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As IAF ran out of Hamas targets on Shabbat, less than twenty airstrikes took place on Sunday morning. The most important thing in a lopsided military campaign is to maintain initiative and suppress the enemy’s coordination by staying on the offensive. In small Gaza, such a standard tactic cannot be carried out because destruction reaches the saturation point very quickly.

As the militants recover from the first shock and get used to the fact of the Israeli invasion, they will re-group. It is unclear yet whether IAF destroyed any significant weapons stores: there were no major or prolonged blasts, thus Hamas weapons caches seem to have survived the first attack.

Ehud Barak, a political traitor and failed strategist but a brilliant tactician, executed an excellent deceit to cover Israel’s attack on Gaza, and caught Hamas off-guard. Egyptians collaborated with Israel and assured Hamas of continued calm just hours before the Israeli attack they knew was coming.
Apparently, Barak had been planning the Gaza invasion for the last six months. The level of information-gathering and preparation is incomparable to what was done in 2006. Still, it remains to be seen whether the invasion can defeat and, more importantly, demoralize Hamas into submitting to Fatah. A few knocked-out Israeli tanks or downed helicopters would boost the guerrillas’ morale through the roof.

A wave of suicide bombings by Hamas is unlikely as IDF, police, and citizens are on high alert. After the ceasefire ensues, Hamas would not grossly violate it with suicide bombings.
For the first time, Ashdod is hit by Hamas rockets.

Both Hamas and IDF officials went underground, each in their own bunkers. The reason for IDF/IAF generals to open the underground bunkers in Tel Aviv Kirya HQs is unclear: apparently, the generals are simply playing war games.

Only fifteen civilians are reported dead in Gaza, only 7 percent of the total toll—an incredible accuracy which came at staggering cost. The operation, which involved more than 100 aircraft, expensive smart bombs, and guided rockets, cost Israel close to $0.5 billion on the first day only, vastly exceeding Hamas’ all-time expenses.

Short of a diplomatic statement, Russia didn’t provide any support for Hamas, which it recognizes as the legitimate Palestinian government.

The Israeli operation depends on Hamas accepting a “live and let live” approach, where Israel and Gaza remain hostile but don’t attack each other. According to Jewish logic, Hamas cannot put up with massive devastation and would end the hostilities. This is so far the case: Mashaal, who rejected a ceasefire a week ago, has now announced his commitment to it. But the policy might not hold in the long term: Israeli retaliation will look less assured, some Gazan militants welcome war regardless of costs, and the attacks from Gaza will resume.

Israel’s biggest strategic problem in Gaza is avoiding civilian targets. But as long as Gaza’s civilians feel themselves largely immune from Israeli strikes, they have no reason to rescind their electoral support for Hamas.

Depopulation of Gaza, a political solution with Hamas, or long-term low-level cross-border violence are the alternatives.

Answering the call of the PLO Executive Committee, loyal Israeli Arabs declared a strike. That’s not a bad thing in itself, as Jews should refrain from hiring Arabs in the first place. The strike is total in the West Bank, which is kind of odd as the Palestinians are only harming themselves this way.

The strike cannot support Palestinian civilians who constitute barely 7 percent of the toll in Gaza. Israeli Arabs simply don’t want the Jews to defend the country against Hamas.

Arab MK Ahmed Tibi called Israeli actions in Gaza “war crimes.” We won’t care what an Arab MK is saying, but the response is instructive: nil. Neither the Knesset Committee on Ethics, nor the Attorney General threatened Tibi with sanctions as they routinely do to Jewish right-wingers who dare to criticize establishment figures.

A picture-perfect Israeli Arab named Majadle, a minister of science without a high school diploma, boycotted the government meeting in protest of the Gaza operation.

IAF’s destruction of up to 50 percent of Hamas’ rocket arsenals was cited as a reason for the relatively small number of rocket attacks on Israel. The claim seems exaggerated, as no major post-operation explosions were reported in Gaza; apparently, no large ammo depots were hit. IAF strikes damaged Hamas’ ability to produce new Kassam rockets, but it would take very little time to restore the metal workshops. The relative lull in rocket attacks is attributable to Hamas’ confusion.

The government’s decision to mobilize 6,500 reservists shows the voters that the Cabinet is serious about fighting Hamas. But two thirds of the reservists will be deployed in Home-Front positions.

The Kadima-Avodah coalition clearly runs the election campaign as they run the war. Olmert, Tzipi, and Barak sit together at photo-ops; Olmert has abandoned his white shirt and colorful tie, and now plays an old wise man.

Though impressive, the number represents less than 10 percent of the operative tunnels. Palestinians can build new tunnels quickly. Egyptian police have sealed off the border anyway, to prevent smuggling.

Israel prepared to cut down on IAF attacks as she deployed artillery along the border with Gaza. After the initial shock, Palestinians will bring out anti-aircraft rockets, and helicopter raids would become dangerous operations, rather than the turkey-hunts they are now. The artillery deployment also mitigates the risk of the world forcing Israeli troops out of Gaza: Israel can target rocket-launching squads with precision cross-border fire.
It is also likely that IDF will deploy a moving wave of defensive fire in front of the advancing tanks. That would require depopulating large areas of civilians first.

The errors have started accumulating. In bombing the Seraya compound, IAF took off a Hamas jail which, naturally enough, housed anti-Hamas activists, including many Fatah loyalists. Not that we care, of course. Also, IAF targeted a fuel tanker, and fire consumed quite a few houses nearby.

Gazans have breached the border with Egypt after IAF blew the border wall, apparently by mistake. The Gazans cleared other passes with mines and bulldozers. Close to a thousand Gazans entered Egypt, more or less all of them civilians fleeing the chaos. This is rather in contrast to Security Minister Dichter’s announcement that many in Gaza welcome Israeli strikes against the oppressive Hamas regime.

Egypt and other Arab countries (except Syria) appear to support the Israeli attack on Hamas. In a telling gesture, the Arab League postponed its meeting, which was meant to condemn Israel.

Egypt is slated to receive a bad beating on the Arab street, as Mubarak is widely viewed as an Israeli collaborator. The Egyptians received a warning from Israel hours before the attack to withdraw their security personnel from the Rafah Crossing attacked by IAF.

In Hebron, Arabs hurled stones at the very troops who defended them just days ago against the rampaging settler youths.

Routine protests near Niilin turned violent, with almost two Arabs killed (one hasn’t died yet). Crazy Jews are investigating whether the soldiers used live bullets properly instead of the usual plastic ammunition.

Arab MKs instigated riots and supported the general strike announced by the PLO. Police arrested dozens of Arab rioters and stone-throwers.

Under the cover of the riots, the US-trained Fatah thugs deployed all over the West Bank, ostensibly to stop rioting. Normally, every town comes under their control after prolonged negotiations with the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

In East Jerusalem, Umm al Fahm, Nazareth, Lod, Haifa, other Israeli towns, Arab riots continued on a moderate scale. Two Jews who veered into the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm, normally off-limits to Jews for security reasons, got badly beaten by a friendly Arab mob.

Israeli Arabs rioted under PLO flags, which are illegal in Israel. Compare this to police objections to Marzel & Associates marching in Umm al Fahm under Israeli flags. Arabs chanted their usual calls to murder Jews and “save Gaza in [Jewish] blood.”

In a statement, the ultra-left nuts headed by Uri Avnery hold IDF responsible for violating the ceasefire by blowing up the tunnel, which peaceful Gazans intended only to use for kidnapping. The leftists describe Israeli actions in Gaza as a crime.

December 2008
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