December 23, 2008: The number of rockets and mortar shells fired into Israel from Gaza continues to grow. Hamas will not stop the attacks, and even tolerates terrorist attacks on the crossings for humanitarian supplies. Hamas appears to have a plan to enhance their status, in the Arab world, and places like Europe, as victims. Hamas propaganda inside Gaza is as bloodthirsty as ever, calling for the destruction of Israel, and claiming that the rest of the world will come to the aid of Gaza in this effort. The U.S. is trying to persuade Israel to refrain from attacking Hamas, believing that the terrorists want to take some punishment in order to justify their despotic rule of Gaza. Israeli politicians are under pressure from voters angry at the growing attacks from Gaza. Hamas is using longer (20 kilometers) range rockets, thus endangering more Israelis. While Hamas may be playing media games, the Israeli voters are in an uproar, and elected politicians can't ignore that forever.
December 24, 2008: Due to the increased use of longer range rockets by Hamas, Israel has extended its "Red Zone" early warning system to communities within 30 kilometers of Gaza. Previously it had only been seven kilometers. In the last two days, Palestinian terrorists have fired over fifty rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel. There has been some property damage, but no injuries. The Israeli cabinet authorized the prime minister to carry out expanded military operations against Hamas. Efforts by Egypt to get Hamas to stop the attacks, continue to fail.
December 25, 2008: Palestinian terrorists fired over twenty rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel. Israeli aircraft attacked a few Palestinians it caught trying to fire rockets, or plant bombs along the security fence. In Lebanon, soldiers, and UN peacekeepers, found and dismantled eight rockets that had been set up for firing into Israel. In Gaza, Israel opened a border crossing, allowing 106 trucks of supplies to enter. Hamas did not attack this convoy.
December 26, 2008: Palestinian terrorists fired thirteen rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel.
December 27, 2008: Israeli warplanes and helicopters hit over a hundred Hamas targets in Gaza, using smart bombs and missiles. There were over 600 casualties, about a quarter of them dead. Hamas has spent years preparing for such an attack. Thus much of Hamas facilities and assets are in underground bunkers. Aboveground Hamas facilities are in residential areas, to insure civilian casualties. Hamas has expelled any stringers (who represent foreign news organizations) who are not willing to cooperate with Hamas publicists. Hamas plans to release a flood of real, and staged, pictures of Israeli "atrocities." Hamas hopes to rouse enough foreign support for its suffering, so that someone will attack Israel. If not militarily, then diplomatically or economically.
December 28, 2008: The Israeli bombing of Gaza continued. Israeli intelligence appears to be quite good, with hidden and well protected Hamas targets getting hit and destroyed. Over a dozen senior Hamas officials have been killed or wounded. Total casualties is over a thousand, with nearly 200 dead. One series of smart bomb attacks collapsed at least 40 smuggling tunnels from Egypt.
December 29, 2008: Several hundred Egyptian border police sealed five breaches in the security wall between Gaza and Egypt. Hamas refused to allow Palestinian wounded to go to Egypt for medical care (which Egypt was ready to provide), while Egyptian border police fired on uninjured Palestinians trying to flee Gaza. Egypt, like most Arab nations, refused to absorb any Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Israeli war of Independence. Israel, however, absorbed the equal number of Jews driven out of Arab nations after 1948.
Israeli smart bombs and missiles continue to fall, and Palestinian casualties are over 1,100. About 10,000 Israeli ground troops, including nearly a thousand armored vehicles, are assembled near the Gaza security fence. Hamas admitted that the attacks had made a serious dent in their rocket supply. On the first day of the bombing. Hamas fired over 110 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, but that fell to twenty the next day. And today there is no increase in Hamas rocket attacks. So far, Israel has hit at least 300 targets in Gaza, usually with one smart bomb or missile. Hamas appears to be surprised at the detailed targeting data the Israelis had assembled. Meanwhile, Israeli UAVs constantly circle over Gaza, apparently collecting new targeting data for additional attacks. Hamas has brought more of its 122mm BM-21 rockets out and tried to fire them. These weigh 150 pounds and are nine feet long. These have 45 pound warheads, and have a maximum range of over 20 kilometers. Because they are unguided, they are only reliably effective if fired in salvos, or at large targets (like cities, or large military bases or industrial complexes.) Hamas has been getting these rockets from Iran, and they are smuggled in via the dozens of tunnels under the Gaza-Egyptian border.
A ground assault is more dangerous for Israel, exposing more Israelis to possible injury. But only by sending in the ground troops can Israel unearth all of the Hamas rocket arsenals, workshops and headquarters. While Hamas has long prepared to defend against an Israeli ground assault, the Israelis have also trained hard and long to carry these operations out effectively. Who is better prepared will soon be revealed.
Israel is apparently trying to cripple Hamas military capability, forcing the terrorist organization to devote resources to rebuilding, instead of attacking Israel. Israel also hopes that anti-Hamas Palestinians will rise up and give power to Fatah. This is a long shot. Meanwhile, a ground offensive would recover lots of valuable intelligence, as well as capturing some key Hamas operatives (who could be used to trade for an Israeli soldier kidnapped two years ago.) Israel has an opportunity here to demoralize Hamas, and their Shia ally Hezbollah in Lebanon (both are supported by Iran, who will also take a beating if Hamas does not win some kind of "victory.")
The response in the Arab world is not quite what Hamas expected. Because Hamas is seen as a puppet of Shia Iran, many mainstream Sunni Islamic radicals are not terribly upset that Hamas is getting hammered. In Iraq, a Sunni suicide bomber attacked a pro-Hamas demonstration (killing two and wounding 16). There are still over 20,000 Palestinians in Iraq, and they are generally hated because of Palestinian support for Saddam Hussein and his murderous Baath Party. Most Palestinians are also Sunni.