Israel started the ground offensive into the Gaza Strip early this morning. The Israeli Consulate in New York City has been asked the same question in various forms all day, "Why has Israel started a ground operation today?" Consul David Saranga replies,
Hamas still maintains the capacity and will to engage in terrorism. With Iranian assistance, Hamas has extended the reach of its missile strikes to threaten close to one million Israelis. By using Mosques, private homes and other public institutions as arsenals and bases of operation, Hamas has effectively taken the Palestinians of Gaza hostage, using them as human shields.Okay. But, why now? Why not days or weeks ago? Indeed, why wasn't ground action taken months ago?
Over many years Israel has tried to bring an end to the terror attacks from Gaza and was unsuccessful. Hamas abused its truce with Israel not only to keep firing missiles against the civilian population, but also to stockpile weapons and prepare for a confrontation with the IDF. Israel has no intention to govern Gaza, but operation “Cast Lead” must continue, for the time being, as the IDF acts to gain control over areas from which rockets are being launched on Israeli towns.
Israel must persist in order to achieve its stated objectives: to significantly disable the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and produce lasting change in the security predicament affecting residents of southern Israel. No sovereign nation would tolerate the daily targeting of its people. Still, Israel is not an enemy of the Palestinian residents in Gaza: 400 trucks of humanitarian aid and 10 ambulances were allowed passage into Gaza this week; this assistance will continue.
Since June 2008, a cease fire truce has nominally been in existence. During that time Israel has held it's fire, or conducted highly targeted commando raids against specific targets like tunnels and rocket launchers. Meanwhile, Hamas has continued launching rockets and mortars into Israel. After six months, June to December, the truce expired. Under International Law Chapter VII, Article 51, Israel invoked its right to self-defense.
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.Understandable and reasonable. But, still, why now? Why today?
In 17 days, Barack Obama is to sworn as the next President of the United States and no one knows what his policy toward Israel will be. Perhaps not even Obama knows and that is too big a risk for Israel to take. The United States provides much of the Israeli military arsenal and to conduct ground operations after Obama's administration begins could be inviting battlefield abandonment, a knife in the back for every IDF soldier risking all for the continued existence of Israel.
Two days ago, Ralph Peters wrote in the NY Post, BAM STIRS FEARS IN ISRAEL - COULD HALT DEATH BLOW TO HAMAS :
Ordinarily, Israeli leaders would only need to ponder battlefield costs and counter international pro-terror propaganda. But the rise of President-elect Obama complicates matters gravely.However, Obama said in a New York Times interview last July, as reported by the AFP today,
Even the timing of Israel's strike at Hamas has been driven, at least in part, by the coming power transfer in Washington. The immediate trigger was the hundreds of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel after the terrorists refused to renew an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, but Israel's leaders also counted on steadfast support from the Bush administration in its final days.
Obama's an unknown quantity, though. While hysterical claims that he'll be pro-Islamist from start to finish are absurd, even minor shifts away from supporting Israel's struggle against terrorists could have catastrophic consequences. And Israel's vaunted intelligence services can't tell their superiors what Obama will do, since few (if any) of the president-elect's supporters know what he intends to do.
In fact, the president-elect may not know himself. He's a babe in the woods, and the woods are full of wolves. Fighting political rivals doesn't prepare you for fighting terrorist fanatics.
...fighting terrorists effectively means going in on the ground - and sooner is better than later. You can't impress fanatics into surrendering. You have to kill them. Nothing else works.
Let me repeat that: You have to kill fanatics. Nothing else works.
any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens...If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.In the same interview, Obama said about Hamas, it's
very hard to negotiate with a group that is not representative of a nation state, does not recognize your right to exist, has consistently used terror as a weapon, and is deeply influenced by other countries.Of the current military action, Obama has been silent invoking the selective admonition that we have only one President at a time. His silence has garnered anger from Hamas leaders.
Khaled Meshaal, Hamas Islamist movement leader that has ruled Gaza since June 2007, said,
The start is not good... You commented on Mumbai but you say nothing about the crime of the enemy (Israel). This policy of double standards should stop.Hamas apparently was expecting a favorable political position from the Obama Administration which may not be in the offing. Last June, Sen Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State select, told AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby,
The next president must be ready to say to the world: America's position is unchanging, our resolve unyielding, our stance non-negotiable.David Axilrod, Obama's prime political advisor, has said recently:
He is going to work closely with the Israelis. They're a great ally of ours, the most important ally in the region. And that is a fundamental principle from which he'll work... But he will do so in a way that will promote the cause of peace, and work closely with the Israelis and the Palestinians on that -- toward that objective.When a nation's very existence is at stake as Israel's is, it is not surprising they don't want to put all their eggs in the Obama basket. Israel intends to encircle all of Gaza by morning, cut Gaza into four sections to better control Hamas rocket fire, and after that it doesn't matter what Obama may have wanted. The die is cast and a new paradigm exists.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.