Israel announced a thirty-six hour ultimatum after which the IDF will widen its offensive in Gaza should Hamas not ceases firing rockets and smuggling arms into Gaza according to IDF Radio Monday morning. The question this raises is exactly for whom is this ultimatum intended? It cannot be actually intended for Hamas as Israel is fully aware that Hamas is both unwilling and unable to end the rockets being launched into Israel. Hamas cannot itself actually capitulate as to do so would be a sign of weakness and surrender, something Hamas has sworn it will never do. Secondly, even if Hamas were to flinch and cry “Uncle,” the other terror groups who have been contesting to wrest control from Hamas would not end their firing of rockets into Israel, something Hamas has proven unable to truly control. Islamic Jihad and the Salafists head the pack of ravenous murderers who wait for the right moment to portray Hamas as weak and beaten and claim they are the true representatives of the cause and leaders over Gaza. So, even should Hamas claim they have had enough, without allowing for some Israeli assistance they are incapable of preventing other terrorists from continuing the offensive and allowing Israelis to assist in preventing such would be the end of Hamas in Gaza. Israel also has to know this, so why the thirty-six hour ultimatum?
Thus far Israel has had the support, even if at times tepid, from Europe, Canada, the United States and others outside of the Muslim world and those who they hold sway. This ultimatum is Israel’s way of notifying those who have been supporting their defensive moves but have already announced their limit of tolerance of Israeli self-defense to not include any ground offensive placing Israeli IDF troops in Gaza. This has been made eminently clear by the British, French, and European Union for starters. The United States has not drawn a line ruling out such support but has also advised against such a move. Much credit goes to Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper whose support for Israel has been unequivocal and complete. Prime Minister Harper has proven time and again to be a true and dependable friend to Israel and as such should be given great credit and kudos. It is for those who have leaned or announced that their support for Israel has limits and that Israeli defense and protection of her citizens should also be limited to certain actions that should be left by Israel to these other “wiser and more noble” deciders of what Israel is allowed to perform in defense of her people.
What, one may ask, does Israel hope to gain by making such a statement announcing when they would initiate the next phase of their plans? Certainly announcing the hour at which the IDF would presumably begin a ground assault has to be counterproductive. All of that may prove valid, but there has been a reason that this time the Israeli defensive actions have met with any approval by the usual suspects, namely European governments, the European Union, and just about anybody who has come out with a limited and cautious support for Israeli actions thus far. Perhaps this would be the time to note that the New York times, predictably, has not been among those to support any of the Israeli actions and has on their editorial pages portrayed Israeli actions as the cause of the rockets being fired on Israeli civilians rather than the truth that the rockets have been terrorizing increasing sections of the Israeli people ceaselessly since the completion of the Gaza disengagement and Hamas taking control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority by force. Meanwhile, the reason that the Israeli defensive offensive, Pillar of Defense, has achieved the levels of support which the previous Israeli actions in Gaza called Cast Lead which began in December 2008 and continued into January 2009 has been due to a careful and measured buildup leading into the Israeli actions. Israel began preparing the groundwork and her potential supporters for this action through months of petitions to the United Nations and other loud protestations about the rockets being fired over an ever increasing area of her population. As Hamas began to increase the numbers of rockets Israel increasingly made the appropriate complaints and filed the necessary complaints attempting to use every supposedly available avenue to put a stop to the rockets. Yes, of course the Israeli leadership knew that the United Nations and the rest of the world would yawn and ignore their petitions, but they went through all the appropriate and necessary meaningless steps. Israeli leaders laid the groundwork and gave the world and all its supposed peace agencies time and opportunity to do what was required. As expected, nothing was done and nobody lifted a finger or even seemed to turn an approving ear to entertain the Israeli complaints. Then Israel took the somewhat unprecedented step of inviting the Ambassadors of every country which has an Embassy or Consulate in Israel to a briefing where the Israeli plans were spelled out in plain and calm language and a final notice was basically placed before the world, stop Hamas and make the south of Israel safe allowing her citizens to live normal lives or else Israel would take it upon herself to do so. Nobody did anything and that is how Israel and the world got to this point.
Despite likely making the Israeli case for possibility of a ground assault during the meeting with the ambassadors and such, Israel still apparently had not convinced everybody that such could be a necessity. This thirty-six hour ultimatum is also for those who have stood warning Israel that she must limit the protection she affords her citizens that Israel will claim and take the same exact steps and go as far as is necessitated, just as any of her detractors would in the same situation, and such steps will be made available for use in thirty-six hours. Those who believe that telegraphing when the IDF may begin ground assaults is insane and likely compromises any possibility for Israeli success apparently have never paid close attention to how the Israelis fight their enemies. Israeli enemies use some of the most despicable tactics available by launching their attacks not at military targets but almost exclusively on unarmed citizen noncombatants. They do this while surrounding their weapons emplacements with civilians, often women and children, in order to maximize the number of civilian casualties they can parade before a world that will champion their cause and take their propaganda and amplify it to the world as a means of condemning Israel. Systematically Israel has revealed her enemies use of hospitals, schools, peoples’ homes, Mosques, and any type of presumably protected buildings under the rules of warfare as places from which to launch attacks and place and store their weapons and means of war. Despite all the proof that has been displayed depicting such actions, the world continues to denounce any Israeli efforts at self-defense as barbaric and against all that is permissible under the rules of engagement if her enemies make even the wildest and most absurd of claims.
Case in point was what is still referred to as the Jenin Massacre where claims were as high as five-thousand Palestinian civilians killed and an entire city destroyed. These claims were picked up by virtually every major news source on the planet and broadcast repeatedly for weeks. Eventually, the United Nations conducted an investigation which revealed that there were less than one-hundred-fifty Palestinian casualties and the greater part of those killed were combatants despite virtually every house in the Jenin Refugee Camp having been set as a trap with explosives and other devices and the Israelis resorting to a ground offensive to minimize collateral casualties, even at a higher risk to their own forces, rather than utilizing airpower as almost any other country would have done and simply leveling the entire camp and actually killing many innocents. Despite a United Nations report detailing the truth and vindicating the IDF of any crimes and actually lauding them for taking such extreme measures to limit casualties to combatants, the world still insists that the actions by the IDF were wholesale slaughter of innocents in Jenin.
Once again, in this defense of her citizens, thus far in the attacks under the Pillar of Defense initiative, Israel has utilized munitions with limited explosive charges in order to minimize collateral damage and casualties, targeted sorties which are called off even if it means deflecting a round already fired into an area where it does little if any damage if civilians should enter the targeted area; something often done by Hamas and the other terror entities to guard against Israeli targeting though Israel has used a measured approach where the level of threat is also included in decisions, decisions most countries would never even consider; and is now considering engaging ground forces in order to seek out the hidden underground rocket launchers and all munitions storage centers in lieu of a broadened campaign using indirect fire such as missiles, guided artillery, and guided bombs all of which would greatly increase the collateral damage caused. Opposite Israel’s detractors, the instigation of IDF ground forces is not done in order to increase the collateral damage or to endanger further the lives of the civilians living in Gaza, something that Israel has already been accused of perpetrating even before any ground forces have been implemented, but to keep the civilians even more safe than if airpower and indirect fire were utilized in place of the IDF ground troops. For a first-hand report of an inquiry of the Israeli Defense Forces actions during the past Gaza often condemned actions during Cast Lead, please take a moment and listen to the testimony by a retired officer if the British military who has commanded troops in numerous other places including Afghanistan, the Gulf War, and other combat zones, Col. Richard Kemp. This is the reason that the IDF is sent into harm’s way instead of simply bombing all suspected targets back to the Stone Age. This is also why Israel has literally announced when she may decide that the time has come to use a finer instrument to decrease collateral damage and casualties, to implement the use of IDF ground troops which are amazingly even more precise and practiced in the use of force while minimizing all forms of collateral casualties and damages. This move is all part of the Israeli military concept that they are to inflict only the amount of force and do only the amount of damage that is necessary and to otherwise leave as much as allowable undamaged while still completing their mission.
Beyond the Cusp