Monday, January 12, 2009

War With Hamas: Day 17 - Mission Creep

Over 700 missiles have been fired into Israel since ‘Operation Cast Lead’ began. According to military intelligence, the number of rockets fired into Israel has decreased steadily since the IDF entered Gaza. Overall more than 10,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza in the last eight years.

Israel has reported that the thousands of reserves troops called up should Israel enter stage three of the conflict have begun to enter Gaza. The siege of Gaza is nearly complete, and Gaza City is almost cut off. Israeli troops have begun probing actions into Gaza City. The media reports fierce fighting. The IDF said Israeli troops killed nearly fifty Hamas fighters in yesterday’s battle.

Reportedly the Hamas leadership is now split, with the hard-liners living in Damascus calling for a fight to the last man, while the local leaders in Gaza are looking for a way out of the quagmire. Reports from army intelligence say that Hamas leaders are either ensconced in shelters build beneath the Shifa hospital (built by Israel during the time Israel controlled the Gaza Strip) or moving from there to safe houses through the web of underground tunnels.

A few of the Hamas leaders reportedly crossed through tunnels into Egypt and are hiding out in Al Arish.

Iran is also calling for Hamas to stand firm in the face of the Israeli attacks. Both Hezbollah and Iran have been verbally encouraging Hamas to fight to the finish, much as Hitler did to his Sixth Army when it was encircled by the Russians in Stalingrad. Hitler lost Stalingrad, lost the Sixth Army, and then lost the war. Some speculate that Operation Cast Lead is the Stalingrad of Hamas.

Others worry about what is described as “mission creep.” This is the expansion of the goals of the war like fog seeping across a valley. The original goals get lost and the ultimate goals replace them. Reportedly the Shin Bet, Israel’s Security Service, now says that a little more pressure and Hamas can be pushed out of Gaza completely. Others say this defines the dangers inherent in ‘mission creep.’

On the home front telephones are busy with family and friends discussing who they know that has left their studies or their jobs to put on their uniform and report for duty. One man commented that he knew a forty-four year old soldier from a special forces unit who was called up. Others tell of sons in the demolition unit called up for duty in the north, to replace regular army soldiers sent to Gaza. Others tell of sons training for duty in the West Bank. Many mothers don’t realize, or don’t want to realize, their sons and husbands aren’t telling them that Gaza is their next stop.

Tzipi Livni Israel’s Foreign Minister has said she refused to ever negotiate with Hamas, because the words issued from Hamas are meaningless. Both Livni and Defense Minister Barak both reportedly disagree with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the army should expand the scope of the operation to include Gaza City. According to Haaretz both want a quick end to the fighting, and a truce.