Israel's security cabinet is expected to make the pivotal decision of when – and more importantly if – the Gaza will see a wide-scale military operation meant to crush militant infrastructure; but the various armed groups in the Strip seem unfazed by the prospect.
"The letter relayed from Gilad Shalit put an end to any such notion," a senior militant source told Ynet. "The Israelis have realized that any large operation would carry severe consequences, both because we have Shalit and because (IDF) training has proven that it would suffer a great deal of casualties in the first hours to any operation. All they (Israel) can do now is just keep threatening."
The Israeli reports of an imminent attack, added the source, are meant to serve the Israeli public opinion and nothing more.
Nevertheless, the Palestinian militias are bracing themselves for any scenario: "(If Israel attacks) the groups will utilize all the means at their disposal," said the source. "Fighting won’t be easy. The Israeli will have to practice body counts."
As for a possible ceasefire, the militant source did not predict such a move would enjoy any longevity: "Israel is preparing for an election… (Defense Minister Ehud) Barak and (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert would want to prove they can lead and use the Strip to do it. We assume we will se some sort of escalation along the way, but Israel will not be taking over Gaza."
The course of action the Palestinian groups believe Israel will take will be to resume the targeted assassinations of senior operatives: "It would provide the necessary blood sacrifice needed to quench the Israelis' thirst, and would stop the IDF from getting caught in Gaza's quicksand."