Resumed Gaza terror outcome of Israel’s passivity and over-reliance on Cairo

debkafile‘s military and intelligence sources report that the foundering of the Gaza truce amid renewed Hamas missile attacks and terrorist plots are the direct outcome of the Israeli government’s passive military stance and over-reliance on Egypt to pull its Palestinian chestnuts out of the fire. That is the predominant view of senior Israeli military officials, including commanders of the Southern Command.
Thursday night, Nov. 13, the Palestinians fired five missiles, including two Grads, against Ashkelon, Sderot, Netivot and Or Haner. Suspense is building up around the Gaza Strip amid fears of a major Palestinian attack on Israeli forces and civilian locations over the weekend.
The last six months, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Tzipi Livni counted on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to heal the quarrel between the rival Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions, pacify the Gaza Strip and extricate the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit from Hamas captivity.
Although Mubarak’s bid flopped and the Palestinians had been clearly preparing to revive their large-scale terror plots and missile blitz for some weeks, the government failed to revise its tactics, pre-empt the rising threat, or explain to the Israeli public what went wrong.
It was not until Nov. 11, when intelligence was received of a secret tunnel designed to facilitate a large-scale Hamas kidnap operation that a decision was taken to blow up the tunnel. The soldiers were ordered not to touch the Hamas special force assigned with the abductions or their operational headquarters at el Bureij.
Nonetheless, Hamas leaders decided to risk reviving their missile blitz and efforts to kidnap Israeli soldiers or civilians.
Senior officers in the Southern Command believe that a serious Hamas cross-border terrorist attack is on the way. Since Cairo’s mediation failure, no one there, in Damascus or even Riyadh exercises any control over the Hamas leadership in Gaza.
According to intelligence from Gaza, Hamas leaders have turned their backs on Egypt’s pacification efforts and moved on with their objective, which is to fight their Fatah rival, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the finish, by dint of factional warfare and major clashes with Israel.
Israel’s government heads persist in ignoring this information. Indeed Olmert and Barak are at loggerheads on how to handle the escalating Gaza peril. This was apparent during their joint visit to the IDF’s Gaza division headquarters Wednesday, Nov. 12. The prime minister said that a large-scale military confrontation with Hamas is waiting at the end of the road, whereas Barak said that while action must be taken against terror threats, it is important to preserve the truce.
It was clear to the soldiers listening to them that the truce belonged to the past.
Suspense ahead of Hamas aggression was so high Thursday, Nov. 13, that Israel revoked the permission given a few hours earlier for a 30-truck convoy to pass through into the Gaza Strip with food and goods for the population. And a handing-over ceremony for the Gaza Division commanders was called off.

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