Operation Update and Strategic Assessment
Operation Protective Edge #6
Operation Protective Edge (OPE) marked its 16th day.
2014-07-24 by Friends of Israel Initiative
Operation Protective Edge (OPE) marked its 16th day. IDF operations are focused on discovering and destroying tunnels. 3 soldiers were killed as Hamas detonated explosives as a unit entered a building in Han Yunes (southern sector) in which there was a tunnel. A foreign worker from Thailand was killed in the fields near Gaza from mortar fire. Today, Hamas was able to launch "only" 81 rockets.
The death toll in Gaza continues to rise and the humanitarian situation on the ground is worsening. More and more gruesome images are making their away abroad – creating a challenge for Israel although American and European support at the official level remains secured. The UNHRC decision to investigate war crimes could become an effective conduit for delegitimization. Despite yesterday’s positive EU FAC conclusions OK from an Israeli perspective, it is telling that all the European members of UNHRC abstained.
The FAA decision to prohibit flights to Israel and the domino effect in Europe is causing harm and lending Hamas a victory.
Israel wants a straightforward and simple ceasefire and has set long term goal of de-commissioning weapons in Gaza. At this point, it seems that the military is seeking to postpone the ceasefire so it can finish the destruction of terror tunnels. From a political perspective, Netanyahu is in a difficult position concerning a ceasefire as the Israeli death toll of soldiers is 32. Vast majority of Israelis don’t want a ceasefire now. The Israeli public is showing resilience.
Hamas & Qatar want more than a simple truce – they essentially are seeking substantial improvements that will turn Gaza into an independent and viable entity – opening crossings, seaport, airport – on top of the release of Hamas prisoner re-incarcerated following the abduction of the three Israeli teenagers. They have rejected the Egyptian formula – want the terms agreed prior to a ceasefire.
The US SoS and UNSG – officially committed to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal (cease fire then talk on terms) are advancing a "complimentary" formula that first humanitarian ceasefire for limited period (5 days) and then talk on terms of (more) lengthy ceasefire. In his speech tonight – Mashaal did not rule this out, however his position remained opaque after this speech (commentators are trying to "interpret" his speech). Kerry flew this evening back to Cairo. It is really hard to call at this point.
A few other things to follow:
Yesterday it was published that on Tuesday the Qatari Emir met with King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia – the first such meeting since SA and other GCC countries recalled their ambassadors from Doha. I could not find a readout from the meeting – but if Mashaal’s speech tonight was an indication, the Qataris have yet to be seriously rattled.
Hamas is patching up its relations with Iran and Hezbollah; Iran is actually reaching out to Hamas – three senior Iranians spoke this week with Mashaal – the parliament speaker Larijani, the FM Zarif and an unnamed senior commander of the IRGC. On its part, Hamas is starting to feel the isolation among the Sunni world.