A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
January 1, 2009--Day Six of War with Hamas, Israel Kills Key Hamas Leader, Over 40 Missiles Fired At Israel
Today was the sixth day of Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza. The skies cleared over Gaza today and the Israeli Air Force increased its strikes, in advance of the expected ground assault. The Air Force successfully killed Nizar Rayya, who was both the spiritual leader of Hamas, as well as one of its military leaders. Rayya was directly involved in terrorist actions against Israel and even sent one of his own sons on a suicide mission. His house was attacked after warning was given to the residents to leave the premises. At the time of the warning, Rayya and other members of his family, along with other members of Hamas seemed to have been meeting. They decided to stay in the house and go to an underground tunnel that was being used as a communications center and arms warehouse for Hamas. The Israeli missile struck its target directly, collapsing the building and setting off secondary explosions that killed Rayya and all who were with him.
Israel continued to strike other targets, including repeated strikes on the tunnels along the border with Egypt. In video released by the IAF, secondary explosions can be seen along the length of the tunnels hit. Reports from army sources make it clear, however, that the army still believes the only way to achieve Israel's goals for this mission are with a ground assault.
Hamas managed to launch over 50 missiles at Israel today, landing in all of the major cities of the South. Dramatic pictures resulted from an impact on an 11-story apartment building in Ashdod, which was destroyed by the missile. No one was home when the missile landed, and the other apartment dwellers all heeded the warnings, following the instructions of the Home Command. The residents were all in the interior stairwell for the building and all remained unharmed. As a result of all of today's attacks, 11 people were hospitalized for psychological trauma, but no physical injuries were caused. All together, over the course of six days, Hamas launched 300 missiles, with only 25% successfully reaching an urban center. The number of missiles has been clearly lower than what was expected, although the number of Hamas long-range missiles seems a little higher than intelligence estimates reported prior to the war.
The diplomatic front was largely quiet today, New Year's day. Foreign minister Livni was in France meeting with French President Sakorzy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. The Arab League failed to even agree to a date for a meeting. The divide in the Arab world has become much more public this week. As one Israeli commentator stated "Nafal Ha'Asimon", which is a saying meaning-- they finally get it-- referring to the moderate states, particularly Egypt, who finally understood from Nasrallah's recent speech and the actions of Hamas, that under the guidance of Teheran, their goal is to undermine the national governments of all the moderate Arab states. This does not mean that any of these countries are suddenely in love with Israel. However, it does mean, they now fully understand the threat Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran pose to them.
While most of the media coverage of the events in Gaza have been relatively balanced. Though the coverage in the New York Times, or more correctly, the stories carried and the headlines they receive, continue to be problematic. Last week I wrote about the failure of the NYTimes to carry an article on the 80 missiles that struck Israel on Tuesday or the 40 that pelted the south on Wednesday. Thus, anyone who received their news solely from the NYTimes would have been surprised on Saturday night to learn of Israel's attack. Today, the headline stated that Israel spurned ceasefire call. Finally, Martin Peretz, editor of the New Republic has an excellent editorial in the new issue called: Hamas is a Taliban State. In the article Peretz makes it clear why a cease fire with Hamas is impossible.