The Fallout from Premeditated Barbarianism – Part 9
Part Nine: Israel’s ground and tunnel offensive
Israeli decision makers, both political and military, had been mulling the launch of a ground offensive in Gaza for several days; however, for Israel, a ground offensive involving boots on the ground is a last resort action; a decision to send in troops would not be made unless absolutely necessary. In preparation for such an eventually 40,000 reserve troops were called up and sent to the Gaza border, joining tank and artillery brigades already there. As the rocket fire heated up a further 18,000 reserve soldiers were called up, which caused the Israeli populace to understand that a ground offensive was likely within days. There were now 70,000 mobilized troops awaiting an order to enter Gaza.
Rocket barrages continued unabated and Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona was targeted on two successive days. Two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were launched from Gaza a few days apart; both were shot down by IAF fighter jets. Following this, Israel’s worst fears were realized when 13 Hamas gunmen suddenly appeared out of a hole in the ground and set their sights on murdering and kidnapping Israelis in nearby kibbutz Sufa, which is south of the Gaza Strip. Fortunately, electronic warning devices alerted Israeli soldiers to the presence of terrorists and they engaged with the gunmen in machine-gun fire, killing two of them and wounding others. The terrorists attempted to escape by crawling back to their tunnel entrance, but the Israelis had called for aerial backup and a helicopter soon appeared; it fired a missile into the group of gunmen scrambling for the tunnel entrance, which effectively ended the terror incursion.
Israel was well aware of the existence of underground tunnels beneath the Israel-Gaza border; one was effectively used by Hamas in June 2006 when gunmen exited a tunnel on the Israeli side of the border and attacked an IDF post. Two Hamas gunmen were killed as were two Israeli soldiers and another two Israelis were wounded. Hamas gunmen dragged a wounded Israeli, Gilad Schalit (mentioned in Part One), back to Gaza via an underground tunnel. Five years and four months later, in October 2011, Schalit was swapped for 1,027 Palestinian terrorists that were being held in Israel prisons.
The July incursion into Israel by Hamas gunmen via and underground tunnel was the catalyst for an Israeli ground offensive. The IDF now had two objectives: to find and destroy Hamas’s underground tunnels; and to destroy Hamas’s capability to fire rockets into Israeli population centers. Following 10 days of aerial bombardment the order was given on July 17 for troops to enter Gaza. At 10:38 p.m. tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) entered Gaza and the hunt for terror tunnels began. The IDF released footage of an IDF captain giving a last minute briefing to the company he commands before they went into the Gaza Strip. The captain said, “I don’t think I need to explain to you why we are doing what we are doing. We are here in order to do what we trained for, and what we enlisted for — to protect the State of Israel, and to enable its right to exist in freedom, without them shooting mortars at us, and without us worrying about the families here on the border, and I am confident in what we are doing, because it is our right to be free in our land. It’s not a slogan, it’s the truth.”
On the day the IDF began its ground offensive, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported that Sameh Shoukri, Egypt’s foreign minister, had said that Hamas was at fault for the IDF’s need to enter Gaza in a ground operation. “Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal, it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians,” Shoukri said. We know now that Hamas could have saved the lives of hundreds of Palestinians had it accepted the ceasefire, but Hamas is prepared to fight to the last drop of civilian blood while it remains hunkered down in fortified bunkers. At this point it is worth repeating Hamas’s July 10 statements regarding its use of human shields, which this writer used in Part 3 in this series on Barbarianism: Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told the terrorist group’s television station that “the tactic of using Gaza residents as human shields is praiseworthy and effective against Israel. This policy reflects the character of our brave, courageous people.” Perhaps readers can now understand why so many Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. Israel warns Palestinian civilians of imminent danger if they do not vacate a building targeted for destruction, but Hamas orders them to remain in the buildings.
Apparently, Egyptian leaders are sensing that Hamas is a greater threat to Egypt than Israel is. According to Associated French Press (AFP), on July 11 Egypt’s security forces seized 20 Grad rockets being smuggled into the Sinai Peninsular from the Gaza Strip through a Palestinian tunnel under the Egyptian border The rockets, along with their launch pads, were seized after a firefight between security forces and terrorists in the town of Rafah, which borders the Gaza enclave. The rockets were apparently meant to be used against Israel in attacks from the peninsula. Thank you Egypt!
It is not only Hamas rockets that Israel must contend with. Armed groups linked to Abu Mazen’s “moderate” Fatah movement has actively taken part in rocket attacks emanating from Gaza. The Nidal Al-Amody force of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility for firing Grad and other 107 millimeter rockets toward Ashkelon, Sderot, Netivot, Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, and the Sufa Crossing from Gaza. Communiques specifying the attacks were published on Fatah’s official Facebook page. Early in the morning of July 17, another armed force associated with Fatah, the Abdul Qader Husseini Battalions, claimed responsibility for launching two Grad rockets at Ashkelon and four mortar shells at Kibbutz Nir Oz near Khan Yunis.
Worrying for Israel also are the rockets and mortars sporadically being fired into Israel from Lebanon, Syria, and the Sinai Peninsula. On the night of July 13 the IDF found itself responding with artillery fire for rockets fired from Syria at an IDF position on the Golan Heights. IDF spokesman said the rockets were directly targeting Israel and was not stray fire from the conflict in Syria. The same day IAF jets struck three Syrian army positions, killing four and wounding 10 others. The air attacks came in response to further rocket fire at the Golan Heights.
On July 14 Israel lodged a complaint with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council over sporadic rocket attacks from Lebanon directed at Israel. And on July 15 three Grad rockets were fired from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsular into Elat, Israel’s tourist mecca, injuring several people and damaging buildings and cars.
Apparently the days of conventional warfare on the battlefield are over. That has been replaced by aggressive missile warfare targeting civilians. Should Jesus delay His second coming mankind will eventually return itself to the stone age. In Israel’s current war with Hamas it appears that Hamas has already taken a giant leap back into the days of cavemen. Within five days of beginning its ground offensive IDF ground troops have already uncovered 35 complete tunnels with almost 100 entry and exit shafts (See photographs).
The tunnels, which are, on an average, 60 feet (18.2 meters) deep, one mile (1.6 kilometers) in length, and have multiple side branches with entrance and exit shafts. They are built with reinforced concrete and have lighting, ventilation, and sewerage disposal. The tunnels are stocked with food, medical supplies, and weapons; they are obviously designed for Hamas gunmen to remain underground for days and weeks at a time. The many tunnels uncovered thus far are virtually impervious to aerial assault unless bunker-buster bombs are used. Main entrances are most often found inside houses, but they have also been found within mosques and hospitals. The IDF now believes that Hamas leaders are directing the rocket firings from one particular tunnel, which doubles as the Hamas war room and also their personal fortified bunker.
To be continued