Israel Will Not Expand Gaza Operations
Israel’s security cabinet decided that the IDF will not expand Gaza operations into a fall version of Operation Summer Rains, but will instead continue intelligence-based targeted operations against weapons smuggling capabilities along and under the Gaza-Egypt border and against Kassam rocket manufacturing and attacks in northern Gaza strip.
The announcement was made as one IDF soldier was reported killed in an operation in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. The nighttime operation combating terrorists carrying out Kassam launches reportedly killed 10 Palestinians and wounded 60 more.
As the Kassam launches continue relentlessly into Israeli towns near the northern Gaza border, Israeli defense minister Amir Peretz said that “No one can put an absolute stop to Kassam fire … but that doesn’t mean we have to remain helpless. We won’t let these [terrorist organizations] grow stronger.” The limited Beit Hanoun operation is an example of how Israel has and will continue to seek to ‘hamper’ Kassam attack capabilities.
In reaction, both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh referred to the Gaza operation as a ‘massacre’ and called for an end to the IDF’s operations throughout Gaza. Neither of them have demonstrated a sincere willingness or ability to bring an end to the Kassam attacks internally, however, which are at the root of the IDF operations.
President Abbas is looking to bring the pro-Fatah Jordanian-based Badr Brigades militia into Gaza. This may have an indirect impact on Kassam attacks from Gaza, as most are either Hamas operations or carried out with Hamas’ knowledge and approval by groups such as the Shi’a Palestinian Islamic Jihad. But the primary purpose of the insertion of the Jordanian Badr Brigades would be to counter Hamas for internal purposes, not for enhancing Israeli security and countering Kassam attacks.
Talk continues of American training and support for Abbas’ security forces as the internal conflict with Hamas is perceived as approaching widespread direct armed conflict. Haaretz reports that Fatah’s Force 17 has had 400 men in training in Jericho since August and that the United States wants Abbas to expand this force from 3,500 to about 6,000, so as to better be able to engage a growing Hamas.
While these developments unfold, talk of an Egyptian-negotiated prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas for the release of captured soldier Galid Shalit continues as it has for some months. And in Lebanon, UN-mediated talks between Hizballah and Israel are underway to negotiate yet another mass prisoner swap for the two IDF soldiers the Iran-founded terrorist group abducted in July.