As the IDF relies on artilleries, unmanned drones and air strikes in its daily efforts to quell Qassam fire into Israel from the Gaza Strip, troops have been ordered to be prepared for a scenario where a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip becomes the only option on the drawing board.
The Southern Command on Tuesday launched a two-day drill in the Negev to test various ground strategies against the terror infrastructure in Gaza and the operational fitness of IDF commanders at times of war.
"The large-scale exercise is meant to test the southern command and the Gaza division, including rescue services. The aim is to test our readiness for possible threats at times of escalation on the Gaza front," a military source told Ynet.
The source said the drill includes the possibility of launching a ground offensive in Gaza. "The drill was scheduled ahead and it doesn't signal particular intentions," the source said.
'It won't happen soon'
"We haven't exhausted all available means against terror elements without launching a ground offensive. Raising the intensity of operations and using additional means by the IDF two months ago have proved useful and affected Qassam fire," IDF officials said.
Officials said the Southern Command have perfected the practice of swiftly identifying terror cells in Gaza and alerting the air force to dispatch jets or helicopters to intercept imminent threats. "The method has proven itself in many incidents," he said, adding the Navy is set up for a more active role in fighting terror cells in Gaza.
IDF officials admitted that a ground operation will not solve the Qassam problem but will most likely cost the IDF a heavy human price.
"A considerable escalation could, in special circumstances, force troops to enter northern Gaza mainly to broadcast might and keep cells at distance from launch pads," officials said.