Israel Gaza Invasion A Go
Pencil in another appointment with chaos in the Levant. Reports are now solid that Israel, which has blockaded Gaza since November, is set to invade Gaza. Thursday they canceled an aid truck amidst increasing mortar and rocket fire, even though a ship ignored the Israeli blockade to deliver supplies, its crew knowing they would be arrested as a result. Israel also struck at a rocket launcher, while Hamas backed militants continued to fire into Israel.
This is in the wake of the Egyptian brokered cease fire ending, and a growing perception that if Israel’s governing party wishes to win elections against rightist Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud Party, scheduled for February, that it must prove that it can strike with force. For its part Hezbollah seems unwilling to continue a cease fire without tangible benefits for its cooperation. According to Hamas this meant re-opening the Gaza, which was exactly what Turkey pressed for earlier this week.
Hezbollah has begun deploying rockets in Southern Lebanon. This means that Israel will likely face a two front war, and on one of those fronts, against an enemy that was able to inflict severe losses in their last military encounter.
As the AP report makes clear, Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel, and other factions on the ground, have all reached the point where allowing matters to unravel is seen as inevitable. The blockade was intended to pressure Hamas to make concessions in two state negotiations. However, all evidence indicates that it has merely hardened resistance. This is a far cry from Olmert’s recent interview on the peace process. Clearly, while it may have been time to say these things, it was not time to do these things.
The result is that the cycle of conflict is set to begin again, and the outcome is not clear, simply because occupation incursions against irregulars do not go the way expected. The irregulars do not need to win, merely make the regular military suffer unacceptable losses for long enough. This represents a fatal blow to the Annapolis talks and the Bush administration "road map" strategy, and sets the stage for a government in Israel that will have a mandate to bomb, and not negotiate.