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3 months after Gaza conflict, IDF gearing up for another round of fighting

5 24 36

Three months after Israel and Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip waged a brutal 11-day conflict, the Israeli military is prepared for another round of fighting with the enclave, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi said this week.

While the Israel Defense Forces considers May’s Gaza conflict, known in Israel as Operation Guardian of the Walls, as having achieved many — though not all — of its goals, it is still seen as something of a mixed bag. While there were some clear victories over Hamas, particularly against the terror group’s rocket production capabilities, there were also notable failures, namely Hamas’s ability to freely fire thousands of rockets at Israeli cities and critical infrastructure, which the IDF is now working to address.

Perhaps most significantly, as the first major conflict in the Gaza Strip since Israel finished construction of a massive underground barrier around the enclave to block Hamas’s border-crossing attack tunnels, the operation proved to the IDF that in the absence of that ground-based threat, Israel could fight on two fronts simultaneously: in Gaza, primarily with air power and artillery, and in the north, with ground troops who would be needed to fight the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist militia.

Yet Kohavi, along with other military officials, has acknowledged that even resoundingly successful operations have not always resulted in immediate, long-term quiet, including in the Gaza Strip. While there was relative calm along the Gaza border for several years following the 2014 war, in the weeks after the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead — a campaign that the IDF generally considers a success — terrorists in the Strip fired dozens of rockets at southern Israel.

Tensions have been on the rise in recent weeks, amid anger in Gaza over the slow pace of reconstruction and Israel’s initial refusal to allow Qatari aid into the Strip. In light of this, terror groups in the enclave have repeatedly taken to launching balloon-borne incendiary devices into southern Israel, burning large swaths of farmland and nature reserves, as well as, in one case, a house.

Two rockets were also fired from Gaza at the town of Sderot, one of which was shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system while the second failed to clear the border and landed in Gaza. The military believes they were launched by renegade members of the Islamic Jihad terror group as a form of revenge for the deaths of four Palestinians in Jenin the night before in a gun battle with IDF troops.

More significantly, Saturday saw a particularly violent riot along the Gaza border, despite assurances by Hamas to Egypt that it would only hold a restrained protest. Dozens of people rushed the security fence, including a Palestinian man armed with a pistol who opened fire into an Israeli sniper position at point-blank........

© The Times of Israel

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