Rocket fired from Gaza
Photo: AP

IDF: Ball in Hamas' court

All eyes on Gaza: Army to monitor situation in Strip closely in coming hours, says strikes on Gaza to end only after Hamas forces all terror groups to hold fire; terrorists to be judged by actions, not words, senior official says

War or truce? IDF officials will be closely monitoring developments in the Gaza region Saturday night and Sunday morning, with Hamas' actions determining whether the current round of fighting will be ending, or further escalating.


Army officials said late Saturday that IDF strikes on Gaza will only end after all terror groups in the Strip hold their fire.


"The moment Hamas takes the decision to stop firing, it must enforce this on all other organizations," a military source told Ynet. "Hamas did it before, and we expect it to happen again."


"We exacted a heavy price from Hamas since Thursday, by hitting several targets and assassinating senior commanders," the source added.


While IDF officials are not openly referring to an equation of "quiet in exchange for quiet," the decision taking shape in closed-door sessions Saturday evening was not to escalate the situation should Hamas hold its fire.


"We'll examine our actions not in line with declarations, but rather, based on the actions (of terror groups) on the ground," a senior military official said following a series of consultations. "We'll be able to operate firmly and powerfully if needed."


Hamas fires at empty areas 

However, despite the desire to see the current round of fighting drawing to an end, IDF officials warned that any incident that claims Israeli lives may change the picture completely.


"We are not facing time constraints, and the offensive can be expanded," a senior officer told Ynet. "In a reality that includes a defense system like Iron Dome, extending the fighting is even easier."


Iron Dome changes equation (Photo: AFP)


Indications that the current escalation may be nearing its end despite the heavy fire from Gaza include Hamas' attempt to keep the level of terror low. The group mostly refrained from targeting major cities Saturday, with 90% of rockets hitting open, unpopulated areas.


Moreover, Hamas did not utilize its longer-range and more accurate weapons, while the IDF mostly targeted terror cells during the day rather than pre-determined sites.


"It indeed appears that we are at the end of this round, but we must keep in mind that this is a rather volatile front, and one spark is enough to change the picture," a security source said.


Given the tense situation in the south, the IDF Home Front Command warned that despite Iron Dome's success in intercepting incoming rockets it does not provide full-proof protection.


The army stressed that emergency procedures should be followed by southern residents and recommended that gatherings of more than 500 people in unfortified locations be called off.



פרסום ראשון: 04.10.11, 00:23
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