The Government of the state of Israel has declared in the clearest possible manner that the purpose of the ground incursion which began last night and continues today, is first of all to deal with the “ homicide tunnels” which the Terrorist Army Hamas, has burrowed beneath the borders of, and well into the pre 1967 territory of the state of Israel. The only people who could possibly think of this area as being “ occupied territory” are the same ones who think of Tel Aviv as “ Occupied territory” , or for that matter any square inch of land in this part of the world ,where Israel has the effrontery to declare it’s sovereignty under international law.
In other words, contrary to the perception of some, that the core reason behind this conflict is Israel’s occupation of lands conquered in the defensive war of 1967, Hamas could not, and does not, give a tinker’s damn about “ Occupied territory” . This is so because Hamas regards ANY territory on which there is a sovereignJewish state as, “ Occupied territory”.
Moreover, Hamas believes that any such Jewish state has no right to exist.
Indeed, Hamas believes it is duty bound, by both religious and political ideology, to destroy such a state, on its road to establishing the kind of Caliphate which ISIS is in the process of making a reality. According to both of their ideologies and religious beliefs, everything from the Persian Gulf to Spain, is, by virtue of once having been ruled by Moslems , “ Occupied territory”, which they mean to liberate, by any means possible.
Starting with Israel, of course.
Jews are, and seem always to have been the canaries in the mine. Europe may have thought Hitler would content himself with murdering Jews. To their sorrow they found out otherwise. Churchill referred to such thinking as the vain hope of being the last in the room to be eaten by the tiger
This brings us to the matter of the homicide tunnels. I refer to them as such, because that is exactly what they are. These are not smuggling tunnels meant for the underground transport of drugs, money, prostitutes BMWs , narcotics, weapons or cash, as is the case with many of the other underground smuggling tunnels which Hamas has constructed, taxed, and were their main source of illicit income.
Homicide tunnels are something else indeed. They are meant for one purpose only; to allow terrorists to move undetected into, preferably, civilian territory. Those same terrorists, having thus evaded look out posts, aerial and /or electronic surveillance, then quite literally pop up from the earth, like zombies arising out of their crypts in order to kill, maim and capture as many soldiers, or hopefully, innocent civilians, as humanly possible. That is, after all, why they call them terrorists.
They are not militants. Betty Friedan could have been described as a militant feminist. Malcolm X could have been described as a militant civil rights activist. I have a dear friend proudly describes himself as a militant LGBT activist. There’s nothing wrong with advocating militantly for one’s point of view.
Hamas aren’t militants. They’re terrorists. Worse than that, they are a terrorist army.
They want quite literally to spread terror and they want to spread that terror, primarily amongst civilians, because soldiers have weapons, with which they tend to shoot back, be it at fictitious zombies on The Walking Dead, or real life terrorists , who literally pop up out of the ground in order to try to kill, maim and capture as many of their victims as possible.,
And that is precisely what happened yesterday.
A group of highly trained, indeed, elite terrorists, popped up out of the earth, well inside Israeli territory, armed with a dozen anti tank weapons, machine guns, grenades and thousands upon thousands of rounds of ammunition. The slaughter they could, and would have inflicted, would have been on a scale unheard of in the State of Israel. It would have been Hamas's shock and awe. Their Divine Victory. .
Instead they were detected by the all female surveillance unit , and intercepted and neutralized by Israeli ground and aerial forces.
It was Israel’s worst nightmare scenario and Hamas’s greatest wet dream. And we foiled it. But it was precisely because not only could it have succeeded, but because of the fact that there are as many as dozens of other such tunnels and terrorist units waiting to use them that, what some have described as the overly cautious government of Israel, finally, in the face of ceaseless provocation, and the prospect of more homicide tunnel operations, finally okayed what it had sought so long to avoid; a ground war.
To those who poo poo the notion that destroying the tunnels are what this incursion is all about is first of all dealing with the immediate threat of these terrorist tunnels, may I with the greatest possible respect, suggest that you cannot differentiate between one particular orifice and a hole in the ground.
I’ve seen these tunnels up close and personal. I don’t have nightmares about many things in life , but I still have night mares about them.
In 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, Israel was forced by Hamas into a ground incursion, just as it has been today, though then the purpose was somewhat different. In 2009 Hamas actually believed it could win. 2009 was their offensive. At that time their notion of an offensive was based around the thought of taking a year to prepare the battlefield on your territory, fill it with booby traps, ambushes, I.E.D’s …and homicide tunnels. Then suck the Israeli army into coming onto your turf, which you’ve prepared for a year and grinding them up like sausage. And truth be told, it was actually a very good plan.
I went into Al Atatra with our airborne troops, arranging a briefing in the field by the Paratroop Brigade Commander, whom we’ll just call Colonel H. Between a third to a half of the houses in Al Atatra were not just booby trapped, but, as Colonel H explained, they were riddled with Homicide tunnels.
The plan was to allow the Paratroopers to enter the village and then draw fire from the booby trapped houses. The terrorists in those houses would then withdraw into hiding places. Because Israel’s rules of engagement demanded that you couldn’t just order artillery or tanks to flatten any house from which gunfire was directed against your troops, the foot soldiers, literally had to go into the houses and clear them room by room. The terrorists would wait until the initial group entered the house and then detonate a massive I.E.D. behind them, thereby killing and wounding them but also cutting them off from the rest of their platoon. Hamas terrorists would then pop up from a tunnel whose opening was beneath a rug, let’s say, in the house, or a cabinet. They would pop up and grab the killed and wounded, , drag them down into the homicide tunnels, and within five minutes they would have whisked them out of the village. The goal was to have literally hundreds of Gilad Shallits( the soldier they had kidnapped with a similar tunnel).
Happily, and by the grace of a merciful god we found the map which showed every tunnel they had dug and booby trap they had prepared, and we foiled their battle plan and dealt them a very deep set back indeed.
Now however they have evolved their battle plan. The idea now is not just to draw soldiers into their prepared territory, but to PENETRATE ISRAELI CIVILIAN territory, to kill and maim and capture, not just soldiers, but preferably civilians, preferably the kind of kids they kidnapped and murdered only a few short weeks ago on their way home from school.
That is what we are up against. And when the government of Israel realized just how close it had come to the worst civilian slaughter in our history, it did the only responsible thing it could have done. It ordered the military in to find and destroy the homicide tunnels and the terrorists who would use them against us.Ground wars have a way of evolving and the old saying is that the first casualty of war is the battle plan. So no one can say with certainty where this all will lead. But Israel has clearly articulated it’s objectives.; to find and destroy the homicide tunnels and those who would use them against our civilians.
War is a horrible and messy business. i don’t care how strict your rules of engagement are, how accurate your fire or how good your soldiers . Stuff happens in war. In 1978 I ,and several members of my platoon, were almost killed in a live fire training exercise when our own artillery fouled up its co ordinates and began shelling us. And that was a training exercise! Innocent people are killed in wars sometimes by intent, some times by mistake.
Israel regards the death of every innocent civilian, Palestinian or Israeli as a tragedy.
Hamas regards the death of any innocent civilian, Palestinian or Israeli as a triumph.
For Hamas, it’s either a dead Zionist enemy, or a dead martyr to prove its victimhood.
But ask yourself this. Who bares the responsibility for the innocent people , Palestinian and Israeli , who will surely die in this useless conflict? The party that accepted the ceasefire unconditionally? Or the party who destroyed what could have been the start of a new cycle of peace, with a new cycle of death, destruction….and homicide tunnels?
Dan Gordon is a writer in Los Angeles and a Captain IDF ( Res).