Israeli media this week reported that the IDF is gearing up for another large-scale ground incursion into the Gaza Strip to halt terrorist rocket fire and curb the threat posed by groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The Jerusalem Post reported last month that the IDF General Staff had ordered the Southern Command to draw up plans for a Gaza incursion. Over the weekend, the paper revealed that a growing number of senior officers in the Southern Command are now pushing for the order to be given to begin the attack.
One officer argued that, unlike in the past, "there is no need to wait for a provocation to launch an offensive against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. The ongoing attacks...are cumulatively more than enough to justify immediate action."
Israel's government and the army were harshly criticized in the past for waiting until after Gaza terrorists managed to kill or wound enough Israelis before launching a significant retaliation.
Thirty rockets and medium-range missiles have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel during the first two months of 2012. In 2011, there were 680 rocket and mortar attacks, including 80 firings of medium-range Grad-type missiles. Casualties were minimal, but the constant attacks have had the effect of putting southern Israel under siege.
When a Grad-type missile landed in the outskirts of the southern city of Beersheva last week, IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Benny Gantz said it was only a "matter of time" before the Israeli army would have to reenter Gaza.
The IsraelDefense website reported that according to its sources in the defense establishment, the army will not follow the outline of its 2008 invasion of Gaza, Operation Cast Lead. This time, the IDF is likely to divide Gaza into three segments, possibly establish a permanent presence along the Gaza-Egypt border, and topple the ruling Hamas regime.
In other news signalling that a fresh Gaza war is on the horizon, the IDF last week sped up plans to deploy anti-missile systems near Tel Aviv. Intelligence suggests that Gaza-based terrorists now possess missiles capable of reaching the densely-populated metropolitan area.