Daily Israel Report

Renewed Mortar, Rocket Attacks Test IDF’s Next Step

Gaza terrorists break Hamas’s “ceasefire,” attack Israelis with three mortars and a rocket and test IDF’s next step – retaliate or hold fire?
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 1/17/2011, 8:37 AM

Flash 90

Gaza terrorists fired three mortars shells Sunday night and a Kassam missile Monday morning, breaking Hamas’s announced imposition of a “ceasefire” on all terrorist organizations.

No one was injured in the attacks, the latest one endangering the residents of the Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council and Sderot. The rocket exploded in an open area, and no injuries or damage was reported.

The IDF last week executed a U-turn in its policy of retaliating after several attacks, and it held fire, despite mortar and rocket strikes. The new policy apparently was intended to test Hamas’s ability or resolve to clamp down on rival terrorist organizations.

Hamas deployed its militia terrorists near the Gaza separation/security fence, stating that it gave them “clear and direct orders” to maintain calm to avoid a continuing escalation in attacks and counterterrorist retaliation by Israel.

The renewed attacks Sunday night and Monday morning bore out predictions by Gaza professor Naji Shurb, who said, "I don't think it will last for too long because there are some smaller militant groups who don't like the idea.” He also pointed out that maintaining the ceasefire by force would contradict Hamas ideology of ”resistance,” the Arab code word for rocket attacks, suicide bombings and kidnappings, against Israel.

Israel now is left with the choice of continuing to hold fire, while perhaps sending warnings through diplomatic channels that retaliation will be quick and harsh if there is a further escalation, or striking immediately and possibly provoking Hamas into unleashing advanced weapons that can down Israeli aircraft and strike metropolitan Tel Aviv.

Last month, Hamas for the first time deployed a laser-guided anti-tank missile obtained from Iran and which was used by Hizbullah against the IDF in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Both Hamas and Israel also might be looking north, where political unrest in Lebanon could spill over to civil war. The IDF also has placed forces along the Israeli-Lebanese border on alert.