Four days into the operation to repress the rocket fire long afflicting the
South, Israel and Hamas have reached a crossroads. It is possible, at this
stage, to scale back the conflict and reach a cease-fire, if Hamas ends its
indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians, and if it has internalized the fact
that the days in which it could freely terrorize southern Israel have
With nearly 1,000 key Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets destroyed
in waves of Israel Air Force strikes (made possible by painstaking intelligence
efforts), Hamas has sustained considerable damage. It has lost its military
commander, key operational figures and most of its strategic long-range missile
caches, as well as a respectable portion of its medium-range rocket
Hamas is sporadically firing on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in
part to hide the fact that its long-range threat has been largely destroyed,
despite its access to a small number of remaining projectiles that can reach
deep into Israel.
It is the South that is on the receiving end of most of
the Hamas attacks.
The IDF fully expected Hamas to respond this way. The
Iron Dome batteries have created an aerial blanket over Israel’s cities, sparing
Israel many casualties and scenes of mayhem, and enabling the IDF to proceed
according to its plan without sudden changes.
The IDF appears to be
entering a stage in the campaign where it is responding to Hamas’s
From now on, it seems, continued rocket salvos on our cities
will be met with increasingly firm steps, while a cessation of rockets would
likely lead to an end of the operation.
Hamas may, however, decide to
keep to its jihadi ideology, and keep up appearances among the terror factions
of Gaza, by continuing its war on Israeli civilians.
To deal with such a
development, the IDF has been amassing infantry brigades, armored vehicles and
all the necessary support components on the Gaza border. The sizable military
force waiting at the gates of Gaza is no bluff.
The goal of a ground
offensive would not be to topple the Hamas regime, but rather to inflict
enormous damage on critical Hamas terrorist infrastructure.
offensive carries risks for soldiers, and the IDF is braced for the possibility
Hamas would find itself on the receiving end of
overwhelming force, and might struggle to recover from the confrontation.