|Under the protective cloak of tanks and armored vehicles, IDF forces during the night entered northern Gaza; 11 months after military personnel were ordered to forcibly oust the Jews living throughout Gush Katif. Taking up position in the former Jewish communities of Dugit, Nisanit and Elei Sinai, IDF soldiers are temporarily acting as a buffer, seeking to prevent the continued firing of Kassam rockets into southern pre-1967 Green Line Israel communities from northern Gaza.
-- Arutz-7 News Analysis --
The IDF incursion during the night represents an increase in Operation Summer Rains, the offensive intended to halt the rocket attacks, which have become an unwelcome daily reality. Kassam rockets not only strike Sderot and western Negev areas round-the-clock, but two of the projectiles landed in Ashkelon in as many days, both causing damage. In Wednesday night's attack, eight people were treated in the city's Barzilai Hospital for hysteria, including a number of children.
Opponents to the government's Gaza/Samaria Disengagement Plan, known by many as the "Expulsion," warned of the current scenario last summer, pleading with then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon not to remove the Jewish communities of Gaza. They said that in addition to being an integral link in the rebuilding of the Land of Israel chain, the towns served as a buffer zone to prevent terrorists from striking pre-1967 Green Line Israel, as is the case today. Sharon mocked their pessimism, assuring Israelis that following the withdrawal, no IDF soldiers would have to be at risk in Gaza, which will begin building a new reality, living in peace alongside Israel. The former prime minister added that any attempts to violate the new border would be addressed accordingly, leaving citizens to believe the new boundary would be a peaceful one.
The "doomsday prophets," as they were called by supporters of the expulsion plan, warned that soldiers would be compelled to re-enter Gaza to bring a halt to escalating terrorism, exactly as is taking place today. Former Gaza residents, who continue to live in temporary dwellings, are even more exposed to terrorists' rockets today, not enjoying the protection offered by permanent cement homes and safe rooms. Many are living in caravans and other homes constructed of prefabricated materials that do not offer any protection against incoming rockets. In addition to being refugees today, they are also on the front line, without the protection they once knew in their Gaza homes.
Seemingly unable to halt the Gaza-based terrorism, the government instead opts to allocate sizable budgets for protective apparatus for public buildings, such as Sderot's schools. As more and more buildings boast the anti-rocket protection, the Kassam rockets from Gaza are becoming increasingly advanced, striking targets further into Green Line Israel. The rockets which landed in Ashkelon have a range of at least 12 kilometers (7.2 miles), considerably longer than the ‘primitive rockets' fired during recent months. In addition, IDF intelligence warns that terrorists continue working in earnest to launch rockets with chemical warheads. Military officials warn this reality is not too far off in the future, seemingly stifled by the political echelon's unwillingness to order a full military offensive to clear northern Gaza of its growing terrorist infrastructure.
While Sderot residents have the ‘Red Dawn' warning system, which announces a rocket launch detection in northern Gaza, they only have a number of seconds to seek cover, and there is no way to intercept the rockets, which are indeed primitive but no less threatening. They are launched without any guidance system, composed of metallic cylinders filled with gunpowder, directed towards Israel with terrorists realizing wherever they strike is a win for their side.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz recently warned that "in the coming days or weeks" the change in Israel's response would be evident to all, but for now, residents in southern areas are being pounded with attacks day-in-and-day-out.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, supported by his most senior cabinet ministers and endorsed by his Security Cabinet, continues to warn that the Israeli response will be increasingly painful, but terrorists continue firing rockets indiscriminately, unabated by Israeli warnings.
The most recent attacks into Ashkelon seem to have struck a chord among cabinet ministers, who have approved sending a limited military force into northern Gaza in the hope of halting the attacks, at least for the time being. The Prime Minister's Office released a denial this week of reports that the Security Cabinet approved the establishment of a ‘buffer zone' in northern Gaza, similar to Israel's security zone that protected northern area residents from Katyusha attacks from southern Lebanon. Government officials carefully state "we will not return to Gaza" and "we are not seeking to take over Gaza again," but they fall short of any answer to bring an end to the attacks.
Opposition MKs point out that proponents of the expulsion last year stated that any rocket attacks into southern Israel from northern Gaza would be met with a stern military response, but for the most part, the thousands of artillery shells directed into northern Gaza have been directed at empty fields and abandoned buildings, occasionally striking a Kassam rocket team as they attempt to launch a rocket.
Further complicating military efforts is the reality that the Kassam rocket launchers are mobile, enabling terrorists to use a pickup truck or the like to transport the rocket and launcher, firing at will in the general direction of southern Green Line Israel. As the IDF takes up position in one area, terrorists relocate and continue firing from elsewhere, frustrating efforts to halt attacks.
Peretz has stated the ongoing offensive would continue for as long as necessary, but painfully admits that he hopes to "minimize" rocket attacks, adding it is most unlikely the army will be able to halt them entirely.
Southern area residents are at wits' end, insisting the incoming rockets and the round-the-clock IDF artillery fire has made their lives a "living hell." They demand a military strike northern Gaza and that the army "do whatever necessary" to bring an immediate end to the new reality of life after disengagement.
|Gaza Offensive Open-Ended |
07:28 Jul 06
|(IsraelNN.com) Military officials are indicating the ongoing offensive in northern Gaza is open-ended, explaining the military force consisting of Golani Brigade units, combat engineers, and armored units would continue until rocket attacks into southern pre-1967 Green Line Israel are halted.
In stage one, forces took up position in northern Gaza, in the former Jewish communities of Dugit, Nisanit and Alei Sinai, signaling IDF troops would continue advancing wherever necessary until the Kassam attacks cease.