Reporting to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, the head of the IDF Intelligence Corps' research division, Brigadier-General Yosef Beiditz, said, "The recent escalation began as an internal clash between Hamas and Fatah, with Hamas prevailing."
When the Hamas recognized that the clash with Fatah was fomenting dissatisfaction among the Gaza populace, Brig.-Gen. Beiditz explained, "the Hamas decided to redirect the violence towards Israel.... They are thus far pleased with the results of the conflict with us. They understand that Israel will not undertake a ground operation deep into Gaza. And they are also pleased with the emptying of the towns in the south [of Israel]."
The IDF officer concluded his report on developments in Judea, Samaria and Gaza with a warning that the Hamas is still intent on carrying out a "high-quality" terrorist attack, such as another kidnapping.
Also present at the committee meeting was Defense Minister Amir Peretz. He said that the IDF operations in Gaza will continue as planned. The Hamas, Peretz declared, would not determine when there will be a ceasefire. "We will cease our forces' operations only if we come to the conclusion that the Hamas has ceased using Israel as a the solution to all of its problems."
The Hizbullah is Preparing a Possible Summer Offensive
Regarding the threat from Lebanon's Hizbullah, Brig.-Gen. Beiditz said that the terrorist organization was continuing to improve its physical position and abilities. Armed Hizbullah forces are located in open areas south of the Litani River, according to Beiditz, where they are operating out of sight of United Nations troops stationed in the region.
"The Hizbullah is preparing itself for a move that may take place in the summer," the Brig.-Gen. said, adding that there is also evidence that Syria is preparing for just such an eventuality. Included in the Syrian preparations, Beiditz suggested, was the possibility of a direct clash with Israel. Syria is "increasing weapons purchases and training exercises. While there is no change in the deployment in the Golan Heights, which is a defensive array, [Syria] could improve its positions and deploy offensive capabilities."
Defense Minister Peretz noted that the change from defensive to offensive deployment on the Golan can be accomplished "within days, not months. ...We are prepared for any eventuality." At the same time, Peretz said that Israel should not "shut the door" on Syria's intimations that it is prepared to negotiate with the Jewish State.
MK Eitam Calls for an Emergency National Unity Government
At the conclusion of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Knesset Member Effie Eitam (NRP-National Union) suggested that the serious security challenges Israel faces at this time justify an emergency two-year national unity government.
"Our region is facing a strategic threat in the form of an Iran determinedly proceeding towards a nuclear bomb.... Therefore," Eitam said, "I propose a national emergency government for the next two years, due to these regional strategic developments. We are wasting the abilities of the IDF due to political weakness."