Gaza ground op on the way?it's starting to look like:
As internal pressure increases for a government solution to the continued rocket terror, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to meet with foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel to update them on the situation and, presumably, to prepare the diplomatic ground for a harsh Israeli retaliation. Netanyahu is to tell the ambassadors that the constant terror experienced by Israeli citizens was unacceptable and that the ambassadors' own constituents back home would also not accept such a situation. No country in the world would accept such a situation, Netanyahu will tell the foreign diplomats. Israel's foreign missions, meanwhile, have been instructed to inform their host governments that Israel's patience with the terror from the Gaza Strip has worn out, Israel Radio reported.
The question over whether to launch a massive ground operation against Gaza terrorists or suffice with escalated air power dominated the Israeli airwaves on Monday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said it was entirely possible that operations against Hamas in Gaza would "expand and escalate." Education Minister Gideon Saar said that Israel "was in the last stages of preparing for a very wide military offensive in Gaza" and added that the diplomatic groundwork for the offensive was being laid.
All throughout Sunday and Monday, southern residents have been calling for the government to restore quiet to the southern frontier. Israel's newspapers have been filled with photos of residents in bomb shelters, and this is likely to increase the pressure on the government. It is however unlikely that the government will decide to launch a massive ground operation at this stage, but it is expected that the Israel Defense Forces will be ordered to strike the Hamas leadership in Gaza.
The IDF is expected to "gradually escalate" its response and not to send ground troops into Gaza, Israel Radio reported. The IDF will not accept a situation of "attrition" and is keen to change the balance, the radio reported.
However, Homefront Defense Minister Avi Dichter warned on Monday that there would be no recourse but to invade Gaza with ground troops. "There is no precedent in history of destroying terror by air power alone. It hasn't happened and it won't happen. Thus it is necessary to reformat Gaza altogether," Dichter, a resident of Ashkelon, said.
And on the left side of the political balance sheet, they're calling for... drone attacks.Tzachi Hanegbi, former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and a close associate of Netanyahu, also said Monday that Israel's patience had worn out. "Israel's deterrence against terror from Gaza, including Hamas and others there, no longer exists, and now we find ourselves in a countdown toward a large and aggressive ground operation in the Gaza Strip. Air power has run its course. They have obviously forgotten the lessons they learned from Operation Cast Lead. The terror organizations in Gaza want to drag us into a conflict there so that we take our attention off the real threat, which is from Iran," Hanegbi said. Hanegbi added that an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, should it occur, would not resemble Cast Lead but rather Operation Defensive Shield, in which IDF forces took over several large Palestinian cities in the West Bank and rooted out the terror infrastructure there during the Second Intifada.
Labor party leader MK Shelly Yachimovich was just one of several Israeli politicians calling for the IDF to begin targeted assassinations of the Hamas leadership. Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (res) Dan Halutz said on Monday that there is "no difference between the military and political leadership of a terrorist organization, Hamas, and that we should start taking heads off."We went on for months like this before the Olmert government launched Operation Cast Lead. I don't believe it will take months this time. And at the end of the day Dichter is correct: You can't root out terror without a ground operation. Dan Halutz (who was the Chairman of the General Staff during the Second Lebanon War) tried that and failed (and obviously has learned nothing since). I don't believe this is going to be put off until after the elections. I don't believe it can be. A million people aren't going to live in shelters for another two months and a week just so we can have elections.
Read the whole thing.
And yes, the graphics about the rockets from Gaza I've been posting more and more are my feeble effort to help prepare the groundwork for a ground operation. It's coming. Probably before Chanuka.