Israel finally decided it had enough of rockets and mortars being fired at its civilians in the south.
For starters, they took out Ahmed Jabri, the head of Hamas' military wing, the Izzadam Kassam Brigades, and a man directly responsible for numerous attacks on Israel:
They then went after a number of underground missile sites in Gaza City,destroying 20 of them as well as targeting Hamas facilities and destroying stockpiles of longer-range Iranian-supplied Fajr-5 missiles that Hamas has smuggled into Gaza.
The campaign, entitled Amud Anan in Hebrew, which means Pillar of Cloud (but is being translated in English as Operation Defensive Pillar) may have just begun. Military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovitch said the attack is the "start of a broader operation."
According to IDF spokes person Yoav Mordechai, the IDF believes it has eliminated the majority of the long-range threat:
"The first aim of this operation is to bring back quiet to southern Israel, and the second target is to strike at terror organizations," Mordechai said. "The homefront must brace itself resiliently," he added, describing Jabari as a man with "a lot of blood on his hands."
The IDF has reportedly called up some of its reserves and are prepared to put boots on the ground in Gaza if necessary. Don't be surprised if they go in. The Israeli Navy has also positioned itself off Gaza's coast.
The back story on this is kind of interesting. Over 110 missiles were fired into southern Israel in the past few days, to the point where the Israelis simply couldn't tolerate it any more.The capper was Hamas' Popular Resistance Committee releasing a video showing them targeting an IDF jeep in Israel. That attack that left four IDF soldiers wounded – one in serious condition who may end up losing his sight.
It was the Egyptians who first told Hamas that enough was enough. Not wanting a war on their borders, they informed Hamas Monday that they were on their own and not to expect any support from Egypt if things unfolded to their logical conclusion and the Israelis went to war.
According to my sources, Israel also let the Egyptians know that this de facto cease fire was acceptable to them. And for their part, Hamas seemed to accept it as well. On Tuesday, only one rocket hit Israel, in Ashdod.
But the next morning, Wednesday, Hamas launched 4 missiles at Sderot, which exploded inside the town (one near a school) and only avoiding killing or injuring anyone by sheer chance.
After that, the 'ceasefire' that was never a ceasefire ended, and the IDF struck back hard.
I would speculate that the Iranians pushed Hamas on this one, and Hamas figured it was safe to break the truce and Egyptian popular sentiment would probably demand Egypt get involved.
So far, there's been no comment from the Obama Administration, although U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro reiterated ”Israel’s right to defend itself and its citizens from these attacks” three days ago.