Rocket damage in house 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Head of the IDF’s Southern Command warned of growing anarchy in the Gaza Strip on Saturday as rockets continued to slam into Israel over the weekend, one of them scoring a direct hit on a home in the western Negev.
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On Saturday afternoon, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo toured the house that was hit by a rocket on Friday night and said that Hamas was encountering difficulty in reining in other terrorist groups – like Islamic Jihad - and preventing them from firing rockets into Israel.
“There is anarchy right now on the other side and Hamas is having difficulty getting the situation back to the way it was,” Russo said. “There is anarchy within Gaza and within Hamas. There is no control.”
Asked whether he thought the situation could escalate into another war, Russo replied: "We are prepared for any possibility, the goal is we won't in the end permit a situation where it is impossible for civilians to live here."
Russo added: "The other side is showing a shortness of memory and I hope they come to their senses."
While a large-scale operation in Gaza is under consideration if the escalation in hostilities continues, it is not the military’s first preference and there are still other steps that can be taken before embarking on an operation like Operation Cast Lead.
One option under consideration is to resume targeted killings of terror chiefs in Gaza is believed to be a step that could deter terror groups from continuing to attack Israel.
On Friday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak toured the Gaza border and spoke about his decision to authorize the deployment of the Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system in the South to defend against Palestinian rocket fire.
Barak said that the Iron Dome was an "extraordinary invention" by Israeli defense industry Rafael but he cautioned that it did not provide hermetic protection from terrorist rocket fire.
The defense minister also praised the IDF's operations in the southern region. "The IDF is doing a very good job - very professional and creative, with [good] results, along the border and in the Gaza Strip itself," he said.
"Terror organizations in the Strip took a hard hit during the last 10 days," Barak said, adding that the groups had lost fighters during that period.
"We do not intend to allow terrorist organizations to renew the situation and breaking the status quo," he said. "We will act as is required to return the operations back to the [border] line itself."