Israel Versus Hamas 2012
Timeline of press reports edited by Andy Ross
Gaza Test For Iran Confrontation
David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker
The conflict between Hamas and
Israel was a practice run for a confrontation with Iran, featuring improved
rockets that can reach Jerusalem and new antimissile systems to counter
Iran preoccupies Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and
President Obama. A key to their war-gaming has been cutting off Iran's
ability to slip next-generation missiles into the Gaza Strip or Lebanon, for
launching by Iran's surrogates Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad.
Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael B. Oren: "In the Cuban
missile crisis, the U.S. was not confronting Cuba, but rather the Soviet
Union. In Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel was not confronting Gaza, but
The first strike in the new conflict between Hamas and Israel
arguably took place in October in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. A factory
said to be producing light arms blew up, and Sudan charged that it had been
hit by four Israeli warplanes. Israeli and American officials maintain that
Sudan has long been a prime transit point for smuggling Iranian Fajr
rockets, the kind that Hamas launched against Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The missile defense campaign that ensued over Israeli territory is the
most intense yet in real combat anywhere. It could change warfare in the
same way that air power in the Spanish Civil War shaped combat in the skies.
A conflict with Iran would look different. But in the Israeli and
American contingency planning, Israel would face three tiers of threat in a
conflict with Iran: the short-range missiles that have been lobbed in this
campaign, medium-range rockets fielded by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and
long-range missiles from Iran. The last of those three could include the
Shahab-3, the missile Israeli and American intelligence believe could
someday be fitted with a nuclear weapon.
A historic battle of missile
versus missile defense played out in the skies over Israel, with Israeli
officials saying their Iron Dome system shot down 350 incoming rockets, 88%
of all targets assigned to the missile defense interceptors.
the conflict began, Hamas was estimated to have amassed an arsenal of 10,000
to 12,000 rockets. Israeli officials say their strikes on Hamas rocket
depots severely reduced the arsenal. And most of the approximately 1,500
rockets fired by Hamas in this conflict were on trajectories toward
unpopulated areas. Iran is certain to be studying the apparent inability of
the rockets it supplied to Hamas to effectively strike targets in Israel.
Israel currently fields five Iron Dome missile defense batteries, each
costing about $50 million, and wants to more than double the number of
batteries. Replacement interceptors cost tens of thousands of dollars each.
Iron Dome counters only short-range rockets with a range up to 80 km.
Israel is developing a medium-range system called David’s Sling and has
fielded a long-range system called Arrow.
In military terms, the conflict between Israel
and Hamas is asymmetric. Israel Defence Forces used fighter jets, drones,
precision guided missiles, tanks, heavy artillery, and naval vessels to
pound the Gaza Strip, drawing on years of work by Israeli intelligence
The Hamas military wing and other militant groups have
fired an intense barrage of rockets and missiles at Israel. Both Jerusalem
and Tel Aviv have come under fire, though most of the missiles either landed
in open fields or were intercepted by Iron Dome.
National Security Studies analyst Yiftah Shapir: "This is a classic
example of asymmetric warfare. This is the type of warfare that takes place
not on the ground but on TV and computer screens all over the world. One
side is trying to show the world how miserable and how much of an underdog
they are, while not being afraid and not losing."
general Shlomo Brom: "This is the kind of encounter that cannot end with a
knockout. It ends with both sides counting the points that they have
achieved. The problem is that this is too complicated for the Israeli
public. The people want a victory and they don't understand that there are
no victories in these conflicts."
Yedioth Ahronoth columnist Sever
Plocker: "How does it happen that the mightiest and most technological army
in the Middle East is incapable of overcoming 5,000 uneducated, young
Palestinians lacking military expertise?"
Brom: "There is a tendency
in these kinds of military conflicts to prolong them for more than
necessary, and that is precisely because of this tension between public
expectations and what can be achieved. That is why most of the people who
really understand the nature of this kind of warfare argue that it is time
to finish the campaign." (November 20)
Winning Wars Will Not
Make Israel Safe
Almost everything has changed in the Mideast.
Benjamin Netanyahu has not. He lives in the shadow of a war hero brother and
a father who believed Arabs would never make peace with Jews. As long as
Hamas can be cast as terrorists, he can refuse to talk peace.
strategy has run out of road. Netanyahu is creating facts on the ground. His
settlement policy has left the West Bank resembling a Bantustan from the
apartheid era. His supporters say it will soon be impossible for Israel to
hand back the land. But Israel is running out of friends.
parallel with Iran is uncomfortable. Ayatollah Khamenei is a fellow
reactionary. He shares the view that military force is a source of security.
Tehran sees a nuclear capability as an insurance policy against outside
threats. The era of the armed reactionary is coming to a close.
The events in Gaza have transformed the fortunes of
many in the Mideast.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy deftly
navigated a minefield of competing interests. He brought Hamas to the table
and got its leadership to agree to a cease-fire. Brokering that deal has
given him political capital in both the Arab world and the United States.
Woodrow Wilson Center Mideast scholar Aaron David Miller: "For a
civilian president in Egypt perceived as a weak leader, he has, much to
everyone's surprise, delivered."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu did well too. His government targeted and killed Hamas military
leader Ahmed al-Jaabari. Hundreds of airstrikes on Gaza followed, and
Israelis were protected by Iron Dome.
Hamas took on Israel more
boldly than ever before. They may get an easing of the Gaza economic
blockade. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah
faction can no longer claim to speak for all Palestinians.
"Hamas has emerged stronger, it has consolidated its control over Gaza and
it has gained now more legitimacy. Look what they accomplished; they, rather
than Abbas, has put the Palestinian issue back on the international stage."
Iran implicitly confirms smuggling weapons to Hamas through the Egyptian
Iranian Revolutionary Guard head Mohamed Ali Jafari: "Gaza is
under siege, so we cannot help them. The Fajr-5 missiles have not been
shipped from Iran. Its technology has been transferred."
Victory For Hamas?
Benjamin Netanyahu claims Israel won and its prime
minister deserves to be re-elected: "We need to navigate this ship of a
state in stormy waters with responsibility and wisdom, that's how a
responsible government acts. We've executed a military action but also
stayed open for a diplomatic solution."
The Israeli press said the
Hamas leadership and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi won.
analyst Anshel Pfeffer says the crisis has propelled Morsi into the role of
an important regional statesman. As the ceasefire was being finalized,
President Barack Obama telephoned with Morsi many times. Even Israeli
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman thanked Morsi for his role in bringing
about a truce.
As for Hamas, their rockets rained down on Israel and
were able to hit both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. A clause in the ceasefire
agreement calls for a partial lifting of the blockade on Gaza. The Hamas
leadership didn't cave and can now pose as negotiating partners for Israel.
The Netanyahu administration may have helped a Hamas resurgence.
Netanyahu has negotiated with them while ignoring the Palestinian Authority
and its President Mahmoud Abbas.
Yedioth analyst Alex Fishman: "Hamas
has morphed from the enemy that must be brought down to the enemy that is
the lesser of two evils."
In the Gaza Strip, thousands took to the
streets to celebrate what they see as a victory.
Iran Behind Hamas
In the latest fighting in Gaza, Iran casts an
ominous shadow. The standoff between Iran and the West over Iran's nuclear
program frames Israeli tactics and strategy in Gaza and influences the
international response. When Israelis see a rocket launched from Gaza, the
thought that one day that rocket could carry a nuclear payload burns hot in
The Islamic Republic of Iran has
long armed Israel's enemies. Iran has threatened to unleash attacks against
Israel and "wipe it off the face of the Earth" in case of a hit on its
nuclear installations. Those attacks could come from Hamas and Hezbollah.
The prospect that Iran could hand them nuclear materials is more realistic
than a direct nuclear attack from Iran.
Israeli air attacks in Gaza
depleted a Hamas arsenal it sees as part of Iran's preparations in case of
war with Israel. Israeli officials say the missiles launched against
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were made in Iran, shipped in pieces to Sudan and
then moved through Egypt and into tunnels to Gaza, where they were assembled
with the help of Iranian operatives in Gaza.
In October, Israeli
fighter jets are believed to have bombed an arms factory in Sudan. The
facility is said to have made missiles for Hamas and was operated by Iranian
Revolutionary Guards. The Israeli attacks against Gaza destroyed Iran's most
dangerous weapons arrayed in Gaza, launched with increasing brazenness by
Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Hamas PM Ismail Haniya traveled to Iran
earlier this year. The Hamas charter opposes any negotiations with Israel
and declares "Israel will exist ... until Islam will obliterate it." The
charter also quotes an ancient Islamic scripture about "killing the Jews."
Israel And Northern Ireland
A ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas is
not peace. British experience in Northern Ireland can help: London persuaded
the Provisional IRA that it would never be able to shoot or bomb its way
into power and opened a political path instead.
Israel cannot bludgeon the Palestinians into
submission. Israel needs a partner for peace. The Palestinian Authority in
the West Bank wants to make peace but is weak. Hamas is strong but will not
reject violence. So Israel can work to strengthen the PA or it can work to
In the fighting, Hamas has again failed to get
results. Qatar's prime minister visited Gaza and gave financial support,
freeing Hamas from dependence on Iran and Syria. Hamas is in competition
with the PA to represent Palestinians. But Hamas is in tune with the
zeitgeist and can work
Israel can outline a fair and comprehensive settlement
and define a path for getting there. In Northern Ireland, the Provisional
IRA put down their arms, entered the political process, and reached an
agreement. Israel can persuade Hamas to do the same.
BBC, 17:31 GMT
Israel and Hamas have agreed a ceasefire, say
Egyptian and Hamas officials, to start 19:00 GMT (21:00 local time)
"Hamas blesses the attack in Tel Aviv and sees it as a natural response to
the Israeli massacres."
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri
"The bombing must go on. We defend
ourselves. We have no other choice."
Tel Aviv office worker Ron Ginat
Israel vs. Gaza
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met for more than two
hours with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She is expected to
meet later with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian
President Mohamed Morsy.
Clinton: "President Obama asked
me to come to Israel with a very clear message. America's commitment to
Israel's security is rock solid and unwavering. That is why we believe it is
essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza. The goal must be a durable
outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and
legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike."
Netanyahu: "Obviously, no country can tolerate a wanton attack on its
civilians. Now, if there is a possibility of achieving a long-term solution
to this problem through diplomatic means, we prefer that. But if not, I'm
sure you understand that Israel will have to take whatever actions necessary
to defend its people."
Netanyahu said Israel was fighting back with
"surgical operations against terrorists at a time when our own population is
being bombarded by rocket attacks."
Netanyahu: "If we hope to make
these tactics illegitimate, they should be condemned in the most forceful
terms by all responsible members of the international community. The moment
we draw symmetry between the victims of terror and the unintended casualties
that result from legitimate military action against the terrorists, the
minute that false symmetry is drawn, the terrorists win."
spokesman Mark Regev: "We want a new reality."
17:48 Israel Time
In a joint press
conference with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, PM Binyamin Netanyahu
said: "If a long-term solution can be put in place through diplomatic means
then Israel would be a willing partner to such a solution."
End In Sight?
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy: "The travesty
of the Israel aggression on Gaza will end in a few hours."
Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan: "It's in the hands now of the Israelis. I
think the Egyptians are waiting for some support, promised support, from the
United States in order to make an end for that."
Hamas al Qassam
Brigades commander Mohammed al-Deif: "The ground operation that they keep
threatening of waging will be the greatest hope to release our prisoners."
Israeli Ground Invasion
Thousands of Israeli troops with tanks and armored
vehicles are poised on Gaza's borders ready to move in. The Israeli
Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said war planning is complete and the
troops are ready to move in if necessary. Israel is well aware that a ground
invasion would carry broad risks.
health officials said 104 people have died and another 860 have been wounded
in Gaza since Israel began its offensive in response to incessant rocket
attacks by militants. Israeli officials say three people have died and 68
have been wounded in Israel as the result of rocket fire from Gaza.
Militants in Gaza have fired nearly 1,000 rockets at Israel since the
conflict began. Israel has targeted more than 1,300 sites in its bombing
campaign. Ambassador Oren said at the current rate of activity military
action could last 45 days to 100 days. He said Hamas has 10,000 to 11,000
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said no
option had been ruled out and at this stage everything depends on the action
of Hamas. A ground decision would be easier for Israel if Hamas were to
launch rockets that hit Tel Aviv or caused a high number of civilian
No Quick Fix
Egypt hopes to broker a ceasefire
agreement but talks have hit a brick wall. Hamas wants an end to the
blockade of Gaza. Israel fears a renewed influx of weapons to militants.
The leader of Hamas rejected demands to
stop rocket fire: "We don't accept Israeli conditions because it is the
aggressor. We want a cease-fire along with meeting our demands."
Israel wants international guarantees that Hamas will not rearm or use the
Sinai peninsula for militant activity.
BBC, November 2012
Iron Dome has its roots in the 2006 conflict Israel fought with
Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah launched thousands of
rockets, causing huge damage and killing dozens of Israelis.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems developed a new missile defense
shield that was tested in combat for the first time in April
During the current Gaza crisis, the system has been
highly praised by the Israeli military. By Saturday evening the
shield had intercepted 245 rockets from Gaza in three days, and
about 90% of the attempted interceptions were successful, the
army said. Iron Dome is now deployed over Tel Aviv. The Tel Aviv
battery was called into operation shortly after it was
installed, killing a rocket on its final approach.
Iron Dome is part of a huge infrastructure of missile defense
systems operating over Israel, costing billions of dollars. The
Americans set aside more than $200 million to help Israel pay for the
system. It uses radar to track incoming rockets, and then fires
two interceptor missiles to knock them out.
Dome battery costs about $50 million to install. There are five batteries in
operation, with eight more planned by next year. Each interceptor missile
costs roughly $60,000. The makers say it is cost-effective because the radar
technology distinguishes between missiles likely to hit built-up areas and
those missing their target. Only those heading towards cities are targeted
and shot down.
Israel Versus Hamas
"In my talks with leaders, I emphasize
the effort Israel is making to avoid hitting civilians, and this at a time
when Hamas and other terrorist organizations are making every effort to hit
civilian targets in Israel."
Nathan J. Brown
Violence between Israel and the Hamas-controlled
"statelet" of Gaza serves domestic politics. Palestinians fear that the
Israeli government is making war with an eye to upcoming elections. Israelis
suspect that Hamas — "Islamic Resistance Movement" — is lobbing rockets
because it is tired of taunts that it is not living up to its middle name.
Both sides know they cannot win. The Israelis cannot
dislodge Hamas from Gaza without unacceptable cost and endless occupation.
But they want to punish the movement to deter it from future violence. Hamas
knows that the damage it inflicts serves no strategic value, but it hopes
that its rockets will cause dislocation and panic in Israel.
United States will be seen as complicit in the Israeli offensive. Egypt,
which now tilts toward Hamas, is embarrassed. The United States has
pretended that the Israeli-Palestinian issue could be dealt with as if Hamas
does not exist. But Hamas dominates Gaza. The movement runs everything in
Gaza. Gaza residents see no alternative.
Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said
Israel felt compelled to respond to relentless Palestinian rocket attacks
into southern Israel. But Palestinians in Gaza say that what the Israeli
military calls surgical strikes kill civilians and they are cut off from the
world by a blockade.
This is the most serious Israeli
offensive on Gaza since 2009. Israel's military says preparations are being
made for a ground offensive, should the need arise. Already this offensive
is causing regional rifts. Egypt was so angry it has recalled its ambassador
Regionally, the Mideast is looking more and more unstable.
The Syrian civil war is spilling over into Lebanon, the Golan Heights,
Jordan, and Turkey. Israeli concern about Iran's nuclear program and the
possibility that it will strike Iranian nuclear facilities are adding to
The moribund Mideast peace process is suffering another
setback. Some accuse Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of launching
this offensive to benefit politically from taking tough action against
Hamas. Peace talks between Israel and Fatah or Hamas look unlikely.
Hamas felt confident over the ascendancy of its
fellow Islamists in the region and attempted to set new rules on the Gaza
border. But it mistook Israeli restraint for weakness. By firing more and
more indiscriminate rocket barrages into Israel, Hamas overplayed its hand.
Israel once again has proved its intelligence capabilities in Gaza not only
by targeting Ahmed Jabari but also by removing most of Hamas' long-range
underground rocket launchers in the first wave of air strikes. Operation
Pillar of Defense shows Israel will defend its civilians.
Israel Opens Gates Of Hell
The Israeli Air Force has hit 20 underground sites housing long-range launchers capable
of striking Tel Aviv and killed Hamas military head Ahmed Jabari in
Gaza. Hamas says Israel "opened the gates of hell" with the killing.
IDF spokesman: "The first aim of this operation is to bring back
quiet to southern Israel, and the second target is to strike at terror
AR Reports on the
2008 Gaza conflict