Photo: Yaron Brenner
Photo: Gil Yohanan
As retribution for damages it sustained during Operation Cast Lead, "Hamas will try to change the picture Israel painted and even the score by using, among other things, terror attacks," the IDF's Chief of Intelligence Major-General Amos Yadlin said at a cabinet meeting on Sunday.
"Hamas sustained a heavy blow… Hundreds of their commanders and operatives were casualties. Hamas is hiding the true extent of the damage," Yadlin said.
"As of now, Hamas has not been able to advance its goal of opening the crossings… The unilateral ceasefire (declared by Israel's cabinet Saturday night) surprised Hamas and left it shame-faced. They are having a hard time decided which stance to take," he said.
Ali Waked and Reuters
Palestinian groups announce immediate ceasefire by their fighters, allied groups in Gaza Strip, say Israel has a week to pull out its troops from area. Hamas source tells Ynet declaration aimed at allowing organization's delegation to Cairo to receive clarifications
"Hamas has begun a process of self-examination over its failed performance. The international and regional communities have understood that the smuggling (into Gaza) is an international problem," he explained.
The IDF's Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi also noted the intense damages sustained by Hamas, he emphasized that that the organization "has not disappeared."
In this capacity, Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin spoke of the importance of continuing the fight against smuggling along the Philadelphi route.
"The damages to the smuggling tunnels along Philadelphi were significant. But if Israel does not maintain this issue, the situation will return to the way it was a few months ago," Diskin asserted.
'Unclear where ceasefire will lead'Diskin added that although the public is criticizing Hamas heavily for the casualty count among the civilian population in Gaza, "it's unclear to what extent such criticism will manifest itself, possibly because of the fear of brutality."
"Hamas experienced a strategic surprise with this operation… It seems that they are wary that this unilateral ceasefire is also a trick by Israel," Diskin added.
"The upcoming day will determine whether the ceasefire will hold or whether there will be a renewal of combat," Diskin said, noting that Hamas and the other Palestinian organizations who lent it their support are confused as to how to proceed, following the Israeli ceasefire.
"Israel is in a better place than it was before this operation, as far as its deterrence capabilities are concerned, but it will be a challenge. If the ceasefire will not be honored, we'll have to operate," he added.
This lack of a decisive ending to the operation was emphasized at the cabinet meeting. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert noted that "the operation has not come to a complete end and thus it's too early to summarize it or the Gilad Shalit issue."
Olmert also emphasized Israel's awareness of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, stating that Israel had repeatedly allowed in humanitarian aid to the Strip and even created a humanitarian corridor for civilian victims into Israel, despite the fact that Hamas had utilized these lulls for humanitarian aid in order to continue shooting rockets at Israel.