debkafile: Israeli skirmishes on fringes of Palestinian strongholds

Our military sources report that the Hamas, Jihad Islami and Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades leaders are under no illusion they can stand up to IDF tank columns with air force cover when Israel embarks on a major campaign for capturing sections of Gaza to stamp out Palestinian missile attacks. They are therefore practicing hit-and-run strikes against advancing Israeli forces, a tactic they plan to employ to cover their retreat to Gaza City, calculating that the IDF will not venture to follow them.
Hamas chiefs expect Israeli troops to lay the Gazan capital to siege with occasional sorties into the town, on the same lines that they employ against the West Bank terrorist stronghold of Nablus. They believe this tactic will give them the chance to set up a base for launching hundreds of missiles a day against neighboring Israeli communities and the towns of Ashkelon, Netivot and Ofakim. By night, suicide teams plan to harass Israeli deployments and transport routes.
For this reason, most IDF field officers commanding Gaza operations question the directives to which prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Ehud Barak and chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi are currently holding, namely, to only nibble at the fringes of the Palestinian bastions in the Zeitun, Sejayia and Al Bureij camps.
This strategy, say the officers, leaves the initiative with the Palestinian forces, helps them hone their fighting skills and in no way quells their missile-launching capabilities.
Therefore, confident that the IDF is fighting on a tight rein, Hamas is continually escalating its attacks. Last week, they launched a Grad Katyusha (artillery rocket) against northern Ashkelon. Tuesday, a sniper murdered a kibbutz volunteer.
While official accounts create an optical illusion of battles inside the Gaza Strip, combat is at present tied down to a struggle for control of the Israeli border fence. The Palestinian jihadists, who keep up the pressure to breach the fence, are not deterred by the heavy losses they sustain.

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