Operation Protective Edge – Israel’s War with Hamas
By Sarah Ann Haves
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8, after Hamas kidnapped and killed three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), and then sent a barrage of rockets into southern Israel for several days. When it became obvious that Hamas was using tunnels to infiltrate Israel’s southern communities, the IDF sent ground troops into Gaza on July 17. As of this writing, the fighting between Israel and Hamas continues with casualties on both sides mounting.
The international community, upset by the high casualty rate in Gaza, desperately wants Israel and Hamas to accept a long-term cease-fire. But, Hamas keeps violating or rejecting attempts at temporary cease-fires.
A majority of the Israeli public wants Israel’s military to deal a heavy blow to Hamas before agreeing to a truce. Using ground forces and air power, the IDF has destroyed many of the sophisticated cross-border tunnels that Hamas built in order to try and carry out a massive terrorist attack against Israel.
The goal of the IDF is to dismantle all the cross-border tunnels; do damage to Hamas’ military infrastructure; destroy weapons depots and ammunition stockpiles; and stop the terrorist rocket launchings from Gaza. The rockets threaten 75% of the population, about 6 million people living in the Jewish State. The Israeli government is intent on reestablishing peace and quiet to its citizens, while also achieving long-term deterrence.
IDF Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner spoke to journalists at a press conference in Jerusalem earlier this week. He shared how much has been accomplished since Israel launched its military operation.
“We have struck Hamas on three levels. The first level is the operational infrastructure — those tunnels that are ultimately leading into Israel.”
The IDF has been able to strike over 50% of the tunnels which Hamas intended to use to cause death and destruction. More than 50% of Hamas’ rocket capabilities have been depleted, as well.
According to Lerner, “We are confident that we can continue this mission; continue to take out these capabilities.”
For the IDF it has been a successful operation so far, despite the loss of life and human suffering.
|Hamas uses children
to build and
operate their tunnels.
“This is a huge challenge. Hamas is striving to forever increase their operational capabilities. And indeed in the last two years, they have amassed this huge rocket capability, and indeed carried out extensive building; literally, spilling hundreds of thousands of tons of cement into the ground to build these tunnels. “
Israeli government sources state that, in the summer of 2012, the Institute for Palestine Studies published a detailed report on Gaza’s tunnels. The report documents the use of children as laborers for Hamas in the building and operating of the tunnels. It also indicates, that despite concerns by human rights groups, Hamas refused to consider the safety of the children. Hamas officials reported that at least 160 children were killed in the tunnels, and nothing was done to impede using them in the construction project. The report implicates Hamas as criminally responsible for exploiting and endangering the lives of the children of Gaza.
With many of the tunnels now depleted, the message the IDF wants to convey to Hamas is this: “It is not worthwhile to rebuild. It is not worthwhile to invest in this infrastructure for terror. It’s better to invest in the people of Gaza and give them a better future.”
Hamas could have spent the millions of dollars that went into tunnel construction in a much more responsible way — to develop cities, towns, business, schools, and homes in the Gaza Strip. Instead, Lerner explains, Hamas used the cement, building materials and technology for terror purposes.
“Why don’t they invest that in the people of Gaza instead of launching rockets against us?”
Tactically and strategically, the IDF is intent on fulfilling its mission. Lerner claims that the tunnels are a complicated system; a network of veins, arteries, and offshoots. They are located deep in the ground. There are command, control, and communications systems inside them, and some are built more than 30 meters deep. The IDF wants to sever the tunnel network so that it no longer poses a threat to Israel.
Despite the danger to their lives, IDF soldiers continue to excavate the tunnels, laying explosives, and detonating them so that they are completely decommissioned. They do this while also fighting in close combat with Hamas. The mission is to make sure that Hamas does not have an incentive to rebuild the tunnels.
“They would have to invest a huge amount of work; a huge amount of resources in order to try and carry that out again,” says Lerner.
Hamas is launching rocket attacks at Israelis while also jeopardizing the lives of the people of Gaza. Knowing that the IDF is going to retaliate and strike at the source of the rocket fire, Hamas will use innocent civilians, including women and children as human shields. People die because Hamas puts them in the line of fire. And, sometimes, Hamas destroys its own people in errant rocket launchings.
Meanwhile, Lerner holds Hamas responsible for all aggression against Israel from Gaza.
“We want the rockets to stop. We want the tunnels to be completely severed; so that they (Hamas) don’t have access; so that we don’t wake up in the morning, and they are in our backyards!”
The main mission of the IDF is to protect Israeli citizens. Some of the tools the IDF gives to its soldiers are body armor and armored vehicles, always keeping in mind that their purpose is to defend Israel’s population.
“We are there to be that body armor for the state of Israel,” Lerner acknowledges. Deaths from this military operation, he admits, are the inevitability of warfare.
“We are operating with all the tools we have at hand in order to safeguard our troops; not necessarily putting them at risk; but, to indeed be that striking force that can protect the state of Israel.”
|Morale is low
militants — 100
There has been a decline in rocket launching since Israeli ground troops went into Gaza. Some analysts believe that Hamas is trying to save its depleting arsenal for one big rocket attack throughout the country before the war ends.
Morale is low among Hamas militants with more than 100 fighters surrendering to IDF military commanders on the battlefield. This is an encouraging sign to Israel.
The IDF has been met with an adversary that is using asymmetrical warfare. Hamas sets up military bases within homes, schools, mosques, and hospitals. Next to United Nations buildings Hamas is conducting terrorist activities. Twice, Hamas rockets were found stored in UNWRA facilities.
While the IDF abides by laws, rules of war, and regulations, Hamas does not. Its terrorists exploit everything – even the use of ambulances to carry out their offensives against Israeli military troops.
Yet, the IDF is a powerful fighting force that had intelligence and operational capabilities even before the war began. Military troops were prepared for this battle, and will continue until their goals are met. They will fight until Hamas, the enemy of the state of Israel, is weakened enough that it will stop attacking Israeli citizens. Then the suffering on both sides will end, and calm will be restored.
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower. The righteous runs to it and they are safe.” Proverbs 18:10
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