Gaza situation discussion

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Gaza situation discussion

Postby The Grim Squeaker » 2008-12-29 02:43pm

Reuters wrote:Israel mounts third day of Gaza raids
Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:19pm EST

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli air strikes flattened bastions of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip on Monday in the third day of an offensive that has killed more than 325 Palestinians in the deadliest violence in the territory in decades.

"We have an all-out war against Hamas and its kind," Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said in parliament, using a term he has employed in the past to describe a long-term struggle against Israel's Islamist enemies.

Broadening their targets to include the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes bombed the Interior Ministry, which supervises 13,000 members of the group's security forces. The building had been evacuated and there were no casualties.

Israel also targeted the homes of at least two top commanders in Hamas's armed wing. The commanders were not at home at the time but several family members were killed.

Hamas, an Islamist movement that took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, defied the Israeli assaults, the fiercest in the coastal enclave since the 1967 Middle East war.

Its forces fired a rocket salvo into the Israeli city of Ashkelon, killing one person, the second such fatality since Israeli bombing began on Saturday.

Israel has said the offensive -- launched by a centrist government six weeks before a national election that opinion polls have predicted the right-wing Likud party will win -- is aimed at halting rocket attacks that intensified after a six-month ceasefire with Hamas expired on December 19.

Palestinian medical officials put the Gaza death toll at more than 325 and said more than 700 people have been wounded.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said at least 57 of the dead were civilians. It based the figure, which an UNRWA spokesman called "conservative," on visits by agency officials to hospitals and medical centers.

Israel declared areas around the Gaza Strip a "closed military zone," citing the risk from Palestinian rockets, and ordering out journalists observing a build-up of armored forces preparing for a possible ground invasion of the territory.

Excluding the press could help Israel keep under wraps its preparations for a Gaza incursion following three days of air strikes that have caused chaos, turned some buildings to rubble and left hospitals struggling to cope.

Wounded Gazans trickled one by one into Egypt and 10 trucks carrying medical supplies were allowed to cross into the blockaded territory. Border officials said about 30 Palestinians were expected to leave the territory for treatment.

Oil prices rose above $40 a barrel on Monday, boosted by the weak dollar and violence between Israel and Hamas that served as a reminder of tensions that could threaten crude supplies from the Middle East.

DESTRUCTION

Most Gazans in the densely populated enclave stayed at home, in rooms away from windows that could shatter in blasts from air strikes on Hamas facilities. Residents of southern Israel ran for shelter at the sound of alarms heralding incoming rockets.

"At no time could we leave the kids unattended. They trembled every time there was a bombing, day and night, and all of us had almost no sleep," said Umm Hassan, a mother of seven, in Gaza.

In Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, an air strike killed a local commander of Islamic Jihad, three other members of the militant group and a child as they stood in the street, medical workers said. Islamic Jihad said the commander was wanted by Israel and it described his death as an assassination.

Israeli aircraft also destroyed a laboratory building at the Islamic University, an institution that is a significant cultural symbol in Gaza.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said the offensive would go on until the population in southern Israel "no longer live in terror and in fear of constant rocket barrages."

"(The operation could) take many days," said military spokesman Avi Benayahu.

In what it called a "terrorist" attack, the Israeli army said a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in the West Bank before he was shot by a passer-by and arrested. One of the wounded Israelis was in a serious condition.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum has urged Palestinian groups to use "all available means" against Israel, including martyrdom operations" -- a reference to suicide bombings.


The Gaza operation and civilian casualties have enraged Arabs across the Middle East. Protesters burned Israeli and U.S. flags in several places to press for a stronger response from their leaders.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, head of the ruling Kadima party and a candidate for prime minister in the February 10 election, said the army was targeting gunmen but "unfortunately in a war ... sometimes also civilians pay the price." Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurie said U.S.-backed peace talks with Israel have been put on hold, citing the Gaza offensive. The negotiations over the past year have achieved little visible progress.

The U.N. Security Council called for a halt to the violence, but U.S. President George W. Bush's administration, in its final weeks in office, has put the onus on Hamas to renew the truce.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said during a visit to Turkey that "Israel must stop its killing operations against Palestinians." He called for an immediate ceasefire.

(Additional reporting by Adam Entous and Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

The city of Ashkelon is the furthest city hit yet by the Hammas's terrorist rocket strikes, 38km from the border with the strip and the second largest city in the south of Israel.
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Chris OFarrell » 2008-12-29 03:02pm

I can't really see the endgame to all of this.

The IDF have a great plan, 'bomb the crap out of them' but it doesn't really help much in terms of a long term strategic move. You'll just have a bunch of newly pissed off Palestinians, probably a whole new slew of 'volunteer' suicide bombers who have lost everything in this and see a fast ticket to heaven as the way to go and Hamas will HAVE to retaliate directly, even if the IDF finish up and stop their attack right now.

The West Bank Government will look impotent to the people there as it can do nothing but sit to the sidelines and shake its fist as the Gaza strip is pounded, which will probably sideline Mahmoud Abbas completely.

So really, is this just Israeli politics with the election coming up, or is there some kind of goal that I'm just missing, that will be worth it to Israel?
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Sarevok » 2008-12-29 03:12pm

Any word yet from the Israeli military regarding the objectives of this large scale military operation ?
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Edi » 2008-12-29 03:21pm

None that I know of. I wouldn't hold my breath for anything on that score either. Not in the immediate future, anyway.

Just a note, keep this clear of moratorium or it'll get locked just like the previous thread. The purpose of the thread is more or less to keep people informed of currently happening events, not rehashing all of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict so far.
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Ender » 2008-12-29 03:44pm

I don't know of an online source for it, but on the news this morning they said that Israel is using computers to automatically voicemail all the phones in an area right before they go in, telling civilians to leave. I don't know how effective that is, but at least it is something to minimize casualties.
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby CJvR » 2008-12-29 03:46pm

Well like any barrage once the opening salvoes have gone in you rapidly hit a point of diminishing returns. All high level Hamas fundies will lurk in their tunnel and bunker complexes by now leaving the civies and the expendables on top. Better to set up some artillery batteries for counter battery fire and let things calm down, then when the rats start coming out of their holes you hit them allout again.
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Setzer » 2008-12-29 04:14pm

Despite all the time they've spent fighting in Palestine, the Israelis seem to have learned little. Shelling neighborhoods won't root out their enemies, it'll just create more. I think the IDF does more to recruit for these groups then anyone else.
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Solauren » 2008-12-29 04:21pm

The only possible long term goal of the IDF in this instance I can see would be to totally level the area (and I mean level it flat, not into piles of rubble, but literally flat), to the point no one can live there at all, and force an exodus / total focusing on repair efforts.

The only point of that would be to give them time to properly secure the border.

Otherwise, I can't see why they'd be doing this. Considering the nature of there military opponent in this instance, I find this approach, ineffective.

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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Admiral Valdemar » 2008-12-29 04:21pm

What's that, violence begets violence? Who'd thunk?

Unless the IDF are going to eliminate all Palestinians and their sympathisers, this achieves diddly squat. The bombing will go on for a few more days, or weeks. A ground incursion occurs, which may or may not lead to longer term holding of territory to uproot any other rebels in the area. Diplomacy comes to the fray once more, and the dust settles.

Rinse and repeat.

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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby cosmicalstorm » 2008-12-29 04:24pm

Are there any predictions or extrapolations for how this conflict will evolve into the future? Is it just going to go on like this or will either side at some point.. lose?

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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2008-12-29 04:25pm

Can't they do a more police-style approach? Instead of blowing up the terrorists, they could arrest suspects and perpetrators instead. This isn't a conventional war where the enemy forces can just be blown to pieces, this is more akin to fighting organize crime - where the gangbangers use rockets instead of Tec-9s.
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Coyote » 2008-12-29 04:42pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:Can't they do a more police-style approach? Instead of blowing up the terrorists, they could arrest suspects and perpetrators instead. This isn't a conventional war where the enemy forces can just be blown to pieces, this is more akin to fighting organize crime - where the gangbangers use rockets instead of Tec-9s.


No, to do this police style means you have to have cops on th eground in the area, which Israel doesn't; they have to be enforcing a law that is recognised and agreed upon, which is not the case; making it a 'criminal' situation also means that presumptions of innocence can be expected (depending on the law books being used, of course) and it also requires people willing to bear witness against the accused in courts that are recognised as fair.

None of the above applies in the ME.
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Axis Kast » 2008-12-29 04:46pm

Israeli counterterrorism policy concerns itself with protection, retribution, and attack. The government and the populace have given up any expectation of achieving political solutions; instead, they have accepted that life will be lived under the constant shadow of terrorism, which they have worked (successfully) to diminish in effect by a strategy of isolation (the security barrier) and constant vigilance. Muscular attacks that generate high numbers of civilian casualties and enormous collateral damage are less problematic for the Israelis than for most other states with a terrorism problem, because Gaza and the West Bank are conveniently distinct from Israel politically. There is no Palestinian constituency to please, nor a large public outcry in favor of a comprehensive negotiated solution.

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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Guardsman Bass » 2008-12-29 06:10pm

Well, if Israel somehow manages to completely cut-off Gaza from imports (including weapons and other goodies, particularly from Iran and other Hamas supporters), then wipe out much of Hamas' supplies and key personnel, then while it wouldn't be a permanent solution (since Hamas would recover, use it to regain recruits, and come back swinging), you could use it as breathing space during which Hamas wouldn't be able to harass southern Israel without resorting to things like suicide bombings at border checkpoints.

It's sort of like sinking a bunch of pirate ships in Somalia, then bombarding the coastal base areas - you won't stop the incentives for piracy, but you might stop pirate attacks for a while in significant numbers.*

*Note: I'm not saying the Palestinians are pirates, or that they are in the wrong while Israel is right on this matter - it's just an analogy.
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Sarevok » 2008-12-29 06:14pm

Axis Kast wrote:Israeli counterterrorism policy concerns itself with protection, retribution, and attack. The government and the populace have given up any expectation of achieving political solutions; instead, they have accepted that life will be lived under the constant shadow of terrorism, which they have worked (successfully) to diminish in effect by a strategy of isolation (the security barrier) and constant vigilance. Muscular attacks that generate high numbers of civilian casualties and enormous collateral damage are less problematic for the Israelis than for most other states with a terrorism problem, because Gaza and the West Bank are conveniently distinct from Israel politically. There is no Palestinian constituency to please, nor a large public outcry in favor of a comprehensive negotiated solution.


How does rendering Hamas stronger than before help above objectives ?
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Elfdart » 2008-12-29 06:17pm

Ender wrote:I don't know of an online source for it, but on the news this morning they said that Israel is using computers to automatically voicemail all the phones in an area right before they go in, telling civilians to leave. I don't know how effective that is, but at least it is something to minimize casualties.


Which civilians?
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Winston Blake » 2008-12-29 07:17pm

Ender wrote:I don't know of an online source for it, but on the news this morning they said that Israel is using computers to automatically voicemail all the phones in an area right before they go in, telling civilians to leave. I don't know how effective that is, but at least it is something to minimize casualties.

On the TV news last night they said Israel was dropping leaflets warning people in targeted areas. There was also a video of metal shells with half-burnt leaflet stacks still packed inside - unfortunately they were being fished out of some guy's wrecked car, which just happened to be totalled by the leaflet drop. Irony, eh?
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Admiral Valdemar » 2008-12-29 07:24pm

Winston Blake wrote:On the TV news last night they said Israel was dropping leaflets warning people in targeted areas. There was also a video of metal shells with half-burnt leaflet stacks still packed inside - unfortunately they were being fished out of some guy's wrecked car, which just happened to be totalled by the leaflet drop. Irony, eh?


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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby CJvR » 2008-12-29 07:48pm

The Hamas:Civilian casualty ratio so far seems to be about 6:1 which is IMPO a surprisingly good ratio for Gaza and Hamas. The IDF seems to have had good intel this time, plenty of Palestinians with axes to grind where Hamas is concerned...
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Stark » 2008-12-29 07:54pm

Axis Kast wrote:Israeli counterterrorism policy concerns itself with protection, retribution, and attack. The government and the populace have given up any expectation of achieving political solutions; instead, they have accepted that life will be lived under the constant shadow of terrorism, which they have worked (successfully) to diminish in effect by a strategy of isolation (the security barrier) and constant vigilance. Muscular attacks that generate high numbers of civilian casualties and enormous collateral damage are less problematic for the Israelis than for most other states with a terrorism problem, because Gaza and the West Bank are conveniently distinct from Israel politically. There is no Palestinian constituency to please, nor a large public outcry in favor of a comprehensive negotiated solution.


I guess that's why this sort of thing works so well for Israel? It's sad that you can openly identify the real issue and then sidetrack into hilarious fantasies. No interest in actual conflict resolution = conflict may not be resolved. :lol:

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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Admiral Valdemar » 2008-12-29 07:58pm

Don't be silly, Stark. It's not that Israel's plan is flawed, it's that they're not doing it right. They've not been using enough force. And that's the argument Bowen was telling BBC News today, that the IDF haven't had a chance to take the gloves off, which is why they've been having these attacks.

Cognitive dissonance, what's that?

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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Ender » 2008-12-29 08:28pm

Elfdart wrote:
Ender wrote:I don't know of an online source for it, but on the news this morning they said that Israel is using computers to automatically voicemail all the phones in an area right before they go in, telling civilians to leave. I don't know how effective that is, but at least it is something to minimize casualties.


Which civilians?

The ones living in the area surrounding the buildings they are targeting. If the 6:1 ratio quoted in this thread is correct, than it appears such measures are working, because given the population density that is rather good.
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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby Solauren » 2008-12-29 10:11pm

6 Hamas to 1 Civilian, in an area that densely packed? That's damn impressive.

Could the intelligence Israel acquired to do this, given it's apparent quality and quantity, be indictive that the majority of the Palestinians are turning against Hamas. Perhaps even because they are 'sick' of the fighting and Hama's policies?

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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby hongi » 2008-12-29 10:30pm

you could use it as breathing space during which Hamas wouldn't be able to harass southern Israel without resorting to things like suicide bombings at border checkpoints.
Breathing space for what? You get at most a year of reduced rocket attacks but Hamas will still be in control of the Gaza Strip and they'll be back angrier than ever. Israel has just prolonged resistance and squandered what little hope remained of a political solution.

I still think there's a political reason for this conflict...the various Israeli parties are jockeying for the coming elections, maybe that has something to do with it? I heard speculation that Ehud Barak (Minister of Defence) wants to be seen as tough on the security issue and has been pushing for this reprisal.

Solauren wrote:6 Hamas to 1 Civilian, in an area that densely packed? That's damn impressive.

Could the intelligence Israel acquired to do this, given it's apparent quality and quantity, be indictive that the majority of the Palestinians are turning against Hamas. Perhaps even because they are 'sick' of the fighting and Hama's policies?
Or it's just indicative of Israeli intelligence getting better, or maybe they've been planning this for a while. It's too tenuous IMO to claim that the Palestinians are turning against Hamas, and it certainly won't be the case after this blows over.

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Re: Gaza situation continues on third day

Postby KlavoHunter » 2008-12-30 12:07am

hongi wrote:Breathing space for what? You get at most a year of reduced rocket attacks but Hamas will still be in control of the Gaza Strip and they'll be back angrier than ever. Israel has just prolonged resistance and squandered what little hope remained of a political solution.


And when Hamas fires off its next truckload of rockets after they've rebuilt, Israeli airplanes will stand ready to bring overwhelming retribution yet again.
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