Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak announced this morning that Israel will soon begin a ground assault on Hamas-occupied Gaza. “The forces are ready. Everything is prepared, there will be food for everyone, excellent equipment, trained soldiers, the reserves are being absorbed quickly and we will carry out anything that is needed to ensure the aims of the operation are achieved,” said Barak. “Of course we are not averse to the possibility that in some way Hamas will stop firing and we will have to consider our steps and make sure the operation achieves its aims.
“The continuation of the operation is a given,” Barak continued. “We will continue to operate, strike and perhaps even the amplify the operation, vis-à-vis the launch devices, vis-à-vis the activists and the other things, and if there is a need we will not hesitate to launch a ground operation …”
Reports earlier today suggested that Prime Minister Netanyahu had been pressured by President Barack Obama not to launch a ground invasion of Gaza. This morning in Thailand, President Obama stated that while America was “fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself … it would be better to prevent the rocket attacks without further escalating the conflict in Gaza.” It would be best, Obama said, if Israel could fix the problem “without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that’s preferable, not just for the people of Gaza. It’s preferable for the Israelis because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they are much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.”