“No Ceasefire Wanted,” Israel Intent on Pounding Hamas — No Exit Strategy

This analysis of the Israel-Gaza mini-war, as of Thursday night (July 10) was written by Yossi Melman — co-author of Spies Against Armageddon, the updated history of Israeli espionage and security agencies — for the website of the non-stop TV news service, privately owned, broadcasting from Israel: i24news.tv .

As the war between Gaza and Israel enters its fourth day, there are growing indications that neither side has an exit strategy for ending hostilities.

In part, this is because neither Israel nor Hamas wanted the war in the first place. Both were dragged into it as prisoners of their own narratives, pride, egos and one-sided perceptions.

This is the third war of its kind between the two sides since 2010. There is a sense of déjà vu, except that the military technologies have improved, there is greater firepower, and Hamas has a much larger arsenal of rockets.

On-line posters are part of an information war - this from Israel's military

On-line posters are part of an information war – this from Israel’s military

So far, this war is an unequal pounding of one side by the other. Israel’s mighty air force has already carried out more than 600 sorties targeting military commanders and their houses, weapons depots, launchers and launching pads as well as bunkers and tunnels.

Hamas for its part is retaliating by launching rockets of all types and ranges – the longest-rage up to 200 km – at major Israeli cities, including Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, and even the Ben Gurion International Airport (in an attempt to disrupt flights).

They are also trying to hit the city of Dimona, in Israel’s south, where Israel’s nuclear reactor, an iconic symbol of its strategic superiority, is located. So far, Hamas has launched nearly a thousand rockets, including 50 long-range ones. Since the Islamist organization has nearly 10,000 rockets at its disposal, including 300 long range ones, it has the ability to continue bombarding Israel.

While Hamas endures painful blows, Israel has suffered very few casualties. This is mainly due to the shelters spread throughout the country as well as the outstanding performance of the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which has thus far intercepted most of the long-range rockets aimed at central and northern Israel.

Unfortunately, there is no defensive system that can protect Israeli areas close to Gaza from short-range rockets and mortar shells.

Israel’s inability to stop the rocket fire stems from insufficient intelligence. In contrast to the 2012 campaign, this time Israeli intelligence knows less about the locations and size of Hamas’s rocket depots, launchers, launching pads and positions.

It is also clear that Hamas has learned lessons from past battles and from Hezbollah’s experience in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Hamas has literally decided to “go underground.” In recent years they have built “underground cities” in Gaza that now serve now as arsenal storage, control, command and communications posts as well as safe houses for their military and political leadership.

Earlier this week, Hamas set forth its preconditions for reinstating the 2012 cease-fire. The main demand is to release Palestinian prisoners (terrorists in Israeli parlance) who were released three years ago in a prisoner swap and then re-arrested and jailed by Israel following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last month in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said Thursday in the Knesset that a cease-fire with Hamas was not on the agenda. Netanyahu was asked a number of times whether the government had certain political goals and whether he was speaking with Egypt or other countries to try to bring about a cease-fire through diplomatic means. “I am not talking to anybody about a cease-fire right now,” Netanyahu told a Knesset committee. “It’s not even on the agenda.”

Thus it is only reasonable to conclude that the war will continue for another week or more.

But if the aerial campaign fails to put an end to the rocket fire in the very near future – and the chances of that seem slim — the IDF will have no choice but to send its ground forces into Gaza. Israel’s cabinet and military leadership do not want to do it, but continued rocket fire and the resulting public discontent will leave them no choice.

That is exactly what Hamas wants: to lure Israel into a ground invasion of Gaza. All Hamas needs to do is to hold out for as long as it can, keep launching rockets and prolong the war so that Israeli soldiers bleed and sink into the Gaza sand dunes.

July 10, 2014

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