IDF Coiled on Gaza Border After Kidnapping
Israel has massed troops and armor along the Gaza borders with dirt mounds blocking roadways out of the Gaza Strip, poised for an iron-fisted offensive in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Hamas forces in a Palestinian raid on an IDF position. Late Monday night, the Popular Resistance Committees claimed a second Israeli kidnapping, this one an Israeli settler, reportedly near Nablus in the West Bank. The situation is clearly tense.
A ‘senior intelligence officer’ reportedly has informed the Israeli Knesset that they knows the area where Gilad Shalit is being held, but have yet to mount an extraction effort, likely because they do not know precisely where he is beyond a certain neighborhood and are surely working to develop more specific and actionable intelligence.
The reaction from Hamas, not unlike that of Iran on its nuclear stance, is fragmented and varied, displaying further the internal splintering within Hamas (as previously noted here, here, and here). While the Washington Post report distinguishes the notable rift between the Damascus leadership and the Gaza-based leadership, they do readers a disservice by characterizing Hamas’ Gaza leadership as the “more moderate leaders in Gaza” by comparison, leaving the impression that Hamas’ PA Prime Minister Haniyeh and his fellow ministers are reasonable. Some may be, but a more accurate description of reality is that the Gaza-based leadership is currently staring down the bores of Israeli tanks massing on the borders, a very real and present danger that the Khalid Meshaal’s Damascus-based Hamas leadership need not endure. The pause inspired by the threat of force should never be confused for a more reasonable nature. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ call to Syrian President Bashar Assad is significant, highlighting the nature of the relationship between the Syrian regime and the Hamas terrorist leadership Syria protects in Damascus along with that of Hizballah and others. Influence over Middle Eastern terrorism largely begins and ends with Syrian and Iranian contact, as Abbas’ call clearly demonstrates.
Hamas’ military wing, Izzadin el-Kassam, as well as the Saladdin Brigade and the Army of Islam have claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and made the demand that all female and youth prisoners in Israeli prisons be released in order to secure the Israeli soldier’s freedom. The Saladdin Brigade and the Army of Islam are both new and reportedly offshoots of the Popular Resistance Committees and likely with significant Hamas (or former Hamas) membership within both.
One significant factor that should be carefully considered in the attack was that the two Israeli soldiers killed were inside an Israeli tank that was attacked with an anti-tank missile after the terrorists emerged from a tunnel dug from Gaza about 300 meters deep into Israeli territory. Israeli tanks are well armored and among the best in the world, and the Merkava MK4 is the best to many.