IDF’s post-truce signal to Hamas: Same old rules unless you go too far

debkafile‘s military sources report: Minutes after Hamas declared the six-month “truce” was over and non-renewable at 6 a.m. Friday, Dec. 19, the Israeli Army spokesman had this to say: “Quiet will be met by quiet but we will not hesitate to respond to missile offensives.”
Whereupon, proving the threat was hollow, Hamas fired three missiles, followed by
sniper fire which drove farmers from their fields at Kibbutz Nir Oz and damaged vehicles.
Unnamed defense officials admitted that a large-scale Israeli military operation to stamp out the missile offensive and destroy Hamas weapons stockpiles was not on the cards at this point. The IDF would stick to air strikes against missile cells and Hamas installations, however ineffectual barring major changes on the ground.
One military source commented: “The chief of staff (Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi) is too smart to be caught in this trap (of a major operation) with his hands tied.”
The IDF spokesman then explained that in the current period of electioneering, there would be no one to back the chief of staff at home or in a world plunged in a struggle for economic survival.”
The official added: “Hamas has missiles capable of reaching targets north of Ashkelon.”
People in Sderot, Ashkelon and other targeted Israeli communities responded with outrage. They ask how Hamas, like the Lebanese Hizballah, were allowed to upgrade their deadly arsenals during the watch of defense minister Ehud Barak and Ashkenazi in a period before any election campaigns.
The population bordering on the Gaza Strip has opened up bomb shelters, is rehearsing emergency drill routines and bracing for the worst. Some will inevitably head north, particularly after the army spokesman’s comment: “The IDF will strike only in the event of many casualties and a change in the general picture.”
The Hamas was thus given to understand that Israel’s virtual do-nothing military policy would change only if it fires too many missiles or kills too many civilians. Otherwise, the IDF will abide by the current rules dictated from Gaza and Damascus, which leave the initiative with the Palestinian terrorists and permit only a strictly controlled Israeli response.
In the first 18 days of December, when the notional ceasefire was still in force, Palestinian terrorists slammed 83 Qassam missiles and 52 mortar shells from Gaza into Israeli civilian locations.

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