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(photo credit: AP)
A senior defense official said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to halt this week's IDF incursion into the Gaza Strip was intended to give a chance to mediation efforts on the part of the Egyptian government.
According to the defense official, speaking to Israel Radio on Saturday, the IDF could resume the operation at any moment, since it involved advancing only a few kilometers.
Olmert held off on a planned incursion into the northern Gaza Strip Thursday night, ordering the military to suspend its plans to take over the Kassam launch sites and to give diplomatic efforts a chance to retrieve kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
Columns of tanks and an entire infantry regiment had been put on standby outside Kibbutz Mefalsim near northern Gaza in preparation for the planned incursion initially scheduled for Thursday night.
Speaking of IDF officers reported to have criticized the decision to halt the incursion, the defense official said that anonymous angry officers were a feature of every military operation. According to the official, the question was who would take responsibility for the results of the operations, including operational failures and possible casualties among IDF troops.
It was a good thing that the government did not accept IDF recommendations blindly, but rather incorporated IDF recommendations into general government policy, the official concluded.