Posted on | July 18, 2014 | 9 Comments
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military Friday to prepare for a “significant expansion” of its ground operation against Gaza militants.
Netanyahu said the military’s primary goal would be to destroy underground tunnels used by Hamas to attack the Jewish State. The announcement came hours after Israeli ground troops and tanks struck more than 100 terror targets in Israel’s first major ground offensive in Gaza in just over five years.
The offensive follows an Egyptian effort earlier this week to halt hostilities. Israel accepted the terms, but Hamas refused, demanding that Israel and Egypt first give guarantees to ease the blockade on Gaza.
“Since there is no way to deal with the tunnels only from the air, our soldiers are doing it now from the ground,” Netanyahu said at the opening of an emergency cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem Post reported. “We decided to launch the action after we tried all the other ways, and with an understanding that without this operation the price we will have to pay later would be much higher.”
Tanks, infantry and engineering forces were operating inside the coastal strip. In a statement, the military said it targeted rocket launchers, tunnels and more than 100 other targets. Throughout the night, the thud of tank shells echoed across Gaza, often just a few seconds apart. Several explosions from Israeli missile strikes shook high-rise buildings in central Gaza City. Pillars of smoke could be seen from the Israeli side of the border.
Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.
“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.
When Hamas says “peace,” they mean, “kill the Jews.”
Expecting Israel to negotiate with Hamas is like asking a man to negotiate with a shark over how much of his leg the shark can eat.