Operation Protective Edge – humanitarian truce ends, ground operation begins

Today’s events, beginning with the attempted infiltration by a large group of terrorists into a Kibbutz in the south, punctuated by a shaky humanitarian truce which was violated by Hamas in the middle, and culminating in a massive and intense barrage of rockets and missiles all over Israel, some 150 in number, finally led the government to give the order to the IDF to enter Gaza on the ground.

IDF bombing causes Gaza explosion

IDF bombing causes Gaza explosion

The last straw appears to have been the tunnel infiltration at Kibbutz Sufa this morning, according to Minister Gilad Erdan:

Erdan says cabinet unanimously approves ground op

Minister Gilad Erdan says the decision to launch the ground offensive was approved in principle “several days ago” by unanimous vote of the security cabinet. He says the Hamas tunnels dug under the Israeli border are “a strategic threat” that Israel could not abide.

From the Jerusalem Post report:

After days of waiting and deliberation, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday night directed the IDF to send ground troops into Gaza to strike the terror tunnels into Israel.

A statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon Netanyahu directed the IDF 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 said 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.

Prior to the commencement of the ground invasion, the IDF launched a massive wave of combined air and artillery strikes on Thursday night.

The ground invasion comes hours after a Hamas assault squad of thirteen highly armed terrorists attempted to carry out a massacre of civilians at Kibbutz Sufa, near the border, before being blocked by the IDF.

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.

A 155mm artillery vehicle fires towards Gaza

A 155mm artillery vehicle fires towards Gaza

The IDF’s Southern Command is overseeing the ground offensive.

The units involved have undergone intensive training recently ahead of their missions, Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz, IDF spokesman, said on Thursday night.

“The operation has reached its ground phase,” Almoz said. “Large numbers of forces began a focused effort to destroy tunnels in Gaza.

We are in a new stage,” he stated. At the same time, the air force is continuing with air strikes against Hamas and Islamic Jihad around Gaza.

The Ground Forces are currently engaging terrorist infrastructure, and the operation “will be expanded as needed,” Almoz 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.

The IDF is currently calling up more reserves, Almoz added.

The Times of Israel says that 18,000 more reservists have been called up. The Jerusalem Post report continues (I apologize for copying the entire article, emphases are mine) with a recap of the day’s events:

Hamas bombarded Israel on Thursday with rockets after the end of the humanitarian truce, firing over 100 projectiles after 3 p.m. Eighty one rockets landed in open areas, two fell inside villages, damaging two homes, and 20 were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.

Trails of multiple rocket launches out of Gaza July 17th

Trails of multiple rocket launches out of Gaza July 17th

Also on Thursday, a drone from Gaza was detected in Israeli airspace, over the Ashkelon area. The IAF fired a patriot surface-to-air missile at the aircraft, shooting it down. It was the second Hamas drone to be shot down in recent days.

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.

Air raid sirens sounded throughout southern and central areas during the day. Ashkelon and Ashdod were targeted by Hamas repeatedly in the evening, and were successfully defended by Iron Dome.

Iron Dome intercepted two rockets over central Israel and the Sharon district in the evening, and one over the city of Ashdod. Several rockets landed in open areas.

The Gaza-border region of Eshkol came under continuous rocket barrages. Some ten rockets in open areas, and one damaged a home.

Between 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Hamas fired 40 rockets at Israel, and Iron Dome shot three down Two rockets were fired at Beersheba, with one falling in an open area and a second intercepted over the Negev city.

Within a minute of the ceasefire ending, rockets were fired from Gaza at the Ashkelon industrial area and Hof Ashkelon region. Most fell in open areas.

The humanitarian ceasefire was violated when Hamas fired 3 projectiles at the Eshkol region. The rockets exploded in open areas.

On Thursday morning, one rocket was intercepted over the greater Tel Aviv and Sharon district, and one rocket fell in an open area. In Beersheba, Iron Dome intercepted an incoming Gazan rocket.

Having been listening incessantly to endless talk-shows, discussions and analyses, it appears that Netanyahu’s hesitance in launching a ground operation stemmed from concern about lack of public support in Israel, and the worry about losing legitimacy from the world if the Palestinian civilian casualties climbed too high.

Leaving aside the issue of what is it the world’s business to examine Israel’s morality under a microscope when their own is so sorely lacking, Israel clearly hoped to avoid such casualties by dropping 100,000 leaflets on Gazan civilians warning them to evacuate before an Israeli attack. However most Gazans chose to stay put, being more afraid of Hamas than Israel. But after this morning’s tunnel infiltration it became glaringly clear that civilian casualties or not, Israel was left with no other choice if it is to end the terror tunnel threat once and for all.

As for the people’s support, that is coming through loud and clear. Besides the odd extreme leftists who never met an Israeli defensive action that they could support, the country is solidly behind the government. In fact there was almost a revolt when the first ceasefire was tentatively tried out.

It is true that there is always the fear in the political echelon about military casualties, but it is important to remember – and the Israeli people do remember – that the army’s job is to protect the civilian populace and not the other way round. Until today, the situation has been reversed. The civilians, particularly in the south, have been taking the brunt of the terrorists’ fire, while the soldiers ahve been sitting in the back. Now is the time for the military to do what it knows best – to attack the enemy and defend the people of Israel.

DavidinPT posted a link (in the comments on the previous post) to an excellent item in the Times of Israel: “Who’s afraid of boots on the ground in Gaza“. Here are a few excerpts:

The problem with a ground invasion, say experts both in Israel and abroad, is that it will cost Israel dearly in the lives of its soldiers.

Recent history shows the exact opposite.

Military operations should never be undertaken lightly, but the preponderance of evidence shows that when Israel embarks on major ground operations in the Gaza Strip, IDF deaths are remarkably low.

Looking at the past decade of Israeli incursions into the coastal region, the pattern is clear: Hamas struggles mightily to exact even moderate casualties among Israeli forces, while losing dozens, even hundreds, of its own fighters.

After losing 11 soldiers in APC explosions on the Philadelphi Route near Rafah in May 2004, Israel sent in ground forces from the Golani and Givati infantry brigades, supported by combat engineers, the Shimshon infantry battalion, and a tank brigade. Israel killed around 40 terrorists in and around Rafah, and lost a grand total of zero soldiers in the week-long operation.

The pattern of low Israeli losses and heavy Palestinian casualties continued in the operations. Two IDF soldiers were lost and 28 injured, while Israeli forces killed around 270 Palestinian militants.
Every soldier killed is an indescribable loss for Israel, not to mention their families, but the major ground operations over the last decade have averaged around three dead per operation — not exactly the mass losses being described by commentators this week.
Still, with its stunning past successes, a ground invasion of Gaza is well within the capabilities of the IDF. Israelis should not be overconfident, but they have no reason to scare themselves away from one either. If the best answer to Hamas’s attacks is an incursion, then order the troops forward. I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end.

The article certainly offers a refreshing and different perspective. Let us hope that his optimism is justified and let us pray that our soldiers all return home safely.

May Hashem watch over and protect our soldiers wherever they are: in the air, on the ground or at sea, and may He watch over all of Am Yisrael.

הנה לא ינום ולא ישן שומר ישראל.

The Guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers not.

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8 Responses to Operation Protective Edge – humanitarian truce ends, ground operation begins

  1. Brian Goldfarb says:

    As I say in a comment below, now go and get the bastards and hammer them flat. With no Israeli fatalities.

    • anneinpt says:

      Amen. Please G-d, from your keyboard to G-d’s ears.

    • Aridog says:

      Yes, may your words reach God’s ears. Le them flatten Gaza like a pancake without remorse. None was offered and none is deserved. Do NOT stop because some twinkly dink Euro weenie says “oh please”…just destroy the place and make it a National Seashore Park for Israel. Period.

      • anneinpt says:

        Thank you for your support Aridog.

        I do get the impression, and I hope I’m not wrong, that now that Bibi has finally made the decision and sent in the troops, he’s not going to let anyone deter us from our mission.

        Let’s hope so anyway. And let’s pray for the safety of all the soldiers and citizens.

        • Aridog says:

          I seem to have become an emotional old man lately. Especially around veteran related holidays here in the USA. One of your reader/commenters has seen the effect of this on me, in a private message, and I was embarrassed by it. I no longer have the ability to be cold hearted and dismissive. I cannot think of soldiers in harms way without a flood of feelings both past and present. Netanyahu was Sayeret Matkal as his brother was and he knows the creed of fighting to win. May G-d give him the strength to do so at this time. I know some Israelis doubt Bibi, but I do not…think of who I have for comparison for G-d’s sake….in Bibi I see the ghost of Yonatan. Let that not be wishful thinking.

          While on the topic, I find the IDF reserve forces to be utterly amazing. Regular men and women who can change from civilian to soldier nearly overnight. THAT is how the United States was created and very few today here acknowledge that. The word “Minutemen” had real meaning and still does…in Israel it is every day. G-d bless you all.

          • anneinpt says:

            Thanks again Aridog. I just hope and pray that Bibi and his gov’t have the nerves of steel required to see this through to the bitter end. Otherwise we’ll just have action replay in a few months time.

            As for the IDF reserves – I full agree. And it’s not only the reserves. The whole nation has enlisted in one way or another. Just an example. My son-in-law who is “somewhere down there” reported that their cook’s brother has a catering business in a southern town. This brother sent over enough food for 3 full meals for the whole of Shabbat for the whole battallion! It’s not as if the IDF can’t provide food for its soldiers but it’s much more fun to have real catered meals!

            And these stories and similar are repeated throughout the country with donations of food, treats and snacks, clothes, underwear… The moral support from the home front is incredible – and they are under fire almost as much as the soldiers.

  2. Reality says:

    Please G-d all our soldiers will return safely, but go get ’em! I’ve said this before & I’ll say it again, why has the world stayed silent re Abbas’s enjoinmnt with Hamas? Why hasn’t there been threats, monetary withholdings,or withdrawal totally untill he pulls away from them? He’s gone to Turkey (that bastion of peace & friend of Israel -not) to talk with top Hamas leaders. Here in Israel ,Obama had the cheek many months ago to “insist that Netanyahu fire Lieberman(well he got his wish!) So where is the howling condemnation of Abbass? Where are the boycotts of Turkish produce? I know its hard to boycott anything made in Gaza if they only make tunnels & rockets so at least boycott those who aid them. By this time next week (or even earlier if the history of the UN is a measure to go by) either Israel will be re-castigated for war crimes, loss of human life in Gaza, poor humanitarian conditions etc… and we’ll be forced back to the negotiating table and having to make conciliatory gestures. I sincerely hope with every fibre that Netanyahu will say NO CONCILIATORY GESTURES. It’s time we were shown some. Has Russia/Ukraine shown any gestures one to the other (apart from shooting down a Malaysian plane?) Has any country been asked to do that? No .So neither should we. If they don’t want to come to the table for peace talks so be it ,but Abbass had better divorce himself from Hamas first.

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