A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
December 27, 2008--Israel Launched "War" Against Hamas in Gaza- Achieves Tactical Surprise
Israel achieved total tactical surprise, which was important, since the goal this time was not to destroy empty buildings but to kill as many senior Hams military personnel as possible and to inflict as much pain as possible. The action, which was planned to the last detail over the previous six months in its first stage, was executed well. Sixty targets were simultaneously targeted and destroyed. According to reports from Hamas all of their military facilities have been destroyed. As of this evening 220 Palestinians have been killed, the overwhelming majority uniformed Hamas members. The Air Force bombed secret underground storage sites of the Hams successfully, using extensive intelligence gathered in the past few months. Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Barak and Foreign Minster Livni appeared together before the press, in a clear show of unity. All of Israel's political parties have called off their election campaigns.
Israeli leaders have learned the lessons of the past and are devoting considerable time to public relations. Barak, despite being involved in tactical military matters is said to have given over a dozen interviews today to the foreign press, with Livni spending most of the day on the phone with foreign leaders. Both Barak and Livni have called this a war. Barak having said there is time for restraint and there is a time to fight... this is the time to fight. Livni made it clear that Israel does not want to harm the Palestinian resident of Gaza, but in "war" unfortunately the innocent can die. Both have made it clear that they warned Hamas that if they continued down the road they were following this past week, war would result. It's sad that after all this time the Palestinians continue not to understand Israel. Israel's reluctance to answer fire with fire at any given time, and its reactance to go to war, are not necessarily a sign of weakness, but sometimes a sign of strength. However, there is some point were Israel will say enough is enough and that point was reached this week.
The willingness of Israel to wait so long to react, is at least initially bearing fruit, as the US, Great Britain and France have all issued statements that blame Hamas for the current state of events. The Egyptian ambassador to Israel gave an interview with Al Jazeera in which he stated that Hamas has been acting merely as a pawn of Syria and Iran and not on behalf of the Palestinian people.
The reaction of Hamas has been what would be expected with 80 rockets and missiles landing on Israel. The Home Command has opened operation centers in Netivot, Sderot and Ashkelon, in preparation for an extended campaign. The city of Herzliah has opened up a center to match up Herzilian residents who wish to host Israelis from the south with southern families who looked for a place to go for a few days. So far, most of the resident s of Sederot have reacted with understanding and support, some even apologizing for their earlier criticism of Barak for not taking action.
The challenge will be what comes next. It is clear that Barak supported the first ceasefire, since he felt the IDF was not ready to take major action. His view was that Israel would make better use of the six months to prepare for an attack, than Hamas would in rearming. The initial reports have proven him correct. However, despite whatever planning one does, events in war will surprise. Israel is hoping that at the minimum Hamas will sue for a ceasefire that will be on better terms than the previous one. Some are also demanding that any ceasefire include the return of Gilad Shalit. There is an outside hope that this action may in fact destabilize the Hams rule. The next week will no doubt be a hard week. Hopefully all the planning will pay off, with the result of minimum Israeli casualties with the maximum change in the strategic situation along the Gaza border.