IDF Enters Gaza, Large-Scale Re-Entry on the Horizon
IDF Enters Gaza, Large-Scale Re-Entry on the Horizon

IDF troops entered Gaza Wednesday afternoon to pursue terrorists who had been planting a bomb near the security fence.

The soldiers opened fire, killing one of the terrorists and injuring another. A third man was apprehended. All were members of the Islamic Jihad terror group. The terrorists detonated two bombs during the exchange, but failed to injure any Israeli security personnel.

Gearing Up For IDF Operation?

Defense Minister Amir Peretz commented on the continued arming of Gaza terror groups while visiting an IDF base in the northern Gaza region Monday. “We won’t allow the continued arming to turn the Gaza Strip into a second Lebanon,” he said, but added that “nobody should bring about an escalation through his statements, though – which would bring about a crisis and a real war.”

Al-Jazeera is reporting that Israel is poised to retake Gaza based on an interview with IDF Brig.-Gen. (res.) Tzvika Fogel, formerly a senior officer in the IDF’s Southern Command. Fogel is quoted saying that the IDF has completed its preparations for a Gaza operation and will "reoccupy" Gaza – except Gaza City – for up to six months.

Fogel said the operation could begin as early as April 15: "It will not be before April 15 because that's the end of Passover, and to be on the safe side it will not be after June 15, because we want it to be finished before the winter."

"Hamas is working towards the point that they will be like Hizbullah," Fogel said. "At that point they will start the war and it will not be good for Israel. We can't let them start the war. We will lose a lot of respect… The last thing the West wants is for Hamas to have its own country. It will be an Al Qaeda zone. So Israel, the Arab countries and the free world all want us to begin a war and win it."

The IDF Spokesman declined to comment on Fogel's statements beyond stressing that Fogel is a reserves officer and not party to the decision-making process.

IDF Assessments: Gaza Preparing for War

DM Peretz told the Cabinet Sunday that the IDF has detailed intelligence information about plans to line the entire Israel-Gaza border with explosives.

A recent briefing by Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin detailed extensive tunnel networks and bunkers being prepared for launching attacks inside Israel and shielding missile-launching cells. Booby traps are also being set in place along possible routes of IDF entry into Gaza in a future counter-terror operation.

A large exercise simulating a reentry into Gaza’s built up cities and slums took place in the Tzeelim IDF base last week.

Preparing for the Next Round in the North

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was recently told in a briefing that Syria believes Israel will launch in attack on Syria and Lebanon in the event of an American offensive against Iran’s nuclear project. Olmert reportedly is seeking to convince the Syrians that such a plan does not exist due to his fear that Syria will launch a pre-emptive attack on the Golan Heights.

"I can tell you that there is no such plan that we know about, and in any case, there is no reason for the Syrians to prepare for such an eventuality,” Olmert told Haaretz in a pre-holiday interview. “There is always concern that when one side prepares for war, and the other side is preparing to counter the other side's preparations, then the first side interprets the preparations of the other side as if it is the manifestation of its fears, and the situation goes into a spin, and control is lost.”