Update: The IDF has released video of the airstrike that took out Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari:
“We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead,” the IDF Twitter account suggested helpfully. Seriously, they really said that.
Update: As of 11:00 AM Eastern time, there are reports that Israeli ground forces have indeed entered the Gaza Strip.
The Israelis are taking decisive action against the hail of missiles spraying out of the Gaza strip, launching a series of airstrikes that reportedly wiped out 20 underground rocket launchers and took out Ahmed Jabari, a top Hamas commander. Jabari is “the most senior Hamas official to be killed since an Israeli invasion of Gaza four years ago,” and has been perched atop the most-wanted lists for a long time, according to the Associated Press. He reportedly died when his moving vehicle was targeted by an Israeli airstrike.
The Jerusalem Post has been running a live blog on the “escalation” of hostilities between Israel and Hamas, which actually “escalated” quite a bit when Hamas started firing rockets at Israeli civilians, although the international press never sees it that way. There was some early speculation that the killing of Jabari, which satisfied both “military necessity” and the “proportionality” test, might be the end of the Israeli response, if Hamas also stood down. But that’s not the way things appear to be playing out, because more rockets have been launched out of the Gaza Strip, and now the Israeli Defense Force is reportedly preparing for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The IDF, which maintains a Twitter account, says it has “seriously damaged Hamas’ long-range missile capabilities (40km/25 mile range) and underground weapons storage facilities.” About ten minutes later, the Twitter spokesman said, “The IDF has embarked on Operation Pillar of Defense,” and followed up with “All options are on the table. If necessary, the IDF is ready to initiate a ground operation in Gaza.” The goal is to “protect Israeli civilians and to cripple the terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.” That has the ring of “escalation” about it.
The strange thing about the relationship between Israel and groups like Hamas is that people living peacefully within rocket range of the Gaza Strip are expected to treat showers of missiles the way they would regard mildly annoying shifts in the weather: “Today it will be partly cloudy with a chance of rocket showers.” The IDF counts 768 rocket launches in 2012 alone, with a dramatic increase over the past month. It doesn’t speak well of mankind that anyone would expect them to quietly endure that for months on end, never mind indefinitely. And yet, it’s the Israelis who take all the heat for “escalation” and collateral damage when they respond, not the Hamas murderers with their buried missile launchers… which are not buried under clearly marked military outposts maintained by a disciplined, uniformed army.