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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Hamas Potentially Out of Missiles Capable of Reaching Tel Aviv

Hamas Potentially Out of Missiles Capable of Reaching Tel Aviv
Amir Rapaport 20/11/2012

The exchange of fire between both sides continues, but the ball is now in
the political court, As the UN Secretary General visits the region today. In
the field, the forces are as tense as ever, including tens of thousands of
reservists. Some of the fighters already wore camouflage, but it was not
certain yesterday that the ground maneuver would actually be carried out.

Hamas is preparing for a “victory”

In the meanwhile, a situation picture: the IDF has increased the pressure on
Hamas senior officials in the past day. Air strikes were directed towards
ammunition stockpiles in settled areas and towards senior targets in the
organization’s military wing. This was done at the risk of causing greater
harm to uninvolved civilians then compared to the previous stages of the
operation. At the same time, the IDF has refined the sensor-to-shooter cycle
process in the framework of targeting senior wanted officials and taking out
fire squadrons. The number of foiling events has risen to 20 per day.

In the past couple of days, the IDF has invested tremendous effort in
locating sites from which rockets were being launched towards Israel,
primarily the fire sites directed at the Tel Aviv metropolitan. The traces
led, among other things, to the soccer stadium at the heart of Gaza, which
was attacked on Monday morning. An analysis of the attack photos indicates
that it is possible that a sizable quantity of ammunition was stored inside
the stadium. In the field, Hamas still has thousands of rockets it can fire
at Israel, but its inventory of long-range rockets (20-40 kilometers) has
decreased considerably. It is possible that they have completely run out of
the Fajr 5 or “8 Inch" (Gaza produced) rockets launched at Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem, which have ranges of over 70 kilometers. A total of seven of
these rockets were launched after surviving the IAF’s attacks against the
long-range missiles from the start of the operation. If this is true, then
it means that no more rockets will be launched at Tel Aviv or Jerusalem at
this stage.

Is Hamas close to breaking? Certainly not. In the indirect negotiations,
which are mostly taking place with Egyptian mediation, Hamas has demanded
that Israel remove at least a part of the blockade imposed on the Gaza
Strip, after the ceasefire enters into effect. Israel has refused to commit
to that, but even so, it seems that at least now it does not seem that
Operation Pillar of Defense will be able to be considered a clear victory
for the IDF, one that will ensure that Israel’s southern region will remain
calm for years.

If Israel agrees then it represents early conclusions, but from Israel’s
perspective, it can be noted that it succeeded thus far in taking out the
head of Hamas’ military wing and severely damaging the organization’s
long-range missile arsenal. However, instead of al-Jabri, the “real boss” of
Hamas’ military wing rules with an iron fist - Muhammad Def, who was
severely wounded in an assassination attempt more than a decade ago. Other
missiles will be smuggled into the Gaza Strip instead of the ones that were

Hamas has succeeded in introducing Tel Aviv and Jerusalem into the threat
equation in this round, and even fired more than ten antiaircraft missiles
towards IAF aircraft (which did not hit any aircraft, manned or unmanned).
In other words, the results of the air strike are not comprehensive. If not
a tie, as the results of the Second Lebanon War were described by then IDF
Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, then a victory by points. For Israel to Israeli
eyes, and for Hamas to the eyes of those in Gaza (and perhaps also in the
opinion of other neighbors such as Hezbollah in Lebanon).

The IAF used completely precise armaments in the initial stage of the
operation, hitting targets with ranges of several meters, and not a single
“dumb” bomb was fired. The pressure imposed on the Hamas senior officials
works, in principle. Their personal concern of being hurt results in heavy
pressure towards the conclusion of the operation in the framework of some
sort of arrangement, with Egyptian mediation.

An operation – or not

While the ministers gathered yesterday at the Kiriya in Tel Aviv to discuss
the option of a ceasefire, or the possibility of initiating the ground
maneuver, the IDF continued the preparations for the operation, as though
there were no negotiations. From a military perspective, holding onto the
forces after completing the preparations for an operation is a situation
that cannot be continued for a long period of time.

The IDF has taken advantage of the largest reserve force mobilization since
the Second Lebanon War for a short refreshment of combat skills among the
reservists, but if the soldiers will be held near the Gaza border without
being activated, their irritation will be considerable. A ground operation,
even if it is eventually carried out, will be accompanied by additional
heavy aerial fire. The effort will involve casualties on both sides, and
will result in increased international pressure directed towards Israel to
bring about an end to the fighting.

Will a ground operation change the overall balance of operation Pillar of
Defense? Apparently not.

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