Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz on Tuesday marked the three- year anniversary of the Operation Cast Lead, hailing it "an excellent operation that achieved deterrence for Israel vis-a-vis Hamas Xinhua reported
Israel embarked on the month-long foray in an effort to put an end to incessant rocket fire by Hamas and other militants at cities and towns within a 50-km arc of the coastal enclave, which has frequently forced close to a million southern residents into bomb shelters.
He warned that a second round of fighting in the Gaza Strip is not a matter of choice for Israel due to a buildup of arms and steadily increasing rocket fire at Israeli cities and towns.
"I believe that the State of Israel cannot continue to live under the active threat of Hamas in the Gaza Strip," Gantz said, according to The Jerusalem Post.
"Sooner or later, there will be no escape from conducting a significant operation. The IDF knows how to operate in a determined, decisive and offensive manner against terrorists in the Gaza Strip." Gantz said, adding "I do not advise Hamas to test our mettle."
Gantz made the comments during an interview in the course of a day-long telethon to raise funds for a soldiers' welfare NGO.
While Gantz refused to offer a timetable for the army next move against Gazan militants, he told the interviewer that "we will act when the conditions are right."
In a related development, head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, former defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, on Wednesday praised a combined IDF and Israel Security Agency missile strike overnight that killed at least three militants in Gaza, the army said.
The air strike came after two Kassam rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinians in the last 48 hours. The IDF said the three were planning a terror attack against Israel along the Egyptian border.
Palestinian sources said that at least ten people were wounded in the strike on a vehicle the trio were traveling in.
Mofaz said the army needed to mount an alternate campaign to foil the rocket attacks on Israel.
"Israel needed to respond differently to the violence coming from the Strip," he told Army Radio.
"Not to occupy Gaza, but to act in a way that would cause terrorist organizations to think twice before firing long-range missiles."
Meanwhile, Haifa University's Student Union canceled an student event set for Wednesday, meant to commemorate Cast Lead's effect on Gazans, after a leftist student group Hadash which organized the event, posted invitations calling the operation as "fascist," and a "massacre," according to Channel 10 television.
"In marking the third anniversary of the fascist Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed without any distinction, and in a sign of solidarity with the Palestinians who have lived for years under the inhumane siege in Gaza, Hadash students are honored to invite you to the big event marking the war and massacre in Gaza," the invitations read, according to Israel National News (INN).
But one student told the television station that "it makes no sense that the university approves such an event in an institution which lost students who went out to defend Israel," according to INN.
Hadash faction member Uri Waltman, however, told the Ynet news site that the remarks are legitimate.
"Canceling the event is giving in to the aggression of right- wing activists and the Student Union, which created a tempest in a teapot because of their objection to our stance," Waltman said.
Student Union Chairman, Yossi Shalom, termed the invitations as "incitement."
"I truly believe that the thin line between the freedom of expression and incitement was crossed today, and when such a thing happens it's good that one knows how to stop, reexamine the situation and take back one's decision," he said.
Israeli army chief says second Gaza foray against Hamas inevitable - Trend