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Israeli Conquest of Gaza Looms as IDF Told to Prepare to “Conquer” Gaza

Israeli Conquest of Gaza Looms as IDF Told to Prepare to “Conquer” Gaza

Israeli Conquest of Gaza Looms as IDF Told to Prepare to “Conquer” Gaza
July 19
14:16 2018

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Israel’s government has instructed the country’s military to prepare for a major military offensive against the Gaza Strip if the launching of “incendiary kites and balloons” over the Gaza-Israel border is not stopped by this Friday. If those objects continue to cross the border, Israel may decide it has “no choice” but to embark on a military campaign intended to “conquer all of Gaza,” according to a report that aired on Israel’s Channel 10 News on Tuesday and was cited by the Times of Israel.

Israel has claimed that the burning kites and balloons have caused significant damage to nearby farmland and are equivalent to “arson attacks.” Palestinians, however, consider them a form of legitimate resistance to the blockade of the Strip – now in its 11th year – which has crippled the population economically and resulted in chronic shortages of electricity, fuel, and other basic necessities. The dire situation in Gaza is widely believed to be nearing a dangerous climax, with the vast majority of Gazan drinking water being nonpotable and the UN warning that the entire strip will be uninhabitable in less than two years.

The Channel 10 News report asserted that Israel had delivered its ultimatum to Hamas, which has been democratically elected to govern the Strip since 2007, through Egyptian intelligence officials. Hamas then told those officials that they would work to stop the launching of all burning materials over the border by this Friday in a bid to prevent another war. The report claimed that 60 percent of Hamas positions along the Strip’s border were currently being focused on stopping the launches and that all of its border positions would join those efforts by Friday.

However, Palestinian sources cited by the report claimed that Hamas would only be successful in those efforts were the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza to be relieved in some way, such as the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. That crossing has been closed for over 24 hours owing to “technical issues” on the Egyptian side of the border and is expected to reopen sometime Wednesday.

However, the humanitarian situation in Gaza was recently exacerbated by the announcement that Israel would restrict all fuel deliveries to Gaza over the next week and would also tighten its naval blockade off the Gazan coast from six to three nautical miles, a move targeting Gazan fishermen.

Speculation that a major military offensive with Gaza is imminent, regardless of whether the “kites and balloons” are stopped, has grown in recent days, particularly after a major Israel Defense Forces (IDF) drill that began on Sunday. That drill, involving the IDF’s 162nd Armored Division, simulated a war with the Gaza Strip and the capture of Gaza City. While the IDF has since asserted that the drill had been planned in advance, the Times of Israel noted that the way in which the drill was publicized was meant as a “tacit threat to Hamas.”

 

Netanyahu fans flames

An Israeli airstrike hits a government building in Gaza City, July 14, 2018. The Israeli military carried out its largest campaign of airstrikes in Gaza since it's 2014 assault on the strip. Khalil Hamra | AP

An Israeli airstrike hits a building in Gaza City, July 14, 2018, during its largest campaign of airstrikes in Gaza since its 2014 assault on the strip. Khalil Hamra | AP

When visiting the IDF’s Gaza Division on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu only fanned the flames of such speculation after he stated that Israel was already in a “military campaign” against the Strip — adding that “the Israel Defense Forces is [sic] prepared for any scenario.” When asked if his government was working to prevent a military conflict on the Strip, Netanyahu did not comment but instead defended recent government actions, such as the suspension of fuel deliveries to Gaza and the tightening of the naval blockade. “I believe that we are doing the right things. It would be worthwhile to pay attention not only to what we are saying, but to what we are doing,” he told reporters.

In addition to the drill, Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, which have occurred intermittently throughout the year, have drastically increased recently, with Israel’s most intense bombing of the Strip since 2014 taking place this past weekend. Those airstrikes killed two Palestinian teenagers and injured scores more. Hamas retaliated by launching rockets and mortars into Israel, one of which wounded four Israelis in Sderot.

Furthermore, recent reports from earlier this year have cast the probability of another war between Israel and Gaza as highly likely. For instance, one report published in February quoted Hamas officials as stating that the likelihood of a war with Israel in 2018 stood “at 95 percent.” The high probability of a conflict was also mentioned in February by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, who stated that another Israeli invasion of Gaza was “likely” to occur this year.

Since then, the probability of a conflict has only risen, following Israel’s brutal repression of the Great Return March in Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of more than a hundred unarmed Palestinian demonstrators and wounded over 6,000. That unrest led an Israeli government minister to assert that there are no “innocent people” in Gaza, despite the Strip being home to a million adolescents and children, and another to claim that the only way for the Gaza border to be “completely quiet” would be for Israel “to conquer the Strip.” Given recent events, another major war between Israel and Gaza seems a matter not of if, but when.

Top Photo | Israeli girls write messages on bombs at a heavy artillery position near Kiryat Shmona, in northern Israel. Sebastian Scheiner | AP

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

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Alexander Ionov

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