Defense officials: Conflict with Hamas likely to escalate

IDF sources predict cease-fire will be limited in time; soldiers to remain on high alert; thousands of trucks carrying goods pass into Gaza.

IDF soldiers near Gaza border 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
IDF soldiers near Gaza border 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
A tense quiet settled over southern Israel on Monday as a shaky cease-fire went into effect, ending several days of Gaza attacks and IDF counterattacks.
Defense officials said that the IDF would remain on high alert along the border.
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On Sunday night, a Kassam rocket hit south of Ashkelon but on Monday the border was quiet, with the IDF, Hamas and Islamic Jihad abiding by a cease-fire reportedly brokered by United Nations representatives to Israel.
IDF sources said they predicted that while the cease-fire had gone into effect, it would likely be limited in time.
“We succeeded in postponing a large-scale conflict with Hamas but that conflict is likely inevitable,” one senior officer said on Monday.
At the same time, the officers predicted that the fighting with Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups would likely return to the buffer zone along the border between Gaza and Egypt. Since the beginning of the year, the IDF’s Gaza Division has discovered dozens of improvised explosive devices along the border, a sharp increase in comparison to 2010.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories announced on Monday that despite the recent escalation in violence, it had coordinated the transfer of 3,656 trucks to the Gaza Strip with food and medical supplies.
In addition, and in cooperation with the IDF and the Defense Ministry’s Land Crossings Authority, Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration coordinated the transfer of an additional 1,100 truckloads containing aggregates (gravel for construction) through the Sufa area that was opened specifically for this purpose, and in spite of the numerous security risks involved in this operation.
“Israel will continue to thwart any attempt to harm its citizens but will at the same time, will also continue its humanitarian efforts to assist the civilian population that is not involved in terror in the Gaza Strip,” defense officials said.