First Update - OPE Day 9: A fairly detailed article in today's edition of the Jerusalem Post confirms what I posted within SITREP C16-14 on July 11 about the IDFs inevitable ground combat operations in Gaza. This report contains information that I have been reluctant to report concerning the number and type of roadside, tunnel and entire building IEDs HAMAS has prepostioned to greet the IDF on arrival. To his credit, some of PM Netanyahu's reluctance to dispatch the boots is based upon HUMINT on this issue presented to him by the IDF. The real surprises are in store for HAMAS, PIJ, et al.
Second Update - OPE Day 9: It appears as though a major - possibly last ditch - effort is underway by various foreign governments in trying to convince HAMAS that it is in their best interests to make a serious attempt towards an immediate ceasefire. This is not so much for the benefit of the terrorists, but for the estimated 80,000 civilians that remain imminently in harms way. These are the civilians which HAMAS has cajoled or otherwise pressured into remaining in what will soon be a full-scale warzone. Israel has done and will do its utmost to preserve the sanctity of human life irregardless of the hostility they may hold for Israel. HAMAS and the rest of the Islamic jihadists have no such compelling morals as has been clearly demonstrated with their rocketry targeting civilians, both Arab and Israeli within Israel and Gaza (at least 100 of HAMAS and PIJ rockets have landed in Gaza). Israel now has about as many front line combat troops arrayed against HAMAS and PIJ in Gaza as it had on all fronts in the June 1967 Arab-Israel war. And Israel has just called up another 8,000.
The news at this time is that a "humanitarian" cease fire has reportedly been agreed to according to many OSINT reports. The cease fire, also known in Islamic, particularly in Egyptian Ikhwan conceptual terms, as a "hudna." A hudna is merely a tactical ploy that came into being via an Egyptian imam between the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israel wars. It is the means by which Muslims engaged in kinetic jihad against the infidel enemy (i.e. Israel) can 'legally' take a breather from the combat, re-arm, push their logistical efforts forward or generally take advantage of a very temporary situation after which cold-blooded murder of the Jews can continue with relish.
There is absolutely nothing "humanitarian" in the Judeo-Christian sense about an Islamic hudna, especially when it comes to the land of Israel which to Muslims is a Dar al-Harb; that is a land where incessant war must be waged until it becomes conquered and therefore Dar al-Islam, or Muslim land.
In Israeli/Hebrew terms, which in no way correlate to the Egyptian Islamic hudna concept, a cease fire is referred to as hafsakat esh, and is essentially a true cease for a given duration of time unless Israel should learn that the terrorists plan to resume their attack prior to the official end of the hudna. At that point Israel may strike first to bring the ceasefire/hafsakat esh to its conclusion. The hudna/hafsakat esh agreed to for later today is scheduled to run from 10 AM to 3 PM Israel time. Until then the war continues uninterrupted. A totally ridiculous situation in my opinion; political nonsense. War is war.
Second Update - OPE Day 10: So much for the second non-starter ceasefire. It appears to have been a very large ruse through which a dozen or more strong HAMAS commando team of would have infiltrated well into Israel and attacked. HAMAS commandos were are with RPGs, SAWs (squad automatic machine guns), explosives and assault weapons. It appears that Israel had acquired HUMINT indicating when and where the infiltration would occur. The terrorists were observed by the pre-positioned IDF troops as they began emerging from the tunnel exit inside Israel. After the majority of the terror commando team had emerged from the tunnel the IDF brought down withering fire upon them and an IAF strike destroyed the tunnel. Apparently there were no survivors as there is no report of any prisoners being taken.
A second terrorist infiltration event occurred in Israel's northern Negev Desert along a line from Ofakim, to Be'er Sheva to Dimona. Heavy IDF special forces and security responded, all major highways and roads were secured to all traffic.The 'all clear' was given about twenty minutes ago. Over in Gaza, the IDF hacked into Local TV to broadcast a message that southern Gaza residents must evacuate their homes immediately.
Third Update - OPE Day 10: The ground offensive looks very likely, but there is still a small chance that it could be cancelled, or curtailed. Almost certainly curtailed. A limited invasion. It seems that PM Netanyahu has now laid all of his cards on the table for all to see... even the enemy, and that has to be very, very encouraging for them.
What the short-sighted PM Bibi Netanyahu has just got done saying is that he'd rather not preempt Gazan participation in a coming multi-front war. A reasonable Israeli military commander would rather not have to split his military forces onto three fronts in any land war; he would opt to remove one front from any consideration if the circumstances presented themselves for him to do so. And right now Netanyahu has an ally in President el-Sissi of Egypt who would like nothing better than to see HAMAS, the Egyptian MBs heavily armed wing, completely neutralized as long as good care is taken to inflict as few civilian casualties as would be possible.
So, Bibi is scared and afraid to wield the overwhelming power he has at his fingertips. Much too scared; much to afraid. But how much more scared will he be when the time comes and Gaza, the Sinai, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Golan all become active fronts in an existential war? I believe Bibi will wish at that time that he went ahead and secured Israel's entire southern frontier when he had the chance. Thank God Bibi was not Israel's PM in 1948, 1967 and 1973!
Egypt will not likely remain an ally of Israel indefinitely if, as Bibi now plans, HAMAS is allowed to survive. HAMAS and their MB allies will return their focus on el-Sissi's Egypt for their betrayal of the Islamic cause, and then they'll come back at Israel with the Egyptian military's full arsenal. The time to kill HAMAS permanently is right now, but Netanyahu look like he's going to pass on that. Even if the IDF armor and boots go into Gaza, they will not go in with orders to annihilate HAMAS. That is bad news, really bad news.
Final Update for OPE Day 10: Yes, the imminent ground op got underway as I was focused on the Russian war crime in Donetsk, Ukraine. But that's another issue entirely.
Yes, the IDF ground op is massive, but according to PM Netanyahu (as detailed in the previous update) this mission does not have as its objective the total destruction of HAMAS, or to effect a regime change in Gaza, or otherwise revert control of Gaza back to Israel as it had been prior to 2005. The objective is to demilitarize HAMAS, the PIJ and the other armed Salafist jihadis in Gaza. The objective is to restore quiet and do so in a manner that it will take HAMAS years to reconstitute any offensive military capability for use against Israeli civilians. In sum, and at this point, the IDF has not been ordered to go in for the kill, but for a military neutering of HAMAS, et al.
Moreover, as with any and every war, no battle plan however well conceived and executed survives much past initial contact with the enemy. Case in evidence... the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. A couple weeks of rolling over an enemy that simply melted away from the battlefield resulted in almost a decade of occupational mission creep and nation building on a totally unsuitable foundation. Mission creep is as likely to plague the IDF in Gaza as it did US forces in OIF, and OEF for that matter. Secondly, this battle plan appears to assume all other Islamic jihadists in the region (such as Iran/Hezbollah/Syria or even the Islamic State) will just benignly stand by and allow the IDF to neuter the Islamic sacred bull in Gaza without so much as a peep.