IDF factions push for offensive in Gaza

Senior officer in Southern Command says ongoing attacks are cumulatively more than enough to justify immediate action.

Palestinian terrorists fire a mortar shell in Gaza 311 R (photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)
Palestinian terrorists fire a mortar shell in Gaza 311 R
(photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)
Calls are mounting within the IDF’s Southern Command to launch a large-scale offensive against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip in the face of continued rocket attacks over the weekend.
On Saturday night, the Israel Air Force bombed a number of targets in the Strip in response to the firing of a number of Grad-model Katyusha rockets into Israel. One landed in Beersheba on Saturday. In another attack, an RPG was fired at an IDF patrol along the border with Gaza.
“There is no need to wait for a provocation to launch an offensive against terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip,” a senior officer in the Southern Command explained. “The ongoing attacks – by rockets and along the border – are cumulatively more than enough to justify immediate action.”
Last month, The Jerusalem Post revealed that the IDF General Staff had ordered the Southern Command to speed up preparations for a possible large-scale operation in the Strip within the coming months.
Preparations included finalizing operational plans and distributing them between the various units that would be deployed inside Gaza.
During Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s anti-Hamas operation launched in late 2008, the IDF established brigade-level units that combined armor, infantry and combat engineer forces. A similar model would likely be applied to a future operation in Gaza as well.
The debate within the IDF is whether it needs to wait for a successful attack by Gaza terrorists – be it a rocket attack that causes casualties or a successful cross border attack – or if the sporadic rocket fire is enough of a justification to launch an operation today.
In 2011, 680 rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel, including 80 long-range Grad-model Katyusha rockets, in comparison with just two Grads in 2010. Since the beginning of 2012, nearly 30 rockets have been fired into Israel.
Ahead of a future conflict, the IDF will this week deploy the Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system near Tel Aviv.
IDF sources stressed that the deployment of the missile defense system was done as part of a program – revealed in the Post last April – to place system deployment locations outside all major population centers throughout the country.
While the IDF’s intention to deploy the Iron Dome outside of Tel Aviv was revealed last year, the deployment was delayed until this week.