IDF tanks and crews on the border with Gaza

IDF tanks and crews on the border with Gaza

After a grueling air campaign that began seven days ago tonight, Israeli Defense Force troops marched into Gaza in the dark.

From where I stood, close to the border, one could feel the ground shake as the sound of massive explosions reverberated throughout the countryside. I could see the darkness of the Gaza skyline, punctuated by red flares and tracer bullets and I could hear the sounds of combat between the IDF and Hamas as evidenced by artillery and machine gun fire.

This was the fruition of a carefully executed plan, formulated ten days ago and executed in a private meeting Friday night between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Barak, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

The IDF entered Gaza at three different points – these included from the north close to the Mediterranean Sea and through the old Israeli settlements as well as from the Karni crossing. As I write this troops are already at least 2 km inside Gaza.

Large and varied 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 and other security agencies.

The cabinet has authorized an emergency call up of tens of thousands of IDF reservists. Hamas for its part, has long prepared for Israel’s invasion, using the cease fire period to dig strategic tunnels and rig some areas with explosives in anticipation of an IDF ground assault.

I watched live television coverage of the young men who are the brothers, sons and husbands of the entire country marching head on into enemy territory. Hamas publicly announced, “If Israel dares to go into Gaza, it will turn it into a graveyard for Israeli soldiers.”

Hamas also said that the IDF was “getting closer to the trap we laid for it,” adding that “our people will fight to the last drop of blood and won’t surrender. We prepared hundreds of suicide bombers meant to kill and capture dozens of soldiers taking part in the ground operations.”

Tonight Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the Israeli nation saying, “We didn’t want to do this but 800,000 people are now under the threat of Hamas rocket fire. Any nation would take the same measures.” He somberly added that the ground incursion would put the lives of Israeli troops at risk.

Barak stressed that a lengthy debate preceded the ordering of the ground incursion. He added that Israel was a peace-loving country and pledged that the IDF will have the upper hand by the operation’s end.

I was with several IDF Infantry soldiers this week before they went into Gaza. They are in the prime of their lives, handsome, smiling – some as young as 17. They could not tell me at the time, but they knew they would be going in tonight. When I asked one if he was scared, he shrugged and humbly answered “Of course not.” The soldiers know very well that the risk of them getting kidnapped is extremely high. It is already presumed that Israel will suffer casualties. The operation thus has to produce concrete results, lest the IDF withdraw from Gaza stigmatized by yet another perceived failure.

Cross posted to ROI120

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  • Looks like someone is really taking a liking to the guy in the middle. Heh.

    Good video and coverage. As always.

  • Leah,

    thanks for the reporting.

    Are you sure about a soldier being 17 years old?
    That doesn’t jive with Israeli law.

  • the soldier on the left is a friend of mine 🙂
    thanks,it’s great seeing him after all that while.

  • As the Israeli army has the 4th largest military machine in the world (courtesy of America), I strongly doubt your ‘brave boys’ will encounter much resistance from the starving, exhausted, sickly and barely armed Palestinians. As for the laughing stock that is the ‘Hamas Missiles’ raining upon Israel – I agree. The lady on CNN whose garden was wrecked by Hamas was cheapened by the silly Palestinians moaning about the hospital – and the kids in it – bombed by Israel. What irony that the closest we have came to a return to Nazi era terror is being carried out by Jews.

  • Joe: Um, going on to a Jewish blog and spouting off about how Jews are Nazis isn’t going to make you any friends or win you any allies.

    Just a thought.

  • Great job with the “ID number” joke, it was such a huge hit with those soldiers that they wouldn’t even tell you their age or home town after that. You are truly a natural at getting people to open up in an interview.

  • So much the better Joe if they don’t get much resistance for incapacitating their ability to commit the immoral acts which they were so addicted to committing.

  • i think bombing children and weaponless people (no anti-air guns , no artillery, no tanks , no warplanes, etc…..) is a crime. NOT A SIGN with some CRITICAL THOUGHTS

    if palestinians had REAL weapons , no one of your “special forces” (hahaha i die from laughs – real commandos and fighters never fight against helpless children – only the US and JEWS do that, REFERENCE=20th CENTURY HISTORY) would even last for a split of a second.
    you bring everything upon your selves wiht your FENOMENAL ignorance and way of contact
    shame to all of your kind and your 60yrs fake petrol controling state imposed by USA at the expense of arab people (they are humans too with the same rights as all of us) and with the cover up of easter hollywood movie productions.
    you are so laughable

  • Hey everyone,

    Thanks for the comments – good and bad. Ill keep bringing you reports from the field. Stay posted.