A Ground Op Against Hamas?

By Sunday night, Day 5 of Operation Pillar of Defense, the question of the hour in Israel was still: ground operation or no?

It’s clear by now that Israel’s top decision-making triumvirate of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is genuinely not thrilled about the idea and still hopes to avoid it. At the same time, ground forces keep streaming to the Gaza border and a large-scale reserve call-up continues.

A ground invasion of Gaza is, of course, full of risks. It entails losing Israeli soldiers—in a society radically sensitive to such losses. It also entails collateral deaths of Palestinian civilians—in a world that seems uniquely intensely concerned about that issue, while minimally concerned about vastly greater numbers of civilian deaths in Syria or Sri Lanka.

Linked to that preoccupation with Palestinian civilian casualties is the West’s fragile support and short timeline for Israeli military operations, as Israelis well recall from the 2006 Second Lebanon War and the 2008-09 Cast Lead operation in Gaza.

In lieu of a ground operation, Israel has been trying—with an onslaught of aerial and naval strikes on terror targets—to get Hamas to accede to a ceasefire.

In an ongoing awesome display of pinpoint precision and intelligence coordination, the strikes continued on Sunday and targeted weapons stockpiles, government buildings, and top Hamas chiefs including, reportedly, the head of its rocket program.

The problem was that, despite the drubbing, Hamas remained unintimidated and undeterred and kept up its no-less-relentless bombardment of Israeli civilian targets. Hamas fired over 100 rockets in the course of the day. One of them hit near a car in the southern town of Ofakim, wounding five people.

For the most part, though, the Hamas projectiles either missed their targets or—more commonly—were shot down by the already-legendary Iron Dome air defense system. That included a few more rockets launched all the way—but ultimately harmlessly—to Tel Aviv. As an Israeli columnist noted: “Paradoxically, [the] long-range rocket attacks [on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem] showed the limits of Hamas’s potency.”

Yet Israel was still left with the problem that its clear upper hand in the hostilities had not convinced Hamas to desist, so that the momentum toward a ground invasion continued.

Along with the military campaign, by Sunday night Israel was still hoping to resolve the situation through diplomacy. The central figure in these efforts—more than President Obama—is Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi, of course, as a member of Hamas’s parent-organization the Muslim Brotherhood, is no less ideologically hostile to Israel than Hamas itself. Morsi, however, faces both an Egyptian economy on the brink of disaster and his own terror problem of Salafi and other forces in Sinai.

As a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt described it: “Morsi needs a peaceful border with Israel and continuing security cooperation in order to tackle terror in Sinai as well as the economy.” Hence the hope that he could get Hamas to stand down. As of Sunday night, there were mixed reports on the success or failure of Egyptian-mediated truce talks in Cairo.

As for Obama, he remained publicly supportive of Israel’s campaign so far, telling reporters in Bangkok that

there is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders…. Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory. If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that’s preferable. That’s not just preferable for the people in Gaza, it’s also preferable for the Israelis because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they are much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.

…if we’re serious about wanting to resolve this situation and create a genuine peace process, it starts with no more missiles being fired into Israel’s territory and that then gives us the space to try and deal with these long-standing conflicts that exist.

We’re going to have to see what kind of progress we can make in the next 24, 36, 48 hours, but what I’ve said to [Egyptian] President Morsi and [Turkish] Prime Minister Erdogan is that those who champion the cause of the Palestinians should recognize that if we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza then the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two-state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future.

These words could be taken as a “yellow light” for a ground invasion, though how long Obama’s—let alone European leaders’—support would last is of course open to question.

Even if a ceasefire is achieved, Israel’s leaders have no illusions about it continuing for very long or solving the problem of terror from Gaza. They may, however, prefer to save what political capital Israel has for dealing with the much more serious security problem of Iran.

The other alternative, for now, is to go into Gaza and deal more decisively with Hamas.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • Mary Sue

    Now there's irony for you. A terrorist having to deal with terrorists.

  • Mary Sue

    (btw that irony is Morsi vs. Salafists in Sinai in case that wasn't clear)

  • Dr. John

    In the Middle East now there are layers of terrorists. The Salafis are the highest (or lowest) layer, but someone will probably edge them out soon.

  • PaulRevereNow

    Obama has already stabbed Israel in the back by discouraging a ground invasion. Its clear that he doesn't want the added responsibility of dealing with an Israeli occupation of Gaza. But how else is Israel going to end the rocket attacks? Israel should not quit, and march into Gaza.

  • Marty

    Rather than endanger the lives of human beings, it would be preferable to continue air strikes and keep targeting the hamas leadership (whose cowardly members insist on hiding behind their children and wives) and destroy as much of it as possible. Doing so should buy Israel a few years of relative peace until the next generation of genocidal sociopaths appear. After all, this is the middle east and that is about the best we can hope for. By the way, it's interesting as well as bizzare how most of the media emphasizes Israeli attacks on rocket launchers in gaza while hundreds of people each day are being masscred by the government and anti-government forces in syria.


      I don't think it is the best we can hope for. Israel's goal right now should be the complete military destruction of Hamas, whatever the cost to Gaza's population. If you have to lay waste to a city to destroy Hamas, do it. I don't expect it to happen, but that would be the correct course to pursue morally and strategically.

    • marat 1

      Take out the Gaza power grid Take out the Gaza power grid Take out the Gaza power grid Take out the Gaza power grid…let them grope in the dark. Remember: The "so-called Palestinians" chose the route of TERRORISM by voting into power Hamas, a bona fide and unapologetic proxy of Iranian terrorist. Iran pays the salary of Hamas and ships them their weapons. The Palestinians BADLY need to know what will occur if they think they can slaughter Israeli citizens without any retaliation. Hopefully, Israel will mop up Gaza and leave a legacy of extreme misery for those who reside there as a STRONG LESSON for what they can express if they carry on their Terrorist Agenda with the Jewish State. Go, Israel, Go…and ignore the EU and leftists who are clueless and think they can avoid attacks by Hamas. As long as Hamas does not pay a HIGH ENOUGH PRICE, the attacks will continue ad infinitum…..

  • HiPlainsDrifter

    Sounds like, within 4 years, there will be no Israel…
    unless the IDF finishes off Hamas once and for all…..as this skirmish is a test of Israeli strength and will..
    If Hamas is let off the hook here, Israel will be fighting the Egyptian, Hamas, and Iran very soon..

    • Looking4Sanity

      You read your Bible, so you should know better than that. The entire world will soon turn against Israel, and yet they will endure. God will not make Himself a liar and He will not be mocked with impunity.

      • HiPlainsDrifter

        They've been "out in the desert" and alone before.
        Without the political will and steel spines required to save themselves from
        the pitfalls of anti-Semetic world opinion, they are sealing their own fate…
        They cannot let Hamas off the hook here or this effective win by losing
        Islamic "death dance", that Hamas is playing, will be Israel's last dance…

        • Looking4Sanity

          You miss the point. Israel will not endure because of Israel. Israel will endure because of God's word. God makes it plain that it is for His sake and His reputation that He will deliver those who have profaned his name throughout the nations…not because of any righteousness on their part.

          • HiPlainsDrifter

            I pray you are correct…but remember G-d helps those that help themselves..

          • Looking4Sanity

            That is not strictly Biblical, but I do subscribe to the theory as far as it goes.

          • Mary Sue

            yeah that's from an old Greek Aesop fable, but the principle is solid in the same manner as that old joke about the guy that was sitting on his roof because of flooding, and in turn two boats and a helicopter approach him to rescue him but he turns them all down. "I'm waiting for God to save me."

            The guy drowns and arrives at the pearly gates and said, "God, why didn't you save me?" God facepalms and said, "Dude, I sent two boats and a helicopter!"

          • Looking4Sanity

            That almost sounds like a Katrina story! LOL! Thanks for the humor, Mary Sue.

          • Mary Sue

            Oh trust me that joke was long before Katrina. I learned that joke as a small child.

  • Frank Meyer

    Evertone seems to miss why a ground offensive may be necessary.

    If Isreal is planning soon to attck Iran, then they would need to secure the borders with Egypt to control the Gaza and prvent Hamas or Hezbolah from attacking sucessfully from Lebannon or Egypt. This may well have been planned this way. Never assumed this is sponaneoud reaction to the rockets attacksfolks.

  • Horace

    The world media assault on Israel has already begun. The pictures of dead children and demolished houses are already plastered all over the place. The ones we have already are already filling the tv and internet screens and whatever newspapers and magazines that are left. This will continue to be the narrative as long as the Gaza operation lasts and for months or years afterward.
    Israel provides this bad press opportunity to its enemies as a matter of course. It could stop it once and for all by getting it over with by actually winning a victory. The only victory possible with their current enemy is to announce that for every missile fired into Israel or suicide bombing in Israel by the Arabs, Gaza will be slowly but surely demolished, one kilometer for each rocket or bomb. The current crop of war victim pictures is enough to wind up Israel's enemies to the max anyway, a thousand more such pictures will not have that much more of an effect. . Go for an actual victory, get rid of the enemy-this is consistent with the just war theory. Victory ends wars, not truces, otherwise they go on forever. Israel is going to putz around until they give Hamas another few Gilad Shalits.

  • Ar'nun

    Israel needs to let the Western leaders know that while we appreciate your long distance moral support, it's time to end this once and for all. With a Two State solution, it does nothing more than reward Hamas and the PLA for all their years of Terror. Because of the vile tactics they have taken for several decades now, you want to reward them with their own state?

    So all those states last week that signed a petition for Secession, just start murdering the neighboring states that didn't sign a petition. Right a letter to Ahmedinijad to start sending you some rockets, when they send them to you, just call it a Flotilla, and fight back the best you can. In that respect, Obama will look for a Two State Solution and reward you for all your hard work.

  • Frank.

    "because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they are much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded."

    WOW!!! What a military genius Obama is!!

    • Mary Sue

      In other news, Obama announces the sky is blue, the sun rises in the East, and water is wet.

  • Surak

    There will be war as long as Israel allows it. Once Israel has decided not to offer its citizens as human sacrifices to the unappeasable god of world opinion, it will choose the alternative selected by the Allies in World War 2: defeating the enemy; victory in the form of unconditional surrender by the enemy. Anything less will prolong the bloodshed.

  • Ghostwriter

    You know the old saying,"Be careful what you wish for,you just might get it." Well,Hamas wanted a war with Israel. Now,it's going to get it. But I doubt it will like it.

  • Yarmin398

    Let us pray for peace and that cooler heads prevail on both sides of the conflict.

    • Mary Sue

      yes, pray for peace, but at the same time let's be realistic. Hamas and its cohorts will not be satisfied with Israel laying down its arms. There is no such thing as a cooler head on their side.

      It's like Bibi Netanyahu said. "If the Arabs lay down their arms there will be no more war. If Israel lays down its arms there will be no more Israel."

    • aspacia

      There will never be peace when Hamas is sworn to destroy Israel and all Pali leaders deny the Holocaust. Unconditional surrender is the only solution.

  • David

    Make no mistake, Bibi is now th emoral leader of the free world….the only one with the balls to stand up to Iran and evil unlike the coward with no moral compass in the White House..

  • UCSPanther

    Unfortunately for you, the world no longer cares about Palestine. It was a dying cause long before Arafat went belly up, and it will just become more irrelevant until it fades away.

    I bet Palestine won't even last the 21st century.

  • henach

    The radical jihadist terrorists ruling Gaza have two main resources. The first involves their rocket and missile capabilities, including their stored rockets and missiles, and their access to more of the same. The second is their political support in the so-called international community. By moving slowly but deliberately Israel may be able to smash the first without serious enhancement of the second.

  • Drakken

    Why use ground forces when you can use artillery,MLRS, Air force and naval gunfire and pound Gaza into rubble, the useless left and islamomaniacs hate Israel as a matter of policy so eff them and love yours. Cut off power,fuel and food supplies and lets see how long they love their jihad. Make sure the press is completely cut off from the area and the ones that remain use for target practice. Enough is enough, give the bloody savages Carthage or otherwise this will be repeated.