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Mowing the grass

After 28 days of fighting an Egyptian-brokered 72-hour ceasefire came into effect at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 5; it was still holding, albeit it was wobbling a bit, on the morning of July 7. Egypt proposed the truce be extended by two days in order to allow further time for negotiating a more permanent ceasefire. Israel accepted Egypt’s proposal, but Hamas rejected it, again. Hamas says it will resume the firing of rockets and mortars into Israel at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, July 8, unless its demands for a full and permanent opening of the Rafah crossing into Egypt and the release of Palestinian prisoners are met.

Hamas has, for the time being at least, dropped all of its other demands, which can only lead to the conclusion that it has suffered great losses and was clearly bested in this war that it initiated; however, shortly one of its gunmen will pop its head out of a hole and claim in won the war.

Hamas has utilized the 72-hour reprieve from Israeli shelling and airstrikes to reposition rocket launchers and gather together its remaining stocks of missiles. The terror organization cares not one whit about the 1,867 Gazans who lost their lives in the fighting. Hamas leaders have remained hidden in a fortified bunker beneath Gaza’s main hospital. Hamas leaders are prepared to once again initiate hostilities and to lose an infinite number of civilians, partly because it feels completely safe in its Command Center below the Shifa hospital, and partly because it still has an estimated 3,000 projectiles left in its arsenal; but primarily it is ready to initiate further catastrophic damage to Gaza because it sees that the weight of world opinion is heavily against Israel due to the devastation that has taken place in Gaza during the month-long war.

On August 6, after a month of fighting Israel, masked Hamas members gave Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite news network, a look at how they have prepared for a new round of warfare following the end of the 72-hour ceasefire. Hamas showed Al Jazeera a tunnel that is still functioning and which was replete with rockets, mortars, anti-tank missiles, RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades), machine guns, etc. Hamas, they said, is sending a message to Israel that “our finger is still on the trigger.” If our demands are not met, they say, our rockets are still ready to hit every area of Israel. That is not negotiating, it is called blackmail.

Israel has pulled all its troops and armor out of Gaza and redeployed them along the Israeli side of its border with Gaza. Believing it has achieved its aim of destroying  the vast terror tunnel city below Gaza — albeit no one really believes the IDF has destroyed all the tunnels — and brought a drastic reduction in the number of rockets being fired, the IDF is now poised to forcefully respond should Hamas continue with its irrational missile belligerency against Israel. Only 25,000 of the 84,000 IDF reserve soldiers that were called up have been sent home since the guns fell silent on Tuesday; the remainder, together with all the armor and heavy guns, remain mobilized for war. The formal end of Operation Protective Edge is entirely dependent upon Hamas’s actions after the ceasefire ends on Friday, August 8.

Egypt first presented a truce proposal that would have come into force on July 15, but Hamas rejected Egypt’s peace overtures and opted to continue targeting Israeli population centers. Hamas said the ceasefire did not meet its demands. At that time, the death toll in Gaza was 197, and Israelis had only suffered a few injuries from fragments of rockets that were shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Three weeks later, after being pummeled like never before, Hamas itself asked for a ceasefire. The current Egyptian ceasefire proposal contains the exact same conditions as the first proposal; the only difference now is that Gaza lies in ruins, 1,867 of it residents are now dead, along with 65 Israeli soldiers and four Israeli civilians. Only the mandatory bomb shelters and safe rooms in Israeli homes, businesses, cities, and towns prevented a catastrophe of cosmic proportions happening as a result of the 3,356 missiles that Hamas fired into Israeli residential areas. Obviously, the horrendous loss of life in Gaza must be left on the doorstep of Hamas; it had the opportunity to stop the fighting and negotiate a longer-term truce, but it spurned the chance, choosing instead to try and kill Jews with its ineffectual rockets and abortive attempts at terrorist infiltrations into Israel, which took the lives of 11 ambushed Israeli soldiers, but no civilian casualties.

Israel has confirmed that it killed an approximated 900 Hamas operatives and gunmen, destroyed 32 cross-border terror tunnels and somewhere around 3,000 rockets that were stored in weapons caches throughout northern Gaza. Hamas’s stockpile of medium-range rockets, which it used to target Greater Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, has been depleted. Hamas has been firing far fewer of these rockets, apparently pacing itself for a longer, more drawn-out conflict. Of late, Hamas has focused on firing short-range rockets into southern Israeli towns and cities.

Israel demolished all of its Jewish communities that were in Gaza in August 2005; forcefully expelling some 9,000 Israelis from their homes where they had lived for more than 25 years. Israel bowed to international pressure from no-nothing humanist Western politicians who said that if there was to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians Israel must withdraw from Gaza. Israel uprooted 9,000 of its citizens and pulled out of Gaza completely. Hamas moved in and created a terrorist Hamastan, which has since fired tens of thousands of missiles into Israel’s southern border towns.

In this third war with Hamas since 2005 it was never Israel’s aim to reconquer the Gaza Strip. Its aim was to smash the tunnel network and destroy Hamas’s ability to fire rockets into Israel. During the war it was established beyond argumentation that Hamas’s Command Center was right under Shifa hospital, the main medical facility for Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants. No matter what anyone says to the contrary, Israel has more than bent over backwards to reduce as much as possible the toll on civilians in this war. usually to its own detriment. The colossal damage inflicted upon Gaza is entirely due to Hamas and other terror groups firing their rockets from among densely populated areas, which Israel was forced to respond to. In the next post on this writer’s blog he will include the URLs to which readers can go to and see Hamas’s firings of rockets from among civilian areas. Such actions are classed as War Crimes in the internationally recognized protocols of warfare.

It was only due to Israel’s compassion for Gazan civilians that it did not bomb Shifa hospital in order to kill Hamas’s top brass and explode the munitions that are stashed underneath the hospital. On Wednesday, August 6, Lieutenant-Colonel Ori Shechter, deputy commander of Israel’s Nahal Brigade, said on Army Radio: “Had the IDF been ordered to go and get the bunkered Hamas leaders, we would have gone to Shifa hospital and pulled them out by their ears.”

According to Israel’s Channel 2 television, last week the IDF had presented to Israel’s top ministers an assessment of what a full reconquest of Gaza would entail: To reestablish Israeli control over the Strip and clearing it of all military threats would involve the deaths of hundreds of soldiers and thousands of Palestinians. It would risk the kidnapping of soldiers, endanger Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, batter Israel’s economy, prompt riots and worse among the Israeli Arab community and in the West Bank — biblical Judea and Samaria — and take about five years. After the IDF briefing on reconquering Gaza, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked his minister colleagues if any of them wanted to pursue the idea, no one raised their hand. Israel would have to be content with occasionally ‘mowing the grass,’ an IDF term for its wars against Hamas.

If you have enjoyed reading these postings by Ramon Bennett and would like to read more of his writings, you can subscribe to Arm of Salvation’s “Update,” which is a regular newsletter covering events around the world that affect the nation of Israel. To subscribe, click on the tab marked “Newsletter” on this site. It is available in either digital or printed form.

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