Israeli ground forces have entered Gaza after a week of aerial and naval strikes and hours of artillery fire. Leaflets dropped on Gaza claimed:
Area resident, as result of the acts undertaken by terror activists in your area against Israel, the IDF is forced to respond immediately and operate in this area. For your own safety, you are asked to leave the area immediately.
The stated objective is stopping the rockets launched by Hamas, destroying the terrorist infrastructure and eliminating the organizations’ leadership. The end-game is unclear. Does the Israeli leadership have the political will and public support to decisively defeat Hamas or will this end in another symbolic cease-fire?
The following is from YNet:
Israel Defense Forces ground troops entered the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday evening, as the army launched its long anticipated ground operation.
An officer and a soldier were seriously wounded during the night-time fighting against Palestinian gunmen. They were evacuated to the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. Eighteen other soldiers sustained light to moderate wounds.
Eleven of the injured troops were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment.
Army officials confirmed that dozens of terrorists were hurt in clashes with IDF ground troops, saying some of them were killed. In several cases, armed terrorists approached Israeli forces and were shot at by ground troops and IDF gunships. There are no reports of Israeli casualties at this time.
Large IDF ground forces, including Armored and Engineering corps units, as well as infantry soldiers are currently operating in the Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun areas, from which rockets have been launched toward Israel.
The army is preparing to enter the third phase of the operation, which is expected to be much broader in scope. In this framework tens of thousands of reserve soldiers will be heading to training bases in north and south Israel during the early hours of Sunday morning.
The reserve soldiers may take part in the third phase of the operation or be deployed in central and northern Israel in case of escalation on those fronts.
H/t to Noah Pollak (Contentions) for this list of Israeli live-bloggers and links:
Our Israeli friends Carl in Jerusalem, Aussie Dave, and The Muqata are live-blogging the ground war. And don’t miss a couple of excellent analyses: Israel’s Gaza Strategy by Martin Kramer, and On The Ground in Gaza by Barry Rubin.
Coverage by Z Word here.
These videos from the IDF’s Youtube channel show what Israel is facing including, mortars launched from UN schools and weapons caches hidden in mosques. They should also make apparent that, as opposed to what protesters are shrieking in the streets, Israel is not targeting civilians.
In fact, as Bill Roggio (Long War Journal) notes:
The Israeli strikes are remarkably accurate and are causing a relatively low degree of civilian deaths despite airstrikes being launched in built-up, urban areas.
Compare this with Hamas rocket and mortar attacks, or previous suicide attacks when the Palestinians terror groups could pull these off inside Israel. Hamas and others have clearly targeted civilians; the attacks are aimed at civilians in the heart of cities and villages. Yet the reporting invariably hints that the Israeli attacks are indiscriminate while the Palestinian attacks are a response to Israeli aggression and part of the “cycle of violence.”