All options are on the table. If necessary, the IDF is ready to initiate a ground operation in Gaza.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
A new conflict is rapidly escalating in Gaza:
Ahmed al-Jaabari, the head of the Islamist organisation’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, died when his car was struck in Gaza City by a missile after Israel warned it may step up targeted assassinations, having endured almost a week of intense rocket fire from Gaza. Reports suggested three other Palestinians were also killed. In the hours after the attack on Jaabari, Palestinian witnesses told the Associated Press that air strikes had hit a series of targets across Gaza City.
Goldblog tweeted today: “How many ‘indispensable’ Hamas leaders have been killed already? Have these deaths crippled Hamas? New thinking urgently needed by Israel.” A few days ago he weighed in on the rocket attacks:
There is no military solution to the Gaza conflict, at least not one that Israel could pursue. Gaza isn’t Chechnya and Netanyahu isn’t Putin. Flattening Gaza is not a moral solution, nor a practical solution. Nor, for that matter, is it a politically possible solution. Netanyahu is calling in Western diplomats to explain to them that Israel has no choice but to respond militarily to the rocket fire. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that he doesn’t possess the political capital to ask the West for its understanding. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the collapse of the peace process; his portion is substantial, and his alienation of leaders who might otherwise be friends is a continuing theme of his tenure.
On Monday, Michael Koplow examined the implications of an Israeli ground campaign. He also considered the political angle for Bibi:
Netanyahu has been campaigning on security issues pretty much his entire political life, and the current campaign is no different. His focus on security is so strong that Kadima, in what can only be described as a last ditch effort amongst its death throes, has adopted as its campaign slogan “Bibi is endangering us” superimposed against a backdrop of a mushroom cloud. The irony of Netanyahu’s hawkish public persona is that he has never presided over a large military operation during either of his two tenures as prime minister, but as risky as it may be to send ground forces into Gaza right now, he cannot afford to just sit on his hands.
Max Fisher worries about the reactions of Egypt, Turkey, and Iran. Why military action by Israel could stall US talks with Iran:
The New York Times’s Tehran-based Thomas Erdbrink warned on Twitter. “While #Iran and #Hamas have been estranged over Syria, Iran’s leaders will be highly upset over Jabari’s assassination today in Gaza,” he wrote. “Forget ANY #Iran-US talks if conflict in Gaza escalates. … #Iran leaders can never be seen as talking to US, while its ‘eternal’ ally Israel assassinates Iran’s ideological allies.” The Washington Post recently reported that Tehran is “locked in internal debate” over the possible U.S. talks, so anything that weakens Iranian advocates for negotiations and exposes them to greater political risk would seem likely to reduce the odds of those talks taking place.
Nervana Mahmoud doubts Cast Lead II would be effective:
Without controlling the Philadelphia corridor between Sinai and Gaza and preventing arms smuggling, Cast Lead II would end up like Cast Lead I: a temporary break at a hefty price in terms of innocent loss of lives, international isolation, plus the new possibility of Egyptian retaliation, and even perhaps revocation of the Camp David accords.
The Guardian is live-blogging today’s violence.
(Photo: Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip, on November 14, 2012. By Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images)