Sunday 21 December 2014

Tel Aviv mission is to end a war waged from below ground

Richard Spencer

Published 23/07/2014 | 02:30

Israeli soldiers ride atop an armoured personnel carrier (APC) outside the northern Gaza Strip July 22, 2014. Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives. With the conflict entering its third week, the Palestinian death toll rose to 546, including nearly 100 children and many other civilians, Gaza health officials said. Israel's casualties also mounted, with the military announcing the deaths of two more soldiers, bringing the number of army fatalities to 27 - almost three times as many as were killed in the last ground invasion of Gaza, in a 2008-2009 war. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Israeli soldiers ride atop an armoured personnel carrier (APC) outside the northern Gaza Strip. Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top US and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives. Reuters
An Israeli soldier splashes water on his face as he stands atop a tank outside the northern Gaza Strip. Reuters
A Palestinian medic gestures at Al-Aqsa hospital, which witnesses said was damaged in an Israeli shelling on Monday, in Deir El-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. Reuters
Israeli soldiers fire a mortar towards the Gaza Strip. Reuters
Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 22, 2014, as Israeli airstrikes pummeled a wide range of locations along the coastal area and diplomatic efforts intensified to end the two-week war. AP
A Palestinian gunman fires in the air during the funeral of Mahmoud al-Shawamrah in the West Bank town of Al-Ram near Jerusalem. Reuters
Palestinian protesters run from tear gas thrown by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against the Israeli military action in Gaza, near the West Bank city of Nablus. AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) gestures as he speaks during a joint news conference with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv. Reuters
Bansayan, the brother of Israeli soldier Bayhesain Kshaun, 39, who was killed on July 21, mourns during his brother's funeral in the southern town of Netivot. Reuters
Palestinians inspect Al Farouk mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. AP
Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City. AP
Palestinians walk past the ruins of a mosque, which police said was hit in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City. Reuters
An Israeli soldier rests at a field just outside Gaza. Reuters
Gas deployed by the Israeli army gushes out of a hole in a tunnel, which was used by Hamas militants in an attack on July 21, during an operation to search for tunnels dug by the Palestinian militants, just outside the Gaza Strip. Reuters
Israeli soldiers carry missiles to armoured personnel carriers (APCs) as they prepare to send more ammunition to their comrades operating in the Gaza Strip, just outside Gaza. Reuters
An Israeli Apache helicopter fires a missile towards the Gaza Strip. Reuters
Smoke is seen after an Israeli strike over the Gaza Strip. Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top US and United Nations diplomats pursued talks on halting the fighting that has claimed more than 600 lives. Reuters

WHAT is the purpose of the Israeli invasion of Gaza?

Israel originally said its missile strikes on Gaza were a response to rockets fired by Hamas into Israel as tensions grew over the killing of three teenagers from a West Bank settlement and the revenge murder of a Palestinian boy.

The aerial bombardment escalated to a ground incursion after Hamas rejected a ceasefire proposed by Egypt.

But Israel now says its prime military target is a series of tunnels built by Hamas to store weapons and to infiltrate its fighters for attacks in Israel.

Last Thursday, Israel says it foiled an attack by 13 fighters using a tunnel that stretched 800ft beyond the separation fence in the south of the territory. It then ordered in ground troops.

How extensive is this tunnel network?

The Israeli Defence Forces says it has found 13 tunnels so far, of which it has destroyed half, but that there are many more. Some are more than a mile long and are fitted with electricity and lined with concrete supporting walls.

Four have been used by Hamas for attacks on Israel since Thursday, resulting in the death of six Israeli troops.

Is this the first we have known of it?

No. In the past the tunnels into Israel, which could only be used realistically for hit-and-run attacks, were overshadowed by the strategically more important tunnels under the southern border into Egypt, used to smuggle in weapons, people and goods. Egypt's army has now destroyed more than 1,000 of these tunnels.

Does this mean Israel won't stop until it has destroyed all the tunnels? Tzipi Livni, the Israeli justice minister and chief negotiator with the Palestinians, said yesterday that there would be no ceasefire until the "tunnels project" had been finished.

Yet Israel accepted the Egypt ceasefire offer last week – suggesting either that it only formulated that objective afterwards, or that it did not know the full extent of the tunnel network beforehand. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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