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Israel Intensifies Attacks On Gaza, Hints At Ground Invasion

Gaza Attack

The conflict between Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza appears to be intensifying yet again, and there are at least some indication that we could be headed for yet another Israeli land invasion of the crowded Gaza Strip:

JERUSALEM — Israel began an intensive aerial offensive in Gaza early Tuesday, bombing more than 50 targets, including at least four homes that the military said belonged to militants, after about 80 rockets were fired out of Gaza on Monday, reaching deep into southern Israel. Military officials said additional reservists were being called up in anticipation of a possible ground assault.

As the airstrikes and rocket fire continued on Tuesday, the Israeli military said that its targets had included what it called a “terror command center embedded within civilian infrastructure” utilized by a militant in the southern Gazan town of Rafah. Nine people were lightly wounded in an airstrike on a house in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, according to Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesman for the Health Ministry in the Palestinian coastal enclave, which is dominated by Hamas, the Islamic militant group.

The air campaign comes after three weeks of escalating confrontation, with rocket attacks from Gaza against southern Israel, and Israeli airstrikes on targets it has described as concealed rocket launchers, training sites and weapons manufacturing facilities associated with Hamas and other militant groups. It also comes against the backdrop of broader Israeli-Palestinian tensions following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month and what appeared to be a grisly revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem last week.

Al Aksa radio, run by Hamas, reported that residents received warnings a few minutes before the houses were bombed. Hamas’s military wing said in an emailed statement that the bombing of the houses was “a serious escalation” that “will oblige us to enlarge our attacks deeper into Israel.”

Early on Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Twitter that they had “commenced Operation Protective Edge in Gaza against Hamas in order to stop the terror Israel’s citizens face on a daily basis.”

According to a statement from his office, the Israeli defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, said that “Hamas is leading this current confrontation to a place in which it aspires to exact a heavy price from our home front.”

“In the last few hours we have attacked with force and struck dozens of Hamas’s assets,” Mr. Yaalon added, saying that the military was “continuing its offensive effort in a manner that will exact a very heavy price from Hamas.” He said the campaign was likely to last more than a few days.

In a conference call with reporters, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said there would be “a gradual increase in the pressure we are putting on Hamas.”

Further details of the announcement from the Israeli military make it seem as though a ground invasion is certainly being considered, if it hasn’t been decided upon already. Additionally, it was announced just a few hours ago that the military had been authorized to call up an additional 40,000 reservists in connection with ongoing operations. Given all of that, the prospect of an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza seems to be quite high.

The outcome of such an operation, of course, is rather inevitable. The superior Israeli forces will overwhelm Hamas and, at least temporarily, impede its ability to launch rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. At the same time, though, its inevitable that such an attack will lead to the kind of civilian casualties that will inflame Palestinian passions yet again, in no small part due to both the congested nature of Gaza itself and the fact that Hamas commonly stations its resources in areas that are populated by civilians, Even with the most precise attacks and airstrikes, civilian casualties are inevitable. At some point, Israel will declare the operation a success and withdraw. Things will be quiet for awhile, only to ramp up again when Hamas has recovered. It’s all a perfectly vicious little circle.

At the same time, though, I’m not sure what the solution to this particular problem would be short of military action. The issues that Israel has with Hamas are, in many ways, fundamentally different from the ones it has with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. In the later case, the conflict revolves around issues regarding settlement expansion and the status of Jersusalem. These are, in the end, issues that ought to be capable of being resolved diplomatically if and when the parties reach the point that they are really willing to do so. When it comes to Hamas, though, the issues are close to being existential from Israel’s point of view, or at least far less capable of being resolved diplomatically under current circumstances. Unlike the Palestinian Authority, Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and dedicates itself to the destruction of the State of Israel. This was the same position that was once taken by the PLO under Yassir Arafat, and relations between Israel and the PLO did not change until the organization retreated from that stance. On top of that, Hamas has engaged in a consistent campaign of terrorism in the form of suicide bombers and rocket attacks against civilian targets that is clearly designed to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible, and of course to terrorize. How, exactly, Israel is supposed to deal with such an organization diplomatically is unclear.

Photo via New York Times

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    WORST. ALLY. EVER.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 12

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Things will be quiet for awhile, only to ramp up again when Hamas has recovered. It’s all a perfectly vicious little circle.

    Are Hamas and Likud married? ‘Cause they sure sound like some of my old South Side neighbors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. Mr. X says:

    @C. Clavin:

    STFU moron.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 14

  4. In light of the comment by @Mr. X, I am going to refer everyone to our comment policy. Please try to abide by it, and avoid personal attacks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. C. Clavin says:

    @Mr. X:
    Well, now…that convinces me…they aren’t the worst ally ever.
    Thanks for showing me the error of my viewpoint.
    You are obviously an experienced and skilled master-debater.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

  6. MR X says:

    @C. Clavin:

    You are truly the worst person on here. You make stupid statements like Worst Ally Ever and whining about anything you disagree with.

    You sir a 21st century liberal always there to defend gays, ridicule religion, fight over the Redskins ,mock the GOP,, defend illegal immigration and always reliably there to defend poor Hamas against big bad Israel. Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and believes Israel does not have the right to exist. Israel has the right to take whatever action necessary to defend itself.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 15

  7. MR X says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    My apologies Doug..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  8. Tillman says:

    Israel’s not very good at protecting its long-term interests, is it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    Yes I use my real name. @C. Clavin: Israel never has been an ally but what is known as a client state but in the case of Israel it far too often has been the tail wagging the dog.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  10. steve says:

    I dont understand Israel’s end game here. They could, in theory, reach a diplomatic solution with the PA, but they keep building new settlements. It certainly doesn’t look like they ever intend to reach an agreement. Look at the demographics. How do they avoid an apartheid state?

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @steve: They make all the Palestinians move to Jordan. Seriously, this is how some of the far right propose to solve that problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    This latest round started when three teenagers (one American) were kidnapped and murdered. The Palestinian response? They stoned the ambulance transporting their bodies.

    Then a single Palestinian was kidnapped and murdered. The Israelis responded by declaring it a crime and investigating. They have three suspects in custody, and they have reportedly confessed. If convicted, they will not face the death penalty, as Israel has no death penalty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @MR X:
    Let’s take these in order, shall we?

    always there to defend gays

    To the extent they need defending against homophobes and discrimination…yeah, sure. Gay rights are a Conservative value. All men are created equal, remember? Why do you hate America so?

    ridicule religion

    You betcha. Religion is a long-form scam that preys on the insecurities of man. What makes you think your god, for whom there is no proof… is any more valid than the Greek or Roman Gods…for whom there is no proof? Arrogance. That’s all. It’s all fiction…but your arrogance and insecurities won’t let you see that.

    fight over the Redskins

    Actually I think the only comments I have made on the topic are mocking the topic. Full disclosure; I once worked for the Cowboys. No matter…I think the whole thing is silly.

    mock the GOP

    If ever something deserved mocking…

    defend illegal immigration

    You would have to show me an example of me defending illegal immigration. I do believe Immigration needs to be reformed. My family immigrated to this country. Just because I got lucky doesn’t mean I want to drag the ladder up behind me. Why shouldn’t others get lucky? It’s a Conservative value.

    and always reliably there to defend poor Hamas against big bad Israel.

    You will note I did not and have not defended Hamas. I did note that Israel is a bad ally. They continually work against the best interests of the United States. That to me is the definition of a bad ally.

    As to being a liberal…actually I am socially liberal…live and let live…but I tend toward economic Conservatism. The problem is that Republicans are no longer Conservative…and the Republican view of what is Conservative has become so bastardized as to be unrecognizable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  14. MR X says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Israel is a the Ultimate ALLY of the US. How may other countries in the world support the United States unwaveringly?

    Israel is the only Middle Eastern country never to oppose America on major international issues. Israel votes almost identical to the US in the UN. Israel is also the only country capable of deterring Hamas and Hezbollah and preventing the spread of Iranian hegemony.

    THE Israeli military is also larger than the French and British armies combined and can mobilize within hours. Beginning with the Korean conflict and throughout the Cold War, Israel backed America’s military engagements, and it has maintained that support in the struggle with radical Islam. If Israel is not an Ally, I don’t who is..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

  15. C. Clavin says:

    Our relationship with Israel makes our strategic aims in the Middle East almost impossible to achieve…for which we pay them $3B a year. Somewhere, somehow, someone thinks that makes sense.
    Peace would make it much easier for the US to pursue its other goals. Israel continually works against peace. It’s pretty basic math.
    And saying Israel is our Ultimate Ally…ad nauseum…doesn’t make it so.
    We should stop aid to anyone in the region. Switzerland as it were. We gain nothing…nothing….from helping Israel or anyone else there.
    Take away their money and see how fast they start toeing the line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  16. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: We gain nothing…nothing….from helping Israel or anyone else there.

    Here, Cliffy, go and educate yourself.

    Please divest yourself of any computers you have that use Intel processors, or any cell phones that uses voice mail — they’re both products of the ZIonist state. That’s just two examples off the top of my head.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  17. Koose E Mack says:

    Ok maven of foreign diplomacy….what are our strategic aims in the Middle East (aside from the obvious need to keep oil flowing to and from the region)?
    First, your argument is flawed for several reasons:
    1) Other countries in the ME, i.e. Jordan,Turkey, and Egypt also receive military aid from the US.
    2) Israel is the bastion of Democracy and Western/US values.
    3) The US keeps vast amounts of weapons at bases in Israel in the event of strategic emergencies.
    4) There is full military research cooperation between the US and Israel.
    5) US interests in fighting world terror are also Israel’s interest. They are on the front lines of the war on terror.
    6) The last two US Administrations have screwed up ME policy so badly, that it has allowed both Shiite and Sunni Radicals to run amok in Iraq and Syria. This will have adverse affects on the US homeland…Not if, but when!
    7) Hamas, Hezbollah, The Muslim Brotherhood, PLO, etc are equally as anti West/US as they are anti Israel…Hence, when Israel fights these savages, they are fighting our fight as well.
    8) You sir, sound to me like a “useful idiot” or at best, an Anti Semite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  18. C. Clavin says:

    2) Israel is the bastion of Democracy and Western/US values.

    How in the world does a Government made up almost exclusively of one people in anyway represent US values?
    I mean…that is probably the US you dream about…but it’s not really a US value.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: @C. Clavin: How in the world does a Government made up almost exclusively of one people in anyway represent US values?

    Cliffy, just… stop. Even for you, you’re embarrassing yourself.

    Fun Facts About Israel:

    Ethnic groups:

    Jewish 75.1% (of which Israel-born 73.6%, Europe/America/Oceania-born 17.9%, Africa-born 5.2%, Asia-born 3.2%), non-Jewish 24.9% (mostly Arab) (2012 est.)

    Religions:

    Jewish 75.1%, Muslim 17.4%, Christian 2%, Druze 1.6%, other 3.9% (2012 est.)

    I’d argue that Israel is probably the most diverse nation in the whole Middle East.

    Oh, you said GOVERNMENT. Currently, 10% of the Knesset are Arab.

    Need more rope, Cliffy, or are you done hanging yourself?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  20. C. Clavin says:

    In almost the entire world…90% is almost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: In almost the entire world…90% is almost.

    1) I said “in the Middle East.”

    2) What countries would you consider more diverse than Israel?

    3) You really are THAT stupid, aren’t you? You really don’t know how to stop digging, do you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  22. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Oh, and Cliffy? I just gotta keep throwing dirt on you in your little hole.

    In the current US Senate, it’s 1 black (Republican), 3 Hispanic (2 Republican), 1 Asian, and the rest are white.

    Keep on digging, Cliffy. There’s gotta be a pony in there somewhere…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  23. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    And back on topic: Hamas is now firing unguided rockets into Israel. Doesn’t that count as “collective punishment,” as Israel’s attacks usually get called?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  24. C. Clavin says:

    Holy crap…can someone please tell me when Caucasian became an ethnoreligious group?
    I’m always the last to know about these things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  25. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Cliffy, it’s no one’s problem but yours if you’re too stupid to actually say what you meant. You said, and I quote, “a Government made up almost exclusively of one people,” and I pointed out how incredibly stupid you were.

    Which isn’t much of a challenge, really. But it’s too damned hot for much effort.

    I’m always the last to know about these things.

    Now that’s just not true, either, Cliffy. You’re never “the last to know” things, because you never actually know anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  26. DC Loser says:

    This thread was over a long time ago when “anti-semite” was invoked. Same as Godwin’s Law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  27. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    You didn’t point out anything…except that the Israeli Government is made up of 90% Jews…which is…as a point of fact…almost entirely.
    The you tried to equate an ethnoreligious group to a genetic race in an effort to minimize your initial error.
    Saying you did “x” when you did no such thing doesn’t automatically make it so.
    Please just go away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Cliffy, I’ll repeat my initial point, since you didn’t read it then and haven’t read it since:

    I’d argue that Israel is probably the most diverse nation in the whole Middle East.

    Oh, you said GOVERNMENT. Currently, 10% of the Knesset are Arab.

    Just what standard are you applying here, anyway? Besides, of course, “Cliffy’s right because he says so.” That one holds zero credibility outside the vacuum that is your hyperdense skull.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  29. Grewgills says:

    @MR X:

    Israel is also the only country capable of deterring Hamas and Hezbollah and preventing the spread of Iranian hegemony.

    To think that requires a rather staggering ignorance of the ME.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  30. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’d argue that Israel is probably the most diverse nation in the whole Middle East.

    You would be wrong. The most diverse as a population and politically is Lebanon. They have Israel beat by a country mile.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  31. Cletus says:

    @Grewgills:

    Who else has the Will and power to stop Hamas and Hezbollah?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  32. Robert C says:

    @Cletus:
    Stop Hamas and Hizbullah from what??…..defending themselves, their land and their families?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  33. bill says:

    @steve: true, they could just evict them all. let some in to work and such but not become citizens. not a whole lot of successful states over there once the oils gone, yet Israel seems to do ok.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  34. Grewgills says:

    @Cletus:
    You do realize that Hamas is Sunni and Hezbollah is Shia, right? They are not coreligionists and not natural allies. Hamas is about as interested in increasing the reach and strength of Hezbollah as Saudi Arabia is interested in increasing the strength and reach of Iran. Read a little and educate yourself a bit before you post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  35. John425 says:

    Possible solution to the Gaza…The U.N. buys some of the Sinai from Egypt and moves the Palestinian squatters there, en masse. Thereafter, the Palestinians, now called Sinais, can raise their kids, screw goats and mutter into their beards.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  36. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: I thought about Lebanon, too, but I checked with the CIA World Factbook.

    [World Factbook Title]

    ABOUT
    REFERENCES
    APPENDICES
    FAQs
    CONTACT

    View Text Low Bandwidth Version
    Download Publication
    Middle East :: Lebanon

    Page last updated on June 20, 2014

    view 2 photos of
    Lebanon
    EXPAND ALL
    Introduction ::Lebanon
    Geography ::Lebanon
    People and Society ::Lebanon

    Nationality:

    noun: Lebanese (singular and plural)
    adjective: Lebanese
    Ethnic groups:

    Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%
    note: many Christian Lebanese do not identify themselves as Arab but rather as descendents of the ancient Canaanites and prefer to be called Phoenicians

    Religions:

    Muslim 54% (27% Sunni, 27% Shia), Christian 40.5% (includes 21% Maronite Catholic, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Greek Catholic, 6.5% other Christian), Druze 5.6%, very small numbers of Jews, Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, and Mormons
    note: 18 religious sects recognized (2012 est.)

    So yeah, on religions, but ethnicities? Nope. And as far as the government is concerned, it’s essentially a subsidiary of Hezbollah.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  37. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    many Christian Lebanese do not identify themselves as Arab but rather as descendents of the ancient Canaanites and prefer to be called Phoenicians

    That is an important distinction. They view themselves and are viewed by others there as different ethnicities. In the end, that is what ethnicity boils down to. There is no consistent biological definition of ethnicity.
    More importantly

    So yeah, on religions

    Cultural dividing lines are where people make them. Religion does more to make a culture different than does ethnicity. What people attribute to ethnicity is much more well explained by geography. Cultures growing up in the same space matters more than skin tone.
    Lebanon is more culturally diverse than is Israel.

    And as far as the government is concerned, it’s essentially a subsidiary of Hezbollah.

    Hezbollah is Shia. Tammam Salam is Sunni.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  38. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: OK, then: how about Israel is the most diverse functional nation in the Middle East? Would that be an acceptable compromise?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. cletus says:

    @Grewgills:

    I never said hamas and hezbollah were allies. They do though share the same goal of the absolute destruction of Israel. Maybe you should follow your own advice and read a bit. Start with their charters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. grumpy realist says:

    @MR X: Um, if stuff like the attack on the Liberty ship, Pollard, and the continued creep into the Occupied Territories is “unwavering support” I think I’d rather see what I get from my enemies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  41. Grewgills says:

    @cletus:
    Your clear implication was that they were working in concert.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  42. Cletus says:

    @Grewgills:

    NOPE. Maybe you should actually read peoples comments before you start replying.
    It’s called Reading Comprehension 101

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    I can accept one of the more culturally diverse nations in the region.
    Now, how about your comment that the Lebanese government, whose prime minister is Sunni, being a subsidiary of (Shia) Hezbollah?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Grewgills says:

    @Cletus:
    Then your comment was akin to saying who is going to keep Iran and Saudia Arabia in check. They are opposed, so the obvious answer is they keep each other in check.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: Unless things have changed in the last year or so (I don’t normally pay much attention to Lebanon), Hezbollah is the de facto government of the southern portion of Lebanon, and has the seats and the threats of violence to essentially veto anything the Lebanese government might want to do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: I’m going to reluctantly side with Cletus’ argument here; he didn’t necessarily imply Hamas and Hezbollah are allied, just that they share similar goals and methods. And to most parties concerned, the differences between the two are not overly important.

    However, his tone was unnecessarily rude, and I respect your tone in replying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  47. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    BTW, Hamas has officially attempted an act of nuclear terrorism against Israel.

    Cue the crickets…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0