Israel has been preparing in recent months to kill high-ranking Hamas officials in Gaza in response to violent border fence protests that began on March 30 and launching of fire dragons and balloons.
But defense sources say Israel has decided not to carry out such murders to exhaust Egypt and the United Nations' efforts to negotiate a political agreement instead.
According to sources, the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security services believe that targeted killings are preferable to a large-scale attack on the Gaza Strip, which could include ground forces.
The sources say that killing a senior Hamas figure could also lead to a harsh organizational response and the beginning of a military campaign.
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They say the IDF is trying to delay any major conflict in Gaza until at least the end of 201
The shooting of Mazen Fuqaha, a leader of the military wing of Hamas, was mentioned as an example of the effectiveness of targeted killings last year. Hamas is returning the shooting to Israel, although Israel has never taken responsibility for it.
Fuqaha's death was seen as a confusion in Hamas; In any case, the organization executed three people convicted of collaborating with the gunmen.
The killing of Fuqaha led to tensions between various groups in Gaza, and the control of Hamas over areas that were Fuqaha's responsibility was disrupted.
Israeli defense officials say the ability to kill Hamas leaders is in advanced stages of preparation. In addition to such killings, the IDF favors attacks on Hamas's strategic assets rather than a full-scale military campaign, and senior officers say the Cabinet has not yet made it clear what targets such a campaign would have.
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Contrary to the denials attributed to leading Israeli officials of a Hamas-Israel cease-fire mediated by Egypt, Israeli officers say the escalation that began on Thursday is over. Statements released by the IDF indicated the end of the last round, and on Friday morning, the Home Front Command announced that communities in Gaza could resume everyday life.
However, not a single minister, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, commented on the agreements with Hamas.
[ID:19659002] The IDF also made it clear that it had not committed to end operations in Gaza. The "ceasefire" meant that the situation in Gaza on Tuesday – before the escalation on Thursday – was restored. The IDF thus remains free to work without any agreement that forces it to change the status quo before the last escalation.
Over the past few days, defense officials have come to the conclusion that Hamas has been trying to improve its position for negotiating an agreement with Israel in recent battles – a dangerous game.
[ID:19659002] The IDF is preparing for the possibility that the two sides will be forced into a military campaign that has nullified Hamas' accomplishments since March.
However, high-ranking IDF officers say it was right to end the fight on Thursday to give Hamas a chance to understand the amount of damage suffered.
"If we attack 150 times, that's 150 bombs that hit the target," a senior officer said. "Hamas understands very well what it has lost in recent months, it can not ignore it."
The IDF has not attacked all Hamas positions along the border fence, hoping to give the organization the chance to impose a cease-fire if one is achieved.