Israeli Ground Offensive in Gaza
After 8 days of aerial attack on Hamas positions in Gaza, the terrorist organization refused to stop its rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians. In an effort to secure the safety of its citizens, Israel has put boots on the ground and surrounded Gaza City in a mission to destroy Hamas’ military capability to threaten Israelis in the southern villages and towns.
At the moment, it appears the United States may be the only friend Israel has. Governments around the globe are condemning Israel’s ground offensive (Arab nations, Asian nations, Turkey, India, Greece, Venezuela, Cuba, European nations, and I’m sure there are plenty more), but President Bush and even high ranking Democratic Senators of both parties still maintain Israel is within its rights. The United States seems almost alone in condemning the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians. Apparently Israeli deaths don’t bother the international community.
Anyone who has served in the combat arms of the military understands this is not what Israel wants. The Gaza Strip is a tiny piece of land, about 140 square miles, populated by approximately 1.5 million Palestinians. In other words, it’s quite crowded.
Urban warfare is the most dangerous fighting there is for an attacking force, because the enemy can hide almost anywhere. Hamas certainly knows the urban areas of Gaza better than the Israeli ground soldiers who will be responsible for clearing buildings and locating weapons caches. This is a guerilla fighter’s choice of battlefield. What I’m getting at here, is that Israeli commanders and politicians don’t desire this phase of the conflict, but obviously consider it essential to accomplishing their mission–“to significantly disable the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and produce lasting change in the security predicament affecting residents of southern Israel.”
According to news reports, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) haven’t yet entered Gaza City or other large urban centers in Gaza. Instead, they’ve surrounded Gaza City and divided the country into three parts. They cleared the northern village of Beit Lahia, from which most residents had already fled, and have most likely formed a defensive front somewhere between that village and Gaza City to keep Hamas rocket and mortar brigades from leaving the city to fire their weapons into from the north. Israeli forces have also been reported to have reached Netzarim to the south of Gaza City.