The IDF is very likely to put boots on the ground and send ground forces into the Gaza Strip, a high ranking Israeli security official reportedly said Wednesday, adding that such an incursion would not pose a serious challenge for the military.
“If you want to efficiently fight terrorism you must be present, boots on the ground,” the official, who was speaking under condition of anonymity, said in a press briefing at the IDF Tel Aviv headquarters, The New York Times reported.
“Every day that passes makes the possibility more evident,” the official said. “We can hurt them very hard from the air, but not get rid of them.”
The security official reportedly went on to predict that a takeover of the coastal enclave would take only “a matter of days or weeks” and would not be “a huge challenge” for the IDF. However, in order to rid the Strip of rockets completely, the official said, a military occupation “of many months” would be required.
Since the latest violence began before dawn on July 8, 1,021 rockets fired from Gaza have struck Israel, and another 256 have been shot down by the Iron Dome defense system, the army said. Israel responded to the rocket fire by striking more than 1,750 “terror targets” across the Strip, the army said.
On Tuesday, while Israel accepted an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire and halted strikes on the Strip for several hours, Hamas rejected it and continued to fire rockets into Israel. Israel resumed attacks on Hamas targets a short while later.
But while officials in Israel debated the desirability of a full-scale ground incursion, on Wednesday it was cleared for publication that IDF naval commandos have been operating in Hamas-controlled territory since the army’s offensive was first launched. According to Ynet, a military official confirmed that the commandos had taken part in a special operation within Gaza aimed at destroying several long-range rocket launchers that had fired volleys at Haifa and Tel Aviv. The official said the commandos had targeted and killed at least six terrorists as well.
On Wednesday, the cabinet approved the call-up of another 8,000 IDF reservists, which would bring the number of reservists at the ready to 50,000.