A fork in the road to Gaza


A fork in the road to Gaza

After five full days of fighting, commentators aren’t sure whether a ceasefire or ground invasion is on the horizon

 July 13, 2014, 

Israeli soldiers drive an armored personnel carrier to a position near the Israel Gaza border, Thursday, July 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

And on the sixth day of Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli media saw that not all that much had changed from the previous days, and lo, all the ministering commentators, analysts, reporters and editors continued to highlight the steady rocket fire on Israel and the possibly impending ground invasion, while throwing the possibility of a ceasefire into the mix for the first time.

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All three major Hebrew papers run front page headlines to that effect, with varying degrees of certainty over a possible ground incursion into Gaza or ceasefire.

What everyone can agree on is that until a ceasefire is signed, Gaza will continue to undergo heavier and heavier poundings.

“Exploding and making plans,” reads the main headline of Israel Hayom, over a photograph of Iron Dome missiles being sent over Tel Aviv to intercept some rockets. “Shooting and putting out feelers,” reads the op-ed laden front page of Yedioth, though it’s not clear whether the feelers are for a ceasefire or a ground operation. “Heavy fire on Israel; IDF plans to clear out Gaza neighborhoods,” reads Haaretz’s top headline, which correctly predicts Israel’s call for Beit Lahiyans to get out of dodge.

However, the paper reports that the creation of “ghost neighborhoods” is not to allow troops to run roughshod into Gaza without worrying about civilians, but rather to allow the air force to expand air operations.

The paper’s Amos Harel writes that despite all the chatter over an invasion, troops aren’t exactly rushing to Gaza, and Jerusalem is instead waiting for diplomats to parachute in and broker a ceasefire, as they always do at this point. “The images of destruction and casualties broadcast from Gaza over the weekend have spurred growing international interest in the conflict. Israel hopes these images will eventually convince Hamas that it has already paid too high a price without making any gains. Meanwhile, the images are leading the international community to shorten the rope it is giving Israel for a military operation.”

In Yedioth, Yossi Yehoshua writes that for any ceasefire to work, and not lead to fighting again in a couple of years, or shorter, the IDF will either need Hamas to stop building medium- to long-range rockets, or have permission to strike its industrial complex at will, neither of which Hamas is likely to agree to.

The paper’s military analyst Alex Fishman seems to vacillate back and forth between ground invasion and ceasefire, writing that with troops amassing at the border, the military and political brass need to make a move or get off the can, in not so many words.

Still, he writes, “The weekend saw the first ray of a light at the end of the tunnel – when yesterday morning Hamas gave the first positive signal to Egypt’s ceasefire proposal. Israel in the meantime isn’t drawing down its drive forward, and its war plans are going to roll.”

Israel Hayom accompanies a picture of obliterated areas of Gaza with a column by Yoav Limor in which he notes that the messages to Gazans to clear out are met both as a safety mechanism, but also to score points in the psychological battle taking place.

“The instruction for residents of certain areas to leave their homes so they won’t be hurt in attacks is meant to protect their lives, but more than that, to put pressure on Hamas. The rationale is known already since the days of [The Second] Lebanon [War]: The population that’s evacuated puts [pressure on the regime to end the fighting], so they can return home. In Israel they are hoping that this is what will happen in Gaza, that the complaints of the Strip will reach underground to the Hamas leadership, and will cause them to call off the fire under conditions good for Israel.”

The other side of the conflict, the Israeli side taking rocket fire, also gets a good amount of color play. Yedioth writes about the gas station in Ashdod hit on Friday morning, reporting that the location, in the center of town, is usually pretty crowded and only by “a miracle,” in the words of “Ashdod,” was only one person seriously hurt, with several attendants only lightly injured.

“I escaped at the last second,” one tells the paper. “From now on I’ll always head to the shelter.”

Israel Hayom’s Sigal Arbitman writes from a rocket-targeted Tel Aviv, where the city is going along as before, albeit a bit more cautiously.

“The last weekend was a bit stormy in for Tel Aviv denizens, who like other residents of the south and center had to spent some precious moments of Shabbat in a bomb shelter. From apart from the glancing damage to my night out, which forced me to head home a but earlier than expected, Shabbat passed quietly with no dramatic changes to my plans.”

And Haaretz features the always lovable Gideon Levy, who exposes, to all our dismay, the real point of the operation in Gaza: to kill Arabs. “The Gaza Strip is not a ‘hornet’s nest,’ it is a province of human desperation. Hamas is not an army, far from it, despite all the fear tactics: If it really did build such a sophisticated network of tunnels there, as is claimed, then why doesn’t it build Tel Aviv’s light rail, already? The 1,000th sortie and 1,000th ton of explosives marks have almost been reached, and Israel is waiting for the ‘victory picture’ that has already been achieved: Death to Arabs.”

Read more: A fork in the road to Gaza | The Times of Israel www.timesofisrael.com/a-fork-in-the-road-to-gaza/#ixzz37MFl0MkG
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