I don’t put much faith in this article in the Sunday Times, nonetheless, here it is:
Israel plans attack on Gaza
ISRAEL’s new defence minister Ehud Barak is planning an attack on Gaza within weeks to crush the Hamas militants who have seized power there.
According to senior Israeli military sources, the plan calls for 20,000 troops to destroy much of Hamas’s military capability in days.
The raid would be triggered by Hamas rocket attacks against Israel or a resumption of suicide bombings.
Barak, who is expected to become defence minister tomorrow, has already demanded detailed plans to deploy two armoured divisions and an infantry division, accompanied by assault drones and F-16 jets, against Hamas.
The Israeli forces would expect to be confronted by about 12,000 Hamas fighters with arms confiscated from the Fatah faction that they defeated in last week’s three-day civil war in Gaza.
Details of the plan emerged as Fatah forces in the West Bank stormed Hamas-run buildings, including the parliament in Ramallah, where they tried to seize the deputy speaker.
Israeli officials believe their forces would face even tougher resistance in Gaza than they encountered during last summer’s war against Hezbollah in south Lebanon.
A source close to Barak said that Israel could not tolerate an aggressive “Hamastan” on its border and an attack seemed unavoidable.
“The question is not if but how and when,” he said.
How exactly the IDF proposes to indentify and either kill or capture 12’000 Hamas fighters in the midst of 1,4 million people crammed into 130 square miles (that’s a density of about 10,500 people per square mile) is unclear to me. Also – using two armored divisions in this highly urban environment just seems unlikely to me (unless just manpower, light armor and a few tanks only are drawn from these divisions).
The part about “expecting tougher than Hezbollah” is clearly nonesense. In 33 days the Israelis could not take Beit Jbeil, aka “Nasrallahgrad”, (for details, see this article and this one) right across the Israeli-Lebanese border (see map here). I expect the Israelis to take control of most of Gaza in less than 48 hours, at least as far as terrain is concerned. Its the Israeli objective and exit strategy which is unclear to me.
Sure, entering Gaza will provide a pious cover for the inevitable bloodbath and reprisals which will ensue and it will provide Olmert with a much needed “victory”, at least for a while. Also, it will allow the Israelis to test yet again one their favorite theories that “the Arabs only understand violence” and, no doubt, the IDF can heap terror “Jenin-style” unpon the 1,4 million terrorized civilians currently surviving in the Gaza Gulag. So in terms of feel-good for the Israelis, an invasion of Gaza looks good.
The problem is that short of massacring all combat-age males (which in Palestine begins at age 7 and ends at death) in the Gaza Strip this will most definitely not eliminate Hamas. Not only that, but it will also further increase the hatred that so many Palestinians feel for Fatah (whose thugs will, no doubt, come in on the heels of the IDF soldiers and commit even more atrocities than their Israeli patrons).
I hope that cooler heads will prevail over that kind of folly but as long as Olmert is in power (not to mention Dubya in the White House) that kind of report will continue to worry me.