World View: Hamas Troop Numbers Grow as Israeli Ground Offensive Widens

World View: Hamas Troop Numbers Grow as Israeli Ground Offensive Widens

This morning’s key headlines from

  • 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 werekilled on Sunday, as Israel substantially widened and intensified theground invasion of Gaza. The ground invasion has become a war overthe major Hamas strategic assets: The network of dozens or perhapshundreds of miles of underground tunnels criss-crossing Gaza,containing weapons storage, launching pads, and bunkers for commandand control. 

When the ground invasion began, thefocus was on tunnels at the border between Gaza and Israel, used byterrorists to invade Israel to kill or abduct Israeli citizens. Butnow the attack has moved into the heart of Gaza where Hamas has placedthe most important strategic tunnels purposely in densely populatedareas, so that striking at the tunnels is impossible without killingdozens or even hundreds of Palestinian civilians. Israel’s primeminister Benjamin Netanyahu is saying that this situation is necessarybecause 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 militaryoperation will continue as long as required, but pro-Palestinian elements of the international community are calling for immediate cessation ofhostilities. 

There’s increasingly a question of what Israel’s objectives are. It’sbecoming apparent that it would take at least several weeks (ormonths) 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 ifthey 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 objectiveis to inflict as much pain on Gaza as possible, in order todiscourage rocket attacks. Under this theory, Palestiniansare being “punished” for no other purpose but to buy a coupleof years’ time until the next war and the next “onslaught.” 

In the meantime, militia factions in Gaza are increasing theirmilitary capabilities. Since the last war in 2012, the capacities ofthese militias have been enhanced through training exercises,following military training programs and curricula, including thedevelopment of special or commando forces. 

Troop numbers have increased considerably. Hamas’s military wing, theEzz Al-Din Qassam Brigades, can be regarded as a “standing army” ofsome 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 Movement.
  • 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 capabilitiesof 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 wasable 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 wasa golden era for the resistance’s arms. These basically consist ofRussian weapons that come from Iran or elsewhere, or even from thefree market that exists on both sides of the borders. Althoughthe borders are now tightly controlled, arms are abundant. Theclosure of the tunnels slowed the flow of arms but did not stop itentirely. The promise of money makes smugglers very resourcefulin finding new means to smuggle merchandise.

We were certain that the situation in Egypt after the revolutionwould not last and that the Muslim Brotherhood would not remain inpower for a single year let alone a single term. We were certainof this and we knew that we had to take as full advantage of thatperiod as possible in order to secure arms andammunition.

What should be increasingly clear to everyone is that the hope forsome sort of “permanent peace” is absurd. As I wrote for the first time in 2003, Generational Dynamics predictsthat there would be no peace between Arabs and Jews, and that theywould be re-fighting the genocidal war between Arabs and Jews thatfollowed the 1947 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of thestate of Israel. When I wrote that in 2003, there were two groups ofcritics: the kind critics who called me “alarmist,” and the unkindcritics who called me “psychopathic.” However, I doubt that either ofthose two groups of critics would doubt today that those predictionswere correct. That war is coming, and the outcome will almostcertainly 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 gripon the northern Iraq city of Mosul in the last few days, first byevicting hundreds of Christian families and then by preparing toevict 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 alltheir belongings and are permitted to keep only the clothes on theirbacks. Following the eviction of Christians, ISIS is giving Kurdsonly a few days to leave the city. 

Muslims in both Mosul and Baghdad are expressing sympathy for theevicted Christians and promising solidarity and aid. This comes as anew spate of suicide bombings struck Baghdad on Saturday. ISIS hasclaimed responsibility for the bombings and claims that one of thetwo 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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