First Update: Indications are that the Netanyahu cabinet has made a determination to "go all the way" against the terrorist infestation of Gaza. In my experience "go all the way" means total war, and total war in Gaza means unrestrained war above, on the ground and below ground level. The IDF has received authorization from the political echelon to use any and all means at their disposal. Therein lies the IDF call-up of an additional 40,000 troops. Such a call up of reserves all but guarantees an all-out IDF invasion and conquest of Gaza. In this rapidly escalating war it seems to me that Abu Mazen (PA President Mahmoud Abbas) had better keep a very, very low profile lest a HAMAS or other Islamist assassin terminate his opposition to this Islamic jihad against Israel.
Second Update: Quoting Uzi Landau (of the Israel Beytenu party" statement to the Israeli paper Yedioth Aharonoth today: "If we enter Gaza it won't be a matter of a day or two, but rather with the goal of completing the job, so that there won't be a terror infrastructure."
Third Update: HAMAS is now firing longer range rockets at Tel Aviv. The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted and destroyed the first rocket shortly after a Code Red siren began wailing in Tel Aviv. The puff of smoke high in the center of the image above is the actual intercept and destruction of the HAMAS rocket over Tel Aviv.
Fourth Update: HAMAS is not content to lob missiles and mortars at Israel. A little over two hours ago a five-man squad of very heavily armed HAMAS terrorists apparently skimmed along the Mediterranean Sea coastline to come ashore with a plan to attack kibbutz Zikim located just north of the border. What the terrorists did not plan on was having their movement by sea detected by Israeli naval forces. The INS promptly alerted their ground pounding IDF counter-parts ashore. The terrorists then ran smack dab into a well-prepared unit of the IDFs Givati Brigade which ambushed them in a firefight on a well-prepared battlefield, quickly dispatching all three terrorists to their eternity. Naval and heliborne troops also rained fire upon the infiltrators. There are reports of other infiltrating terrorists in southern Israel. The IDF is hunting them down.
Central and even northern Israel, between Jerusalem, Holon and Tel Aviv and north to Binyamina has now come under a massive barrage of HAMAS rocket fire; Code Red sirens can be heard in several community's across this region, with several explosions being heard in Jerusalem. Iron Dome shot down one rocket over the city of Holon; a second rocket was also shot down over Tel Aviv this evening. Day two dead ahead. Remember Israel is +7 hours ahead of US EDT/+10 hours PDT.
Day Two OPE: HAMAS has continued to fire what may well be their longest-range but highly inaccurate rockets into the region just south of Haifa in northern Israel. These rockets have impacted into the Carmel and Zikhron Ya'akov areas. The IDF reports that just under 80 rockets were fired into Israel today prior to sunset.
As expected PA President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has begun to accuse Israel of "genocide" against "entire families of Palestinians in Gaza." So-called Arab-Israeli's in the Knesset (Israel's Parliament), not to be outdone by their boss, have taken to the floor of that assembly to denounce IDF troops as "murderers." This kind of rhetoric is intended create a second front of unrestrained Islamic warfare against Israel in Judea and Samaria. It won't be long before street protests in Nazareth and other locales morph into firefights.
Final Update OPE Day Two: This may be a very unpopular final update for me to write. However, these words without question and most accurately will sum up the current situation. The State of Israel has brought this increasingly violent war upon itself because it has allowed HAMAS to not only survive, but to thrive and grow in the formerly conquered Gaza enclave unilaterally and unconditionally provided to it by the State of Israel in 2005. What nation in their right mind provides energy, fuel and sustenance to their existential enemies who then use those expensive resources to murder its citizens and attack its infrastructure? What kind people allow their government to behave in such a suicidal manner during a war? I find myself utterly disgusted by the current government of the State of Israel, but I pray earnestly for its people being held hostage in their own homes by an incompetent foreign policy. Come to think of it, I feel the same way about the current American government and what it is doing in my homeland.
Perhaps if HAMAS, specifically their Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigade, succeeds in striking Israel's nuclear complex at Dimona the government of Israel will receive its long overdue wake up call. HAMAS has now made at least seven attempts to strike the Dimona nuclear complex with unguided rockets, and has failed every time. Only three of the now seven M-75 (a/k/a the Iranian-made Fajr-5) rockets fired at dimona actually had a trajectory which the Iron Dome system deemed to be a genuine threat and that missile was promptly intercepted and destroyed.
OPE Day Three: There is no way Israel can end the rain of missiles that HAMAS is firing upon virtually all of Israel without the introduction of some very heavy IDF mechanized boots on the ground. Israel's navy and air force are just as incapable of completely stopping this type of warfare as the US was against Saddam Hussein's missiles at the start of OIF eleven years ago. I firmly believe that IDF infantry will have to become experts in tunnel rat warfare, and they will have to employ state-of-the-art ground penetrating radar in order to locate all of the hidden stores of war materiel within the maze that exists throughout Gaza. This will be a very dirty and bloody affair to be sure, especially seeing how HAMAS and the other terrorist groups have taken to the widespread use of human shields to ward of Israel air strikes on high value targets. The IDF's use of ground penetrating "bunker busters" will also likely become a key feature in this war.
First Update OPE Day Three: The government of Israel has issued a warning order to all 100,000 residents of Gaza city suburbs Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun, and the Khan Younis suburbs of Abasan al-Kabera and Abasan al-Saghira to relocate to areas along the coastline as the minimum effort necessary to avoid the impending ground combat phase of OPE. This warning order indicates that the IDF intends to invade and gain control of all parts of Gaza with the exception of Rafah on the Egyptian border.
The military element of Fatah has become a combatant in the Islamist rocket assault upon Israel, which includes HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Al-Quds Mujaedeen Shura Council (AQMSC) and the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS). The AQMSC and Islamic State are now virtually the same organization since the AQMSC pledged allegiance to ISIS this past spring. With this grouping are several more AQ-aligned salafist terror groups who are active in the Sinai.