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The Israelis attacked other senior Hamas leaders and military sites, including rocket launchers, arsenals, communication facilities, tunnels and workshops. Civilian structures also were hit along with bridges and other infrastructure, although the air force did not carry out a scorched-earth policy.

Israeli officials acknowledge that Hamas surprised them by enduring the savage round of fighting and firing more than 100 rockets a day despite the pounding it took. The militants revealed a sophisticated rocket system capable of keeping up intense fire.

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, acknowledged in an interview Wednesday for the first time that Iran had supplied Gaza militants with technology enabling them to build rockets.

He denied that Iran supplied the rockets themselves. Israel, which has attacked several arms convoys, says there is ample evidence that the Fajr-5 rockets in Gaza are Iranian-made.

Although the militants appear to have survived the skirmish with their motivation and fighting spirit intact, Israeli leaders said the operation’s objective of restoring Israel’s deterrence had been achieved.

They blamed an Israeli response over the past several months for encouraging Hamas and other groups to lob rockets frequently at the communities in southern Israel, making life intolerable for residents.

Several Israeli commentators cited the 2006 war in Lebanon, after which the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah boasted of victory despite the extensive punishment it suffered, particularly in Beirut.

Since then, the Lebanese border has been almost totally quiet.

They believe that Gaza leaders will learn the same lesson and refrain from further attacks.

However, Israeli opposition leader Shaul Mofaz was among those who said Wednesday night that the cease-fire had come too soon and that the militants should have been further ground down.