The Israel Defense Forces carried out a deadly bait-and-switch

In past Arab-Israeli wars, Israel has been hampered by the world's insistence that she use "proportionate force."  This is nonsense when dealing with a genocidal enemy that seeks your eradication, especially one with tens of thousands of rockets all aimed at your civilian centers.  As a humane nation, Israel should do — and does –everything it can to limit civilian deaths.  However, when it comes to enemy troops, the point is to win.  A remarkably clever ruse on Friday shows that the Israeli Defense Forces may finally have accepted this principle.

On Thursday, the military let it be known that it was drawing up plans to engage in a massive ground invasion against Hamas.  Later in the day, the military let Israeli journalists know that there was no invasion but explicitly told foreign news outlets that IDF troops had entered Arab territory.  Numerous major outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and AFP, reported as fact the news that the IDF had started a ground assault on Gaza.

Hamas fighters did exactly what the Israeli military had expected: they rushed into tunnels they had built under the border, planning to emerge at various locations from which they could strike at the IDF.  That was a mistake.  Instead of a ground assault, Israel launched a "massive bombardment" of the Hamas tunnel network:

The Israeli Air Force's massive bombardment of Hamas's Gaza tunnel network overnight Thursday-Friday destroyed miles of tunnels and killed what the IDF believes to be dozens of Hamas terrorists, in what it hopes will be a decisive phase of the current conflict, an Israeli TV report said late Friday.

"We shut down the Hamas tunnel network," a military source said.

The bombing was the largest Israeli strike since the outbreak of fighting earlier this week, the IDF said earlier.

The assault was prefaced by a deliberate ruse in which the IDF told the foreign press that Israeli ground forces had entered the Gaza Strip, in order to trick the terror group into sending its operatives into the tunnels — referred to by the IDF as "the metro" — ready to emerge and attack the Israeli troops. Instead, "the tunnels collapsed on those inside" when the IAF bombed them, the TV report noted.

Some 160 aircraft flying simultaneously conducted the massive attack on the network of tunnels, dug by the Hamas terror group under the northern Gaza Strip, the army said. According to the Israel Defense Forces, in this air campaign, which lasted nearly 40 minutes, some 450 missiles were dropped on 150 targets in northern Gaza, particularly around the city of Beit Lahiya. In all, 80 tons of explosives were used, the TV report said.

There are many more details here.

This wasn't just clever; it was also so satisfying because Israel turned its enemies' weapons against them.  For years, Israel has been deeply worried about the tunnels that Hamas has been digging into Israel.  Gazans live in abysmal poverty because their leadership uses foreign aid to build elaborate tunnels that store weapons and allow for significant troop movement.  Rather than destroying the tunnels, Israel kept an eye on them, presumably for precisely this strategy.

There is also a sweet irony to the fact that Israel was able to carry out its plan by misleading the foreign press.  These outlets have long been openly hostile to Israel.  To have them serve as the vehicles for misinformation to Hamas is almost righteous.

Historically, Israel would now be talked into a truce, one that doesn't benefit Israel but allows the Arabs to regroup.  There are indications that this time might be different.  Rather than making noises about pulling back, Prime Minister Netanyahu says the IDF will push forward even more aggressively:

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Friday to crush Hamas with unrelenting bombardments as the death toll in Gaza rose to over 120, including 31 children and 20 women, with 900 people wounded.

[snip]

'They attacked our capital, they fired rockets at our cities. They're paying and will continue to pay dearly for that,' Netanyahu said during a video address on Friday. 'It's not over yet,' he warned.

'I said we would exact a very heavy price from Hamas and other terror groups, and we are doing so and will continue to do so with great force,' the Prime Minister said, before detailing Israel's destruction of Hamas tunnels.

'Hamas thought it could hide there, but it cannot,' he said. 'Hamas leaders think they can escape from our grasp. They cannot escape. We can reach them everywhere — all of [Hamas's] people and we will continue to do so.'

If Israel finally commits to fighting a war to victory, instead of a stalemate, maybe the Arabs will understand that Israel is staying in the Jewish homeland that goes back, without interruption, over 4,000 years.  Then the Middle East may be ready for real peace.

Image: Israel attacks Hamas in Gaza.  YouTube screen grab.

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