Dozens of Israeli tanks slowly made their way south on the back of flatbed trucks along Israel’s Road 6 highway Sunday. Emblazoned with Stars of David and Hebrew letters, and carrying frayed Israeli flags, the movement of these tanks has left many believing that Israel will soon launch a large-scale ground operation into the Gaza Strip.
Four days into Israel’s fierce assault on Hamas in Gaza, the ongoing operation looks on the surface a remake of the Gaza War of 2008-9 – with one unanswered distinction: whether it is aimed at completing what the previous onslaught didn’t achieve – the removal of the Palestinian Islamic movement from power once and for all.
As Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip enters its second day, Palestinians fear that this is only the beginning of another widespread Israeli offensive into the besieged Palestinian territory that would leave them nowhere to hide.
Sudan has accused Israel of bombing a military arms factory, threatening retaliation after a resulting fire killed two people and injured a third.
The war that Israel launched on Gaza Dec. 27 is the seventh war of choice Israel has launched against its neighbours since 1973, the last year in which it fought a war that was forced upon it.
In carefully crafted official statements, diplomats have portrayed the European Union as something of an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet even though almost all of the people killed over the past fortnight have been Palestinians, some top-ranking leaders in the 27-country bloc have tacitly offered their support for Israel's bombing and invasion of Gaza.
"Unlike the Qana tragedy in 1996 which brought about an immediate end to the Israeli offensive in southern Lebanon, Tuesday night's Israeli shelling of the Fakhura UNWRA school will not bring about an abrupt cessation of the Israeli military campaign," says analyst Chemi Shalev in the Wednesday morning edition of Israel Today. "But it will definitely accelerate the diplomatic pressure for a ceasefire."
Recently opened in wide release in the United States, Ari Folman's new animated documentary detailing Israeli involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacre sheds new light on the Israeli side of that conflict, as well as the one unfolding today.
A confident Israel launched the second half of its war against Hamas in Gaza self-assured that it has already secured two central components of the war: the reaffirmation of its right to self-defence, and the legitimacy of its military action. The latter, Israel reckons, derives directly from the modesty, not necessarily of the scope of the operation (the most extensive against Palestinians in 40 years), but of its declared war goals.