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Operation Summer Rain: IDF Enters Gaza

In what began with the Israeli Air Force knocking out three bridges to hamper egress routes and the destruction of a Gaza power plant likely principally to hinder communications, Israel launched Operation Summer Rain overnight in the southern sector of the Gaza Strip. With bulldozers clearing they way of mines and bombs, IDF armor rolled in, taking up positions at the non-functional Gaza International Airport in the extreme southeastern corner of Gaza, just a few miles from Rafah.

Operation Summer RainHamas leader Nizar Rayan said over Palestinian radio as the incursion began, “Fight your enemies, who came to their deaths. Grab your rifles and resist.” He may have been unaware the contrast presented as the IDF had warned Palestinian forces to abandon the Gaza International Airport, which is precisely what the majority of them did. Israeli tanks and APC’s rumbled in with relative ease, though there was reports of some fire exchange.

The primary mission is clearly to find and extract Galid Shalit, the captured IDF soldier, and the apparent orders are to begin conducting house-to-house searches in the area, most likely to commence in earnest at first light. According to a report from Canada’s CTV in Jerusalem, “They’re saying that their objective now is to go into the Gaza Strip and do house to house searches if they have to in order to find the captured soldier.”

A logical secondary mission is to scour the Gaza-Israel border in the area for more tunnel entrances like the one that was used in the Palestinian attack that resulted in Shalit’s capture.

While the Israeli forces have been met with little resistance thus far, an IDF spokesman said that the operation will continue until Shalit is released. Said a Jerusalem post source, “We will stay here as long as necessary until we return with the kidnapped IDF soldier.”

Wednesday’s daylight will certainly bring increased activity and a sure spike in resistance.

Feedback

Israel, which throughout its existence has lost thousands of soldiers in wars and mass terror attacks, has lost its hold on itself in the face of the abduction of a number of soldiers or civilians. The exalted heritage of not abandoning the wounded on the battlefield makes Israel crazy. Two individuals killed in an Israel Defense Forces screw-up in the area of Kerem Shalom have been almost entirely blotted from the public mind in light of the abduction of Gilad Shalit and the discovery on Wednesday of the body of Eliyahu Asheri. Whoever ordered the abduction of the soldier and the civilian knew very well that is Israel's Achilles heel.

Israel released hundreds of prisoners in return for Elhanan Tennenbaum, and it has released security prisoners even in exchange for the bodies of IDF dead.

In the main, the fortitude of the Israeli public is pretty high. It has proved itself during years of wars and mass terror attacks; and after the initial shock, life has gone on. We have had incidents of hijackings - Air France in Entebbe and Sabena that landed in Lod, in both of which the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit captured and killed the hijackers and freed the passengers. Moshe Dayan, as chief of staff and as defense minister, held that Israel, like the United States today, does not negotiate with abductors. In its day, this principle led to the massacre at the school in Ma'alot. The entire country wept, but with time, it regretted having adhered to this principle.

A state that protects its abducted civilians and soldiers, and is prepared to pay a great deal for information regarding their fate, evinces nobility, but also weakness. What is transpiring after Shalit was abducted borders on hysterical lunacy. How could it have happened in light of the specific warnings about kidnappings? And were there really warnings? And how come they didn't know about the tunnel? And so forth. The question is: Where were all the experts before it happened? Why didn't they sound a warning?