By Hasan Mawasi and Jamal Jamal Jerusalem-Gaza
A Hebrew-language newspaper has claimed that the Israeli Defence Forces have completed their preparations for another attack on Gaza. Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the IDF has made such preparations in the event that the situation escalates in the south of the country. Such preparations pay no heed to the negotiation process.
Although the southern front is "quiet" at the moment, sources in the IDF say that another attack on Gaza is under consideration by the Southern Command. A number of options are available if such an attack takes place.
The IDF's claims follow the launching of a rocket from Gaza last Friday which landed in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Army officials accused an unknown armed Palestinian group of attempting to escalate tension prior to the opening of negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli government has decided to retaliate every time a rocket is launched. The fear is that this will push Palestinian groups to react, leading to an end of the de facto truce.
Other sources believe that Hamas is not interested in escalating the tension; on the contrary, while it is trying to rearm, Hamas does not want any confrontation with Israel. Nevertheless, Israel holds Hamas responsible for everything in Gaza, including rockets fired by smaller factions, and the Jewish state has not ruled out selective strikes against the Islamic Resistance Movement's infrastructure.
The Israeli army claims that dozens of rockets have been fired towards Israel since January, a sharp drop on the numbers fired in previous years.