Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz on Tuesday expressed their satisfaction with the IDF’s preparedness for a possible incursion into the Gaza Strip and declared that such an attack would severely incapacitate terror groups. Their statements came amid a recent spike in the number of attacks emanating from Gaza and, subsequently, the number and intensity of Israeli retaliatory strikes.

“The main threat from the Gaza Strip is rockets and terror — aboveground and underground,” Ya’alon said at an IDF drill at the Tze’elim army base in southern Israel. “Therefore, the operation that the IDF would be required to undertake would have to deal a harsh blow to Gaza and to the organizations operating there, in a way that would damage their capabilities and exact a heavy toll.”

Ya’alon said that the IDF had recently improved its technological prowess in a manner that would contribute to the success of an operation in the Strip.

“The operational capabilities of the commanders and combat fighters indicates a high level of readiness, and it is our duty to continue to deal with the training of the forces,” Gantz said. “The drill is an integration of the technological and intelligence capabilities in the face of a war, should it be necessary.”

The drill came amid a string of violent incidents on the Gaza-Israel border in past weeks. On December 24, an Israeli worker repairing the border fence was killed by sniper fire from the coastal strip in an attack claimed by the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee. Hours later, the IAF launched an airstrike on Gaza in retaliation.

Five Kassam rockets were fired at Israel in a series of isolated incidents over the past month. The attacks caused no injuries, but the IDF deployed Iron Dome rocket interception batteries to the areas near the southern cities of Beersheba, Sderot, and Ashdod last week.

Hamas has fired thousands of rockets from Gaza into the south of Israel over the past decade, causing deaths and injuries and disrupting daily life for the affected communities. The IDF has carried out two large-scale military operations in the Strip — in 2008 and 2012 — in an effort to curb the rocket fire.

Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report.