Soldiers Putting Up an Israeli Flag in a Staging Area near Gaza. (AP)

Soldiers Putting Up an Israeli Flag in a Staging Area near Gaza. (AP)

Operation Cast Lead seems to be going well, so far. Over 325 targets have been bombed, and over 360 Palestinians killed (almost completely Hamas-people. Some human rights estimates place the number of civilian casualties as low as 45). Police Headquarters, Hamas safe-houses, munitions stores, rocket launchpads, prisons, a Hamas-run mosque, grad trucks, smuggling tunnels, et al, have been hit. The death toll on the Israeli side has been low, considering the number of rockets being lobed into Israel (80 just on Monday), with only 4 dead, (2 of whom were Israeli Arabs, proving that Hamas’ rockets do not distinguish between Jews and non-Jews), and 2 wounded. Israel reports that it is readying to send in ground troops (though this will undoubtedly increase our death toll). On Hamas’ end, things are not so clear.

Iranian clerics and Hezbullah’s Nasrallah call for a third Palestinian Intifada and that Muslims throughout the world rise up against their governments, mentioning Egypt in particular, in order to support the Palestinians, whom they have deemed to be the most “noble” of people. Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Aboul Gheit, however, has slammed Nasrallah for such statements, saying that Nasrallah’s comments are as good as a declaration of war on Egypt, and that Nasrallah just wants there to be as much chaos in Egypt and other countries as exists in his [Nasrallah’s] own country. In addition, Aboul Geit, while condemning Israel’s actions, places the blame squarely on Hamas for firing rockets and/or allowing rockets to be fired into Israel. Egypt’s President Mubarak has, also, issued a statement refusing to open the Rafah crossing with Gaza unless Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is in charge there. (Egypt does not need more Islamistspouring into its country, and unlike Israel, does not conduct itself while on the one hand running a military campaign and on the other letting in aid professionals due to concerns for civilians). Egypt and Turkey are working to broker a peace deal, or more accurately, a form of ceasefire. Showing concern over Hezbullah’s posturing, Egypt has warned Israel that a ground incursion into Gaza will likely result in the opening of a Northern front, with Hezbullah attacking Israel. Nasrallah, however, has made no mention of a possible attack on Israel. Nonetheless, it would be foolhardy for Israel not to be prepared for such a surprise attack, and thus, the North of the country, particularly in Kiryat Shmona, is preparing for the possible outbreak of war.

Unconfirmed resports have claimed that Ahmed Ja’abri, a high ranking Hamas military commander, perhaps even a Chief of Staff, was killed in an air strike on a Hamas security structure. In addition, the IDF has reported that Hamas’ armed wing, the Izzadin al-Qassam forces, have been greatly weakened. Yet, other IDF reports indicate that Hamas’ military forces are still in tact. Hamas has, also, announced that it has called up its reserves, and has enlisted 1,000 new volunteers in order to prepare for the potential Israeli ground invasion. What do these conflicting reports mean? Without a doubt, Hamas’ forces have been weakened. It is impossibe to sustain such damage as has been inflicted on Gaza over the last 72 hours without being weakened. The question is, simply, of how much. Hamas may, or may not have lost its top military commander. Let us, for the purpose of this analysis, assume that the man is, in fact, dead. Does this, then, make a difference to Hamas’ abilities. I argue that, no, it does not. Hamas has organized itself, for the most part as a guerilla organization; this involves a military command structure with a commander in chief, officers, troops, etc. While this holds true for most of Hamas’ forces, its military wing, similar to Hezbullah’s, is most likely comprised of smaller, somewhat non-integrated, cell-like units, so that the loss of a single unit does not effect the whole military wing. If this is so, which at present cannot be proven, each smaller group will have its own commander, to continue its fighting activities, regardless of what other units are doing. In a second scenario, in which the suppositions of strategists and researches as to the structure of Hamas’ military wing prove untrue, and it is in fact structured like a typical military, the death of the commander in chief will, also, not effect Hamas’ effectiveness, as his deputy will, simply, rise to take his place. While it is possible that Hamas is, in fact, greatly weakened, and that its claim to strength and military integrity is simply posturing in an attempt to deter a future Israeli ground invasion, Israel should, nonetheless, be prepared for a tough battle in Gaza, should it go in with ground forces, as appears likely.

As a side note, Hamas has, also, attempted to send a message to Israel to stop its attacks, other than by rocket force. An unnamed Hamas official has claimed that Gilad Shalit has been wounded in an Israeli air strike. This message should have absolutely no bearing on the Israeli military. First, this operation is not about freeing Gilad Shalit. Rather, the goal is to weaken, or destroy, Hamas, and to stop the rocketfire onto Israeli territory. Second, we should not be so quick to forget history. During what is now referred to as the First Lebanon War, Palestinian forces claimed that Israel had killed kidnapped Druze soldier Samir Asa’d (As3d) in an air strike in 1991. After a long period of negotiation and great bartering, and the releasing of Palestinian prisoners, the body of Asa’d was brought home. Coroner reports found that Asa’d had, in fact, been killed by 3 knife wounds, one in the back and 2 in the ribs, which could not possibly have been inflicted by a bomb. Thus, we should be careful in paying too much attention to what these individuals tell us with regards to our captured soldier and should focus on performing this military operation as well as possible.

The point of this slightly disjointed post is to say that Israel is doing well with their aerial attacks on Gaza and should keep it up. Should they send in ground forces (a topic discussed in previous posts), they should be prepared for though battling in the densely populate streets of Gaza. Israel should, also, be prepared for the potential opening of a northern front. Hamas, however, is far from having unanimous support in the Arab world, which should be remembered and capitalized upon. Last, Israel should be wary of an reports coming out of Gaza with regards to anything, from military preparedness to captured soldiers.

חזק ואמץ!

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  • Yeah,
    Chazak Vumatz,

    I hope once the army cleans up the weaponry there and rids the region of Hamas and Israel can support the Gaza ppl so Hamas cant go back in there nor any other trouble maker.
    Really, I think its possible to wean the Gazans off this sickness they got from Hamas etc…
    Its going to a long ass time, but I think it has to be done. It wouldn’t hurt also to go back in there and resettle and do what ever it takes to establish peace there. Eventually the place should be properly annexed, but I realize the Isreali ppl for the most part are not into that for now.
    Its naive to assume that anything else left in a vacuum will not lead to further hostilities down the road.

    We should hear good news!… eventually

  • The ‘Save Kadima in election year’ war is already failing. The government is already trying to find a way out and it is sending feelers through anonymous ‘high-level security personnel’ to the media saying that the army is recommending a cease-fire. The world is sort of starting to wake up and the media (gotta love them, I guess) is now reporting with weak terms like ‘closing window of opportunity’.

    We saw this happen two years ago. Whoever started it, a justified war to fight to victory, a nation unified behind the army to do the job, but a government (the same one actually) who has no balls to do it and save future lives.

    Talking about a ground assault is pointless, dangerous and reckless if the objective is merely to clean up Hamas in order to install Abu Mazen / PLO / Fatah.

    Dig this:
    Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg

  • Yes, Josh, but look at his name: Schwarzenberg.

    A coincidence? I don’t think so.


    Agree about the ground assault, though. If the objective is to destroy Hamas, then fine. But if the only objective is to hand Gaza back to Fatah, forget it. Not worth the life of a single Israeli soldier.

    If Abu Mazen wants Gaza back, let him man up and do it himself.

  • Yeah Agreed,

    This apparent government position of, “lets just wave up our hands and give over the problem to “them.”
    once the fighting is over is obnoxiously short sighted and just getting in my face…

    Its this cool wannabee Israeli attutude that I am just so sick of…

    G-d bless Dahlia, she is a cutey, very much knows alot and put things very coherent, and works hard at what she does obviously;

    but when she says stuff like this:

    “Ben-David: It cannot be Israel’s concern as to whom will fill in the gap.”

    Is that flippen NUTS or what?

    Dahlia goes on to say this in response to commentary:

    The people of Gaza chose to have Hamas as their government. Perhaps the people will choose to continue having them as their government. Perhaps there will be calls for change. Perhaps Fatah will effectively step in. However, what is essential is that Israel show that attacks on its citizens and soverign territory will not be tolerated. The second key in Israel’s security strategy is that of “harta’a” (deterrence). Yet, with regards to the reason for Hamas being elected, you are mistaken. Hamas is first and foremost a mutual aid organization. It has deep roots. While its militant wing was only established in the 1980s, Hamas can trace back its social/charitable organization to the 1920s. Even now, the charitable arm of Hamas receives much more of its funding than does the militant wing. The reason Hamas was elected is because of its charitable activities. They run the hospitals, the schools, the madrassas, the mosques, the soup kitchens, the job placement services, and the welfare organizations. These are people who not only make promises to help the people, but actually fulfill them. Moreover, they live with the people, and act as of the people, unlike others who act distant from and above the people. This is what makes them so effective in their militant acts. As a terrorist organization they receive full support from their populace due to their mutual aid structure. In addition, the point of this campaign should be to totally destroy Hamas’ abilities to attack Israel. This is what I mean by doing the job correctly. As a side note, saying that in any given operation, including this one, that Israel should achieve “hachra’a” is a far cry from advocating a totalitarian-esque future. (i.e. not Orwellian)

    All things considered I do think Israel is wedded to the Gaza ppl, not to Hamas and not to just anybody that can fill the vacuum. I don’t see any reason to just trust anybody who will just “step in” or respect any right of choice such beligerent Jew hating – killing missle lobbing creatures could have. Who seems to be really wedded to Hamas is this Israeli government whose fates are connected directly.

    After the ETHNIC CLEANSING in August 05′ of apparent Jews in Gaza who can expect anything else? Eventually I am hoping for a change of government and a final change of scene. I say apparent because of so many years of intermarriage with muslims in Israel, many of the Palestinians are in fact Jewish by birth. This is a whole new dimension of the problem that is hard to visualize. There very well may be more Jews in Palestinian populations then the rest of the Arab world at this point. There was a really good article about that in Arutz Hasheva. I will try to find it, but it was awakening… So any talk to me of population decimation or transfer is problematic at best. It is tempting to see transfer as a long term solution. It really is… but think about the Palestinian Jews. Yeah it seems like an Oxymoron.. but there is such a thing!


  • In Hebrew it is called מבצע עופרת יצוקה, Operation Cast Lead. Since it started during Hanukah, it is named after a line from a Hanukah poem by the famous Israeli poet Bialik called לכבוד החנוכה, In Honor of Hanukah. When you make something, such as a driedle, out of lead you have to shape it. The proper term for shaping metal is to “cast” it. As Israel is reshaping Gaza, I suppose that someone in the high miitary echelons thought it appropriate.

  • If you search youtube for a “cast lead” – you’ll see a lot of anti Israel videos.
    We decided to collect all available video truth about “Cast lead” in one place:
    Post your links to the video-truth-news about Cast Lead to [email protected] and we will place these videos on the site.
    Thank you

  • Dahlia, thank you for explaining it. I couldn’t figure it out. That makes sense now.
    Todah Rabah!

  • Perhaps this is closer to the truth….

    Gaza medics say death toll in offensive over 1,000
    GAZA, Jan 14 (Reuters) – The number of Palestinians killed in a 19-day-old Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip reached at least 1,000 on Wednesday, including hundreds of civilians, officials in the Hamas-run Health Ministry in the enclave said.

    The figures, in common with previous counts, are subject to the difficulties of counting and verification in the chaos of the war. Israeli officials have given no firm casualty toll for Palestinians but say troops have killed hundreds of militants.

    At least 10 people, including at least four militants, were killed on Wednesday, medics said. Bodies were also retrieved from past attacks. It took the total death toll to 1,010, said Muawiyah Hassanein, head of the ministry’s ambulance service.

    The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said it had compiled figures showing 673 civilians had died since Israel launched its air campaign on Dec. 27. These included 225 children and 69 women. Earlier this week, the health ministry said about 400 women and children were among the dead.

    More than half Gaza’s 1.5 million people are aged under 18.

    In the first days of the war, hundreds of Hamas members were killed in air strikes. Israel regards all of these as militants, although some argue that many were police officers whose main functions were civilian.

    Israel says it has lost nine soldiers in a ground offensive that began on Jan. 3, four of these to “friendly fire”, while a 10th soldier and three Israeli civilians were killed by Hamas rockets fired into southern Israel in the first week of the war.

    Israel says it launched the offensive to halt rocket fire that had killed 18 people between 2001 and the start of the air campaign. It says it is trying to avoid civilian casualties.

    The United Nations has led calls for an immediate ceasefire.

  • Hinny, why do you think that’s closer to the truth? Remember when, back in 2002 Jenin, the Palestinians sought to get sympathy by pretending there were more dead people? That’s when the video captured the “dead” person falling off a stretcher and getting back on.

  • “The point of this slightly disjointed post is to say that Israel is doing well with their aerial attacks on Gaza and should keep it up.”

    I find i deeply disturbing that you refer to killing civilians in such a detached and inhumane way. Let’s hope your voice is only an example of the minority of your peers as your words are a sign of something very sad and ignorant.

  • Mary –

    Where have you been for the past 3+ years – during which Hamas lobbed bombs at Israeli children, hitting several schools?

    Or is it OK to attack some civilians, and not others?

    LUCKY for you – there is actually an open thread right here called “Impact of Palestinian Rocket Fire on Israeli Children” – why don’t you go wring your self-righteous hands over there?

  • Dahlia:

    ” I say apparent because of so many years of intermarriage with muslims in Israel, many of the Palestinians are in fact Jewish by birth. ”

    Have you got a # on this, and a source?