IDF preparing for escalation against Hamas, senior army source says
The IDF is taking “significant steps” to prepare itself for a stepped up campaign of attacks against Hamas in Gaza, a senior military source said Monday, as Palestinian projectile fire from the Strip continued unabated.
“We can’t avoid dealing with Gaza because there is noise [security developments] in other arenas,” the source said, referring to rioting by Arab Israelis and in Palestinian districts of east and north Jerusalem.
The IDF’s steps to enhance preparedness on the Gaza border include the calling up of 1,500 reserves, and the setting up of infantry assault units on the Gaza border, in case “a decision is made” for an offensive in Gaza, the source said.
“We are ready for an escalation,” the source said, adding that Hamas is not only failing to prevent other terror groups from firing projectiles at southern Israel, it is taking an active and dominant part in the recent attacks.
Most of the projectiles landing in southern Israel are mortar shells, and the rate of rocket fire is low, the source said, but all of the projectile fire has to stop, he added.
“We’re taking steps now… ahead of the possibility that the escalation increases. We’re preparing for a gradual increase in the use of force, and increasing our rate of attacks [on terror targets in Gaza],” he stated.
A majority of the reserves will be sent to unit headquarters and Home Front Command units, and some are Border Police who will replace conscripted forces currently on duty in the West Bank, freeing them up for deployment to Gaza.
“The message to Hamas is clear. A ceasefire without conditions,” the source said. “Last Thursday, I said quiet would be met with quiet. Now, we see that this hasn’t happened.”
Addressing the deaths of seven Hamas members in a tunnel in south Gaza, the source said they died as a result of explosives they planted in an underground assault tunnel aimed at an IDF target.