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Friday, February 29, 2008

Will the IDF invade Gaza this week?

With yet another house hit in Sderot this morning, with the "color red" warning system now in place in Ashkelon so that its residents will have fifteen seconds' warning (instead of zero as previously) to take cover against oncoming rockets, and with the entire Negev receiving instructions today on what to do in 'emergency situations' (Israel Radio report) the time has long since passed for a ground invasion of Gaza. Will this be the week that it happens? Maybe.

According to Israel Radio, plans have been made, targets have been approved by the IDF, and only approval from the 'political echelon' is pending. It will be up to Defense Minister Ehud Barak(pictured, top left) to decide when to seek that approval.

One indication that an invasion may be imminent is that - according to Israel Radio - Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has canceled a planned visit here this week. Although the Egyptians are nearly as concerned about what is going on in Gaza as we are, the last thing Suleiman wants is to be in Israel when a ground invasion of Gaza takes place or even just before one. 'Arab solidarity' - after all - is more important than sanity and clear relations with the Joooos.

But US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is supposed to be here Tuesday, and has already met with Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert this week in Japan. Here's betting that the IDF waits until after she leaves. After what happened to her in the summer of 2006 (the takeout of missile sites at Qana and the fauxtography that ensued occurred while she was here), she is not going to take that risk again.

All of the above has come out since the morning's news. Here's some of what the JPost had to say earlier today about the IDF's preparations:
According to defense sources, the goals of such an operation - reportedly in the planning stages for weeks if not months - would not "merely" be to reduce the threat of rocket fire and rocket manufacturing in the Gaza Strip, but would also likely entail paralyzing the Hamas government's ability to operate, and even include "regime change."

Barak spoke with Quartet envoy Tony Blair and Egyptian intelligence head Omar Suleiman and said Israel could not tolerate the current level of rocket fire in the South without offering a wider response.

Barak also offered hints as to his plans, telling local community leaders gathered at Sapir Academic College outside Sderot that "the solution to Kassams will be a lot quicker than many people think."

And the Foreign Ministry, in talking points sent to its representatives abroad, instructed them to say that when Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005 it did so without the intention of ever returning, but that the continuation of terrorist attacks was likely to place the country in a position where it may have no other choice.

The ministry also instructed its representatives to reveal that the Grad missiles that were fired at Ashkelon on Thursday were smuggled through Sinai from Iran.

According to one diplomatic source, stressing the Iranian origin of the missiles showed the importance of aggressive action to stop the smuggling and isolate Hamas from Syria and Iran, which "directs the organization's terrorist actions."

"We have warned for a while about the arming of Hamas, and what is happening now is proof of this," the official said.
The plans sound decent. The problem is that there is an 'exit strategy' that is only likely to make matters worse: the imposition of NATO forces as human shields to protect 'Palestinian' terrorists in Gaza - and maybe in Judea and Samaria as well.

One other thing I have to add. I mentioned above that the Home Front of the IDF gave instructions to southern residents today on how to deal with 'emergency situations.' The instructions reminded me of this:


At 5:19 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

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At 5:20 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

You mean next week? The Israeli government has made so many promises of a ground operation its the equivalent of political vaporware. A poorly planned and executed operation, particularly with an artificial built-in "exit" strategy, will likely make a terrible situation even worse.

There's a concern in Israel the government will tie the hands of the IDF with so many strings it can't get the job done and when it doesn't - the politicians will again get away with their bungling by blaming the army. We've see this all before in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War.

The question now is whether Olmert and company have really learned the lessons from the last war or is that bungling crew going to snatch defeat again from the jaws of victory? In a Gaza ground invasion, I'd place good odds on the latter happening again.

As Yogi Berra said, "You ain't seen nothin' yet, kid."

At 5:51 PM, Blogger me said...

Meryl Yourish just had an interesting thought about why the sudden increase and expansion of the rocket attacks: "And I have just figured out why the rockets are raining down. Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have prepared the battlefield."

I'm wonder if she's right and this time, unlike the '06 Lebanon war, it will be a war where the enemy planned on the ground attacks from the getgo.


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