IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz instructed his men this week to freshen up a set of orders titled "Kesem HaMangina," literally "The Melody's Magic," meant to thwart the Palestinian war of independence. Parts of this set of operational plan were already implemented in the Occupied Territories in the passing year, without waiting for a Palestinian declaration of independence. Those were mainly "bites" off PA areas, the term the army uses to denote encroachments on Palestinian cities, closures, and "crowns," employed to pressurize the PA. But the said freshening up refers to the more sensitive parts in the command set, including the annexation of areas where Israel intends to take into its sovereignty after the expected Palestinian declaration.
The goal of raiding Tulkarem was defined in the operation order as follows: "The Judea and Samaria Forces will isolate the Tulkarem space, in order to create an on going continuous pressure on the [Palestinian - trns.] Authority, which will illustrate the price of continuing the conflict." The mission included "locating explosives, in order to prevent bomb attacks." Overt IDF activity in the city, including patrols by foot, and planned ambush missions, were accompanied by diverse intelligence gathering, using advanced technology.
The planning of other operations also continued over the week. One --the first version of which was written two months after the outbreak of the Intifada, and the fourth version of which was revised after the Zeevi assassination - is a large scale operation against militant activists that are on the run from both the Israeli security forces, and the PA. The first version talked of arresting 15 activists and confiscating weapons. The up to date order talks of assassinating the 15 wanted men. If carried out, this would be the largest assassination mission so far. To judge by the result of recent assassinations, revenge will not be slow to follow.
Regarding the expectations of Israeli casualties, it is worth listening to Colonel Yair Golan, commander of the Nahal Brigade, who said, in summing up his Brigades operation on Kafar Tel, in November: "An expectation may be created for all such operations to end without casualties. The distance between zero casualties and several casualties was very short. We must not fall in the Lebanon trap [where grief over casualties ended up driving Israel out of a twenty year old occupation -- trns.] We have to go on missions knowing that casualties are not mishaps, but a part of fighting. Even after less successful operations we have to press on with all our vigor."
The army spokesman’s response: "The IDF does not detail its operational plans. The IDF examines and freshens up its operational plans from time to time."