Gaza: IDF Chief Benny Gantz Warns Of Major Military Offensive

Paul Vale – Huffington Post UK December 29, 2011

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is preparing to launch another major military offensive against Gaza, according to a senior military commander.

Speaking on Army Radio, Benny Gantz, the IDF’s chief of staff, said that military action would come “sooner or later”. It was Gantz’s first major interview since he assumed the post in February.

Tuesday’s announcement was made on the three-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, which marked the start of the 2008/09 Gaza War.

The biggest military campaign of recent years in the region, the conflict resulted in the death of 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

According to Gantz, that operation, which lasted three-weeks, “achieved deterrence”, however the officer added that there was “no escape” from conducting another “serious operation”.

“I believe that the State of Israel cannot continue to live under the active threat of Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Speaking to Haaretz, the head of the IDF’s southern Brigade, said: “We are preparing and in fact are ready for another campaign, which will be varied and different, to renew our deterrence, if we are called on to restore full quiet to the communities.

Shortly after Gantz’s broadcast, the IDF launched two airstrikes on Gaza. The Guardian reported that one person had been killed and 10 injured. Later, and IDF spokesperson said the strikes had targeted “terrorist squads”

On Thursday, the IDF official Twitter feed reported that four rockets had been fired overnight from Gaza into Israel.

According to Haaretz, the rockets did not explode and there were no reported injuries or damage.

Hamas declared a ceasefire after the 2009 war, however independent military groups within Gaza occasionally take unilateral action, firing rockets into Israel.

Hamas has tried to distance itself from the attacks, however the Israeli government has said it holds Hamas – as the government – responsible for all military strikes emanating from Gaza.