Senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces on Thursday sharply criticized the government's decision to respond to Qassam fire using pinpoint operations while generally upholding a policy of restraint, Israel Radio reported.
The officers said the political echelons had denied an IDF request to send forces into the Gaza Strip, near the scurity fence, to create a security belt which would prevent Qassam rocket cells from reaching the launching areas, according to the radio.
A senior officer said the chances to locating rocket launchers in real time were low, adding that it was often difficult to attack the launchers after locating them.
Major General Yiftah Ron-Tal (ret.), who was discharged in October over his outspoken criticism of IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, told the radio that the only way to stop Qassam fire was to send troops into Gaza.
"Pinpoint operations are a good direction, but they are really just a partial direction. Security forces must be permitted to control the area in a much better way," said Ron-Tal.
"We have no other way but to control the northern Strip using forces," he added. "Not for a long time, for a limited time... if [forces] aren't there, [militants] will continue to fire from there."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave the IDF permission on Wednesday to attack rocket-launching cells in the Gaza Strip as long as they are identified shortly before the launching, but the Prime Minister's Office said the Israeli commitment to the cease-fire in Gaza still stands.
Olmert also banned the IDF from operating near Palestinian population centers in the Strip. The decision heralds the first change in the policy of restraint in Gaza, which Defense Minister Amir Peretz and top IDF officials have sought to limit.
The move came in a security consultation that took place after two Sderot youths were wounded by a rocket Tuesday evening.