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Israel and Hamas--another kabuki dance

Israel and the terrorist group Hamas are again exchanging missiles and rockets. As usual Hamas is coming out the net “loser”. This kabuki dance has played out every several years for more than a decade.

The process is a cycle apparently without end. One side or the other has a grievance or creates one to justify attacks. Israel always acts or retaliates with the stated goal of disarming Hamas to make Israel safer from Hamas’s terrorist attacks. Once Hamas’s arsenal has been depleted and its supporting infrastructure highly damaged the conflict ends, until the next time. There are two net losers in this endless cycle:
1. The Palestinian people who are the victims of collateral damage from Israeli attacks. These are people who were made victims intentionally by Hamas through its placement of rocket systems increasing the probability of collateral damage. Missile batteries established next to Mosques and hospitals are cases in point. Of course the goal is to get bad press and thus put pressure on Israel to cease and desist and eventually to grant increased freedom for Hamas and Palestine. The secondary goal is to keep the Palestinian people enraged at Israel so that they will continue to support Hamas.
2. Iran who provides Hamas with the weapons to wage the conflict of attrition and diversion against Israel. Once Israel has destroyed Hamas’s offensive capability and retreated back into its borders Iran must rearm Hamas at great cost—several billion dollars. However, it appears that in each resupply cycle the weapons provided become more capable—rockets being used today by Hamas can reach Tel Aviv. Conversely, the dangerous ones are being shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system that we have reported on.

The above cycle is now reaching its terminating phase after days of waiting and deliberation. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday night directed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to send ground troops into Gaza to strike the terror tunnels into Israel. In a statement from Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya'alon the IDF was directed to prepare to expand the ground operation. The statement said that the security cabinet approved the operation after Israel agreed to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal on Tuesday, which Hamas rejected. In addition, the statement said, Hamas even fired rockets during the Thursday's five-hour humanitarian cease-fire. “In light of Hamas' continuous criminal aggression, and the dangerous infiltration into Israeli territory, Israel is obligated to act in defense of its citizens,” the statement said. The statement went on to note that Operation Protective Edge, now in its 10th day, will continue until its goals are reached: restoring quiet for an extended period of time, and delivering a significant blow to Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza.

In each of the incursions in this process Israel has sought to minimize personnel casualties. Therefore prior to the commencement of the ground invasion, the IDF launched a massive wave of combined air and artillery strikes on Thursday night. The attacks will continue while seeking to contain military casualties. And of course Hamas will seek to do just the opposite – cause Israeli casualties.

Infantry, Armored Corps, Engineering Corps, artillery, and intelligence units are taking over various areas in Gaza, and are all working with one another and the air force. They are operating in northern, central, and southern Gaza, where Hamas has dug an extensive terrorist tunnel network. Leading many of the spearheads into Gaza were tanks with bull dozer blades. The Israelis have learned not to fight from house to house in an urban environment—if they receive fire from a house they bull doze it down—thus preventing casualties.
The Ground Forces are currently engaging terrorist infrastructure, and the operation "will be expanded as needed," an Israeli spokesman said. "They're moving now in various areas of Gaza. We will continue to attack in every location we think needs to be struck," he warned.

In this series of attacks Israel has been much more careful in trying to hold the high ground in the propaganda war. It has been forthcoming about collateral damage resulting from Hamas’s positioning of its own weapons. The IDF on Thursday warned citizens of Gaza to evacuate their homes and make their way from less populated areas to the Strip's major cities. Close to 100,000 leaflets containing the message were dropped over the territory and hundreds of thousands of citizens from all over Gaza received recorded phone messages warning them to vacate villages.

One should expect this cycle of attacks to disarm Hamas to conclude in the next several days unless Israeli casualties mount steeply.

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