On Tuesday, three IDF soldiers were wounded by a bomb planted near the border fence between Israel and the Gaza strip. On Thursday when soldiers were trying to repair the fence, a huge explosion occurred when a tunnel packed with explosives was detonated. Luckily only one soldier was lightly injured, but it could have been catastrophic.
Then today an IDF jeep in the area was struck by an antitank missile. Four soldiers were wounded, at least two seriously (reports vary), and Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The IDF either returned fire or otherwise retaliated, killing at least four Palestinians. The last time an antitank missile was used by Gazan terrorists was in April of last year when a school bus was attacked and 16-year old Daniel Wiflic was murdered. Hamas took ‘credit’ for that, too.
Hamas is bombarding southern Israel with rockets as I write this (Nov. 10, 11:59 PM Israel time), making at least 25 that have hit Israel this evening. A million Israelis are in shelters, schools are closed tomorrow, etc. In fact, warning sirens have been heard in Gedera, just 8 miles south of my daughter’s home, Rehovot, where I am sitting now!
It isn’t just rockets. There are reports that several terrorists infiltrated into Israel from Gaza.
The pattern of escalation is similar to what occurred in late 2008 — an IDF-Hamas clash over a tunnel under the border fence led to a rocket barrage and ultimately to Israel’s response, Operation Cast Lead — and there are other worrisome parallels to that period.
Cast Lead was supposed to have three phases: the first was to attack Hamas assets from the air, the second was to enter the strip and take overall control of the territory, and the third was to go into the densely populated areas and rescue hostage Gilad Schalit, destroy Hamas control centers, and kill or capture a large number of its fighters and perhaps its leadership as well. For various reasons — including the probable intervention of the incoming Obama Administration in January 2009 — phase III never happened, Hamas kept Schalit for two more years, and with construction materials, electricity, etc. provided by Israel for ‘humanitarian’ reasons, rebuilt its damaged infrastructure.
Is history about to repeat itself exactly four years later? Israel can’t go on accepting rocket barrages like a particularly dangerous form of weather. Hamas is pushing very hard and there will soon come a point at which Israel’s leadership will have to act to defend its population, despite what the Obama Administration or the UN would prefer.
It is going to be a long night at the PM’s office in Jerusalem, and at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. And for about a million Israeli civilians in rocket range of Gaza.