Israel Gaza conflict – wider war?

Members of the Israel Defense Forces on the Golan Heights. These are the real men of ideals in the Middle Ease.
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The Israel Gaza conflict broke out again this week. It has simmered for seven years, and hints of a breakout came when the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS in Arabic) seized power in Gaza and governed it their own way. Now the armies of Israel have had enough. But they also have evidence that Iranian advisers helped HAMAS this time. This war might become much wider, and involve all the Middle East.

Israel Gaza conflict: latest

Last week, HAMAS and HAMAS-allied militants fired 120 missiles from Gaza within four days. Yesterday, the Tzahal (In English, Israel Defense Forces, or IDF) scored a victory equal to the killing of Osama bin Laden. They killed Ahmed al-Jabari, the top military commander in Gaza. Al-Jabari won infamy by arranging the capture of Gilad Shalit in 2006 and negotiating the release of over a thousand “Palestinian” terrorists in exchange for him.

HAMAS responded with the most withering rocket attack in years. The Tzahal deployed Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to protect the Negev and the Mediterranean coast. Still, with more than 300 rockets fired, some rockets found their marks. One destroyed an apartment in Kiryat Malachi. The hit killed three adults and critically injured an infant.

Today, missiles hit targets as far north as Tel Aviv. One fell into Rishon-le-Tzion, just south of Tel Aviv. Another fell into the sea off the coast of Jaffa. (In the Israel War for Independence in 1948, half a million Arabs streamed out of Jaffa en masse, though the armies of Israel had offered to let them stay. They became the first “Palestinian refugees” arguing for a “right of return.” Tel Aviv annexed Jaffa a few years later.)

In the Israel Gaza conflict, the IDF warns Gaza civilians to stay away from military targets.

Text of leaflet that Israeli pilots dropped on Gaza neighborhoods, warning civilians to stay away from obvious targets. Graphic: Israel Defense Forces.

In contrast, outsiders guess that 16 people have died in Gaza from IDF air strikes. The IDF knows that HAMAS likes to launch missiles near residential developments. Israel uses aircraft to strike back. But now they are sending in ground troops. They also dropped leaflets on civilian neighborhoods:

For your own safety, take responsibility for yourselves and [stay away from] HAMAS operatives and facilities.

The most damning report came out in WND. Their sources told them that Iranian Revolutionary Guard advisers are helping HAMAS in this latest outbreak in the Israel Gaza conflict. In fact, an Iranian jihad group claimed credit for the missile that fell into Rishon-le-Tzion and presumably the missile that fell into the water off Jaffa.

Israel Gaza conflict: history

Seven years ago, the Tzahal withdrew all their troops from the Gaza Strip.  Rockets have rained on towns in the western Negev ever since. The hit in Rishon-le-Tzion suggests that HAMAS might now be getting better weapons. (And if the WND report is correct, we know where those weapons came from.)

The Tzahal counts more than 12,800 rockets that militants have launched from Gaza since 2001. 2008 is the worst year to date for such barrages, with 3278 missile launches. Obviously the Israel Gaza Conflict never ended. It simply suspended itself, like the sitzkrieg at the start of the Second World War.

Now sitzkrieg has become blitzkrieg. And the Tzahal has answered swiftly. And no wonder: Israel’s leaders know they stand alone. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran threatens to annihilate Israel in every speech he makes. Barack Obama, (putative) President of the United States, is, if anything, sympathetic to the Iranians and HAMAS, not to the Israelis.

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil of Egypt plans to visit Gaza tomorrow. He and his boss, President Mohammed Mursi, belong to the Muslim Brotherhood. The problem: HAMAS is a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, and always has been. Qandil might have the job, not to quieten the Israel Gaza Conflict, but to incite it. Now the world will find out whether Mursi and Qandil will act like responsible national leaders, or terrorists like those who “fragged” Anwar al-Sadat when he negotiated the Camp David Treaty.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews keeps this live-update page on the Israel Gaza Conflict.

Members of the Israel Defense Forces on the Golan Heights. Will these men take part in the Israel Gaza Conflict?

Two Tzahal (Israel Defense Force) soldiers walk casually on the Golan Heights. Photo: CNAV.

In 2002 and again in 2011, Yair Lapid wrote in anguish that being an Israeli means listening to idle talk about going back into Gaza. (The site Terre Promise no longer hosts the original French-language essay, but CNAV translated it, after Terre Promise allowed it. CNAV followed up with a parallel essay from the perspective of a recent visitor to Israel.) Obviously, Lapid knew what the Israel Gaza Conflict really meant.

Thus far, the Tzahal promises no more than the largest smash-and-grab raid of all time, to capture or destroy the stockpiles of missiles, weapons, and ammunition that HAMAS has. But that won’t settle the Israel Gaza Conflict. The IDF might have to take Gaza back, just as Yair Lapid half urged them to do, United Nations or no. Especially if Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen now turn out to be standing side-by-side with HAMAS and other militants as they launch their missiles.

The IDF has its own problem. They’re using American planes. Why? Because no other country will build planes for them, and the Americans do not want them building their own. (The Lavi affair is the case in point.) The IDF needs to take the lesson from 1 Samuel 13:19-23, about depending on foreign industries. Because they’ll soon find out whether the United States still wants to be their ally, when the time comes to get spare parts or, worse yet, replacements for the aircraft they’re about to lose.