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Israel on Verge of Major Ground Operation Into Gaza

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu To Foreign Ambassadors: "You Would Not Agree That Your Civilians Be Rocketed Day In & Day Out – Nor Will We!"

Tzachi Hanegbi: "We Are Past Point Of No Return For Major IDF Ground Operation Into Gaza – Air Strikes Cannot Halt Rocketing"

IsraCast Assesment: Unless Hamas Halts Immediately Rocketing of Israeli civilians, Israel Will Launch Major IDF Ground Offensive Into Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu Warns Foreign Ambassadors: " Your Governments Would Not Permit Your Towns To Be Rocketed Nor Will We!' Tzachi Hanegbi, A Netanyahu Confidant, Has Told Israel Radio That Only An IDF Ground Operation Can Stop Rocketing And IDF Countdown Has Already Begun.

Tzahi Hanegbi (photo: Itzik Edri)

 Within twenty-four hours over one hundred rockets and missiles launched from Gaza sent some one and a half million Israeli men, women and children racing for their bomb shelters. Only 'Color Red!', the wail of sirens, that give children and adults fifteen seconds warning to reach safety the 'Iron Dome' missile defense, have prevented many Israelis being killed. As it is, a number have been injured as the missiles landed as far away as the city of Beersheba. In some cases, parents caught in the open were seen huddling over their children to protect them with their own bodies. Life in southern has been paralyzed for days. Analyst David Essing is of the view that Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidant of Netanyahu was obviously speaking on instructions from the Prime Minister.

 After the rockets keep coming from Gaza, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has decided to launch a major ground operation to stop the attacks. Netanyahu summoned fifty foreign ambassadors to Jerusalem to tell them their governments would never agree that their civilians be rocketed, nor will he. Netanyahu is under immense pressure from the residents of southern Israel to halt the reign of rockets that has been terrorizing their lives. Tzachi Hanegbi, a Netanyahu confidant, told Israel Radio: "We are already past the point of no return and the countdown for a major IDF ground operation has begun. The air strikes have failed to stop the rocketing and only an IDF ground offensive can halt it once and for all!" As for the scope of the offensive, Hanegbi said it would be more intensive than the 'IDF's Cast Lead' operation launched at the end of December 2008. However in Hanegbi's view: "The rocketing from Gaza shows the deterrent effect of 'Cast Lead' is no longer effective and what would be required now resembled the IDF's 'Defensive Shield' operation'" In March 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the offensive on the West Bank to stem the wave of Palestinian suicide bombers who had murdered and maimed hundreds of Israelis. It followed the 'Passover Massacre' when a suicide bomber killed 30 people who were celebrating the Seder in Netanya's Park Hotel).

At the time of 'Cast Lead', Opposition leader Netanyahu criticized the government's decision to end it before Hamas was toppled. This would likely be the objective, if Hanegbi's reading of the situation holds water.

IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip

Commenting on the current flare-up, Defense Minister Ehud Barak was non-committal: "It was possible that IDF's operations against the rocketing from Gaza might be expanded. Likud Cabinet Minister Gideon Saar said: "Israel is making a diplomatic effort to halt the rocketing but IDF preparations were also underway'.

Under mounting pressure by civilians in southern Israel, the media and in the midst of an election campaign the government cannot acquiesce in the rocketing much longer. It may be that time has already run out. Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich has proposed a two track approach: a military response to take out the Palestinian rocket squads and to reinstitute the 'targeted killing' of those who dispatch the terrorists - i.e. Hamas leaders. Additionally, this should be combined with galvanizing diplomatic pressure on Hamas. Yachimovich did not rule a major IDF ground offensive into Gaza, if all else failed.

David Essing

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