Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has instructed the IDF to prepare for an expected terror wave from the Gaza Strip, Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.
During a meeting with IDF Southern Command officials Tuesday, Mofaz ordered forces around Gaza to prepare for a renewed, extensive terror campaign. The defense minister estimates that terror groups, headed by the Hamas, are planning to resume their violence in full force ahead of the upcoming Palestinian elections, scheduled for late January.
“The Palestinian Authority isn’t functioning in the Strip, there’s no guiding hand,” he said. “Palestinian security forces are not following the PA chairman’s orders. We must be ready for the resumption of Hamas terror activity.”
Palestinians agree with Israeli assessments
Meanwhile, senior officers briefed Mofaz about the steep increase in clashes with terrorists near the Gaza security fence and the firing of rockets and mortars at Israeli targets.
Defense officials estimate that even a postponement of Palestinian elections, which is looking likelier, would not prevent the terror wave, but rather, could intensify it.
“If elections are delayed, Israel would pay the price and terror would grow,” a security official said.
This time around, Palestinian officials agree with Israeli estimates. Sources in Gaza estimated that Fatah is likely to boost terror from Gaza ahead of the upcoming elections, mainly by firing Qassam rockets, in a bid to elicit a harsh Israeli response that would force the postponement of the elections.
Notably, Fatah officials are concerned about the possibility of a resounding Hamas victory should elections be held on schedule.
Meanwhile, Hamas has been choosing to refrain from carrying out attacks in order to demonstrate responsibility and prevent an Israeli response, the Palestinian sources said.
Yossi Yehoshua, Itamar Eichner, and Ronny Shaked contributed to the report