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The US Administration accepted Olmert’s solution of an internationally “guaranteed” ceasefire in Gaza, with UN troops monitoring compliance. The solution is wrong, as we have seen in Lebanon, but there’s no reason why Bush should be more concerned with Israeli interests than Olmert.

Egypt pushes for a ceasefire because of the pressure Arab countries exert on it to open the Rafah Crossing. Egypt cannot afford too long a collaboration with Israel. In any event, Hamas can easily wrest control of Rafah from Egypt, which has very few troops in Sinai according to the Camp David agreements.

Hamas sent SMS to many Israelis urging them to put an end to IDF’s operation in Gaza, and warning of terrorist attacks.
IDF responded by distributing leaflets in Gaza calling on the population to rat on Hamas members. The leaflets will surely yield no results, as they are composed without the slightest regard for the Arab mentality or accepted rhetoric.

Arabs hurled three Motolov cocktails at the parking lot of Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem. This follows a historical pattern of Arab attacks on Hadassah, a pattern that includes many infamous incidents. In 1929, Arabs massacred Jewish doctors and nuns in Hebron Hadassah, who had treated them free. In the War of Independence, Arabs massacred Hadassah personnel en route to Jerusalem. These and many other incidents didn’t stop Hadassah from treating Arabs.

Palestinian riots after the Friday service at the Temple Mount continued into the night. The government bans Jews from praying at the Temple Mount, lest Arabs riot, but didn’t ban this Friday’s Muslim services despite the riots they would obviously result in.

Tens of thousands of Arabs joined an anti-Israeli demonstration in the Israeli town of Sakhnin. Muslim preachers and Arab MKs incited them against Jews. Some Jews imagine they can buy Arab loyalty with subsidies and municipal projects.

Abu Zakaria al-Jamal was killed in IAF air strike.

Theodore Herzl would have been proud: in the Jewish state, a safe haven for Jews, swastikas were painted on several cars in an affluent city named after him.

The Israeli army began an artillery bombardment of Gaza, apparently to soften Hamas resistance before the invasion. The fire is too sporadic and may indicate that IDF switching from aerial strikes to targeted artillery fire.

IAF increasingly targets Hamas and PIJ commanders. Again, this might be a preparation for a ground attack, or the tactics of an army which has run out of viable targets.

Speaking of targets, IDF artillery fired into Beit Lahiya mosque, causing some nice fireworks, indicating that the mosque, quite in line with Islamic teaching, stored explosives.

The invasion probably paves the way to Fatah’s re-taking Gaza. An alternative scenario, in which IDF retreats at some point and leaves Hamas to restore its strength, is absurd.

Israeli tanksFor six days, Israel was moving tanks from the Syrian border to Gaza. Hamas watched the deployment of Israeli tanks, powerless to counter the impending attack.

Israeli artillery, deployed at the border with Gaza, provided defensive fire for the tanks.

Hamas and PIJ had earlier boasted of foxholes and C-4 massive tank mines. It remains to be seen whether Israeli intelligence identified most of them.

Despite the Second Lebanon War experience, most Israeli tanks are not equipped with Trophy active missile defense and remain vulnerable to RPGs; Hamas has stockpiled RPG-29s it got from Syria.

Learning from the errors made in Lebanon, Israeli tank crews in Gaza enjoy some support from helicopters, which look out for RPG launchers.

As Israel has an air monopoly over Gaza, tanks are not necessary to destroy the militants’ targets. IDF now tries to reach into pockets of Hamas and PIJ resistance and provoke their dispersed fighters into battles. Presumably, even if they fire from residential buildings, IAF would take out the buildings. The tanks, therefore, act as a bait for Palestinian guerrillas.

The tank operation represents Israel’s attempt to maintain its momentum. As IAF runs out of targets, Israel tries to keep the initiative without ceding it to Hamas.

About 2,500 IDF troops have so far entered Gaza, supported by tanks. The IDF’s success now depends on Hamas’ inability to disperse its fighters and allow the invading troops through before engaging them in hit-and-run attacks.

Israeli aims in the ground operation remain unclear. One stated goal is the destruction of Hamas’ infrastructure. Like what? Another is taking control of Kassam launch pads. But every square meter of land in Gaza is potentially a launch pad. Occupying a few miles of northern Gaza solves nothing, as Grad missiles can be launched at Israel from southern Gaza. Hamas has missiles whose range exceeds forty miles.

Just like a week ago, the Israeli government unnecessarily scheduled the attack for Shabbat: though the invasion occurred in the evening, all the preparations were carried out in daytime. If this is done to save lives, why didn’t we invade a week ago?

A thousand Arabs and leftists demonstrated in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, in opposition to the IDF operation in Gaza. A similar crowd gathered to oppose them, but was not allowed to by the police, apparently to prevent clashes.