Israeli Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz has rejected a recommendation by senior army officers to launch a major offensive in the Gaza Strip shortly before or simultaneously with the pullout.

Mofaz for the first time admitted that the Palestinian Authority has an interest in preventing the Palestinian resistance from firing at settlements during the evacuation.

Senior army officials based their recommendation for a military offensive on the claim that the security situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating.

Mofaz, however, thinks that the Palestinian Authority is still capable of rousing itself to stop the attacks, according to the online service of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Moreover, he believes Hamas will also make an effort to rein in its operatives, the paper reported.

The army expects smaller resistance organizations – Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Abu Reish Brigades – to continue trying to launch attacks, but believes that the ability of those groups to cause damage is relatively small.

Army and police are expected to stay some time in the Gaza Strip before they hand it over the Palestinian Authority.  The army said they need one week to demolish the settlers’ houses and some more time to evacuate the military bases.

Palestinian leaders continue to complain about the lack of coordination around the disengagement plan.  Several of them have said that they are left in the dark concerning the evacuation and the future of the border crossings into the Gaza Strip after the pullout.

Some local observers expect that the Strip will be like an open-air prison, with Israel maintaining control over the crossing point with Egypt as well as the crossings that lead to Israeli areas.