Sharon's Gaza maneuver pays off

In a bid to free a captured Israeli soldier, IDF ground forces moved into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.  The Israeli Army mounted a combined arms operation with tanks, infantry, attack helicopters and self—propelled artillery.  Their initial objective: the airport near the southern town of Rafah, which provides a 'strategic vantage point.'

Almost a year ago, I wrote about  Sharon's withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza and how it actually placed the IDF in a much better position tactically to handle threats from the Gaza Strip.  The key to controlling the coastal area has always been to dominate the area around Khan Yunis and Rafah (in earlier days called Rafah Junction) since they are located at the base of the Gaza salient and form the nexus of routes running throughout the strip.  Most of the Jewish settlements in Gaza were in these two areas, thereby severely restricting maneuver and fires into these strategic towns.

The IDF has more information at its website on Operation Summer Rains, including video of the Army's initial move into the Rafah area.  According to the article,

...an IDF ground force took over control of the Dahaniya airfield in the southeastern Gaza Strip.  Dahaniya is a strategic post for observation and command of the vicinity of Rafah and southern Gaza.  It was taken over so as to make it more difficult for terrorists to smuggle their captive out of the area.

The kidnappers and terrorist forces now have few options if any, to leave Gaza with their hostage. The route to the Sinai is now controlled by the IDF, while other Army units are positioned on the central and northern portions of the Strip, thereby presenting a possibility of a full—scale assault into the area.  Of course, there is the Mediterranean Sea, but this is not a feasible way to get to Egyptian—controlled territory.  And it appears the IDF is not looking for a quick raid type of operation, either.  Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Dan Halutz said,

"We must understand that this campaign against terror is not a campaign of 'bang and we're done,'"..."this is an ongoing campaign.  We must do everything required, in a continuing manner, to deal with them.  It would seem that the ceasefire has been misinterpreted by the other side.  The facts speak for themselves."

Many reasonable people can argue about the political fallout of the withdrawal of settlements from the Gaza Strip.  What is evident today though is that the IDF would not have the same operational freedom in the Strip if thousands of Israeli citizens still lived in and around Gaza's strategic points.

Doug Hanson   06—29—06

In a bid to free a captured Israeli soldier, IDF ground forces moved into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.  The Israeli Army mounted a combined arms operation with tanks, infantry, attack helicopters and self—propelled artillery.  Their initial objective: the airport near the southern town of Rafah, which provides a 'strategic vantage point.'

Almost a year ago, I wrote about  Sharon's withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza and how it actually placed the IDF in a much better position tactically to handle threats from the Gaza Strip.  The key to controlling the coastal area has always been to dominate the area around Khan Yunis and Rafah (in earlier days called Rafah Junction) since they are located at the base of the Gaza salient and form the nexus of routes running throughout the strip.  Most of the Jewish settlements in Gaza were in these two areas, thereby severely restricting maneuver and fires into these strategic towns.

The IDF has more information at its website on Operation Summer Rains, including video of the Army's initial move into the Rafah area.  According to the article,

...an IDF ground force took over control of the Dahaniya airfield in the southeastern Gaza Strip.  Dahaniya is a strategic post for observation and command of the vicinity of Rafah and southern Gaza.  It was taken over so as to make it more difficult for terrorists to smuggle their captive out of the area.

The kidnappers and terrorist forces now have few options if any, to leave Gaza with their hostage. The route to the Sinai is now controlled by the IDF, while other Army units are positioned on the central and northern portions of the Strip, thereby presenting a possibility of a full—scale assault into the area.  Of course, there is the Mediterranean Sea, but this is not a feasible way to get to Egyptian—controlled territory.  And it appears the IDF is not looking for a quick raid type of operation, either.  Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Dan Halutz said,

"We must understand that this campaign against terror is not a campaign of 'bang and we're done,'"..."this is an ongoing campaign.  We must do everything required, in a continuing manner, to deal with them.  It would seem that the ceasefire has been misinterpreted by the other side.  The facts speak for themselves."

Many reasonable people can argue about the political fallout of the withdrawal of settlements from the Gaza Strip.  What is evident today though is that the IDF would not have the same operational freedom in the Strip if thousands of Israeli citizens still lived in and around Gaza's strategic points.

Doug Hanson   06—29—06