Return of Cast Lead?

The IDF attacked Hamas terrorists on Tuesday for the first time since Operation Cast Lead two years ago. Ashkenazi: The situation is "fragile.”

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 21:12

Operation Cast Lead
Operation Cast Lead
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The IDF attacked Hamas terrorists on Tuesday for the first time since Operation Cast Lead two years ago, according to IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. The IDF frequently has strafed Hamas weapons facilities, tunnels and terrorists who were “ticking bombs” but avoided bombing Hamas outposts until Tuesday.

After overnight strikes on structures and bunkers housing Hamas terrorists, The Air Force late Tuesday afternoon bombed a Hamas outpost in Rafiah, located in southern Gaza and at the Egyptian border. Military spokesmen said the strike was a “direct hit” on the bunker, and Hamas reported four terrorists were wounded.

The IDF’s strike on the Hamas position at Rafiah was in retaliation for Tuesday morning’s missile attack that lightly injured a young girl near a kindergarten on a kibbutz farm. The rocket was the 15th projectile to be fired on Israel since Monday morning.

"The situation in the south is fragile and explosive," Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee Tuesday. “Most of the terrorist activity is directed toward IDF activity along the security fence. The past year has seen 112 attacks executed against IDF forces and 60 terrorists were killed.”

He said that soldiers operate as close as a few yards from the separation security fence to prevent terrorists from reaching Israel communities in the Western Negev.

The Chief of Staff also said that the Iron Dome missile defense system will be operative next year, but experts outside the Defense Ministry headed by Ehud Barak question its effectiveness to protect civilians.

The system new was not meant for defending towns and villages, but military bases, according to the website Strategy Page. Barak has spent years campaigning for American aid for the Iron Dome system, but Strategy Page points out, “It turns out that it takes about 15 seconds for Iron Dome to detect, identify and fire its missiles. But most of the civilian targets currently under fire from Gaza are so close to the border that the rockets are fired and land in less than 15 seconds.

“This explains why, after Iron Dome was declared ready for action six months ago, it was surprisingly placed in storage…. Politicians demanded that at least one battery be deployed along the Gaza border. But the military sees Hamas and Hezbollah stockpiling larger numbers of longer range rockets. This would enable large numbers of rockets to be fired at military bases. The generals believe it's more important to protect the military forces, who ultimately defend Israel, and that's what Iron Dome will now be used for.”

As previously reported, the American-made Centurion has been successful in shooting down mortar shells and short range rockets in Iraq and Afghanistan, Strategy Page added, but Barak has rejected it.