By Ryan Jones
Israeli army chief Gen. Benny Gantz on Tuesday said there is no alternative to another major military ground operation in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
"From time to time, we face rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and we understand the continuing buildup from the Sinai region," said Gantz. "I believe that the state of Israel cannot continue to live under the active threat of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Sooner or later, there will be no escape from conducting a significant operation."
Gantz's remarks came just hours after Israeli aircraft struck two Palestinian terror cells en route to carry out attacks along Gaza's border fence. Gaza-based terror groups responded by firing rockets at communities in southern Israel early Wednesday morning.
Lawmaker Shaul Mofaz, head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said he approved of the targeted airstrikes, but warned that a more substantial response to the mounting threat emanating from Gaza cannot be sidestepped much longer.
"Israel needed to respond differently to the violence coming from the Strip," said Mofaz. "Not to occupy Gaza, but to act in a way that would cause terrorist organizations to think twice before firing long-range missiles."
Palestinian terrorists operating out of the Gaza Strip have fired hundreds of mortars, rockets and missiles into southern Israel this year. And it has been considered a quiet year.
Critics of the 2005 Gaza withdrawal warned that uprooting the Jewish presence in Gaza would result in the territory becoming a launching pad for attacks on the rest of the country. When Israel responded to an explosion of rocket fire in late 2008 by launching Operation Cast Lead, the government was again criticized for pulling back the Israeli army before it had achieved its goal of rooting out Hamas and its terrorist allies.
There is justifiable concern that the next military operation in Gaza will end the same way, and that the threat will remain.
Israeli army chief says second Gaza foray against Hamas inevitable - Xinhua News Agency
'IDF must change retaliation policy against Gaza' - Jerusalem Post
Rocket hits south following Gaza strikes - YnetNews
Israel targets suspected militants in Gaza - CNN
IDF chief: Gaza war against Hamas was an 'excellent' operation - Haaretz