A day after the fatal Qassam barrage
on the town of Sderot which killed Faina Slotzker
and robbed Amir Peretz's bodyguard of his legs, the defense minister instructed the IDF to prepare new operational plans for all IDF operations in the Gaza Strip.
Peretz said in the weekly security assessment held in his Tel Aviv office that if the current trends in the Palestinian Authority continue and the moderates aren't strengthened: "Israel will deliver terrorism a powerful blow, a hard and painful blow."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday morning on his way from the United States that "there is no 'bang and then we're done'" in the war against the Qassam rockets.
"There are a lot of thoughts about how to deal with the Qassam firing. The war against the Qassams isn't 'bang, and then we're done.' In fact, even after Operation Defensive Shield, terrorism continued in the West Bank. There is no one thing that can be done and then the Qassams stop," said Olmert.
Likewise, after the fatal Qassam strike on Sderot, the IDF concedes that there is no definitive solution to the rockets and that the operations in the Gaza Strip in the past few months have been aimed at damage terrorist infrastructure and the Qassam system – from their manufacture and transport all the way down to the launching cells.
Yet, all this didn't end the Qassam firing at Israel. In Operation Autumn Clouds alone 11 Qassam cells were damaged as well as the manufacture and transport infrastructure. During such a significant and intensive maneuver, Qassam firing was actually increased, and even reached the Israeli city of Ashkelon.
The IDF estimates that the high number of Palestinian casualties within the terrorist organizations will bring about a reevaluation of whether or not it is worthwhile for terrorists to carry out attacks, including the firing of Qassams, against Israel.
However, the IDF admits that the recent slew of IDF operations in the Gaza Strip, during which more than 200 terrorists were killed, didn't directly lower the motivation of the terrorist organizations to carry out attacks. Indeed, motivation remains high.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz's instruction will prod the IDF to pull out various plans for its sleeve, with the purpose of shoving aside the terrorist organizations and putting additional pressure on them.
Peretz supports the policy of aiding the Palestinian people as much as possible. In addition, he doesn't support capturing territory in the Gaza Strip. As such, there aren't many options left open for the IDF.
The IDF is slated to continue operating deep into Palestinian territory with full force, including long operations on the model of Autumn Clouds. Targeted killings of senior officials in the terrorist organizations are expected to be expanded.
Furthermore, security officials have hinted that if there is no change in terrorist activity against Israel in the Gaza Strip, it won't be out of the realm of possibility for the political echelons to instruct the IDF to take positions within Gaza in order to create a of buffer zone that will distance the terrorist organizations from the border with Israel.
Such ideas aren't new and have already been brought up in security discussions, but were taken off the table due to their complicated nature and because questions of their affectivity.
Alongside the expected widening of operational activity, defense teams continue to seek out technological methods for dealing with the rockets. However, sources in the IDF admit that the results of such experiments are hazy, and that the financial investment is too heavy for a defense budget that is already stretched to its limit.