Israel is calliing its new assault on Gaza operation “Pillar of Defense”, as more than 20 airstrikes killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari and several civilians – including a one year old baby and a seven year old boy as well as injuring at least a score. The IDF has issued draft orders for Israeli Homefront Command reserve soldiers and signalled its readiness to deploy ground troops (via Twitter!).
The recieved wisdom in Israel right now is that signalling readiness for a ground invasion is just what the IDF always does after conducting airstrikes, and that another Cast Lead is survivable by Hamas while the current Israeli government has to know its chances are slim in coming elections if it does start a ground war. If the press chatter changes, though…and Ehud Barak says the air attacks won’t stop soon.
In the West, while Britain has called for “restraint to prevent a dangerous escalation that would be in no one’s interests”, the US has got Israel’s back, as usual: “We’re monitoring the situation closely. We stand by our Israeli partners in their right to defend themselves against terrorism,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Warren told reporters. So much for hoping for nuance from the States.
The possible wildcard is Egypt, where the Islamist Freedom and Justice Party, formerly headed by President Mohammed Mursi, said on Wednesday Egypt would no longer stand by as Israel attacked Palestinians. That could make life interesting.
Update: the IDF are getting their testosterone shots, obviously:
We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
Update 2: The UK Independent’s editorial nails it:
At a time when instability, or potential instability, afflicts almost all its borders, from Sinai in the south to Golan in the north, one might have thought that the last thing Israel needed was any action likely to fan the flames further.
But this will surely be the effect of its decision to kill the head of the military wing of Hamas in Gaza. Israel’s intelligence agency Shin Bet warned that this was just the start of a campaign against “those who promote terrorism against Israel”. There were even warnings yesterday that this may include a ground invasion of Gaza.
…to authorise the sort of pre-emptive action for which Shin Bet openly took responsibility yesterday is dangerous to the point of irresponsibility.