Israel launches ground operation in Gaza

The primary targets are tunnels Hamas has been using to infiltrate Israel, one of which was exploited just last night in an attempted raid on a kibbutz. (It ended badly for the Palestinians, as you’ll see in the first clip below.) But closing those tunnels won’t stop the rockets. The invasion will necessarily be broader, as an Israeli defense official warned the NYT just yesterday.

Big day in “America’s completely lost control of world events” news, huh?

“The prime minister and defense minister have instructed the IDF to begin a ground operation tonight in order to hit the terror tunnels from Gaza into Israel,” the statement said.

Witnesses and Gaza residents reported heavy artillery and naval shelling along the Gaza border, Reuters reported.

The Israeli ground invasion of Gaza Strip comes hours after a five-hour “humanitarian truce” ended.

Is this a “ground operation” or a military reoccupation of Gaza to disarm Hamas? The official who spokes to the Times wasn’t ruling anything out:

The military official said only “boots on the ground” could eradicate terrorism from Gaza and indicated that Israel was even considering a long-term reoccupation of the coastal territory…

“We can hurt them very hard from the air but not get rid of them,” he told a handful of international journalists in a briefing at the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters. An Israeli takeover of Gaza would not be “a huge challenge,” he said, estimating that it would take “a matter of days or weeks.” But he added that preventing a more dangerous deterioration in the territory would require a presence “of many months.”

Thirteen months ago, with Morsi in power in Egypt, trying to smash the Muslim Brotherhood’s pals in Gaza would have been fraught. Today, with Sisi in charge and intent on stomping the Brotherhood, Netanyahu has lots of options. In fact, per Legal Insurrection, Egypt’s already issued a statement blaming Hamas for the conflict. That’s how confident Sisi is that he has the Islamists by the throat. No reoccupation of Gaza will threaten the Camp David accords.

Could Israel finish off Hamas? Sure, especially right now. They’re unpopular, the Gazan economy’s in ruins, and they’ve lost their big brother(hood) across the border. They’re ripe for the picking, if Netanyahu wants to pick — which he probably doesn’t. You know why. When you’re dealing with a culture of fanatics, better the fanatic you know than the fanatic you don’t.