The IDF's policy in Gaza has not changed drastically, but the military will be permitted to operate more widely, while focusing on specific targets, in order to minimize the Qassam rocket threat on Israel.
The decision came following the emergency evaluation meeting held by Defense Minister Amir Peretz Tuesday night after Qassams barrages hit the southern town of Sderot, leaving a mother, her son, and about 20 other residents wounded.
It was also decided that the Home Front Command will increase its aid to residents of Sderot and the vicinity.
In light of the intelligence and operational evaluations presented in the meeting, the Israel Defense Force will be permitted to perform wider operations in the Gaza Strip, including hitting terror sources, 'targeted killings', and other operations meant to stop the rocket shootings.
Nonetheless, the defense establishment decided against a ground operation, and no forces will be entering the Strip in the meantime.
Since the ceasefire, which was declared almost six months ago, some 270 Qassam rockets fell in Israel, and Sderot residents have continued to demand wider military action.
Over twenty rockets landed in Israel Tuesday night. One rocket directly hit a home, injuring a 45-year-old woman and her son.
Some 20 other residents arrived at the hospital for treatment, after suffering light wounds and shock.
As a response to estimations that more rocket attacks were imminent, emergency medical teams in the area were put on high alert and ambulances spread out throughout Sderot's neighborhoods. Officials also said the city's schools would not open on Wednesday.
Sderot house hit by rocket (photo: Amir Cohen)
It was concluded in Tuesday's security evaluation meeting that Hamas was attempting to shirk responsibility for the deaths of several Fatah activists during bloody gun battles earlier that day, by turning the internal Palestinian fighting toward Israel.
"Israel cannot afford to accept harm to its citizens, and will perform the necessary operations to defend its sovereignty and ensure the citizens' safety," said Peretz.
"We will not be part of internal Palestinian power struggles, but we will react harshly," he added.
Defense establishment sources explained that Hamas, which is in distress over the Palestinian in-fighting, was trying to distract hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their difficulties and unify them by attacks on Israel.
"Extreme Israeli activity will serve Hamas' interests," one defense establishment source said, "therefore we should put a lot of thought into our actions so that we don’t regret them in the future."
The source added that although the Qassam threat may be more "publicized" recently due to the blow to the Home Front, there are still other issues in the Strip that are no less disturbing, including the armament and strengthening of terror organizations.
Sderot's mayor Eli Moyal said, "I find myself moving from scene to scene, where in at least three of the spots people were injured. It looks like Stalingrad; it's simply a town at war.
"In this difficult time I call on the Israeli government to come to Sderot to see the results of its restraint policy."