Foreign Affairs

Israeli ground operation in Gaza under way

Israeli ground operation in Gaza under way

The long-anticipated Israeli ground operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza is under way, evidently prompted in large part by the Hamas gangsters attempting to dig a tunnel into an Israeli communal farm and murder the hell out of everyone there.  It didn’t work out for Hamas.  Hitting a terrorist invasion tunnel from the air is just like bull-eyeing womp rats in your T-16 back home in the moisture farm on Tattooine.

Israeli ground forces have moved into the tunnel network, and were actually live-Tweeting from inside it.

 

USA Today describes the scale of the operation, and notes that Israeli forces have already encountered significant resistance:

Israel is prepared to undertake a “significant expansion” of its ground operation into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday.

The announcement came as Israel’s military released footage showing tanks and soldiers entering Gaza on Friday in order to locate and destroy the hundreds of underground tunnels that, according to Israel, Gaza militants use to store weapons and seek shelter from Israeli airstrikes.

The Times of Israel reported that while the Israel Defense Forces have so far avoided the densely populated areas of the Strip, troops are set to begin searching the outskirts of urban areas for tunnels, a stage of the operation that may bring soldiers closer to both Hamas fighters and vulnerable Gaza civilians.

“It is not possible to deal with tunnels only from the air. It needs to be done also from the ground,” Netanyahu said ahead of a Cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv on Friday.

“We chose to begin this operation after the other options were exhausted and with the understanding that without the operation the price we will pay can be very high.”

Gaza health officials said at least 20 Palestinians have been killed since the ground operation began, including three teenage siblings. The Israeli military said it killed 17 militants in different exchanges of fire.

There has also been at least one Israeli military casualty, 20-year-old Staff Sgt. Eitan Barak.  Hamas claims he was killed in an ambush by their “military wing” (a fiction that will hopefully be destroyed forever when all of this is over – there is no reason to allow savages to pretend they have “military wings” and “political wings” that operate independently of each other, and are yet they’re somehow adult enough to be regarded as a “government.”)  The Israeli government says Sgt. Barak was killed by friendly fire.

The Associated Press has more on the other casualties from the ground invasion:

The Israeli military said it killed nearly 20 militants in exchanges of fire. Gaza health officials said 25 Palestinians have been killed since the ground operation began, including three teenage siblings from the Abu Musallam family who were killed when a tank shell hit their home. At the morgue, one of the victims’ faces was blackened by soot and he and his siblings were each wrapped in a white burial shroud.

Their father, Ismail, said the three were sleeping when the shell struck, and that he had to dig them out from under the rubble.

Israel says it is going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and blames them on Hamas, accusing it of firing from within residential neighborhoods and using its civilians as “human shields.”

The streets of Gaza City were largely deserted, though some roadside vegetable vendors remained open. The sound of steady shelling could be heard across Gaza as Israel continued to strike targets from the air, and buildings shook as missiles hit.

“The ground offensive does not scare us and we pledge to drown the occupation army in Gaza mud,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.

They forgot to say which “wing” of Hamas the Gaza mud guy comes from.  If he’s from the “military wing,” he might want to think about how the usual suspects who swoop in to save Hamas from the consequences of its actions don’t seem eager to enter the fray this time.  Egypt has apparently had enough of them, now that the Muslim Brotherhood is no longer in power – a thwarting of Obama foreign policy objectives that might just put Hamas down for the count.  Funny how this whole “interconnected world” thing works.

Forces are expected to spend a day or two staking ground within 3 kilometers (2 miles) of the border and are working in the north, east and south of the Gaza Strip. Then, they are expected to move to the second phase, which is to destroy tunnels, an operation that could take up to two weeks.

Tanks, infantry and engineering forces were operating inside the coastal strip. The military said it targeted rocket launchers, tunnels and more than 100 other targets, and that a number of soldiers were wounded.

Israeli public opinion appears to strongly support the offensive after days of unrelenting rocket fire from Gaza and years of southern Israeli residents living under the threat. Gaza militants have fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israel over the past 11 days. Rocket fire continued across Israel Friday.

Prior to the Israeli Cabinet meeting, several ministers said they expected a prolonged offensive.

“We need to go in and finish the job. We need to eliminate every terrorist. They have no immunity.” said Uri Ariel, a Cabinet minister from the hardline Jewish Home party.

It would be a very fortunate development for the Palestinian people if the Israeli “hardliners” got their way, since Hamas is a clear and present danger to Palestinian survival.  They’ve been busy stuffing schools, hospitals, and mosques with munitions, leading to a darkly comical encounter in which the United Nations pretended to be shocked at discovering twenty terrorist rockets during the inspection of a UN Relief and Works Agency school.  In other news, UNRWA announced it was shocked to learn there was gambling going on at Rick’s Cafe.

Taking down the Hamas tunnel network is a good way to find the rest of the gang’s weapon stash.  Doubtless those tunnels will open into some very interesting places.  I’d expect a few more stunned press releases from international aid agencies before all this is done.

That should put paid to some of the “moral equivalence” crap peddled by terror-symps in the Western world.  Columnist Charles Krauthammer is fed up with the short-memory crowd:

Apologists for Hamas attribute the bloodlust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? There is not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli in Gaza. Does no one remember anything? It was less than ten years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling diehard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted it settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military, and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians.

There was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.

The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank too and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution.

And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.

Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques, and private homes to better expose their own civilians. And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

That’s the point Hamas apologists can’t handle, without dropping all pretense of having a moral compass tucked somewhere in their trousers.  If you scroll back through the Israeli Defense Force’s social media feeds, to before the current war with Hamas kicked off, you’ll see that many of their posts announced the deliveries of humanitarian supplies to the Palestinians.  That’s one of their primary activities.  Nobody has even been given more of a leg up, by international well-wishers who unquestionably counted Israel among their number, than those who dwell in the Gaza.  And what did their “government” – full of all those fluttering political and military “wings” – do with all those resources?  Build tunnels and stock up on weapons.  If they’d put half the energy behind their tunnel network into useful public works, they wouldn’t have to use their civilian populations as human shields against air strikes, because there wouldn’t be any airstrikes.

No one can root for Hamas in this conflict without denying Israel’s very right to exist, because no nation worthy of the name can sit back and allow its people to be murdered.  And no “world civilization” worthy of the name, no great parliament of mankind with “human rights commissions,” can be complicit in a system that makes it somewhat logical for Hamas to fire rockets at Israeli civilians, set up Palestinian civilians as meat shields to intercept retaliatory strikes, and wait for its propaganda machine to hand it some sort of victory… or even allow this latest in a long series of atrocities to end as a modest setback to its ambitions.  There isn’t just something wrong with the Palestinians.  There’s something deeply wrong with the world, including the part that claims to represent a bright new future of peace and dignity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement following a meeting with his cabinet this morning, noted that Hamas has rejected both formal cease-fire proposals and a humanitarian cease-fire called for by the United Nations, both of which Israel honored.  He referred to the thwarted Hamas tunnel attack when announcing that “Operation Protective Edge will continue until it reaches its goal: restoring quiet to Israel’s citizens for a prolonged period, while inflicting a significant blow to the infrastructures of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations.”

Netanyahu expressed condolences to the family of the Israeli soldier killed during the operation, and said he has instructed the Israeli Defense Force to “be ready for the possibility of an expansion to the ground operation.”  He also urged residents of the Gaza region to heed IDF warnings to evacuate before military actions begin – the very same warnings Hamas has been ordering civilians to ignore.  I suspect the Israelis understand that this operation can’t end with Hamas resurgent, after some months of rebuilding its weapons stockpiles.  Under the mad conditions imposed by an unserious world, the bad guys win all draws.

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