After four days of fighting, with more than 1,600 rockets fired at Israel by Hamas, and hundreds of attacks carried out by the IAF on Hamas sites, the IDF called up 9,000 reserve troops, who were deployed, along with tanks and other vehicles, along the border with Gaza. Israeli leaders – civilian and military — began publicly to discuss a possible ground invasion of Gaza. Hamas took this possibility to heart, and its fighters, so many of whom who had been hiding in the vast network of underground tunnels that crisscrossed the Strip, emerged to fight the expected Israeli invaders. But it was all an Israeli ruse. The story is here: “Did IDF deception lead to massive aerial assault on Hamas’s ‘Metro’?,” by Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2021:
At about 9 pm on Thursday night, the IDF began assembling ground forces along the border with the Gaza Strip. Some armored and infantry battalions joined the artillery batteries that had been deployed days earlier to pound Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets….
At midnight, the IDF Spokesperson’s English department tweeted that “IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.” The foreign media jumped at the tweet, interpreting it to mean that Israel was sending ground forces into Gaza, a major escalation in the current operation and a sign that it was far from over.
The ground troops were indeed attacking Hamas, but doing so, as the IDF deliberately did not make clear, from just outside the Gaza Strip, with artillery barrages and tank fire. No Israeli soldiers entered Gaza.
Websites of media outlets around the world, including the Washington Post and ABC, reported the incursion. “Israeli troops have entered the Gaza Strip as conflict with Palestinians escalates, Israeli military says,” was the tweet put out by the Washington Post.
The Post, like Hamas itself, concluded that the massing of Israeli troops near the Gazan border, together with tanks and artillery, and the deliberate talk about a possible invasion by IDF and civilian leaders, meant that “Israeli troops have entered the Gaza Strip.” This and similar reports, including tweets, in the Western media, further encouraged Hamas to believe that such an invasion was a reality. Thus did that media, normally so hostile to Israel, serve as an unwitting collaborator in the IDF’s campaign of deception.
The problem was that there was no ground invasion. Yes, the IDF had deployed troops along the border, but they did not cross into Gaza. What did happen was in the air where 160 aircraft had assembled for a massive bombing run over the Gaza Strip. Their target was what the IDF called Hamas’s “Metro”, an underground network of tunnels which Hamas used to store its weapons and to move throughout Gaza hidden from Israeli aircraft.The “Metro” had been built in the years after the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip, also known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. It was a network of dozens of kilometers of tunnels that crisscrossed Gaza and provided safety from Israeli aerial incursions.
This vast underground network of tunnels was where Hamas stored many of its missiles; it was where Hamas fighters, underground and hidden from view, could move about through Gaza without risking an Israeli aerial attack.
According to reports, due to the deployment along the border and the news coming out in the foreign media of a ground incursion, Hamas and Islamic Jihad sent their first-line of defense out of the tunnels to start taking up positions. These were the anti-tank missile teams and mortar squads meant to strike at incoming Israeli ground forces.
What they did not know was that there was no ground offensive. Instead, once they were out of the tunnels, they were exposed to Israeli aircraft. Within minutes, the “Metro” attack went ahead….
Hamas took the bait, and its fighters emerged from their underground tunnel hideouts to prepare to repel the ground invasion that the Western media reported had already begun. So much for the trustworthiness of that Western media. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Hamas were now to target offices of The Washington Post, The New York Times, the BBC — all of them hostile to Israel — and not just in Gaza or Israel, but elsewhere in the Middle East, too, for “working with the Israelis to deceive us.”
What we know is that the IAF, using 160 aircraft in a massive raid, managed to destroy most of that underground network of tunnels and the missiles stored in those tunnels, and killed dozens, and perhaps a many as a hundred, of Hamas fighters. The IDF is as of this writing (on May 14) still studying the effects of this latest bombardment by the IAF — both those who had remained in the tunnels, and even more were killed among those who had emerged from the Hamas “Metro,” only to find themselves under the IAF’s aerial bombardment, as they waited for the ground invasion from the IDF that never came. Many dozens of Hamas fighters have so far been reported to have been killed.
A spectacular Israeli success. “War is deceit,” said Muhammad, in a famous hadith meant for fellow Muslims. And the IDF has just now in Gaza offered its own coda: “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”