The killing of Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan by the IDF would cause the organization to attempt to launch a large-scale terror attack against Israel to avenge the commander's death, IDF officials estimated Thursday.
Meanwhile, the IAF continued its airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. A mosque in the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza was hit late Thursday night. The army said that the place was being used to store weapons and as a communications outpost.
This is the fifth mosque to be bombarded since Operation Cast Lead was launched last Saturday.
Hamas has already threatened to avenge Rayyan's death. Hamas lawmaker and one of its spokesmen Mushir al-Masri said that the balance of terror in expected to change following Rayyan's killing.
He described the assassination as a "dangerous development and the crossing of red lines," and stated that "the scope of the response will be painful and proportionate to the scale of the killing."
IDF sources said that "naturally, Hamas is motivated to carry out a large-scale attack in order to hinder the Israeli operation and cause casualties."
"The organization has plans for several possible attacks… and Rayyan's killing could definitely increase their motivation," an official said.
According to the official, Hamas' revenge could take the shape of an attack on the Gaza security fence, an attack using an explosive tunnel, infiltration of terrorists to Israel using a tunnel, and rocket fire at sensitive Israeli facilities.
Forces around Gaza on high alert
Army officials said Security forces currently deployed around Gaza will remain on high alert throughout the weekend and vacations have been canceled, evidence of preparations for a ground incursion.
The IDF also announced Thursday that civilians were not to enter training areas in the Negev as fire practice would be ongoing during the next few days. The army does not usually hold training exercises on Saturday, except during emergencies.
IDF officials said the presence of security forces outside the Strip is currently at its most dominant since the disengagement. The vast forces will allow the army to conduct a variety of operations in Gaza, and the Air Force will continue to assist the forces on the ground with strikes, according to the plan.