The IDF is trained and prepared for a ground invasion of Gaza, but it won’t happen in the immediate future, says its chief spokesman Yoav Mordechai.
Speaking to Voice of Israel government radio on the possibility of a ground incursion, he said, “The IDF is organized for that option. The situation in southern Israel is intolerable, but I can’t say if and when it will happen.”
The last major ground maneuver into Gaza was the three-week Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign from the end of December 2008 until the middle of January.
The Olmert government, in which Tzipi Livni was Foreign Minister, agreed to a ceasefire after accepting American and European promises they would place monitoring systems to prevent smuggling of weapons from Egypt into Gaza. However, little was done, and European observers declined to be stationed in the area because of the dangers.
Mordechai said that the armed forces have killed 20 terrorists in Gaza since the resumption of violence Friday. He contrasted the pinpoint Israeli attacks on terrorists with the more than 140 rockets and missiles fired by Gaza terrorists on Israeli civilian areas.
The only Arab civilian casualty who was not a terrorist was a 12-year-old boy who approached a rocket launching site where a terrorist cell was about to be targeted, Mordechai said.
“The IDF attacked six targets overnight, one of them an Islamic Jihad weapons storage center in an area where people are living,” he added. “There have been civilian injuries. This is what happens when Islamic Jihad deploys in civilian population areas.
“We are defending Israel and we are worried about two million people in southern Israel who are not able to lead routine lives.”
He also confirmed that IDF Chief of Benny Gantz has canceled a planned trip to the United States, where he was to speak at an event honoring the IDF. Mordechai said that Lt. Gen. Gantz will decide later in the week whether to fly to Washington for scheduled meetings with government and military officials.