The Treacherous Task of Tunnel Demolition - Mitch Ginsburg
Israel has sent in troops to find and destroy the underground tunnels in Gaza that stretch all along the border. Brig. Gen. Shimi Daniel, a former commander of the combat engineering corps, told Channel 2 news that the entrance shafts of the tunnels are located within civilian homes and that, by the time troops arrive, "they've already poured fresh concrete over the opening."
Once detected, soldiers specializing in counter-tunnel operations lower a robot into the shaft which sends back video and has the capacity to map the contours of the tunnel. Afterward, the army will send explosive-detecting dogs into the tunnel. Some of the recently discovered tunnels are more than 60-feet deep and over a mile long. Many branch out near the border with multiple exits.
Once detected, the tunnels can be struck from above. Brig. Gen. Asaf Agmon said the concrete-reinforced tunnels are readily penetrated by a standard one-ton bomb with a delayed fuse. However, a former commander of the combat engineering corps said that in order to completely dismantle a tunnel system, hundreds of pounds of explosives have to be inserted all along its length.
(Times of Israel)
Put an End to Terrorism Roulette - Avi Dichter
There is no Iron Dome against the terror tunnels. They can't be intercepted. So the ground incursion into Gaza is both appropriate and justified. Operation Protective Edge must not only destroy the tunnels, but also arrest terrorists and collect intelligence, demolish structures used by Hamas leaders and members, eliminate terrorist hotbeds, weapons-making operations and hiding places, and more.
In 2002, during the Second Intifada, the citizens of Israel woke up to suicide bombings every day until Operation Defensive Shield smashed terrorism in Judea-Samaria [the West Bank]. There is no question that the residents of southern Israel cannot be left to face terrorism from Gaza. For 13 years, they've woken up and lived their lives playing Russian roulette.
The tunnels are dug deep beneath Gaza and reach Israeli territory with one goal - to allow large terrorist forces to execute a surprise attack, murdering Israelis and then vanishing back into the Strip with civilians or soldiers as hostages.
The writer is former head of the Israel Security Agency, public security minister, and homefront defense minister.
The Hamas Fortress of Sejaiya
The Battle of Sejaiya - Amos Harel
Hamas is currently busy trying to portray the battle of Sejaiya as an epic event of legendary proportions, depicting its courageous fighters as having stopped the most powerful army in the Middle East, which sustained casualties.
On Sunday a large force from the Golani Brigade was sent to the most densely populated area of Gaza. Hamas, which fled a similar confrontation in 2009, held its ground this time and fought back. Dozens of its fighters opened fire at advancing Golani units, firing anti-tank missiles and detonating explosive charges.
Characteristically, Golani soldiers fought bravely and with determination. Under difficult circumstances they struggled to extricate their fallen and wounded comrades. Furthermore, part of the operation was postponed for 24 hours, since too many residents had ignored the IDF's requests to evacuate. Very few armies operate this way when fighting an armed guerilla group in dense urban areas. It is doubtful whether the IDF will continue to do so as the fighting continues.
One is encouraged by the fighting spirit of the units involved and by the efficient operations on many fronts, as well as by the fact that for every commander who was injured in Gaza there were three officers who volunteered to replace him.
All the News Hamas Sees Fit to Print - Noah Pollak
The New York Times appears to be complying with a Hamas demand that the only pictures from Gaza are of civilians and never of fighters. The most influential news organization in the world is manufacturing an utterly false portrait of the battle - precisely the portrait that Hamas finds most helpful: embattled, victimized Gaza civilians under attack by a cruel Israeli military.
Nearly every picture from Israel depicts tanks, soldiers, or attack helicopters. And every picture of Gaza depicts either bloodied civilians, destroyed buildings, overflowing hospitals, or other images of civilian anguish. It is as one-sided and misleading a depiction of the Gaza battle as one can imagine.
There are no images of Israelis under rocket attack, no images of grieving Israeli families and damaged Israeli buildings, no images of Hamas fighters or rocket attacks on Israel, no images of the RPGs and machine guns recovered from attempted Hamas tunnel infiltrations into Israel.
Palestinians See Support Lacking from Arab Leaders
- Kareem Fahim
A few hours before Israel launched its ground assault of Gaza, Egypt's official state news agency quoted the country's foreign minister as blaming Hamas for the deaths of at least 40 Palestinians. The statement, which also criticized Qatar and Turkey, said the deaths would have been prevented if Hamas had signed an Egyptian cease-fire initiative. Egyptian television hosts continued to thunder against Hamas, while the Egyptian army turned back an aid convey for Gaza.
(New York Times)
Israel Opening Field Hospital for Palestinians in Gaza
The IDF will open a field hospital at the Erez Crossing on Sunday to supply medical assistance and humanitarian care to Palestinians from Gaza.
(Israel Defense Forces)
A Push into Gaza, But the Ground Has Shifted - Jodi Rudoren
Twice before, Israel battled Hamas and halted under international pressure without eliminating the threat of rocket fire. But this time, analysts say, the landscape is different. Israel has publicly framed a clear agenda targeting tunnels it says militants built to store weapons or stage attacks on its territory. This time, a weakened Hamas cannot turn to Egypt for respite. This time, Western leaders appear more patient.
(New York Times)
Bill Clinton: Hamas' "Crass Strategy" Is to Kill Palestinians
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton told India's NDTV: "Hamas was perfectly well aware of what would happen if they started raining rockets into Israel. They fired one thousand and they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them."
"In the short and medium term Hamas can inflict terrible public relations damage by forcing (Israel) to kill Palestinian civilians to counter Hamas. But it's a crass strategy that takes all of our eyes off the real objective which is a peace..."
Diplomatic Divide Saps U.S. Push for Cease-Fire - Jay Solomon
Israel and Egypt are voicing criticism of Qatar and Turkey playing a role in any efforts to end the fighting in Gaza, due to these countries' financial and diplomatic support for Hamas and its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. The Obama administration, however, is seeking to use those two countries as intermediaries. "We think they all have a role that they could play and we're encouraging them to play that role to the [maximum] position," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday, referring to Turkey and Qatar.
"These external players are trying to prolong the conflict for their own political objectives," said a senior Arab diplomat involved in the negotiations. "They've encouraged Hamas and PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] to reject the cease-fire."
(Wall Street Journal)
|Anti-Israel riot in Paris turns violent|
Anti-Israel Rallies Held in Paris, London, Brussels
14 French police officers were wounded and 38 people were arrested at an unauthorized rally by 3,000 protesters in Paris protesting Israel's actions in Gaza on Saturday. In Brussels, calls to "kill the Jews" were heard at a demonstration of a few thousand people, where approximately 200 protesters smashed shop windows and parked cars. In London, 10,000 people attended a protest rally that featured calls to destroy Israel.
Livni: All Options on Table, Including Bringing Down Hamas
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was asked in a Channel 2 interview Friday to confirm that the goal of Israel's current ground offensive in Gaza is not to destroy Hamas. "I'm not taking anything off the table," she replied. She said Hamas, in rejecting Egyptian cease-fire efforts, and attempting to murder Israeli civilians via ongoing rocket fire and under-border tunnel infiltrations, had shown that it "lives in a completely different opera." Hamas appeared to think that it could come out of this conflict with political gains, she said. "I hope they understand today that's not going to happen." Livni expressed her "full support" for the ground offensive.
(Times of Israel)
Israel Assisting Arab National Security Against Iran - Tony Badran
Hamas' military activity is dependent on Tehran's backing and is in line with Iranian interests. Gaza represents the southern front - Lebanon being the northern counterpart - of an Iranian strategy to deploy long-range rockets and missiles on Israel's borders capable of targeting all of its cities. Sure enough, Iranian Revolutionary Guards officials emphasized on Monday how Gaza demonstrated that all of Israel was now within range of the rockets they supply.
The deterrence that Israel established in Lebanon in 2006 is what it is trying to recreate in Gaza, in cooperation with Egypt. Insofar as Israel intercepts destabilizing Iranian weapons, or strikes them before entering Lebanon or Egypt, Israel is acting as a guarantor of Arab national security in the eastern Mediterranean.
The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Mofaz's Gaza 'demilitarization for dollars' plan gains traction
A plan for ending the current conflict between Israel and the Hamas by offering a huge sum in return for demilitarization continued gaining support Monday as the operation entered its third week.
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister and IDF chief of General Staff presented the plan last week to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The prime minister immediately endorsed the idea and first spoke about demilitarizing Gaza as a goal at a Knesset press conference with Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini.
Mofaz also received endorsements from outgoing President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor). He was due to present it to American officials Monday ahead of the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry. Mofaz's Kadima colleague, MK Yisrael Hasson, has presented it in Arabic to Palestinian Authority officials.
“It's thinking outside the box so it should be seriously considered and transformed from an idea to a work plan,” Mofaz said. “If all the relevant players do their part, it could yield long-term results.”
The plan calls for the international community to oversee the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip using the same system that is successfully ridding Syria of chemical weapons. In return, Arab countries and the international community would provide the Palestinian Authority with fifty billion dollars to rehabilitate refugee camps and build the Gaza Strip.