Saturday, December 27, 2008

IDF Strikes Back At Hamas in Gaza (Updated)

Last updated at 11:44pm

Note: Israellycool is live-blogging the Israeli retaliation against Hamas

Tracking the action in Sderot

If you want to keep track of the Qassam strikes on Sderot, check out the QassamCount tweet from Sderot, which I also have on my blog to the left.
There is also an RSS feed.

Elder of Ziyon has a calendar tracking the daily rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza.
Israel At Level Ground has a series of posts that have been tracking rocket attacks from Gaza.

Overview of what the IDF is doing in Gaza

The IDF site has some overall info on the strike into Gaza:
The IDF Strikes at Hamas Terror Infrastructure in the Gaza Strip
27 December 2008 , 18:47

On Saturday morning (Dec. 27), the IDF implemented the "Cast Lead" operation in a series of aerial strikes against Hamas targets and terror infrastructure facilities, in the Gaza Strip. All Israeli pilots returned safely to their bases. The strikes were implemented in light of the ongoing terrorist activities by the Hamas terror origination in the Gaza Strip, and the continuation of rocket and missile fire at southern Israel and the injuring of Israeli citizens living the towns and cities of southern Israel. The IDF will continue its operations against terrorists in accordance with constant assessments held by the Chief of Staff. This operation will be continued, expanded and intensified as much as required.

The information on targets that were hit was gathered by the Intelligence Corps during the past few months and the targets include Hamas terror operatives that operated from the organization's headquarters, training camps and weaponry storage warehouses.
From Artuz Sheva: IDF Releases Photos of Hamas Targets, Terror Training Facilities
The IDF on Saturday night released aerial photos of Hamas facilities targeted by IAF fighter pilots on Saturday in Operation 'Cast Lead.'

The photos show the military training facilities Hamas has developed in Gaza, from where Israel forcibly evicted close to 10,000 of its Jewish citizens in August 2005 in hopes of establishing peace with its Palestinian Authority Arab neighbors.
Check out the pictures.

Note that these are pictures of the facilities before being hit.

And how did Israel get the necessary intelligence about Hamas targets? What's good for the goose...

Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public - all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces “Cast Lead” operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning.

The disinformation effort, according to defense officials, took Hamas by surprise and served to significantly increase the number of its casualties in the strike.

Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.

First Reactions From Europe

Emanuele Ottolenghi notes the expected response from Europe:
Less than a day after Israel began its long overdue operation against Gaza, European journalists are already dispensing their predictable wisdom on why Israel can’t win and why its actions will inevitably - and always - boomerang. Ian Black, writingin theGuardian, warns of the likelihood that support for Hamas among Palestinians will increase. Now, there are many ways one could criticize Israel’s operation and be thoughtful (for example, by saying that Israel might have acted earlier); Black’s attempt is not one of them.

First, Israel’s operation is not a PR exercise to win the hearts and minds of Palestinians. Second, Hamas already has plenty of Palestinian support - it won an election, remember? And it was a fair one, believe it or not. Third, who cares about public support? A party that has just announced it will chop off thieves’ hands, and strictly enforce all other manner of Islamic punishment is not exactly concerned about “hearts and minds.”

Repressive regimes don’t need support if they are willing and capable of terrorizing their own populations, and defeating them is not best done by convincing their frightened citizens to rebel. If in doubt, ask Iraqis how easy it was to do so under Saddam Hussein . They can now give you an honest answer.

John Podhoretz notes that although the results of the attack are not known right away:
But there are three things to say about it immediately. First, when you hear people call on Israel to show “restraint,” remember that “restraint” is precisely what Israel has been showing for the past three and a half years as Hamas has launched thousands of Kassam rockets at Sderot and other locations inside Israel. Second, this was not an attack but a counter-attack, almost purely an act of self-defense that featured extensive warnings in the days before it was launched in an effort to minimize civilian casualties. Third, the Hamas terror bases were evidently located in civilian neighborhoods. According to international law, the responsibility for any civilian casualties in such a situation rests entirely with those who a) failed to wear uniforms and b) interwove themselves with non-combatants. The fault is Hamas’s, not Israel’s.
Bradley Burston of Haaretz also addresses the claims for Israeli restraint. He writes:
It is, abruptly and again, wartime. Across the globe, the selective pacifists of the left and the recliner Rambos of the right are spoiling for their next battle, the war in Gaza.

They will fight one another in letters to Congress, in cable news sound bites, in raucous talk-radio phone-ins, in the virtual mega-heroics of the online battlefield of the talkback.

They will fight one another in the United Nations as well, unashamedly one-sided in their concern for human life.

Herewith the first in a two-part guide to the 10 most gratuitous, least productive, most resolutely ingenuous claims likely to be hurled in an effort to attack Israel.

The first five are arguments of the anti-Israel left, claims which are, curiously, as tired as they are unflagging.
Read it!

Ed Morrissey knows what world's reaction should be:
The world should step aside and quit interfering in the war Hamas so desperately wants and will desperately lose if left to their own devices. As long as Hamas controls Gaza, a state of war exists, and cease-fires do nothing to advance peace, as this year has proven yet again. Tiresome calls for “restraint” don’t work when one side is determined to have war. The best way to resolve this conflict is to allow Hamas to have its war and get utterly crushed by Israel or overthrown by Gazans to avoid that unavoidable conclusion.
In Star Trek, Captain Kirk and Ariel Sharon, I quoted Amir Taheri that it is the world's attitude--preventing a conclusion to a war and sticking to it--that has allowed the conflict to continue and reach this stage.

So What Is Israel's Goal As The IDF Goes Into Gaza?

Noah Pollak puts it best:
Israel’s job is not necessarily to topple Hamas rule — that would be a tall order, being that there is no competent Fatah force to replace Hamas in Gaza — but to humiliate the swaggering resistance, to kill as many of its leaders and militants as possible, and to demonstrate to Hamas’ allies that the IDF and Israeli government learned the right lessons from the 2006 war. This will require more strikes like those of this morning, and it will require the IDF to stop Hamas’ rocket fire — either through military dominance, or by forcing Hamas to conclude that it must cease its attacks lest its rule be terminated. The former is much more likely than the latter.
Shmuel Rosner sees this restraint implied in Olmert's own words:
One should listen carefully to the words uttered just minutes ago by Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the wake of the military operation in Gaza. He was not talking about toppling Hamas’s rule - as both his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu have advocated just days ago. Olmert, burned by his painful 2006 Lebanon experience, rejected the ambitious goals that these two contenders for Prime Ministership have made parts of their campaign.
Fear of Repraisals

Allison Kaplan Sommer reports for Pajamas Media on the importance of the timing of the retaliation:
Saturday was the appropriate day to do it from the Israeli perspective — a day when stores would be closed, schools wouldn’t be in session, and residents of Sderot, Ashkelon and other parts of southern Israel would be in their homes with their families, where they were ordered to stay, close to their shelters.

Spookily, Israeli television broadcast live from all of the hospitals in the southern part of the country even before any casualties were showing up, a reflection of the fear of the size and nature of the reprisals that are expected — as were the ambulances deployed across the region. It didn’t take long until they arrived; residents of the city of Netivot rushed into shelters as rockets began to fall there — all broadcast live on television. Similar scenes in Sderot quickly followed as the Israeli casualty list began.
Reaction From the Palestinian Authority

Apparently the PA is all set should Hamas be removed from power:

Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah said Saturday that they were prepared to assume control over the Gaza Strip if Israel succeeds in overthrowing the Hamas government.

"Yes, we are fully prepared to return to the Gaza Strip," a top PA official told The Jerusalem Post. "We believe the people there are fed up with Hamas and want to see a new government."

Another PA official said Fatah had instructed all its members in the Gaza Strip to be prepared for the possibility of returning to power.

"We have enough men in the Gaza Strip who are ready to fill the vacuum," he said. "But of course all this depends on whether Israel manages to get rid of the Hamas regime."[Hat tip: Israel Matzav]

Apparently the PA is unaware that one vacuum cannot fill another vacuum.

The US Response to the Israeli Retaliation to Hamas

Bush has responded to the attack--through spokesman Gordon Johndroe:
"Hamas' continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop. Hamas must end its terrorist activities if it wishes to play a role in the future of the Palestinian people.

"The United States urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza."
Powerline notes:
President Bush stands alone among the quoted leaders. He alone issued a statement declining to equate the parties or call on them both to cease...Contrary to the implication of the White House statement, however, Hamas's reason for being among "the Palestinian people" is terrorist.
Now let's see if Obama has anything to say.

Considering the response from the world to the Hizbollah-Israel war, one can imagine we have only begun to see the hand wringing that will come.

Israel's PR Response

Israel apparently is going to try to do a better job on the PR front:
Israel to mount emergency international PR effort in wake of Gaza campaign

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday instructed the Foreign Ministry to take emergency measures to adapt Israel's international public relations to the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip.

Livni instructed senior ministry officials to open an aggressive and diplomatic international public relations campaign, in order to gain greater international support for Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip.
Yeah, good luck with that--from Judeopundit:
Guardian: "Analysis: The latest attacks in Gaza rank with Deir Yassin and the Sabra and Shatila massacres"
Judeopundit explains the difference the difference, noting also the admission by the Palestinian Arabs themselves that the vast majority of those killed were the terrorists:
Israeli warplanes rained more than 100 tons of bombs on security sites in Hamas-ruled Gaza Saturday and early Sunday, killing at least 230 people in one of the Mideast conflict's bloodiest assaults in decades. The government said the open-ended campaign was aimed at stopping rocket attacks that have traumatized southern Israel.

Most of the casualties were security forces, but Palestinian officials said at least 15 civilians were among the dead. More than 400 people were also wounded.

Mere Rhetoric notices that The New York Times originally made the same observation:
The vast majority of those killed were Hamas police officers and security men, including two senior commanders, but the dead included several construction workers and at least two children in school uniforms.
--and then removed it.

And so it goes.
Sunday is another day...

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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