An announcement sent to journalists by the IDF spokesman this morning said that “As the decision goes into effect, the commander of the operation, GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, will order the redeployment of IDF forces within the Gaza Strip in accordance with security assessments“.
Columns of IDF tanks were reported leaving parts of Gaza this morning.
At the same time, it says, “As ordered by IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, and Maj. Gen. Galant, the operation has not yet ended, and the IDF’s air, naval, ground and intelligence forces will remain alert so as to be ready for any situation“.
Helicopters were reportedly attacking sites in Gaza this morning. On Saturday night, just after Israeli PM Olmert’s announcement of the unilateral cease-fire, 8 Grad or Katyusha missiles were reportedly fired at Beer Sheva, in the Negev. Today, Sunday, a number of Qassam rockets were fired at Sderot, outside the northwest corner of the Gaza Strip. Shortly after that, it was reported that the Israeli Air Force “attacked the Palestinians that earlier launched Kassams to Sderot”.
The IDF announcement today also said that there was a possibility “that the rocket fire will continue as Hamas cynically seek to ‘have the last word’ … The IDF will continue to assess the situation and emphasizes that it sees Hamas as responsible for the stability of the ceasefire and the resumption of routine life for the residents of the Gaza Strip … Hamas alone is responsible for creating the situation in Gaza and is accountable for its consequences”.
Many if not most observers, however, do not hold Hamas alone responsible for creating “the situation in the Gaza Strip”.
The IDF announcement also said that “The IDF Spokesperson’s Office reiterates that the IDF was sent to this operation following an extended period of restraint as Hamas continued to terrorize the residents of southern Israel with daily rocket barrages against towns and villages that impacted terribly on the daily life of people in the south of Israel”.
There is no word, yet, about access to Gaza for journalists.