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Mideast Israel PalestiniansBy William R Collier Jr

Details regarding the actual fighting in Gaza are sketchy, but we have cautioned that Hamas wants the IDF to enter into a close order battle with them in the streets of Gaza where they believe they can inflict heavy damage on the Israelis. The practice of closeting fighters and weapons, including rockets, in and among civilians is meant both to generate atrocity stories and to cause the IDF to have to mix it up in close combat.

There are now reports of “heavy fire”, including anti-tank missiles, coming from within civilian areas, including hospitals and mosques, and the toll on Israel in people and equipment is mounting, possibly even more than is currently known, or available, via open press reporting.

For our part, we have not been able to connect with anyone in Gaza, as we have before, about conditions on the ground there. It is possible that communications to and from the area have been disrupted by the IDF. Over 250 more rockets have been fired into Israel in the past 24 hours, resulting in public support for an overwhelming response to Hamas.

IDF officers continue to accuse Prime Minister Netanyahu of being indecisive, or not using overwhelming force to quickly dispatch their enemy.

Meanwhile, on the Arab side, there is growing criticism of Arab governments for not taking a more stance against Israel and both Jordan and Egypt face pressure to sever ties with Israel over Israel’s incursion into Gaza and the loss of civilian life. Some of the Arab hawks are feeling left in the lurch by their own leaders and desire to see Israel punished once and for all. On the other hand, there is growing sentiment that Hamas itself is the problem- using people as human shields and their intransigence in negotiations are frustrating many.

Hamas for its part has now offered a case fire if Israel agrees to supply all of Gaza with free electricity, a non-starter that observers note “they surely know is not realistic under the circumstances.”

So far the operations seems to be in slow motion, the IDF have failed to totally isolate the populations centers from one another, they do not occupy from the sea back to Gaza’s eastern land border with Israel, and they are entering piecemeal into the major cities, contrary to plans.  The “limited goal” of destroying tunnels is also not much appreciated- the main threat has been coming from rockets, not the tunnels, and many believe that this is inadequate..