(VIDEO) - The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday that ground operations inside the Gaza Strip against Palestinian gunmen will continue, after a special commando unit backed by helicopters killed four Islamic Jihad terrorists preparing to fire Qassams into Israel.
A senior Southern Command officer told Ynet Tuesday, that the successful ground operation instills a feeling among gunmen that they are being constantly persecuted by the IDF.
IDF operations in Gaza (Video: IDF)
"Once they understand we are on the ground, in addition to artillery fire and aerial operations, their sense of being prosecuted intensifies. We have information that after the operation they changed their plans," the officer said.
A mere 50 meters separated members of the Islamic Jihad cell and an elite unit in the early hours of Tuesday.
"At one point the unit approached the area where the terrorists were. After that they approached within a distance of 50 meters, fired, hit the terrorists and withdrew," he said.
He revealed that previous attempts by ground forces to intercept terrorists planning attacks against Israel failed.
"We need to see the picture from above. Over the last months, we gave the Palestinian Authority a chance to fight terror. When they failed to do so, we used various means and expanded our pool of options, adding alternatives. This ground operation is a new element," the officer said.
The officer said that despite the danger, ground operations lead to better results than aerial strikes and artillery fire.
"Moreover, terror cells act fast, and there is a need to develop means to deal with this issue," he added.
The IDF is bracing for new strategies by terror groups to deal with increasing IDF pressure, he said.
"We will literally continue launching this kind of operations with meticulous planning, in addition to using all remaining options," he said.
But despite Tuesday's successful operation, two rockets were fired into Israel in the afternoon.
The officer said terror cells will return to open fields in northern Gaza along the border with Israel to try to fire Qassams. Firing from deep inside the Strip, touches off opposition from locals in residential areas and worsens the rockets' precision and firing range, he said.