"In this operation, navy vessels have the ability to monitor what takes place in northern Gaza, identify Qassam fire and attack immediately," a senior IDF officer told Ynet. "Missile ships commanders were given the authority to perform shooting in cases of positive identification of rocket attacks," he explained.
Missile boat fires at Strip (Photo: IDF's Spokesperson Office)
In the Southern Command, where the operation has been orchestrated, officers have no plans of reducing the onslaught's intensity in coming days. "We will continue with the same activity from sea, air and land. The pressure on Qassam cells shall be heavy, and at the end we'll see results," a Command source stated.
Bringing in the navy into the war on Qassams is part of the effort to turn up the heat on rocket launchers. "We have noticed that the cells no longer operate near the coast, and that they withdrew inland," a senior officer told Ynet.
Throughout Saturday, missile ships that have shelled the Strip reported precise hits, and navy sources said they did not rule out the possibility of expanding missile boats' role in the operation, in accordance with requirements. Simultaneously, the navy has increased its deployment in the southern sector. Notably, artillery attacks are carried out with the utmost precision, in order to avoid any harm to innocent civilians and undermine the operation's legitimacy.
Sending message to new PA leadership
Another significant change represented in this recent operation is the complete disconnection between IDF officers and the Palestinian defense establishment. The army has discontinued any information transfer to the Palestinian officers in wake of the ascension the Hamas-led government to power.
Operation Southern Arrow aims not only at targeting Qassam launchers, but also at sending a message to the new Palestinian leadership that Israel shall not tolerate any terror attacks launched from the Palestinian Authority's territories.
"There's no doubt that what's happening in Gaza now creates a new situation and puts great pressure on the terrorists. Eventually we'll get them," the senior officer stated. So far, 350 shells have been fired from the air and sea.
Despite the comprehensive operation, the IDF is in no rush to plan the following stage of the offense, which may take the shape of seizing territories in the northern Strip by infantry, armor and engineering corps forces.
"At present there is a large scale operation with meticulous planning and huge investment in every level. It's still early to jump into the next step and come make statements about it. If the need arises for land invasion it's possible, but not right now," a Southern Command source stressed.
Meanwhile, the Karni crossing is set to reopen Sunday, in order to allow entrance of goods to Gaza, mainly basic equipment and humanitarian aid. The opening of the crossing will be carried out without any coordination with the Palestinians.