(page 2 of 2)
“A quiet like we had over the past month hasn’t happened in 20 years,” the officer said.
Palestinians won limited self-rule in 1993. Gaza was a hotbed of a Palestinian revolt that erupted in 2000, leading Israel to pull out five years later. Hamas took over the enclave in a Palestinian war in 2007 and has often fought Israel since.
HARSHER NEXT TIME
The officer would not be drawn on how long the calm might hold but threatened heavier bombing in any future offensive.
Though Israel killed the Hamas military chief, Ahmed al-Jaabari, in a Nov. 14 air strike, the officer said several other commanders had been spared because non-combatants were nearby.
During the fighting, Israeli officials accused militants of sheltering in Gaza’s Shifa hospital and other civilian sites.
In the next round, the officer, said, “I won’t fire on Shifa. But I won’t be able to keep to sterile strikes like I did in this round. I intend to kill the brigade commanders and battalion commanders wherever they are.”
Gaza hospitals said at least half of the Palestinian dead in the offensive were civilians. Israel put the number of slain combatants at 120, around two-thirds of the toll.
Israel says it destroyed almost all of Gaza’s most powerful rockets, whose 75 km (48 miles) ranges put Tel Aviv in reach. The officer said these included Iranian-designed Fajr-5s and Hamas’s homemade Qassam M-75, which, he said, had similar range but carried warheads with only around a tenth of the explosives.
The strikes also destroyed stores of dozens of Kornet anti-tank missiles and pilotless drones, the officer said.
Replacing them would take a long time, the officer said, adding Israel had been reassured as part of the truce that Egypt would clamp down on arms trafficking to Gaza through the Sinai.
Hamas denies it lost a significant amount of hardware and celebrated the fact that it managed to fire several rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem - though these all fell wide or were intercepted by the Iron Dome interceptor system.