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Qassam rocket. Relative restraint
Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman
IDF surprised by Hamas' restrained response
Senior army officials expected harsher reaction from Gaza terror organization, but believe strong response from Hamas still to come. 'Operation far from over,' one officer says

"Operation Cast Lead" is not nearing its end: The tanks and heavy machinery that have been transported to the Gaza vicinity are already ready for a possible ground incursion, and senior IDF officials believe that the operation is far from over.

 

"Hamas was hit hard, but it is still expected to respond strongly. They have no intention of raising a white flag, and we will go all the way and use all the tools at our disposal," a senior army official told Ynet Sunday night following a series of security deliberations.

 

The defense establishment was surprised by Hamas' relative restraint in response to the Israeli attacks, but the Home Front Command has decided to maintain its strict policy in the southern communities and make sure that residents adhere to security instructions.

 

Tanks stationed outside Gaza (Photo: AP)

 

IDF officials admit that Hamas may still launch a significant response, but say that the organization's current reaction is an indication of weakness. "The blow they sustained at the beginning of the operation damaged their infrastructure, launching pads, arms caches and their commanders' ability to do their job," one official explained.

 

Humanitarian aid to enter Gaza

An artillery battery was stationed near Gaza on Saturday for the first time in over a year, in preparation for the possibility that Israel decide to launch a ground incursion in the Strip.

 

On Sunday the government approved Defense Minister Ehud Barak's demand to operate a national economy emergency system in the Gaza vicinity communities and draft about 6,700 Israel Defense Forces reserve soldiers.

 

Meanwhile, Barak authorized the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza in an unprecedented scope. Some 100 trucks carrying blood units, provisions, medicines and 10 ambulances are scheduled to enter the Strip on Monday. Fuel for the power station and cooking gas will be shipped into the Strip as well.

 

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