Israeli Ground Forces Move Into Gaza

As no doubt everyone knows by now, the IDF has moved tanks and troops into Gaza to attack Hamas directly.

Israeli tanks and troops launched a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip Saturday night with officials saying they expected a lengthy fight with Hamas militants in the densely populated territory after eight days of punishing airstrikes failed to halt rocket attacks on Israel.
Hamas vowed that Gaza would be a “graveyard” for Israelis forces.

“This will not be easy and it will not be short,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said soon after the ground invasion began.

The incursion was preceded by several hours of heavy artillery fire after dark, igniting flames in the night sky. Machine gun fire rattled as bright tracer rounds flashed through the darkness and the crash of hundreds of shells sent up streaks of fire.

I suppose that, given the quantum mechanical nature of the universe, it is within the realm of possibility that this action will cause lasting damage to Hamas and turn the Palestinian people against them. However, this is not the way to bet. Given the history of this conflict and human nature in general, I suspect that this will rally the Palestinians even further into the Hamas camp and Israel will withdraw within a few weeks, causing both Hamas and Israel to claim “victory.”

FILED UNDER: Middle East, , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Brett says:

    It’s almost kind of sickeningly amusing. Hamas seizes control of Gaza in 2006, to which Israel responds by instituting a partial (not complete, since they don’t have control over the Gaza-Egypt border)blockade presumably designed to remove Hamas from power and cut off their ability to possibly launch rockets at southern Israeli towns like what Hezbollah was doing.

    In response, Hamas does what it can … it launches rockets. To which Israel tightens the blockade, to which Hamas launches more rockets. Finally, Israel decides this isn’t working, and just does a smackdown on Gaza, leading to a great increase in Hamas-launched rockets, all for the purpose of . . .stopping rockets from landing on southern Israeli towns.




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  2. Dave Schuler says:

    In response, Hamas does what it can

    That strikes me as a rather oddly benign view of Hamas—they had many more options open to them than launching rockets into Israel. For example, they could have forsworn violence and enforced that in the Palestinian territories.

    Also, why is it assumed that Hamas is firing rockets into Israel rather than that Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel?




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  3. MichaelB says:

    I don’t know about that – after Operation Defensive Shield, suicide bombings were dramatically reduced. Clearly it is possible to dramatically reduce incidents of Palestinian terrorism through military action, if properly conducted.




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  4. Alex Knapp says:

    I don’t know about that – after Operation Defensive Shield, suicide bombings were dramatically reduced.

    Also after Operation Defensive Shield, Hamas got their hands on a lot more capability for rocket attacks. Do you really think it was the operation that led to a decrease in suicide attacks? I suggest that it would be the increase in availability of other methods of attack.




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  5. Brett says:

    That strikes me as a rather oddly benign view of Hamas—they had many more options open to them than launching rockets into Israel. For example, they could have forsworn violence and enforced that in the Palestinian territories.

    Why should they? Declaring a truce didn’t bring them anything material – Israel continued and even tightened the blockade whether or not Hamas was actually firing rockets (as I pointed out). They didn’t reign in Islamic Jihad and their ilk, but I can see why they didn’t bother, when Israel’s goal was basically to remove Hamas from power whether or not Hamas was attacking them.

    Also, why is it assumed that Hamas is firing rockets into Israel rather than that Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel?

    The lack of rockets flying in from the West Bank?

    Much of the rockets during the “ceasefire” came from subsidiary groups like Islamic Jihad, which Hamas probably could have reined in, eventually (it takes time to track down and stop all those attacks, particularly since the short-range rockets can be made domestically in Gaza). But why should they? Israel wasn’t going to reward them for it – Israel wanted Hamas out of power, and Fatah back in. Perhaps if they had actually offered to lift the blockade in exchange for Hamas reining in their flunkies, it might have made the difference, but no, that would be negotiating with terrorists.




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  6. caj says:

    Israel should not be in Gaza at all, they have no right to invade …..send in war planes, send in tanks and destroy anything and everything. Just who do they think they are that they can come and go as they please, do what they like and the US just sits idly by and watches.
    Bush condemning Hamas….well, what a surprise that was…when are we going to get a backbone and see Israel for what they are…bully boys who want to own the whole region and will stop at nothing to get it.
    Yet another stain on the US for condoning this repulsive action by Israel and the world will not forget….and we wonder why nobody likes us!!!




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  7. Brett says:

    Although I think it was political and military idiocy that led to this situation on the part of Israel, they had a legitimate right to strike back at Hamas for firing rockets at their southern cities. I’m hoping, but doubtful, that they’ll actually purge Hamas from Gaza (since the Fatahists there have been either suppressed or driven out) – but I understand why Hamas has support.

    Of course, this means that next time the Israelis let the Palestinians have a democratic election, they’d better mean it.




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  8. Chadzilla says:

    Israel’s playing the hand they’ve been dealt. The real source of the problem is Iran. Over the last five years, Iran has been actively pursuing a policy of isolating Israel – whether financing and supplying Hezbollah in the north, swallowing their Shiite pride and financing/supplying Hamas in the south, or encouraging the international monetary markets to un-peg oil from the dollar, they are actively trying to isolate Israel economically, politically, and militarily.

    The source of this trouble is not Hamas or even Israel. The source is the cash, advisers, and rockets that have been flowing in from Iran ever since their trial run two years ago in the Hezbollah War of July 2006. This is one well that needs to dry up.




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  9. mike says:

    Does anyone really believe that if Israel was never attacked again that Israel would ever again bomb/defend itself against Hamas/Palestine? The people chose their gov’t (Hamas) and this is the result. Whenever I do something incorrectly, I try to learn from my mistake – why don’t the palestinians ever learn – just leave Israel alone and you will be fine.




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  10. charles johnson says:

    The lack of rockets flying in from the West Bank?

    Brett, that’s just Dave trying to define ‘all Palestinians’ as the enemy. He’s the local Hannity.




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  11. Dave Schuler says:

    That’s a particularly stupid thing to say, charles.

    Hamas has specifically denied responsibility. They blame it on Israel. I’d certainly be interested in your evidence that Hamas is responsible for the rocket attacks. Brett’s inference above is pretty weak evidence—there are plenty of other explanations other than that Hamas is directly responsible for the rockets, e.g. it’s easier to smuggle munitions into Gaza than into the West Bank, Hamas is less willing or able to prevent attacks than Fatah is, and so on.

    I don’t think that all Palestinians in Gaza are firing missiles into Israel nor do I think that everybody who hates Israel in Gaza is Hamas. Nor do I think that Israel’s interests are synoymous with ours.




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  12. MichaelB says:

    Alex, Sure after Defensive Shield rocket attacks became a much bigger thing. This was in part because the infrastructure that supported suicide bombings was largely destroyed and other measures made them much more difficult. Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade has been less active these last few years.

    Comparing the lethality of the suicide bombings of 2002 with the rocket attacks of 2008 suggests that the long term result of Defensive Shield (along with a lot of other things) has been a dramatic reduction in the capability of Palestinian terrorist groups to kill Israeli civilians.

    In light of that, it seems odd to suggest that it’s virtually certain that Israel cannot substantially improve its security through military means – whatever the wisdom of the current operation.




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  13. Brett says:

    They blame it on Israel.

    I’m very curious as to where you found that claim, Dave. None of the major papers are posting any declaration about Hamas specifically denying the current firing of rockets into southern Israel.

    In the past, during the so-called ceasefire, and as I pointed out, Hamas largely let the smaller groups, like Islamic Jihad, do the rocket firing. Do you rebut that?

    or do I think that everybody who hates Israel in Gaza is Hamas.

    No, but you seem to be denying that they are most likely the ones responsible for the firing of the current rockets into areas like Beersheba, even though it has been widely reported that Hamas has been receiving longer-range rockets and support from Iran.




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