The Israeli military is preparing for a major new offensive in the besieged Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army's Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi – who was sworn in last month – "has already prioritized preparations for a potential Gaza war," Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. "Kochavi has approved operational plans for combat and set up an administrative unit to handle the formation of a list of potential targets in the Strip", the paper added.
Haaretz noted that Kochavi has "recently visited the Southern Command headquarters and met with top commanders in charge of operations in the area" and "also ordered two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to be manned".
The report claims that the army's preparations are based on an "assessment" by the Israeli military intelligence's research division that Hamas – which governs the besieged enclave – may seek a military confrontation "in a bid to obtain international involvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza".
According to the "intelligence assessments", Hamas has grown frustrated with the lack of progress in talks with Egyptian mediators and now believes that "only an extreme move" will lead to any change in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The same article notes that Israeli intelligence believes a Palestinian revolt in the occupied West Bank is also more likely in light of the fact that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas' rule is nearing its end.
As is well known, "the relative quiet in the West Bank is maintained mainly due to Israel's military and intelligence activities carried out by the army, police and Shin Bet", Haaretz stated.