Hezbollah, and uncertainty surrounding Syria’s brutal civil war and chemical weapons sites – is a signal to Israel’s enemies in southern Lebanon, Syria and Iran that it is ready to face down any provocation or attack.

Such a message is also meant to serve as a not-so-gentle reminder that the IDF will respond with much force to any miscalculation by Hezbollah or its puppet master in Tehran.

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