DEBKAfile Special Report July 8, 2014, 8:42 AM (IDT)
Israeli finally launched its military operation Solid Rock against Hamas Monday night, July 7, after the Palestinians directed a steady stream of 100 rockets from Gaza to expanded targets as far as Rehovot, 50 km away. Most of the 50 IDF strikes were conducted from the air and two from the sea. Ten destroyed Hamas infrastructure facilities plus 4 private buildings which, according to the Palestinians, included the homes of the Hamas commander and a Democratic Front operative in Khan Younes, after Israel gave them advance warning. Hamas reported 17 injured – but kept on shooting rockets through the night and early Tuesday, threatening to further expand the range of their rocket fire.
The government and the IDF have billed the operation as a long-term, staged offensive to destroy Hamas’ logistical and strategic infrastructure, to be escalated stage by stage as needed, up to a limited ground incursion, which would require additional reserve call-ups, as well targeted assassinations. This progression will be adjusted to the enemy’s response and how quickly “quiet is restored to the South.”
The population has been forewarned that the contest may be protracted and asked to refrain from public events within a 40km radius from Gaza.
Iron Dome batteries are in place.
Israel’s security cabinet and the IDF command are counting on the prospect of losing its infrastructure deterring Hamas and persuading it to halt its rocket war on Israel.
But Hamas has its own game book and is unlikely to play by the rules dictated by Israel.
Both sides have therefore entered a dark corridor in which the two adversaries will try and outdo each other in damage. Israel began by limiting itself to air strikes. Hamas hit back with a mighty barrage of 100 missiles and expanding its range of targets.
The rules of Operation Solid Rock now require Israel to scale its response up to the next stage, in response to which Hamas will no doubt go for Tel Aviv. No one seems to know how this tit-for-tat duel will end.
The inherent weakness of the thinking behind Israeli military operation is that it requires the IDF to catch up with and undo the damage caused by Israel’s passivity after the three boys, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, were kidnapped and murdered on July 12. The IDF’s campaign against its facilities on the West Bank left Hamas more confident than ever. In the space of a month, the Palestinian Islamists have maneuvered Israel into launching not one but two major operations – Brother’s Keeper to find the kidnapped boys and their abductors (who are still at large) and now Solid Rock – and they still hold the initiative against Israel, as well as the whip hand in the Palestinian movement.
They certainly owe their advantage in part to the atrocious murder by a handful of Israelis of the Palestinian boy Muhammad Abu Khdeir from Shuafat, Jerusalem. This was a gift which Hamas had never dreamed of. The …read more