Israel ready for Gaza invasion as ex-Mossad man urges caution

Israel warns Palestinians of ‘second phase’ of operation against Hamas, but is an invasion really necessary?

LAST UPDATED AT 09:31 ON Sun 18 Nov 2012

TROOPS and tanks are massing on the Israeli border ready to join a possible incursion into the Gaza Strip. As Israel pounds Hamas positions in Gaza for a fifth day - and the Islamist government of the Palestinian territory continues to fire rockets back - the elite Paratroopers Brigade is ready to lead any assault, supported by the Golani infantry brigade and two tank brigades, The Sunday Times reports.

Israel has been broadcasting a message in Arabic over Palestinian radio frequencies warning civilians about its military operation, dubbed ‘Pillar of Defence'. "To the people of Gaza, Hamas is playing with fire and gambling with your fate,” it says. “The Israel defence force is moving toward the second phase of its operation. For your safety you should stay away from Hamas infrastructure and personnel."

It is unclear what the “second phase” refers to, but there is plenty of talk in Israel of a ground assault, which would mark its first invasion since Operation Cast Lead in 2008. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today Israel is ready to "significantly expand" its operation in Gaza.

"Morale is high. We are currently training and preparing for ground possibilities," Lt Col Avital Leibovich of the Israel Defence Forces said, according to The Sunday Telegraph. "This isn’t like any other operation. This is to defend 3.5 million Israelis who are under rocket attack."

Israeli news service Ynet said that the call-up of 75,000 reservists had been begun "to lay the ground for an expanded offensive on Gaza", The Independent on Sunday reports.

In truth, Israeli troops are already thought to be inside Gaza: special forces are reported to be searching the area for the Iranian-supplied long-range Fajr-5 rockets, at least six of which have menaced Tel Aviv since the upsurge in violence started last week. None have so far hit the Israeli capital, thanks partly to the IDF’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Last night, Israeli leaders were stressing that no decision had yet been taken about an invasion. The Telegraph notes that the government is “painfully aware that Israel’s recent wars in Gaza and Lebanon have started well before becoming bogged down”.

The paper continues: “There has been broad international support so far for the bombing campaign against rocket sites, but that could wane if a ground invasion led to a sharp rise in the number of people killed.”

Israel’s hardline foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman says that if an invasion is launched, they will have to see it through and achieve their aims of “creating real deterrence via a crushing response” and destroy stockpiles of rockets belonging to Hamas, the Independent reports.

Lieberman suggested this had not been done during the 2008-09 invasion. This "was why we failed to achieve our goal and had to pay a heavy toll when it came to global public opinion".

However, if the aim is to destroy rockets, an invasion is unnecessary, according to some. General Danny Yatom, a former head of the Mossad, urges the Israeli government to be cautious, according to the Telegraph.

“I hate the idea that we will have to enter by land into Gaza,” he says. “It is a highly populated area. The manoeuvrability of ground forces is greatly limited under those conditions.

“Such an operation might cause on our side many more casualties than would be caused by rocket attacks and, in addition, there is no doubt it would cost many more lives on the Palestinian side. I think a ground operation is needless, unless there is a deterioration.” · 

Disqus - noscript

How are "3.5M Israelis...under rocket attack"? The rockets made in Gaza are little more than aerial pipe bombs with little payload and no directional capability.
I think the intention is to "discover evidence of Iranian connection to up the "bomb Iran" intention of the nuttier Eretz Israel (the majority of whom are safe on the east coast of the USA) and the quoted "Iranian-supplied long-range Fajr-5 rockets, at least six of which have menaced Tel Aviv..." confirms this is the ulterior motive.
"Menaced" Tel Aviv? As in ... Bibi Netanyahu's talk of "..bloodied Israeli babies.." reminds me of Belgian babies of the Hun's bayonets. Except that the only territorial invaders using bayonets and shock waves of infantry are the Israelis.
I can't recall seeing many news photos of Gazan tanks, jet fighters/bombers and masses troop.
I wonder why?

Even if your assertion that the bombs have "little payload and no directional capability" is correct, why should Israelis tolerate such a situation? If the city where you live was facing such a risk, would you be as sanguine?

Most Israelis that I know and see posting on facebook all the time are extremely disturbed about the idea of conflict. If you care to visit it, it is clear it Israel is not a warmongering nation. It's a westernised country with an international, multicultural population who have very diverse views on politics. Understandably though, the government is very dedicated to the theme of protecting their citizens from anyone who wants to target them on purpose. The Israeli military are always trained to take the utmost caution against injuring civilians whenever possible. I personally know several soldiers who have been in a situation where they are under fire from militants who have been holding children with one arm, in front of them, because they know Israeli soldiers are trained not to shoot in this situation. Can you imagine if Hamas (amphibious) were in the possession of tanks and fighter jets, or if they had the same military capacity as Israel and Israel had no army, like Gaza? Israel wouldn't exist now if that were the case! Every person there would be killed. Israel of course does make mistakes in the way it defends itself. Personally I believe that violence is not the answer, the last years have proved that violence has not achieved anything for the people of Israel or the poor civilians of Gaza, but the perspectives and ideologies of Hamas are horrendous compared to the perspectives and ideologies of soldiers in the IDF or Shin Bet.

Also, comparing Israel defending itself or even when they are in the wrong, to the Nazis (which I see on posts after news about Israel far too often) is jut disgusting. People who make those comparisons have had no real experience of suffering. All suffering is a terrible thing, but the mass organisation to kill seven MILLION innocent people just because of their religion, to beat them and mistreat them, gas them in tiled rooms, pile their naked malnourished bodies on top of each other and burn them in furnaces. Really. How utterly unspeakably ignorant to compare.

Israelis don't rejoice in innocents killed by accident. It happens and it is mourned. It's not a gleeful goal. In that, there is a WORLD of difference.

If israel is not a warmongering nation then why have there been 3 illegal invasions into Gaza just before election times in recent years.

Why did it decide to kill that Hamas guy now, in the eve of Israeli elections?? Another question mate, how can 1 of the world's strongest armies pinpoint a hit on a moving car with a Hamas "leader" inside, yet get a totally wrong building a few days later and kill 4 children + 3 adults who were civilians...

I've seen warmongering israeli hardliner people myself on tv..

mate, your argument is just so wrong i could go on and on and on... about how it is just wrong.

Why should israel exist in the first place? Why should there be a home-land ONLY for Jewish people? Why did israel start this most recent violence and blow up a hamas leader with pinpoint accuracy.. yet by the same army how can thy miss a static target and blow up a house of 7 civilians that has 4 children inside it..

Why does israel give Jewish people a superior legal state than Muslims?? Why does Israel control food water medicine oil and everything else that goes into Gaza for? Who has given israel the God given right to do that? Which God, the golden calf? NO GOD given word says there is to be a home-land ONLY FOR JEWS..

Why has israel hid behind negotiations with puppet leaders of Arab countries and stolen more land from Gaza & West Bank while negotiations were in place...

And on a final note for now my son, how many UN resolutions has israel broken and in breach of? Why is israel scared of being taken to the ICC for war crimes.. #29thnovember#palestine

Netanyahu won't be happy until he has destroyed the Gaza Strip and everyone there.

Israeli targets:

"The latest to die were Ibrahim al-Astal and Obama al-Astal, two farmers who were killed in a strike in Qarara, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip."

"In Gaza City, two women and a child were among four killed in a strike on the Zeitun neighbourhood – Nisma Abu Zorr, 23, Mohammed Abu Zorr, 5, Saha Abu Zorr, 20 and Ahid al-Qatati 35."

israel just scaremongers people about the missiles that are sent from Gaza.. They just want the whole of Palestine, Jordon and Syria for themselves..

It's probably why the West hasn't armed the Syrian rebels yet, because the weapons will disappear after Assad has gone, they'll be run down into the tunnels into the Gaza awaiting attacks from Pro-israel illegal combatants who are engaging in an another illegal war..

I agree in that I do not think Israel should have killed "that Hamas guy" (his name is Ahmed Al-Jaabari) and of COURSE it's awful how a family have been killed. I have no idea how they managed to get that wrong because I am not there, I did not see.

Israel were not targeting the civilians on purpose though, that is a KEY difference between how terrorist groups operate and how armies operate. There are always going to be mistakes and casualties of war, that is why personally I do not agree with violence as a solution.

Also, yes there are hardliners in Israel who have a terrible view of the Palestinians/Arabs but in my actual experience (which is not TV) this is a minority view that is frowned upon. Being trained in journalism myself I am very aware of how the media can twist things so I try and seek as much actual experience as possible when it comes to things I care about. After traveling the region, including the West Bank, making friends with Arabs living in Israel and spending time with Israelis and Palestinians I came to my own conclusions.

I am sure you could go on and on about how you think I am wrong but really, is that going to be a productive conversation or will you just be trying to preach to me? I am not interested in dogma or any kind of hatred because it is people with those types of views who either cause or prolong war in the world. Anyone who comes on forums ranting about "Jews" when they mean "Israel" (I) am not talking about you here, OR "Muslims" or hate this hate that, or only have experience from what they have seen on television is just for me, ignorant.

Personally I believe that if Israel gave up its weapons tomorrow it would probably not exist. Israel will always fight for its existence because it knows if it shows weakness there are people who would destroy it and every person living in it. If Hamas managed to renounce its weapons though, I really believe there could be a long awaited solution to the conflict, with each side thinking about the future generations and managing to reconcile religious claims on key areas like Jerusalem, which always reach stalemate. Violence is not a means to an and, it is just an end. What the people here need is a new beginning, for both their sakes.

israel just scaremongers people about the missiles that are sent from
Gaza.. They just want the whole of Palestine, Jordon and Syria for
themselves.. -

What is the evidence that you have for these comments? Please before you post, it is better to have real reasons for why you believe such things. I am willing to listen to your point of view if you would like to explain it from something you have read or from your own personal experiences but spouting meaningless things really doesn't enlighten anyone. It just gives you a chance to have a rant. My friend posted a youtube video the other day, from a balcony, of the Iron Dome exploding rockets. I am pretty sure it wasn't CGI...

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.