The IDF has initiated a large scale ground operation in the northern Gaza Strip aimed at destroying the infrastructure of terror groups and their ability to launch Kassam rockets from the Beit Hanoun area into Israel.
So far, the IDF has reported stiff resistance from the Palestinian terrorists who have been fighting back using small arms fire, anti-tank missiles, and explosive charges. Palestinians have confirmed that at least six gunmen were killed in the fighting and 35 others were injured. IDF assessments indicate that the number is due to rise.
The operation, dubbed “Autumn Clouds” is the most significant ground incursion into the Gaza Strip in recent months by the number of troops and armored vehicles used, and the time allotted for the operation.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who visited the Gaza Division headquarters during the morning hours, said that the purpose of the operation is to drastically minimize the ability to fire Kassam rockets into Israel. “Beit Hanoun and the surrounding area has turned into the center of activities where the rockets are fired in to Israel, and that is why we are operating there,” he said.
In conjunction with the operation in northern Gaza, the Security Cabinet had decided Wednesday morning to authorize only pinpointed and limited operations, and not initiate a large scale ground offensive, but to prepare the IDF for an eventual large operation should it be decided.
The official statement summing up the meeting said that the cabinet has decided to “approve the continuation of the operation currently on the ground in order to stop rocket fire into Israel, and to authorize further steps which will allow the responsible parties in the Palestinian Authority, that are not the Hamas government, to carry out their responsibility.”