World View: Hamas Troop Numbers Grow as Israeli Ground Offensive Widens
- Israel's war with the Gaza tunnels moves into population centers
- Growing Palestinian military capabilities raise questions of Israel's objectives
- ISIS evicts Christians and Kurds from Mosul Iraq as new bomb blasts hit Baghdad
Israel's war with the Gaza tunnels moves into population centers
Thirteen Israeli soldiers and dozens of Palestinian civilians were
killed on Sunday, as Israel substantially widened and intensified the
ground invasion of Gaza. The ground invasion has become a war over
the major Hamas strategic assets: The network of dozens or perhaps
hundreds of miles of underground tunnels criss-crossing Gaza,
containing weapons storage, launching pads, and bunkers for command
When the ground invasion began, the
focus was on tunnels at the border between Gaza and Israel, used by
terrorists to invade Israel to kill or abduct Israeli citizens. But
now the attack has moved into the heart of Gaza where Hamas has placed
the most important strategic tunnels purposely in densely populated
areas, so that striking at the tunnels is impossible without killing
dozens or even hundreds of Palestinian civilians. Israel's prime
minister Benjamin Netanyahu is saying that this situation is necessary
because Hamas is using Gaza civilians as human shields, but pro-Palestinian elements of the international community are calling the attack an Israeli onslaught on innocent Palestinian civilians, including women and children.
Jerusalem Post and Debka
Growing Palestinian military capabilities raise questions of Israel's objectives
Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the Gaza military
operation will continue as long as required, but pro-Palestinian elements of the international community are calling for immediate cessation of
There's increasingly a question of what Israel's objectives are. It's
becoming apparent that it would take at least several weeks (or
months) of aggressive military action to destroy the tunnels, killing hundreds or thousands of Palestinian civilians, but even then,
it's likely that not all the tunnels would be destroyed. And even if
they were, the tunnels could be rebuilt within a few months.
So what's Israel's objective?
The logic of the situation leads many to think that the objective
is to inflict as much pain on Gaza as possible, in order to
discourage rocket attacks. Under this theory, Palestinians
are being "punished" for no other purpose but to buy a couple
of years' time until the next war and the next "onslaught."
In the meantime, militia factions in Gaza are increasing their
military capabilities. Since the last war in 2012, the capacities of
these militias have been enhanced through training exercises,
following military training programs and curricula, including the
development of special or commando forces.
Troop numbers have increased considerably. Hamas's military wing, the
Ezz Al-Din Qassam Brigades, can be regarded as a "standing army" of
some 7,000 soldiers, with 25,000 untrained fighters able to bear arms.
Other militia groups with similar numbers include:
- The Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad
- The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades belonging to the Popular Front for
the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
- The National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)
- The Mujahideen Brigades, which broke away from Fatah, and other
smaller paramilitary groups.
At the same time, the power and sophistication of the militias'
weapons has been growing. In particular, the power and capabilities
of the rockets being launched into Israel has been growing.
Following the "Egyptian Revolution" that began on January 25,
2011, overthrowing Egypt's long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, Hamas was
able to smuggle large amounts of weapons provided by Iran into Gaza.
According to one high-level Hamas official, this was the "golden era"
of weapons smuggling:
The brigades did not waste a single second. This was
a golden era for the resistance’s arms. These basically consist of
Russian weapons that come from Iran or elsewhere, or even from the
free market that exists on both sides of the borders. Although
the borders are now tightly controlled, arms are abundant. The
closure of the tunnels slowed the flow of arms but did not stop it
entirely. The promise of money makes smugglers very resourceful
in finding new means to smuggle merchandise.
We were certain that the situation in Egypt after the revolution
would not last and that the Muslim Brotherhood would not remain in
power for a single year let alone a single term. We were certain
of this and we knew that we had to take as full advantage of that
period as possible in order to secure arms and
What should be increasingly clear to everyone is that the hope for
some sort of "permanent peace" is absurd. As I wrote for the first time in 2003, Generational Dynamics predicts
that there would be no peace between Arabs and Jews, and that they
would be re-fighting the genocidal war between Arabs and Jews that
followed the 1947 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the
state of Israel. When I wrote that in 2003, there were two groups of
critics: the kind critics who called me "alarmist," and the unkind
critics who called me "psychopathic." However, I doubt that either of
those two groups of critics would doubt today that those predictions
were correct. That war is coming, and the outcome will almost
certainly not be favorable to Israel, as I wrote last week. Times of Oman and Al-Ahram (Cairo)
ISIS evicts Christians and Kurds from Mosul Iraq as new bomb blasts hit Baghdad
The Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) tightened its grip
on the northern Iraq city of Mosul in the last few days, first by
evicting hundreds of Christian families and then by preparing to
evict Kurds as well. Christians have lived in Mosul for millennia,
but now ISIS has delivered an ultimatum to Christians: Leave the city,
pay a tax, or die. Those leaving the city are being stripped of all
their belongings and are permitted to keep only the clothes on their
backs. Following the eviction of Christians, ISIS is giving Kurds
only a few days to leave the city.
Muslims in both Mosul and Baghdad are expressing sympathy for the
evicted Christians and promising solidarity and aid. This comes as a
new spate of suicide bombings struck Baghdad on Saturday. ISIS has
claimed responsibility for the bombings and claims that one of the
two suicide bombers is a German national. Bas News (Erbil) and AFP and Today's Zaman (Ankara)
KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Israel, Gaza, Benjamin Netanyahu,
Hamas, Ezz Al-Din Qassam Brigades,
Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad Movement,
Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, PFLP,
National Resistance Brigades, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, DFLP,
Mujahideen Brigades, Fatah, Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, Iran, Muslim Brotherhood,
Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL,
Iraq, Mosul, Baghdad
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