were saying "The Jews have gone insane". Because Israel, this time, is doing it for real. No games, no "All right, we'll take the cease-fire and hope for the best", but going in to do the job. They thought that then...
Israel is preparing to wage war against Hamas in the very heart of Gaza's crowded population centres unless the Islamic militants accept ceasefire demands swiftly and stop firing rockets over the border.
As thousands of reservists pour into Gaza to bolster Israel's forces, the Cabinet is expected to approve imminently a devastating new “third phase” of its 18-day-old offensive unless there is a last-minute diplomatic breakthrough.
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, pledged yesterday to hit Hamas with an “iron fist” if the rockets did not cease.
“We will continue for as much time as is necessary in order to remove this threat,” he declared in a speech in Ashkelon, a town regularly hit by rockets. “We cannot be soft. It is us or them ... We will continue striking with all our might, with all our power, until there is quiet.”
Yeah, I think they mean it.
Israeli analysts say a ground war fought in the narrow streets and alleys of Gaza City and other urban centres would make the conflict to date seem tame. “The Israel Defence Forces will enter, with great force, with tens of thousands of soldiers, into the heart of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip,” the respected commentator Alex Fishman wrote in yesterday's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.
“There will no longer be strikes at the margins from the ground and destruction from the air. Now we are talking about armoured divisions that will not leave a single stone standing on their way into the refugee camps and into the heart of one of the most crowded cities on Earth.” Israel's minimum demands for accepting an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire are a permanent cessation of Hamas rocket attacks and internationally enforced mechanisms to guarantee that Hamas can no longer smuggle in weapons through Gaza's southern border with Egypt. Hamas wants an end to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip with the opening of its border crossings.
The Israelis have no doubts about what this will be like: one of David Drake's characters observed that 'urban combat eats troops'. However, you reduce your losses by doing exactly what they're describing: you take fire from a building, you flatten it. Someone fires a mortar at you, you counter-battery it. Bloody, nasty, and the only thing that just might do the job.
And Hamas, unless some people with smarts gain control, will keep shooting rockets and mortars from mosques and schoolyards so they'll have more bodies to whine over on camera. What's the UN doing?
...The UN Human Rights Council yesterday voted 33-1 — with 13 Western countries abstaining — for a resolution accusing Israel of grave human rights violations and urging a fact-finding mission.
OOOOH, a fact-finding mission! That'll make Hamas & Islamic Jihad quake in their sandals, won't it?