Thursday, November 15, 2012

Operation "Pillar of Cloud" - Latest Battle in Gaza

Hamas Military Leader Al-Jabari Killed by the IDF


 "God's angel had been traveling in front of the Israelite camp, but now it moved and went behind them. The pillar of cloud thus moved from in front of them and stood at their rear."

This passage from the book of Shemot (Exodus) 14:19 references the protective "pillar of cloud" that was intended to defend the Israelites in the course of their escape from Egypt.  

The Israeli Defence Forces have named the current operation in Gaza "Pillar of Cloud," a nod to this passage in the book of Shemot, though they have also provided an accompanying English translation - "Pillar of Defence."  

Over the past number of weeks, Israel has faced an increasing onslaught of rockets from Gaza.  These rockets have hit Israeli towns and cities of Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod and other areas.  The population in these areas has been living with the constant threat of rocket fire, forced to take cover in a bomb shelters on very short notice.  There was mounting public pressure in Israel to take action to stop these attacks.  Options included a full ground assault on Gaza (like the operation "Cast Lead") in late December 2008, a series of air attacks or other operations.  

Israel chose to begin the operation yesterday (November 14, 2012) with a series of targeted attacks against long range missile sites and the leadership of the military command of Hamas.  One of the targets was Ahmed Al-Jabari, the military chief of Hamas.  The IDF has also announced that more than 100 other targets have been attacked since the start of the operation.  More than 100 rockets have been fired back at Israel since the beginning of the operation.  Many of these have been aimed at Beersheva and some of been intercepted by Israel's "Iron Dome" system.   This morning, three Israelis were killed by a rocket that hit a building in Kiryat Malachi, a town that is located about 17 kilometres from Ashkelon.

Egypt has recalled its ambassador from Israel and has been grumbling about Israeli operations.  With the Muslim Brotherhood controlling the Egyptian government, there is definite concern about the possibility of increased hostile activity on Israel's southern border or even a broader regional escalation.  At the same time, there is widespread public support in Israel for the Gaza operation, which came in response to significant provocation by Hamas and other terrorist groups, intent on aiming rockets at civilian population centres.  Israel could not continue to absorb these rocket attacks from Gaza without eventually taking military action.

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