The significance of the rumored cease-fire in the south that was to take effect at midnight is negligible at best.
Even if the Palestinians stop launching rockets against towns bordering the Gaza Strip, the cease-fire will last only a few days. With each confrontation, the cease-fire periods in between have gradually decreased.
This means that even during a cease-fire, sometimes lasting only several hours, Israel must continue to work on the political-diplomatic front. It must solicit understanding for its positions throughout the world, especially in the U.S. and EU, as if there was no cease-fire — which, in reality, there isn't.
Israel must place itself in the position of obtaining the enlightened world's understanding that it has no choice but to act against Hamas whenever Palestinians renew the rocket fire against our country. This understanding will enable us to launch a concentrated military operation against Gaza-based terrorists. But what should such an operation entail? Whom should the Israel Defense Forces target?
Rocket and mortar attacks launched from the Gaza Strip have been called a "war of attrition” - the term used to describe a three-year period of difficult on-and-off battles between Israel and Egypt near the Suez Canal which ended in 1970. The analogy is incorrect. Egypt fought those battles to distance IDF units from the canal, while the Palestinians in Gaza are trying to distance a million Israelis living within the pre-1967 borders from their homes and turn them into internal refugees.
Currently, the IDF is busy hunting for terrorists, uncovering their cells and assassinating their immediate commanders. It is chopping off the snake's tail rather than its head. They work this way because Israel does not recognize Hamas, which has taken over the Gaza Strip.
It is true that for good or bad Israel cannot recognize Hamas as a legitimate governing body. There are many reasons for this, one of which, based on Palestinian motives, is that if Israel grants Ismail Haniyeh the title of prime minister, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the West will accuse Israel of trying to divide the Palestinian people, God forbid.
But Israel can treat Hamas as the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, as a conqueror whose sovereignty is not recognized, but whose culpability for acts of terror launched from its territory is absolute.
The IDF will continue to locate terrorist cells and their local chain of command, even though those responsible for their actions are Ismail Haniyeh and his government ministers. And because the IDF does not go after the terrorist leaders, its response to rockets launched by Hamas or Islamic Jihad will continue to be terrorist bases and the materials they use for their attacks, which they have been stockpiling over the years.
Shooting attacks against IDF soldiers patrolling the border are planned by local government officials in Gaza. Just as the Palestinians would not accept a repetitive excuse by Israelis that irate residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz crossed the border and wreaked havoc in the Gaza Strip, and would certainly sue the state and demand that it reign in the perpetrators, so too does Israel achieve only a secondary goal in capturing terrorists. The primary target should be those responsible for giving the terrorists a free hand and those who can prevent them from operating against Israel and refuse to do so.
This position does not require a full-scale land invasion of Gaza, another Operation Cast Lead. It can be limited to an aerial operation, which would, among other targets, take aim at the leaders of the illegal government in Gaza.