The IDF presented the security cabinet with a few possibilities for a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip over the past few days, and was waiting for the green light from the government. But the security cabinet decided not to approve the entrance of IDF ground troops to Gaza on Sunday, with such an authorization depending on future events.
For the time being, the security cabinet decided to continue mobilizing troops while persisting in carrying out aerial attacks.
The options being explored include the entrance of thousands of ground troops, armored corps and engineering forces to the Strip. All of these forces have already been deployed to the Gaza border.
A senior government official said that as long as the forces in the border of the Strip increase in number, the chances of a ground operation increase as well. The operation “would eventually end one way or another. (Hamas) will not agree to relinquish their arms.” the official said.
A senior IDF source said that "the operation did not start in order to bring to Hamas' collapse, but rather in order to restore peace to the south. We're taking every necessary step to differentiate the Strip to the West Bank, in order to maintain the understandings reached at the end of the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense. In the future, we'd want to see Hamas as a weakened sovereign in the Strip without any offensive capabilities."
The senior source noted that "all of the possibilities are being presented to the political echelon, and it must decide how to proceed. The dilemma is what to strike and when, and the objective is to hurt the least amount of innocent people."
The source noted that "as far as international law is concerned, there's some leeway in hurting a certain amount of innocent people in any operation to thwart terrorism, and we do the best we can to prevent that (innocent people being hurt)."
Even though the cabinet authorized the IDF to call up 48,000 reservists, so far only 40,000 have been called up, most of them for reserve battalions that will free up conscript battalions to deploy in Gaza.