Hamas will pay heavy price if it attacks again, IDF source

Israel’s increased deterrence since Cast Lead remains, has prevented the terrorist organization from launching a major attack so far.

The IDF will respond with significantly more force than it did during Operation Cast Lead in the event of a major Hamas attack on Israel, a senior IDF source warned on Sunday.
Any future large-scale operation against Hamas in Gaza would entail a broader ground operation, the source added, partly because Hamas is stocking up on a growing number rockets that threaten the Israeli home front.
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At the same time, the source said, Israel’s increased deterrence since Cast Lead remains, and has prevented the terrorist organization from launching a major attack so far.
The number of rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza at civilian targets in Israel fell dramatically in recent years, from 3,276 in 2008 before the Gaza operation was launched, to 369 in 2009, the IDF said. So far this year, Gazans fired 277 projectiles at Israelis.
Southern communities like Sderot have gone from being nearly uninhabitable to thriving property hot zones, the source said, adding that the change was evidence of the improved security situation.
Since seizing power from the Palestinian Authority in June 2007, Hamas has gone from being a murderously efficient terrorist organization to a militia that operates according to semi-militarized tactics, the senior IDF source said. The transition has raised serious organizational problems for Hamas, such as difficulties in setting up command and control centers, he added.
The IDF source acknowledged faulty military evaluations in 2005 before the disengagement from Gaza, according to which the bulk of terrorist activities would shift to the West Bank after Israel’s withdrawal.
At the same time, defending the border with Gaza in the post-disengagement era is a simpler operational task than the IDF’s pre-disengagement mission of maintaining security from inside the Strip, the source said.
This week, the IDF chief of General Staff designate, outgoing OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, will be replaced by Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo, who until this month headed the General Staff’s Operations Directorate.