Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dec 27, 2008: Israe's Surprise Attack

As you know at 11:30 Shabat Morning December 27,2008, in Israel the Israeli air force launched a surprise attack on Gaza, destroying over 40 targets within five minutes. Over 70 jets and a dozen helicopters pounded targets in Gaza. By the end of Shabat Israel Television's Channel 1's Yoav Limor was reporting that officially Hamas was reporting 200 Gazans killed and 300 injured, but according to the reporters the numbers were misreported by Hamas with the numbers higher than 300 killed. The reporter also pointed out that there is no news about the leaders of Hamas who haven't been heard from since the attack began.

Hamas responded after two hours, which according to ex-Israeli Air Force commander speaking on Israel's Channel 2 that Hamas was caught by surprise. Still Hamas sent 53 rockets, some striking as far as Kyriat Gat and six falling in Ashkelon. One rocket hit an apartment building in Netivot, punching a hole in a wall, killing an Israeli resident.

According to Channel 1's reporter Yoav Limor the defense establishment expects at least 200-300 rockets a day to be shot from Gaza into Israel. Limor, referring to sources in the defense establishment, said the other danger is the intricate tunnel network running beneath Gaza. The concern is that these tunnels may be used to invade Israel and carry out suicide attacks and kidnappings.

Israel radio reported that this was the largest raid, resulting in the largest number of casualities,since 1967.

Speaking to reporters Israel's Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said the goal of the attacks was to change the foundations of the security situation in Gaza. "There is a time for quiet and a time for war, and this is now a time for war."

Political analyst speaking on Israel's Channel 2 said that Hamas began the rocket firing after the cease-fire deadline ran out in order to negotiate a new cease-fire under better conditions for Hamas. The analyst said that Israel's attack into Gaza was meant to reach a similar end but with the advantage in Israel's favor.

Avihu Ben-Nun, former air force commander, said that it appeared that the attack at 11:30 was apparently response not the the Hamas rocket attacks of the last few weeks but for the seven years of nearly non-stop attacks on Israeli settlements.

Former general Yoni Figel said that he hopes that a new intifada may not break out. He said he views the demonstrations in Ramallah were more to show solidarity than to start a new Intifdada, and that by tomorrow morning the demonstrators would be back at work.

Demonstrators took to the streets in E. Jerusalem, and the West Bank, throwing stones and engaging Israeli soldiers. No injuries were reported. However, on Israeli policeman was injured when a Palestinian car tried to run himover in E.Jerusalem.

The operation in Gaza is expected to last for some time. A few days ago Tzipi Livini, Israel's Foreign Minister, visited with Egyptian President Husnei Mubarak, who reportedly approved a limited engagement in Gaza. Mubarak, according to analysts, is also under pressure from Islamic fundamentalists

The US White House has not stepped in to stop the Israeli attacks. Egypt has come out critical of Hamas for sending rockets in Israel.

Analysts expect the Israeli attack to continue. "The action will expand as is required," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "Cool heads are required."

Benny Vaknin, the mayor of Ashkelon pointed out that a Grad rocket hit a rooftop in Ashkelon and did no damage. He advised his residents to go to the bomb shelters when they heard sirens.

Former General Yoni Figel said that Hamas had a long time to set up their rockets and prepare their targets and that when the residents heard the siren they should take it seriously and go to the shelters.

One resident of the Negev only two miles from the Gaza border near Rafiah said that for every bomb Israel sends at Gaza, the Gazans send one back at Israel.