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IDF needs to focus on rockets, not tunnels, in the next round with Hamas

CM 21/05/2021

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Despite achieving many of its goals during the 11 day Operation Guardian of the Walls, the Israeli military would have liked to have seen more success in taking out the long-range missiles belonging to Hamas.
A mainly air campaign, some 1,500 targets belonging to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were struck by the Israeli military over the past two weeks with thousands of munitions. 
The IDF says that with plans that were built over the past few years, the military was able to destroy strategic assets like Hamas’s underground tunnel network and take out senior operatives within a short amount of time.
Maintaining that the operation was defensive, the military decided to be aggressive from the start and hit two tunnels with at least 20 Hamas operatives who were planning a raid against Israel. 
Over the close to two weeks of fighting, the IDF destroyed over 100 km of Hamas’s tunnel network during multiple strikes in Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rimal. Hitting their tunnel network, all built under residential areas, had an effect on the group’s communications, command and control as well as ability to fire rockets towards Israel.
The military also assassinated 25 senior officials and some 200 operatives belonging to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a move that the IDF would have usually saved for a bigger operation.  But, both the military and Shin Bet internal security agency-which played a big role in the operation- thought the time was right.
In the plans that had been drawn up were specific individuals who they wanted to take out as it would have a big effect on the group’s capabilities, including Mohammed Deif who was targeted twice but managed to survive each time.

“We did everything possible during the campaign to make sure that people who should not be alive will not stay alive,” IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters on Friday.
Though Zilberman said that the military also severely damaged Hamas’s ability to develop and produce weapons-destroying workshops and research centers, some of which were designed to upgrade their weaponry- the IDF would have liked to have had more success in destroying their arsenal.
Due to the blockade imposed on the coastal enclave by both Israel and Egypt, the majority, if not all, of the rockets and mortars are locally produced. 
The last few days of the operation, the IDF focused on destroying the groups’ rocket launching abilities, with some 570 airstrikes targeting rockets and their launchers. Of that, 340 strikes targeted rocket launching infrastructure such as launch pits and 230 ground-to-ground rockets and 70 multi-barrel rocket launchers. Another 35 strikes target mortars.
But, the two groups combined have around 14,000 rockets – both long-range and short.  Over the course of the 11 days, over 4,360 rockets and mortars were fired towards Israel with 680 landing inside the Gaza Strip and another 280 fell in the sea.
The IDF knows that in any future conflict with the terror groups in the Strip that the rockets will continue to be a major threat to the Israeli homefront. Because even with the Iron Dome missile defense system, some rockets do strike Israel and with deadly results.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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