Israel widens Gaza offensive, readies ground troops

posted at 8:01 am on July 9, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Israel stepped up its offensive in Gaza today, broadening its target range and hitting all along the enclave. The latest increase in activity came after Hamas increased the rate and range of its rocket attacks:

Israel ramped up its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday, bombing more than 100 targets overnight as Palestinian militants fired rockets deep into Israeli territory, striking far from the seaside enclave and reaching toward major Israeli cities and the country’s coastal high-tech corridor.

Since the Israeli offensive, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, began Tuesday, Israel has attacked more than 400 sites in Gaza, killing at least 24 people and wounding hundreds of others.

Wednesday’s strikes came after Palestinian militants from Gaza fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, including one that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera, some 70 miles from Gaza, for the first time. There were no reports of injuries from the rocket attacks, with most falling in open fields or intercepted by Israel.

The Israeli military says the Hamas rocket that struck Hadera was an M-302 class rocket, similar to ones found aboard a freighter that the Israelis intercepted in the Red Sea in March. The ship was ferrying a load of Iranian arms to Gaza when it was stopped, the Israelis said. They said Hamas militants have dozens of rockets capable of striking deeper into Israel than ever before.

They are finding less time and room to use them now. In one sign that the Israeli offensive has made its desired impact, the number of Hamas rocket launches has dropped dramatically today:

The army said it attacked more than 160 sites in Gaza early Wednesday, including 118 concealed rocket-launching sites, six Hamas compounds, 10 militant command centers, weapons storage facilities and 10 tunnels used for militant activity and to ferry supplies in from Egypt. Only four rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel overnight, the army said, a significant decline from the large number that hit Israeli cities the night before, setting off air raid sirens in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and elsewhere.

NBC calls this the heaviest fighting in years, although the Israelis conducted a similar offensive in November 2012:

What exactly is meant by asking whether this will lead to war? This obviously is war, and has been for years. Hamas fires rockets into Israel on a constant basis, and even as late as Monday morning could have avoided a military response by ending the rocket attacks. What we are seeing now is certainly an escalation in the war, but only because Israel got tired of having rockets land on their civilian population areas. Israel is always on a “war footing,” because war is a constant with Hamas.

For a depressing look into that reality, the New York Times reports on the strategy Israel employs in fighting Hamas. They have no way to win a war outright against Gaza, and they know it. The only option they have is “cutting the grass” occasionally to reduce Hamas’ ability to do damage — and that only temporarily:

Until Hamas opts for peace and a permanent two-state solution that recognizes Israel’s right to exist, a state of war will exist between the two. That’s definitional on Hamas’ part, which means Israel has no choice in the matter. Having them become a partner in the Palestinian Authority doesn’t improve matters but extends the war. At some point, Abbas and the West Bank have to decide whether they want their own state more than they want Hamas as a partner, because until Hamas accepts those conditions, the two are mutually exclusive outcomes.


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Miss Lamar

Schadenfreude on July 9, 2014 at 2:40 PM

MoreB

Schadenfreude on July 9, 2014 at 2:40 PM

They have no way to win a war outright against Gaza, and they know it. The only option they have is “cutting the grass” occasionally to reduce Hamas’ ability to do damage — and that only temporarily:

This is stupidity personified, you honestly have to be a Marxist kool-aid drinking imbecile to believe it. The question is not and never has been is there a strategy that would allow Israel to win. The question is and always has been, does Israel have the courage and stomach to employ that strategy.

The strategy is very simply, it is the oldest strategy in the history of armed conflict. You kill your enemy until either a) there are no more of your enemy left, or b) your enemy complete and totally unconditionally surrenders.

oscarwilde on July 9, 2014 at 9:30 AM

I honestly believe that Israel should deport every Arab living in Gaza and the West Bank. Give each of them a cash settlement, then wash their hands of them. The big problem is: no Arab country will accept Palestinians as anything other than inhabitants of refugee camps. No where in the Middle East are Palestinians allowed to assimilate. They are penned in refugee camps, kept in poverty and fed a constant diet of Jew-hatred.

catsandbooks on July 9, 2014 at 1:13 PM

The Arabic / Muslim nations use the Palestinians as cats-paws to manipulate events to their own advantage, counting on that conflict to divert attention from their own failings. They can preach Jew-hate in their countries while letting Hamas and Fatah take the heat on the front lines, but without giving the Palestinians enough support to actually destroy Israel – if that happens, the entire Middle East will fall into a paroxism of civil war, as we see in Iraq & Syria.

On the other hand, if Israel actually does wipe Palestine clean of the militants, the rest of the Middle East will join forces to attack, in pursuit of vengeance – otherwise, their leaders lose all their Islamic credibility (all while using Israeli technology and medical services to benefit their own people, of course).

To “kill your enemy until either a) there are no more of your enemy left, or b) your enemy complete and totally unconditionally surrenders” is only possible in a relatively closed system, not one in which each dead opponent can be replaces with hundreds of new ones.

Fifty years ago Israel could fight the Arabs to a stand-still because the Arab armies were incompetent and over-confident, and their outside partners were few. Now, all of them are battle-hardened jihadis, with several sources of supply outside the battle-ground.
Plus, no one at this point knows which way the US will jump, because of the erosion of support in the Democrats for Israel and the ignorance of the general populace of the true situation.

It’s a delicate balance all the way around.

AesopFan on July 9, 2014 at 2:48 PM

“Cutting the Grass” in Gaza … is a waste of time. Hamas is not manufacturing those weapons, they are acquiring them from outside sources. Iran or Syria or both. Hamas can’t fire a rocket at Israel if they don’t have a supply of rockets.

The grass that needs cutting is elsewhere, most likely Tehran.

Those rockets are only going to continue getting bigger and more devastating. Hamas could care less how many of their own civilians get killed by any Israeli retaliation.

rightConcept on July 9, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Hamas just turned out the most expensive targets in the world, otherwise known as their “Naval Commando Unit.”

Commandos who try to infiltrate in broad daylight and who don’t understand long-distance surveillance capabilities.

A Chair of Some Kind on July 9, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Readying ground troops, I hope they don’t forget the bulldozers to make more room for camels.

lel2007 on July 9, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Among the most oppressive regimes in the world.

libfreeordie on July 9, 2014 at 8:26 AM

Enough about the Obama Administration already. This thread is about Israel, Needlenose. You know…God’s chosen people??

bimmcorp on July 9, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Some people have said that calling this operation “mowing the grass” is dehumanizing and insensitive, and I agree, it IS insensitive – to the Grass!

I think a much better analogy would be “pumping out the cesspool”. The Isreali operation should be called “Operation Roto-Rooter”.

Tom Servo on July 9, 2014 at 3:20 PM

It is simple, if you don’t want rockets coming in, don’t send any going out. And don’t tolerate the people who do. Period.

Theophile on July 9, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Start at the northern end of Gaza, and push everything south into Egypt, leaving rubble behind.

Another Drew on July 9, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Start at the northern end of Gaza, and push everything south into Egypt, leaving rubble behind.

Another Drew on July 9, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Yep, and then invite Trump in to build beach resorts.

slickwillie2001 on July 9, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Israel has every right to respond to rocket attacks. But if their goal is to weaken Hamas, then they are failing miserably. Prior to the kidnapping/murder and associated fallout Hamas was weak. Hamas were unable to pay their own staff and militia and they had lost popular support but Israeli attacks on Gaza have pumped new life into the organization and their support grows with every strike.

lexhamfox on July 9, 2014 at 9:16 PM

Ya think Israel may cut off the free water, gas and electric going to the rocket launchers in Gaza?

Rea1ityCheck on July 9, 2014 at 9:30 PM

The cutting-the-grass thing has been around for a long time.
The mentality of the Muslim world and especially the extremist Arabs in and around Israel is not going anywhere.

We can kill their soldiers/militants, we can deplete their caches of weapons and rockets, but they’ll still hate us and with time replenish both fighters and weapons.

The goal of Israel is to make the interfering and preaching world see what has been painfully obvious since 1920 to the locals but not so much to the foreign public and diplomats: this is not up to Israel, there is nothing Israel can *do* to end the conflict. All of Israel’s ingenuity, all that Jewish brain power, all those invested billions (if not trillions) into the project of “Palestine” nation building by the world community, nothing is making it work for almost a century now.

Only a mentality change in the Arab world and wider Muslim world can solve the conflict.

What’s going on right now is just a short little chapter in the ongoing saga.

AlexB on July 9, 2014 at 11:46 PM

You want to cut the grass, kill the seeds. Israel doesn’t have the firepower for outright depopulation short of unlocking her Armageddon arsenal…but how about wide-area sterility-inducing chemical weapons? You want a semi-permanent solution to Muslim violence, there’s a possibility.

LawfulGood on July 10, 2014 at 3:07 AM

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