Infantry commander briefs his troops before entering Gaza. Photo IDF

Israel’s Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on Thursday that Hamas was intending to attack Israel from dozens of tunnels in a coordinated simultaneous attack. At the beginning of Thursday’s special cabinet meeting the prime minister said, “These tunnels enable the enemy to open a multi-pronged offensive and carry out a massive terror attack inside Israel.”

According to security officials cited by Israeli daily Ma’ariv, the political echelon needs to give the military more time to eliminate the tunnels since “we are now not even halfway through.” The attack Hamas was planning, the officials say, “would have made Israel drop to its knees.” They added that even the tunnels destroyed until now takes away from Hamas a strategic asset the terror group has been working on for years.

The IDF’s Southern Command assessment is that more time is needed, and in fact it was on the Southern Command’s recommendation that the government on Wednesday decided to reject a proposal for a humanitarian ceasefire. Intelligence officials assessed that such a truce would allow Hamas time to reorganize and what Israel needed to do now is push the terror group with its back against the wall so the leaders there will ask themselves whether it was wise to continue the large-scale fighting they initiated.

The IDF is continuing to engage Hamas targets and infrastructure on a daily basis: in one incident on Thursday, two terrorists who climbed out of a tunnel immediately surrendered to soldiers from the Paratrooper Brigade. There were other incidents where dozens of men surrendered to the IDF. On Friday morning, the IDF spokesperson revealed that five days ago, soldiers from the Nahal Brigade were confronted by a woman wearing a suicide vest.

According to the report, after engaging a terrorist squad, a figure rushed out toward the soldiers. It was a woman with a bomb strapped to her chest. The soldiers identified the threat and “neutralized” her before she was able to carry out her intended suicide attack, the IDF spokesperson said.

The Southern Command led the call not to make do with artillery and air force fire, but rather to widen the Gaza theater. According to Ma’ariv, sources in the IDF say Hamas has prepared for the battle but it has now escalated beyond the group’s control. They assessed that the group’s resilience is seemingly starting to crack at the seams.

Hamas has prepared a veritable plan for ground warfare, after a few failed terror attacks and the realization that rockets are no match for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. Preparations for a ‘boots-on-the-ground’ war started when Hamas realized it had nothing to lose, but the organization was not prepared for the IDF to start the ground incursion so soon and hoped to have convenient exit strategies.

IDF officials warned that the drop in the daily number of rockets fired at Israel do not indicate Hamas is running out. While it is true that Hamas’s reservoir of projectiles has been significantly depleted, taking into account the …read more

Source: The Algemeiner


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