Showing posts with label Rockets from Gaza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rockets from Gaza. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 7: Operation Pillar of Cloud: On the Edge

Some Assembled Israeli Troops - Sunday Nov 18, 2012
There have been a number of developments in Israel's latest battle with Gaza.  It appears that Operation Pillar of Cloud is now at a critical point.  If Israel and Hamas do not reach a truce deal within a day or two, it appears likely that Israel will commence a, full scale ground invasion of Gaza.  According to the IDF, there are approximately 57,000 troops assembled and ready to commence the attack.  Last night, Israel's cabinet met late into the night to discuss truce options.  The cabinet is said to have concluded that there were no viable cease fire options at this point but that it was committed to trying to reach a deal.  Israel's main concern is that a limited cease fire deal that would simply allow Hamas to rearm with new weapons from Iran and then start another round of fighting after a short lull.  This would not be an acceptable outcome.

There has been a flurry of diplomatic activity.  Secretary General of the U.N. Ban-Ki Moon has become involved, a joint French-Qatari truce proposal was presented to both sides and various other countries have been meeting in Cairo with Egypt acting as the lynchpin to most of these discussions.  The German foreign minister just completed a meeting with Israeli officials.  U.S. Secretary of State Clinton in en route to Israel.  In a televised interview yesterday, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal taunted the Israelis to begin a ground invasion and made various threats about the damage that Hamas would cause if such an invasion were to incur.   He insisted that Israel had "requested" the cease fire talks even though Israelis spokespeople stated that this comment was about as accurate as Hamas claims that it had attacked Israel's parliament or shot down F-16s (neither of which have occurred).  Of course, this may have been posturing to try to claim victory on behalf of Gaza residents, who have faced some very serious attacks from the Israeli air force and have suffered heavy losses.

Nevertheless, there is no cease fire in place at this point.  This morning, Hamas ramped up its rocket attacks.  More than 60 rockets were fired at Israel between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. alone, with 20 of these rockets fired at Beersheva.  Although many of these missiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome, three rockets hit targets in Beersheva, causing significant damage.  A shopping mall was hit, a home was destroyed and a passenger bus (with passengers) was hit.  There are reports of numerous injuries, some of which are apparently very serious.

YNet News Photo - Beersheva Nov 20, 2012
While it is often common in these situations for the two sides to ramp up their final attacks just before a cease fire, this latest round of attacks on Beersheva and Ashkelon is bound to harden the resolve of Israel's southern residents who are demanding results from this operation.  It is Israeli residents in the south who have been facing rocket barrages for years and who have pushed the government most adamantly to take action on behalf of their cities and on behalf of the whole country.  It is crucial for the Israeli government that any truce deal guarantees a fairly lengthy period without rocket fire.  |Without this kind of deal, it would make little sense for Israel to halt its operation.

Meanwhile. the IDF continued its attacks on different parts of Gaza overnight, aiming at military targets, weapons storage facilities, missile launching sites and Hamas military leaders.  Reports from Gaza have indicated that more than 100 Gaza residents have been killed since the start of these hostilities, at least 20 of whom have been civilians.  It is hard to imagine that a continued battle with Israel is really a good thing for the people of Gaza.  It seems that it would be much better to negotiate a longer term deal that would address concerns that both sides have.  However, at this point, there is little indication that the two sides have been able to reach this type of deal.  It remains to be seen whether talks will progress today and tomorrow or whether the situation will deteriorate further.

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.