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Israel Prepares Gaza for Incursion

What looks to be the early phases of an IDF incursion into the Gaza Strip appears underway, as an Israeli missile took out a bridge that links northern and southern Gaza. Vital Perspective notes that Haaretz is reporting the purpose behind the strike was to prevent or hinder the terrorists’ ability to transport Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier that was kidnapped from the Israeli side of the border near Rafah to the extreme southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Haaretz also reported that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has approved a “limited operation” for southern Gaza, aimed at “terrorist infrastructure.” That the ‘infrastructure‘ lies in southern Gaza is no coincidence and likely preparation for an incursion to, at a minimum, extract Shalit.

Fox News Channel reported from the area that Israeli tanks has not yet crossed the border, but that IAF drones could be heard overhead, likely scouring the area where Israel believes Shalit to be held, acquiring target information and conducting force movement observation.

Interestingly, Egypt has also moved 2,500 additional troops along the southern Gaza border because of fears that the terrorist captors would attempt to move their IDF prisoner out of Gaza and into Egypt at or near the Rafah crossing. While Olmert may have been reported as authorizing a limited operation, what looks to be taking shape is a hammer & anvil operation, with the Egyptian military forces playing the role of a limited anvil, while the Israeli hammer swings in from the north and east, likely closing in on, sealing and squeezing the southern section of Gaza around Rafah.

If Israel manages to extract Galid Shalit alive, it will be interesting to observe how quickly they leave Gaza.

Feedback

A black flag hangs over the "rolling" operation in Gaza. The more the operation "rolls," the darker the flag becomes. The "summer rains" Israel is showering on Gaza are not only pointless, but are first and foremost blatantly illegitimate. It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to penetrate Syria's airspace. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament.

A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization. The harsher the steps, the more monstrous and stupid they become, the more the moral underpinnings for them are removed and the stronger the impression that the Israeli government has lost its nerve. Now one must hope that the current lull, whether initiated by Egypt or the prime minister, will lead to a radical change.

Everything must be done to win Gilad Shalit's release. What Israel is doing now in Gaza has nothing to do with freeing him. It is a widescale act of vengeance, the kind that the IDF and Shin Bet have wanted to conduct for some time, mostly motivated by the deep frustration that the army commanders feel about their impotence against the Qassams and the daring Palestinian guerilla raid. There's a huge gap between the army unleashing its frustration and a clever and legitimate operation to free the kidnapped soldier.

To prevent the army from running as amok as it would like, a strong and judicious political echelon is required. But facing off against the frustrated army is Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz's tyro regime, weak and happless. Until the current lull, it appeared that each step proposed by the army and Shin Bet had been immediately approved for backing. That does not bode well, not only for the chances of freeing Shalit, but also for the future management of the government, which is being revealed to be as weak as the Hamas government.

The only wise and restrained voice heard so far was that of the soldier's father, Noam Shalit, of all people. That noble man called at what is clearly his most difficult hour, not for stridency and not for further damage done to the lives of soldiers and innocent Palestinians. Against the background of the IDF's unrestrained actions and the arrogant bragging of the latest macho spokesmen, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant of the Southern Command and Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, Shalit's father's voice stood out like a voice crying in the wilderness.

Sending tens of thousands of miserable inhabitants running from their homes, dozens of kilometers from where his son is supposedly hidden, and cutting off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of others, is certainly not what he meant in his understated emotional pleas. It's a shame nobody is listening to him, of all people.

Collective punishment is illegitimate and it does not have a smidgeon of intelligence. Where will the inhabitants of Beit Hanun run? With typical hardheartedness the military reporters say they were not "expelled" but that it was "recommended" they leave, for the benefit, of course, of those running for their lives. And what will this inhumane step lead to? Support for the Israeli government? Their enlistment as informants and collaborators for the Shin Bet? Can the miserable farmers of Beit Hanun and Beit Lahia do anything about the Qassam rocket-launching cells? Will bombing an already destroyed airport do anything to free the soldier or was it just to decorate the headlines?

Did anyone think about what would have happened if Syrian planes had managed to down one of the Israeli planes that brazenly buzzed their president's palace? Would Israel have declared war on Syria? Another "legitimate war"? Will the blackout of Gaza bring down the Hamas government or cause the population to rally around it? And even if the Hamas government falls, as Washington wants, what will happen on the day after? These are questions for which nobody has any real answers.