Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Israeli Intelligence Ops

Strategy Page has an interesting piece on the Israeli intelligence operations in Gaza. The post includes this tidbit:

The Israeli attack on Hamas forces in Gaza on December 27th, hit fifty targets within 220 seconds. The fifty Israeli aircraft assembled off the coast, and delivered a well-rehearsed attack designed to take out Hamas targets before key commanders could get away. Israeli intelligence had discovered Hamas plans for such an Israeli attack, which involved key Hamas personnel immediately dispersing to hiding places. These included hospitals, where the Hamas men would dress in staff uniforms and blend in. Other safe havens included nursery schools, and other places where the Hamas officials would be surrounded by lots of civilians at all times. Thus the tight timing for the Israeli attack, intended to catch the key Hamas personnel before they could disperse.

It also explains why so many buildings were destroyed in the bombing attacks and the lengths Israelis go to in order to minimize civilian casualties:

The Israelis also make use of the phone system to avoid civilian casualties. For example, the bombing campaign after the initial attack was directed mostly at the thousands of rockets Hamas had stockpiled. Most of these were stored in civilian housing. This was a technique pioneered by Hezbollah in Lebanon. There, some homes would have a basement excavated, to provide more space for rockets.

Israeli intelligence is still identifying these storage locations. When one is found, the Israelis will phone the home just before the attack and tell the civilians they have a few minutes to get out before the place blows up. In at least one case, the civilians were defiant, and went to the roof, believing that the Israelis would not bomb with women and children in plain sight. In response, the Israeli fighter came in low and fired some 20mm cannon shells right next to the building. The panicked civilians fled the building and the place blew up shortly thereafter.

There's much else of interest at the link to anyone who might be curious as to how Israel is trying to stay ahead of the terrorists in Hamas.


Bad News, Good News

The bad news is that the Milky Way, the galaxy in which we live, is on a collision course with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. Computer models of the collision reveal that our solar system will be thrust by the cataclysm to the periphery of the Milky Way where survival will likely be impossible.

The good news is that life will have long since disappeared on earth anyway by the time this collision happens billions of years from now. That should make you feel better.

What it'll look like:


Liberating the Palestinian People

Bernard Henri-Levy has an excellent piece in The New Republic about the need to eliminate Hamas as a functioning political and military entity:

I would like to remind everyone of certain facts:

1. No government in the world, no country other than the vilified Israel--dragged through the mud, demonized--would tolerate having thousands of shells falling on its cities year after year. The most remarkable thing in the affair, the true surprise, is not Israel's "brutality"; it is, to the letter, its restraint.

2. The fact that Hamas' Qassam and, now, its Grad missiles have caused so few deaths does not prove that they are artisanal, inoffensive, etc., but that the Israelis protect themselves, that they live burrowed in the caves of their buildings, under shelter: a nightmarish existence, suspended, with the sound of sirens and explosions. I have been to Sderot: I know.

3. The fact that, inversely, the Israeli shells create so many victims does not mean, as protesters have angrily proclaimed, that Israel is engaging in a deliberate "massacre," but that the leaders of Gaza have chosen the opposite attitude and are exposing their populations, relying on the old tactic of the "human shield." Which means that Hamas, like Hezbollah two years ago, is installing its command centers, its arms stockpiles, its bunkers, in the basements of buildings, of hospitals, of schools, of mosques. Efficient but repugnant.

4. There is a capital difference between the combatants that those who want to have a "correct" idea of the tragedy, and of the means to put an end to it, must acknowledge: The Palestinians open fire on cities, or in other words, on civilians (which is called, in international criminal law, a "war crime"); the Israelis target military objectives and cause, without aiming to, horrible civilian casualties (which is called, in the language of war, "collateral damage"--which, even though it is hideous, points to a real strategic and moral dissymmetry).

5. Because we must dot the I's, we will again recall a fact that, strangely, the French press has rarely reported and of which I know no precedent in any other war, or on the part of any other army: During the air offensive, the Israeli army systematically called residents of Gaza who live close to military targets and invited them to evacuate--an Israeli minister said 100,000 calls were made. That this does not alter the despair of families whose lives have been broken in the carnage, it is obvious, but this is not a detail totally deprived of meaning.

6. Finally, as for the famous complete blockade imposed on a starving people, who are lacking of everything in this "unprecedented" humanitarian crisis: Again, this is not factually correct. From the beginning of the ground offensive, the humanitarian convoys ceaselessly crossed the Kerem Shalom passage. According to The New York Times, on Dec. 31--in one single day--nearly 100 trucks carrying food supplies and medicine entered the territory. And I invoke, only to preserve the memory of it (for this goes without saying--but perhaps it would be better to actually say it ...), the fact that Israeli hospitals continue, even as I write, to accept and care for wounded Palestinians every day.

Palestinians' worst enemies are the extremist leaders who have never wanted peace, have never wanted a State and never conceived of one for their people other than as an instrument and as a hostage....Either Hamas leaders re-establish the truce that they broke, and, while they're at it, declare null and void a charter founded on the pure rejection of the "Zionist Entity": In doing so, they will rejoin the vast party for compromise that has not ceased--God be praised--to make progress in the region, and peace will be established. Or they will only, obstinately, consider the suffering of Palestinian civilians in terms of its fueling of their annealed passions, their insane hate, nihilistic, beyond words. And if that is the case, it is not only the Israelis, but the Palestinians, who will need to be liberated from Hamas' somber shadow.

Israel has a golden opportunity to do both itself and the Palestinian people a great good: prosecute the war until Hamas is no longer able either to threaten Israel or oppress its own people. Unfortunately, much of the world, particularly in the West, will pressure Israel to stop short of eliminating Hamas and thereby leave in place the seeds of the next round of rocket attacks and violence in Gaza.