In that setback in the summer of 2006, Israel rushed to battle without a detailed plan or realistic goals, and was handed its first failure to vanquish an Arab foe in war. Hezbollah not only withstood the 34-day offensive, but it also emerged stronger politically.
Faced with frequent Hamas rocket fire across its southern border, Israel planned its Gaza operation more meticulously, over nearly two years. As a result, Israeli officials said Sunday, their intelligence services developed a longer list of targets to bomb, enabling the air force to inflict more damage on the militant Palestinian group before Israel contemplates a risky ground assault.
And instead of boasting that they would “destroy” the enemy, as they did in the case of Lebanon, Israeli leaders set the more modest aim of “improving the security” of terrorized Israeli communities.
METICULOUS PLANNING: Israeli army special forces are deployed at the Gaza Strip border. Israel mapped out the operation for nearly two years. Photo: Uriel Sinai / Getty Images
Israeli warplanes struck a broad array of targets in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Sunday, hitting a security compound, a mosque, the Islamic University, a television station and a network of smugglers’ tunnels along the border with Egypt as Hamas fired fresh volleys of rockets into Israel. The Palestinian death toll approached 300 after two days of violence, making this the deadliest operation in Gaza since Israel seized control of the coastal territory from Egypt in 1967.
Israeli officials said that they were prepared for an extended campaign in Gaza, possibly including ground forces, and that the goal is to break Hamas’s military capacity. “We will continue to attack as long as they fire,” said a senior Israeli military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Israel’s military, he said, intends to pressure Hamas to the point where the Islamist movement either “runs out of will or runs out of capability to launch more attacks.”
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