Aafter Hamas fired the first few rockets on Tuesday afternoon, Israeli planes struck at a home in Gaza that intelligence said contained the Hamas military leader Mohamed Def. The house was destroyed, and it is as yet unclear if Def was inside. This would have been the fifth time Israel has tried to assinate Def, a veteran terrorist who is wanted for organizing suicide bombers in Israel as far back as the 1990's.
According to reports, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, was told by his sponsors in Qatar, where he lives, that if he does not break the cease-fire with Israel he would be ejected from Qatar. Mashal not only lives in luxury in Qatar, but has banked nearly $2 billion in that country. Then at 9:30 p.m. Israel attacked the house where Def was to have been, dropping approximately seven bombs, totaling five tons of explosives on the house. Experts in Israel say that Def was probably injured, if not killed.
However, Hamas spokesmen say that Def is still alive. “Abu Khaled is a great leader,” said a spokesman on Arabic TV in Gaza, using Def's nickname.
Military commentators also pointed out that Def had built a very stable and highly functioning military and even if he were dead the army he built was still quite capable of carrying on without him.
Qatar reportedly is upset with the fact that the Qatar leadership had not been included in the ceasefire talks in Cairo. Egyptian leaders have little patience for Qatar's leadership, who they consider sponsors of attempts to overthrow the Egyptian government under General al-Sissi.
Another factor complicating the situation is the discovery by Israel of a Hamas plot in the West Bank to overthrow the Palestinian Authority's Abu Mazen and replace the PA with Hamas. The plot was hatched by Hamas operatives in both Turkey and Jordan. The same Hamas men also planned the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers that ignited the current fighting. Pundits say that ,as would be expected, the PA was having a hard time sitting in Cairo and trying to broker a cease-fire with Israel, shuttling between Hamas and Israeli representatives.
Surprisingly, according to pundits, Israel is still expecting the ceasefire talks to continue in the next few days. However, analysts say that the option to send the Israeli army back into Gaza is also on the table. The Israeli cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss the situation. Israeli commentators say that Hamas is not interested in another month of fighting. Rather, one points out, Hamas takes the long view, that one day, maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe in a decade, or two, they would eventually drive out the Infidels.
Reportedly, an agreement had been reached in Cairo that would open some of the Gaza/Israel border crossings, allow Gaza fishermen to work up to a 12-kilometer limit off the coast, and even reached an agreement to discuss the distinct possibility of a Gaza seaport, under international control. The seaport would be stationed off-shore, in Greece or Cyprus, with cargo examined by Israeli officials for weapons and explosives, before the cargo was shipped to Gaza.
Gen. (ret) Giora Eiland told a panel on Channel 10 TV news that Israel had to start thinking of different strategies. He said that the traditional methods, using planes, bombs, artillery, tanks, and ground troops, was not working. He said that Hamas and Gaza were one in the same. The population supported Hamas, and anyone who thought the population was captive to Hamas was mistaken. Once the reality of Hamas as a governmental entity was accepted, then Israel could start using other methods to control Gaza. Eiland pointed out that Israel supplies Gaza with most of the water, electricity and communications used by the population. This conundrum could be used to Israel's advantage by simply stopping the flow of these services. Ironically, these services continued even during the fiercest fighting between Hamas and Israel.
Or Heller, Channel 10 TV's military correspondent, said that the possibility of Israel using ground forces is still possible but he said that this was something Hamas would relish. They have set booby-traps and ambushes in buildings and roads, primed for an Israeli invasion.
Hamas fought well during Tzuk Eytan, said Heller, not like the previous battles, then called Cast Lead, nearly two years ago when Hamas fighters ran from IDF forces. “This time they fought hard, defending every tunnel opening.” Heller pointed out that Israel lost 10 soldiers in the Cast Lead incursion in Gaza and of them four were friendly fire. “This time the IDF lost 64 soldiers. Showing that Hamas was a much better fighting force than it was before.”
In the Hollywood film “Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud” a young boy spends the entire film searching for the lock to a key his late father had hidden in a closet. The father, played by Tom Hanks, had perished in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in NYC.
One commentator made the connection to the current situation. The same terrorist ideology that brought down the World Trade Center, that is shared by ISIS, formally Al Qaeda in Iraq, by Hezbollah, and Hamas forms a tight web of belief binding the groups.
One observer pointed out that the sight of Hamas wounded in Gaza hospitals skews the reality in Hamas' favor.
In fact, Hamas followers, and their allies around the world, those that gather to hold anti-Israeli demonstrations, and organize boycotts of Israeli goods, are the same people, ideologically, who flew those 747's into the World Trade Center, who attacked the Pentagon, and tried to attack the White House. For good or bad, the observers say, Israel is the one facing this rising wave of Islamic fundamentalism on the ground, on a daily basis.
War is a bloody business. And the west should remember who would be stood up and shot, hung, or beheaded, if the Islamists take over.