debkafile: Hamas expands missile targeting area as Israel forces hit back in N. Gaza. Barak threatens harsher military action

Seventeen Palestinian missiles were fired by midday Thursday, Feb. 7, after Israeli Golani tank and engineering units with helicopter cover drove into northern Gaza in another bid to stem Palestinian cross-border missile attacks. They have since pulled back, while the missiles keep coming and Hamas broadens its targeting radius.
The first five landed in Sderot, damaging buildings and homes and starting a fire. Then a salvo hit the Tzehor and Eshkol regions, one missile exploding in the playground of a school during class time. No one was hurt.
debkafile‘s military sources report: Israel defense minister Ehud Barak has more than once threatened firmer and broader military action to stop the missile blitz from Gaza. But so far he has kept the military on a tight leash.
The Israeli force was restricted to the Beit Hanoun and Jebalya areas 2 km inside Gaza – 6 armed Palestinians were killed in the first stage of the raid – whereas the missile fire comes from the villages and camps deeper inside the enclave, of which the Israeli force has been ordered to stay clear.
The first five missiles fired Thursday exploded in Sderot, damaging buildings and homes and starting a fire.
According to our sources, the IDF’s primary mission now is to keep the heat up on Hamas after an expanded Egyptian force restored control of the Gaza-Sinai border. Hamas leaders are intended to be cowed by the reconstituted Israel-Egyptian blockade. For now, there is no sign of this happening.
Indeed Hamas has threatened to turn its guns and missiles on Egyptian troops manning the border as though they were Israelis, if Cairo reseals the Gaza gateway against free Palestinian traffic to and from Sinai. A Kuwaiti newspaper reported Thursday that Hamas is planning to kidnap Egyptian soldiers.
As for Israel, Hamas vows to follow up on the suicide bombing which killed a 73-old woman and injured 43 people in Dimona Monday with more attacks inside Israel.
debkafile‘s military sources assess Egyptian and Israeli counter-terror actions so far as too hesitant, aimless and irresolute to achieve much. All they are after in the short term is peace and quiet along their borders with the Gaza Strip. But Hamas is determined to keep tensions high and therefore holds the initiative.

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