Stating that Israel had crippled Hamas, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert just announced an end to the 3-week Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. He said the army would remain in Gaza while Egypt mediates a long-term truce with Hamas.
According to DEBKAfile Israeli forces will hold to their positions in the Gaza Strip for a trial period to test Hamas’ response. Meanwhile, Hamas promises to keep on fighting and shooting rockets, while neither Washington nor Cairo guarantee action to end the flow of weapons to Gaza. As the Israeli security cabinet voted on the unilateral cease fire, Hamas blasted rockets against Ashdod and Ashkelon.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office reiterated that the IDF began Operation Cast Lead following an extended period of restraint as Hamas continued to terrorize the residents of southern Israel with daily rocket barrages. According to the IDF “Hamas alone is responsible for creating the situation in Gaza and is accountable for its consequences.”
The IDF will redeploy forces within the Gaza Strip in accordance with security assessments. Air, naval, ground and intelligence forces will remain on alert .
Hamas has been fighting an increasingly more high tech ground war utilizing more advanced rocket power, according to analysts at globalsecurity.org and Jane’s Information Group. Popular Science (PopSci) reveales that over time, Hamas has been beefing up its arsenal of new rockets with expanded range. With the latest in rocket power, they are becoming better equipped to strike cities such as Tel Aviv with improved accuracy.
In its recent article, PopSci reports that recently, Hamas imported factory manufactured rockets from China and Iran. Based on a family of Soviet rockets dating back to World War II, these rockets have the range to hit more Israeli cities, and their introduction help propel the current conflict.
The Iranian rocket, called a Grad, has a range of about 12 miles, long enough to hit the Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Sderot. The Chinese rocket, called the WS-1-E (pictured above, courtesy of globalsecurity.org) has an even greater range of up to 27 miles, and better accuracy than the Grad.
It is believed that Hamas possesses Iranian Fajr-4 rockets, which have a range long enough to hit Tel Aviv.
IDF Spokesperson, the press site of the IDF, just posted new videos of air and ground strikes on Hamas targets. In the video clip below, the Israel Air Force (IAF) assists IDF ground forces in striking Hamas targets, including gunman posts and launchers—some of which were located in populated areas. The IAF neutralized the sources of gunfire and destroys the terrorists stash of weapons.
The IDF notes that “Hamas deliberately uses the Palestinian people, with whom Israel continues to seek peaceful coexistence, as human shields.”