The Gaza Ground Operations Begin

For the last eight days the Middle East, and much of the world, has watched in horror as the Israel/Palestine cease-fire first broke down, and then turned to outright warfare.  Well today Israel, in a move that seemed unavoidable, has shifted to “Phase 2” of their counter-Hamas operation and begun ground operations:

Israeli troops began moving into Gaza on Saturday night, intent on taking out Hamas rocket-launching sites, Israel Defense Forces said.

“We have just a short while ago launched the second stage of the operation against Hamas infrastructure,” IDF spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich told CNN.

“The goal is to try and take over some of those launching areas that were responsible for the many launches — the thousands of launches, in fact — toward the Israeli civilians,” she said.

Reacting to the incursion, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority Saeb Erakat said: “What this will do is undermine the peace process.” The Palestinian Authority is the government of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Unfortunately for President Abbas the peace process has long since already been undermined.  The question here isn’t if this will undermine the peace process.  Instead, we should consider what, exactly, is Israel’s long-term goal?  Many on the blogosphere are screaming “genocide!”, and while they have the right to make that claim it’s not supported by all the evidence.

This is a situation where both sides have acted in the wrong, where both sides villanize their opponents, and where both sides have, and continue to be, the victims of their circumstances.   So considering that it is Israel that, realistically, holds all of the military power in the battle what is their goal?  The scale and stated purpose of Israel’s offensive gives hint:

The IDF Spokesperson’s office issued a statement, emphasizing that this stage of the operation will further the goals of the eight-day offensive as voiced by the IDF until now: To strike a direct and hard blow against the Hamas while increasing the deterrent strength of the IDF, in order to bring about an improved and more stable security situation for residents of Southern Israel over the long term.

Large numbers of forces are taking part in this stage of the operation including infantry, tanks, engineering forces, artillery and intelligence with the support of the Israel Air Force, Israel navy, the Shin Bet security service and other security agencies.

Meanwhile, the cabinet has authorized an emergency call up of tens of thousands of IDF reservists.

The invasion was preceded by the firing of artillery shells into the strip from military preparation sites dotted along the Gaza-Israel border.

The artillery fire aimed to detonate Hamas explosive devices and mines planted along the border area before troops marched in.

I would argue that, in light of this massive scale, Sterling from The Agonist is probably right in their assessment, this is a move for regime change.  They’re also right on one other point; such a move is likely to backfire.

The basic doctrine of counter-guerilla warfare is Isolate, Concentrate, Anihilate. Separate guerrillas from the population, drive them into a small area, and use superior fire power to destroy them. Israel has skipped the first step, and is attacking Gaza on the theory that now that Hamas is concentrated, it is time to use all possible force to destroy them.

It is very likely that they will do horrific damage – to the moderate wing of Hamas. To the wing of Hamas that had designs on being a political party leading a state. However, to the violent wing of Hamas, which may morph into another organization, the offensive is almost calculated to create a permanent terrorist movement.

Another point to consider is one often missed, at least in part.

[…] it is not Hamas, nor is it Israel, which is driving the conflict. Neither Hamas, nor Israel, could continue in the current form if not backed by larger outside interests. The economic base of Israel is not large enough to support a military which is at just below US or NATO levels of equipment, and only just. It supports because of aid, trade, and recognition from the US.

Thus if this conflict is to have a solution, it will come, not from the success or failure of a ground operation, nor from the warring parties, but from those who see this proxy war as being in their interests.

This conflict is, ultimately, a proxy war.  It’s a simple fact that shows hints of a solution, but it’s one often missed.

2 Responses to “The Gaza Ground Operations Begin”

  1. Jack says:

    Hamas is to blame for this. We can do a little song and dance, but when push comes to shove they pushed too hard and now they pay the price.

  2. Jack says:

    BTW, there are no moderates in Hamas. Their charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

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  1. Gaza Update #8 « Random Thoughts- Do They Have Meaning? - [...] from Left Field has post in which he says that both sides are wrong. Go read The Gaza Ground…

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