IDF soldiers on tank near Gaza border 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
The IDF is entering the second stage of its operation to lift the rocket threat
that has been terrorizing the South, by escalating its air strikes on Gazan
terror organizations, while mobilizing large numbers infantry and armored
vehicles to the Strip.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have lost the majority of
their underground Iranian-supplied long-range Fajr missile stockpiles. The rocket
fire on Tel Aviv and Rishon Lezion is therefore somewhat deceptive, as it does
not reflect the devastation inflicted on the long-range capabilities previously
possessed by the terrorists.
The IDF is now focusing on its next task,
destroying the hidden medium-range Grad rockets, of the type used to bombard
Israeli fighter jets destroyed 70 of these launchers on
Thursday night, and many more such strikes are likely.
Despite the large
number of sorties, and Hamas’s attempt to hide its rockets in civilian areas,
the IDF is making every effort to keep noncombatants in Gaza out of harm’s
The military is following a carefully planned path of escalation. It
has so far refrained from assassinating more Hamas leaders, and no IDF soldiers
have yet crossed the border into Gaza.
Nor have Hamas regime buildings
and centers of power been struck. Yet all of these steps could be taken if the
rocket fire does not decrease soon.
It is unlikely that Hamas will want
to risk its hold on power in Gaza, though it will need to demonstrate that it
has internalized Israel’s message if it wishes to avoid sustaining further
Additionally, a visit planned by Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham
Kandil to Gaza Friday is a show of solidarity by Cairo’s Muslim Brotherhood
government, but such symbolic support will not help Hamas avoid more Israeli
action against it. Only the end of indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli
civilians can achieve that.