Monday, January 05, 2009

Operation Cast Lead: Day 10

Hamas has a thing for those smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. They're not for food and humanitarian aid; if Hamas were truly serious about providing for the needs of Gazans, they would have long ago ceased firing the kassams and allowed the food and aid to flow and for Gazans to be able to work in Israel to earn a living. Instead, Hamas knows that controlling the flow of goods into Gaza is a guarantee that they retain control.
Hundreds of tunnels have been carved out beneath the Gaza-Egypt frontier, providing a vital conduit to bring basic needs into the territory which has suffered an increasing stranglehold in the past 18 months.

Foodstuffs, building materials, medicines and electric equipment are all brought from Egypt through the passages -- as well as weapons, notably rockets, and ammunition.

Such contraband provides smugglers with a profitable business. It is also a source of income for Hamas, the Islamist movement which has been the sole ruler in the Gaza Strip since June 2007.

The movement levies taxes on the smugglers' income from the tunnels which are linked to the territory's electricity grid with the blessing of Hamas.

Conscious that the goods, particularly weapons, flowing under the border are vital to Hamas in its conflict, Israel has bombed dozens of tunnels since Israel began its offensive on the Gaza Strip on December 27.
Hamas maintains a firm grip on the smuggling operations because they get a piece of the action; and that's not counting the weapons and equipment used for the terror war against Israel.

Israel must secure the Philadelphi corridor to thwart Hamas from continuing to resupply via Egypt. The Israeli operations has now entered a new phase where the Israeli army will search for terrorists and their weapons caches and destroy them. That's going to be a very dangerous and potentially lengthy phase. Much can go wrong during it, including significant civilian casualties and Israeli casualties.

Everything that Israel does is a so called naqaba. Israel's existence is a naqaba that Hamas hopes to correct by destroying it.

Jordan's politicians are demanding that the country sever ties with Israel. Siding with terrorists isn't a good idea or good for your health. Qatar is busy calling Israel's acts to defend itself war crimes. No word on when Qatar will get around to calling Hamas' terrorist acts war crimes, which they are. The Arab world has fully and truly debased the meanings of all these terms - whether it is genocide, terrorism, holocaust, war crimes, etc. They'll ignore the violence perpetrated by their fellow Arabs or Muslims, but the moment Israel stands up for itself and goes after those that seek to destroy it, Israel is automatically called the aggressor and guilty of criminal behavior.

CNN reports that patients are lying everywhere (but strangely not exactly telling folks that many of those being brought in are Hamas thugs, or that Hamas thugs have been going through the hospitals executing and kneecapping those who they believe are collaborating with Israel). CNN also ignores that Hamas has started disguising themselves as doctors and nurses and hiding in hospitals.

There's a simple way to stop the Israeli operation. Demand Hamas surrender and Israel will stop going after Hamas. Stop the rockets, and no more Israeli interventions in Gaza. Gazans have a choice, and they sided with the terrorist group that demanded war against Israel. Israel gave them that war.

Hamas knows how to stop the war - stop attacking Israel, but everyone knows that Hamas is incapable of doing so. To do so would mean admitting that Israel won - that Israel beat the Islamists on their home turf. Again. So, the world puts pressure on Israel to stop attacking those who attacked it first. They know that eventually Israel will give in to the pressure.

Blue Star Chronicles came across a Hamas propaganda video, which was translated for our benefit. Hamas' death wish is being satiated in the blood of Palestinians who are cannon fodder for Hamas, are props for propaganda in media outlets, and brag about the use of women and children as human shields.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Olmert, who days ago claimed that he would not tolerate talk of truces or ceasefires, is now raising the notion of a ceasefire if Hamas meets certain conditions. I'd prefer room temperature for their leaders, unconditional surrender, and destruction of all their weapons stockpiles, but Olmert is thinking that a return to quiet - without the daily rocket attacks would be sufficient. He's counting on the international community to enforce the actions:
According to Olmert, Israel is interested in a ceasefire agreement that would bring to an isolation of Hamas and include the following conditions: A stop to the rocket fire and the terror emanating from Gaza, as well as to Hamas' military buildup, and the deployment of international forces in the Gaza Strip to enforce the implementation of a truce.

The release of Gilad Shalit will also be stipulated as one of Israel's terms for a halt to the fighting as part of any future agreement.

A senior source in Jerusalem said Sunday: "After Israel launched the ground incursion, the world realized it must wake up and abide by the conditions set by Israel.

"Contrary to the empty moves initiated by various countries, including the humanitarian ceasefire initiative promoted by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the American initiative is based on the agreement of the four elements that surround the only geographical territory in the world that is ruled by a terrorist entity – Gaza.

The official explained that the initiative does not include negotiations with Hamas, but rather forcing such a regional treaty on the organization. He added that Olmert has made it clear to the Americans and to other world leaders involved in the move, that Israel's conditions were not negotiable, and that if they are not obtained through a diplomatic course, they would be secured through the military operation.
I have a real bad feeling about this - Olmert has not learned the mistakes of the Hizbullah war, and allowing the UN or EU to dictate Israeli security is a recipe for disaster. Hizbullah is in a stronger position now than in 2006 precisely because UNIFIL has not demilitarized South Lebanon and Hizbullah has essentially usurped power from the Lebanese people.

Hamas, seeing the Israeli options being floated, will simply do what it can to hold out - maximize civilian casualties, and wait for the UN to step in on its behalf to stop Israel. Why would Hamas accept any treaty? They've never held up their end of the bargain on previous ceasefires; why would they start now?

Hamas will then claim victory, and Israel will have achieved little in return.

Hamas fired a Grad rocket at Askhelon, injuring nine Israelis. The terrorists also unsuccessfully tried to kidnap an Israeli soldier operating inside Gaza while clearing one of the many tunnels.

Hamas leaders, who show their heroism by calling for more terror attacks from undisclosed locations or the safety of residences in Damascus or the safety of Egypt, are calling on their thugs to crush Israel's military and that Israel has legitimized the killing of children. That's particularly rich since Hamas has specifically targeted civilians - including a kindergarden hit in Ashkelon today - while Israel has done its utmost to avoid killing civilians all while Hamas is busy using women and children as human shields and as props to garner sympathy to force Israel to stop short of stopping Hamas once and for all - a situation that would truly lay the groundwork for peace.

Hamas also claims that it has weapons that it hasn't used to date. That probably means a combination of longer range rockets and suicide bombers, or both. Expect to see both before long. Hamas will be forced to choose between using them or losing them as Israel moves forward with the ongoing ground operation. Hamas also claims that it will start targeting civilians - as though that's different than the thousands of kassams and mortars fired into Israel before today.

The Turkish Prime Minister thinks that Allah will punish Israel. So far, I'd say that Allah hasn't exactly shown much interest in helping Hamas.

Sderot residents got lucky. A local food market just closed up shop, when a kassam slammed into the facility. No one was injured. A few minutes earlier, and the outcome would have been quite different.

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