Israel invades Gaza; Update: "A lengthy operation"

Just a headline so far and no one else is reporting it, but they’ve been shelling northern Gaza since this morning to prepare the way so it’s not unexpected.

Now the JPost is reporting it too. Stand by for updates.

Update: From the JPost, big dividends from good intel:

The IAF also hit the home of senior Hamas commander Abu Zacharia Al-Jamal. A Hamas spokesman announced that al-Jamal was killed in the attack, which would make him the third senior operative in the group to be targeted in the past three days.


Israeli defense officials said some 10,000 troops, including tank, artillery and special operations units, were massed on the Gaza border and prepared to invade. They said top commanders were split over whether to send in ground forces, in part because such an operation could lead to heavy casualties but also because they believed Hamas already had been dealt a heavy blow. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were classified discussions.

Fox News reported earlier that Israeli leaders had okayed a ground assault while the Telegraph claimed that they’d nixed it, so it’s safe to conclude this wasn’t done without serious misgivings. I’m actually surprised they went in: They can’t stop the rockets and they surely don’t want to reoccupy, so the only goal realistically is to bloody Hamas’s nose. But they’ve already done that with the airstrikes. Upping the ante by sending in infantry only leaves them vulnerable to a 2006 scenario where Hamas “wins” by surviving. According to Haaretz, Arab leaders told Olmert, “Go in if you must, but don’t dare fail.” What will “failure” look like? What, specifically, are they after? Hamas leaders or Qassam caches, or something else?

If they’d called a ceasefire unilaterally and said, “Let that be a lesson to you,” Hamas would have fired off a few rockets and declared victory. Some victory, though — Israel’s killed several big jihadi fish and plenty of littler ones, and hit dozens of military targets with virtually no casualties on its own side. Now it’s got men in harm’s way and propaganda opportunities galore for the enemy in the form of the “resistance” chucking rocks at tanks while the media spoons it up. Exit question: Isn’t Hamas going to fire off rockets and declare victory anyway after the ground assault?

Update: The point of the war, eloquently stated by a commenter at Commentary: “The military campaign as a whole to the extent that it is conducted effectively, will greatly reduce the number of people existing right now who wish to and are capable of harming Israel. On its own terms, that’s all it can accomplish, and that’s enough. Whether it makes a few people angry in Pakistan is an incalculable-unless, for reasons of your own, you wish to give those who can rent a mob, buy colorful anti-Israel banners, and get themselves on CNN veto power over Israeli policies.”

Update: The JPost says the goal of the operation is to destroy Hamas infrastructure and seize control of launching pads in the north. For how long, though? Until they pull out in two weeks and the pads are re-seized by Hamas?

Update: I’ve said this before, but however slanted you think American media is against Israel, it really doesn’t even approach British media.

Update: “Tens of thousands” of reservists are on their way up.

Update: An IDF spokesman says there are “many, many targets,” so the world shouldn’t hold its breath waiting for a pullout. Question: Are we to infer from the timing that Obama greenlit the operation? I remember people like John Bolton speculating months ago that the IAF would make a run on Iran sometime between the election and the inauguration, partly to avoid putting the new president on the spot and partly to eliminate the possibility that he’d stop them from acting once in office. This ain’t Iran, but the principle still applies. Did The One sign off on this, or did Israel act now precisely so that he wouldn’t have to?

Update: Bits and pieces of video from the invasion.

Update: Isn’t this operation destined to be finished by Inauguration Day or very shortly thereafter? Obama’s not going to complicate his peace plans by tolerating a long Israeli incursion right out of the chute. They’re on the clock.

Update: A few careless statements from Israeli pols give the NYT all the reason it needs to up the ante further and ask whether anything short of destroying Hamas will do.

Vice Premier Haim Ramon went even further Friday night in an interview on Israeli television, saying Israel must not end this operation with Hamas in charge of Gaza.

“What I think we need to do is to reach a situation in which we do not allow Hamas to govern,” Mr. Ramon said on Channel One. “That is the most important thing.”…

“If the war ends in a draw, as expected, and Israel refrains from reoccupying Gaza, Hamas will gain diplomatic recognition,” wrote Aluf Benn, a political analyst, in the newspaper Haaretz on Friday. “No matter what you call it,” he added, “Hamas will obtain legitimacy.”…

[E]ven if Israel intends to hold back from completely overthrowing Hamas, its choice of assault tactics could head that way anyway. And the Israelis may already be facing a kind of mission creep: after all, if enough of Hamas’s infrastructure is destroyed, the prospect of governing Gaza, a densely populated, refugee-filled area whose weak economy has been devastated by the Israeli-led boycott, will be exceedingly difficult.