TEL AVIV – The next war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be shorter but harsher than 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, and will deal a “massive blow” to terror groups in the coastal enclave, the IDF said Thursday.
The comments come amid concerns about the IDF’s operational preparedness after former military ombudsman Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick alleged that the army, especially its ground forces, was not prepared for a large-scale war.
The military said that it had learned the lessons of the 50-day summer conflict in 2014 as well as the dozen spikes in violence over the past year, and that in the event of a war, it now had the necessary capabilities and intelligence to inflict major damage on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in a short space of time.
The IDF has also increased its hit list of terror targets for the next round of conflict.
On Wednesday, the IDF wrapped up a four-day drill in the Gaza envelope that included ground troops, combat helicopters and other aircraft.
The exercise was “another significant step in improving the IDF’s operational preparedness in the Gaza Strip,” the army said.
In one of his first missions since becoming chief of staff earlier this year, Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi met with senior officers in the Southern Command and approved operational plans for war with Gaza.
The beginning of the year saw a dramatic spike in violence along the Gaza border with the so-called March of Return protests, with daily airborne incendiary devices being flown over the border, infiltrations and shootings. Hamas and other Gaza-based groups have also increasingly relied on drones and quadcopters to gather intelligence and track IDF movements.
However, in recent weeks the violence has lessened with the exception of early Thursday morning, which saw the heaviest fighting in weeks after three Israeli soldiers were injured by a Palestinian gunman who tried to infiltrate the area.
The gunman was killed by the IDF and an Israeli officer and two soldiers were evacuated to Soroka hospital in Beersheba. Their condition is stable.