Israel, on the 8th day of its air and sea strikes, launched a much-expected ground operation in the Gaza Strip. All Israeli high officials, including the Defense Minister and the Foreign Minister, stated that the operations were still in the preliminary stage. Avital Leibovich, the spokesman of the Israel Ministry of Defense, declared, “we have just started the secondary stage” when the Israeli forces impinged the land borders. In the initial phase, the operations were conducted within a considerably limited area, with a limited number of tanks and other air forces. Later on, however, it was declared that about 20,000 soldiers and hundreds of tanks had passed the borders. According to witnesses, the Israeli forces mainly targeted civilian infrastructure, destroying utility poles and water fitting tanks, rather than military objects. It is accurate that Israel was aiming to force civilians not to live in the targeted regions. On the other hand, the Israeli air forces distributed hand notes urging the Palestinians to leave the region immediately. Gaza civilians must have been surprised to receive Israel’s “leaving” messages, since Gaza is known as the world’s ’biggest high-security prison’; it is not possible to enter or exit the strip without Israel’s permission. Probably, Israel meant to say to the Palestinians, “Move deeper into Gaza. I’m destroying this first targeted region, for now you don’t have to die. I will be reaching you in the following days, wait for your fate some kilometers away.” (!)
Israeli officials continue to emphasize the long duration of the operations. Their targets are so numerous that it is not realistic to end the process soon. However, if you ask them, their main goals are to stop the “deadly” Hamas rockets and to secure the safety of the southern regions of Israel. We mentioned before that the rockets launched by Hamas refer to shabby, pathetic rockets. They are deadly if they accidentally fall on someone’s head, but other than that there is no possibility for these ‘rockets’ to kill someone or cause serious destruction. If you ask Israel, Hamas is consistently launching rocket attacks against its southern regions; however, somehow deaths resulting from these deadly attacks were limited to only a few in a small country like Israel. It would be more realistic in terms of causing damage if Hamas had thrown somewhat large stones towards Israel instead of rockets. On the contrary, Israel’s air strikes on Gaza by using Hamas as an excuse are both real and deadly, which is different from the so-called deadly rockets.
From the beginning, Israel incorporated the principle of overreaction into the core of its defense and attack strategy. Regardless of whether the aggressor is Hamas or not, Israel immediately launches its F-16s. If a Palestinian resorts to his/her gun, a tank passes over the aggressor. In addition, Israel is not considering international law while implementing these policies. It reasons that any threat to its security justifies unlimited action in response. Israel reacts to a terrorist attack by using the terrorists’ methods with heavier and more sophisticated armaments; in this way, Israel believes that it fights against terrorism. Secondly, another striking point in Israel’s strategy is to adopt collective punishment. Once ascertaining the source of the attack, it punishes the aggressors’ entire community, violating the principle of the individuality of penalty. For instance, if a 15-year-old child conducts a suicidal attack in Israel, Israeli tanks raze the assailant’s house, and the child’s family - if they are still alive- spends the night outside. If a Hamas member is in rangeof the Israeli air forces, those accompanying him must distance themselves, as Israeli forces do not consider whether their targets are with family or walking through a crowded street and have the capability to slay 15 children to kill a single militant. Israel does not provide forewarning or attempt to ensure the security of the innocent people; rather, Israeli tanks and jets enter directly into crowded civilian groups without hesitation and, like a bulldozer, devastate hospitals, mosques, and other social infrastructure, thus depriving people of their basic needs.
The second stage of the attacks in Gaza began with the same logic and continues in the same direction.
What Can Hamas Do?
It is unknown to what extent Hamas has suffered in the past 12 days. Israel frequently refers to Hamas’ arsenals; however, if there are as many armories in Gaza as is said, the Palestinians must be one of the biggest ’arms brokers’ in the world.
Actually, it is very difficult to find an easy target in a place like Gaza, since Hamas is largely integrated with the society. Moreover, in Gaza there is an overwhelming majority that detests Israel as much as Hamas.
The Hamas militants were waiting for the land operation, since there were few options for recourse against Israel within the context of air operations: Hamas’ significantly inferior rockets serve as little more than fireworks. Of course, if they had more powerful rockets at their disposal, they would have been able to target and destroy airplanes. But, lacking such weapons, they wanted to encounter Israeli soldiers face to face as soon as possible. Hamas militants believe they will be able to kill every Israeli soldier even if the conflict takes weeks. They aim to exhaust Israel, which they believe will be easily influenced and fold under the pressure of the international community in the long term. For this reason, they are constantly releasing threatening statements such as “We will fight up until our last breath, Gaza will be a graveyard for Israel.” Haled Mashal has said, “If Israel attacks, we promise that Gaza will be flooded with blood.”
It is hard to estimate how many Hamas militants remain by looking at the threats of Hamas or the statements of Israel. The lack of basic needs, such as electricity, water, food, and medicine, rather than the air strikes, may break down Hamas’ resistance. The resistance of an armed force without logistical support would certainly falter in the end. But, on the other hand, Hamas does not have anything to lose. It can not be said that they are afraid of death, thus, it is likely that the second phase of the war will be bloodier. Surely,as the armed conflict deepens, Israel will be more leaning towards causing a massacre, and as over 100 children have already been killed, , we expect that in the coming days more children will die to ensure Israel’s security.
Israel has called for additional military forces and continues to supplement its borders with necessary logistics, for taking the war to the next level. These preparations disregard the diplomatic initiatives of countries such as France, Turkey and the United Nations, demonstrating Israel’s disrespect not only to Turkey, but the whole world. France, which maintained a diplomatic attitude towards the operations during the first days, condemned Israel after it began land operations in Gaza.
It seems that France has grown impatient and condemned Israel’s attacks on Gaza, as did Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is obvious that international pressure against Israel will continue to increase gradually, yet these pressures have not been echoed by the USA, and there seems to be no change in the American perspective. When the land operations began, the USA warned Israel only to be sensitive regarding the effects of its operation on civilians. “Far from trivial, this dire situation is humiliating for the people of Gaza.” Under these ’favorable conditions’ Israel looks directly in the eye of the international community and expresses its resolve to continue its operations until it has accomplished its goal, as in Lebanon.
Translated by Ceren Mutus