Israel has invaded the Gaza Strip after Hamas refused both the Egyptian proposed ceasefire and to honor the humanitarian ceasefire Israel agreed to today. Israel had hoped to be able to stop the rocket fire without a ground invasion. In the end there was no other option which would allow them to give a measure of protection to the Israeli civilians now living under constant missile bombardment. This is a defensive war with the intent to destroy Hamas’ ability to wage unceasing war on Israel.
At approximately 10:00 pm Israel sent the Israel Defense Forces into Gaza in a ground action that should not surprise anyone, but was not a certainty until the final hours prior to the incursion.
The so-called ‘straw that broke the camels back’ as one Israeli news interviewee put it, was the attempt by Hamas to send a large number of terrorists through a tunnel into Israel with the arms and intent to kill a large number of civilians. This followed the decision by Hamas to continue and even strengthen the fire on Israel during the brief ceasefire that Israel had consented to honor. There were more than 150 rockets by 10 pm and another 30 so far after the Israeli attack.
It was already known by PM Netanyahu and the military advisers, that there is simply no way to completely destroy the extensive and well-built tunnels that extend from Gaza into Israel. They are used not only to deliver suicide bombers or snipers into Israel, but to store the thousands of missiles and provide cover for command centers from which to attack Israel. These tunnels are from 20 to 25 meters underground and are to be found the whole length of the border with entrances about 1 to 2.5 kilometers into Gaza from the border with Israel.
Therefore, the stated goal of this battle is to destroy these tunnels, the arms and the means used by Hamas to wreak havoc, injury and death upon innocent Israeli civilians.
Hamas: Israel’s ground offensive ‘foolish’ will have ‘dreadful consequences’
UNRWA (the UN agency that operates schools and provides support for the poor in Gaza) reported earlier that they found over 20 rockets inside one of their schools. Now they are concerned that they have lost all contact with their Gaza staff.
Palestinians are reporting 1 dead and 6 wounded in the initial Israeli advance. Electrical lines that had not already been damaged have been hit and most of Gaza is without power. IDF artillery fire from land and sea cleared the way for the entrance. It has been reported that the top leaders of Hamas are hiding in a shelter under the hospital. From their they issue their threats and give interviews. They are secure in the fact that Israel will not deliberately target the hospital.
Sirens continue to warn of incoming rockets over the cities of Israel. It is expected that missiles will continue to threaten Israelis over the next few days. Israel has increased by 18,000 the number of reservists being called up, bringing the number to ~60,000 reservists. Israeli civilians living in towns and cities near the Gaza Strip have been warned to remain in shelters until given the all clear.
A missile was fired at the Israeli Golan earlier by Syrians but it fell short into Syrian territory. Meanwhile, Lebanon lodged a complaint at the UN against Israel stating that Israel’s return fire at those responsible for firing on northern Israel over the last couple of days constituted a violation of Lebanese sovereignty.
Egypt for its part has stated clearly that the Israeli attack is the responsibility of Hamas who fired on Israel and refused to even consider a ceasefire.
The British Foreign Minister urged Israel to stay within the lines of “proportionality”. He doesn’t state how long that will keep the next volley of rockets from falling on Israeli schools, towns, and streets. Nor does he say how many missiles we are allowed to fire back for each rocket.
At this time, no Israeli soldiers have been wounded or killed in the first hours of incursion. We are in prayer for a quick end to this on-again, off-again long time war with the least loss of life on either side – with the exception of those seeking to take ours!