Archive for the ‘tanks’ Category

In Gaza Hamas Has Deadly Weapons Array; and Many Unknowns

January 6, 2009

Israeli soldiers are equipped with some of the most advanced personal weaponry available to a modern military, but they nonetheless face great danger on the ground in Gaza.

The Islamist militant group Hamas, masters of asymmetrical warfare, has several key weapons that can inflict heavy casualties on an invading force, despite being overmatched. These weapons were not of great concern to Israel when it was attacking from sea and air. But the danger has increased exponentially since Israel launched its ground assault over the weekend.

By Matt Sanchez
Fox News

One significant danger every Israeli soldier faces in Gaza is a foe who is yearning to give up his life. Hamas has built a force of willing homicide bombers whose explosive vests are typically packed with an assortment of shrapnel to raise the casualty rate among their targets.

While Israeli soldiers are prepared to die in the defense of their country, they are also trained to survive. The homicide bomber is, therefore, a weapon available only to one side of this conflict.

Hamas has been talking tough in the face of superior military power; its leaders have vowed to inflict massive casualties.
“Gaza will be your cemetery,” and “we will fight until the last breath,” Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said in a written statement.

As Israel pushes into Gaza on the ground, it does not know exactly what weapons — and how many of them — Hamas possesses.

“We don’t know what has been smuggled into Gaza,” said David Schenker, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute and a former Pentagon official specializing in Middle East issues.

“Syrians and Iranians have supplied Hamas with training and weaponry,” Shenker said, pointing to a variety of weapons used during Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon as examples of what Israeli ground troops may face in Gaza.

“In Southern Lebanon, we saw the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that disabled several Merkava tanks and killed the soldiers inside,” Shenker said in a phone interview with

“In Lebanon, we confirmed the use of the Kornet anti-tank system,” Shenker said, referring to a series of Russian manufactured wire-guided missile systems. When U.S. forces invaded Iraq in 2003, the relatively small and easy to use Kornet anti-tank system reportedly disabled several American tanks, though Russia denied having sold the armor-piercing weapons to Iraq.

In Lebanon, between 46 and 50 Merkava main battle tanks (of the 400 deployed) were hit by anti-tank weapons, according to Western sources. In this case, too, Russia denied selling arms to either Syria or Hezbollah.

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Hamas Continues to Rocket Isreal, Both Sides Resisting Growing Calls for Cease Fire

January 5, 2009

Hamas continues to send rockets into Israel despite a more than one week assault from the Israeli Air Force and Army.

And it is not yet certain that Hamas will relent.  What is certain right now is that Israel will not stop its offensive until Hamas stops shooting rockets into Israel.

The Associated Press reported at about 1930 Monday that “the U.S. joined a stream of countries pushing for a cease-fire.”

 Monday in Gaza Day 10: Israel’s Assault Continues
 Gaza Day 11: Israel Says No Cease Fire, Deaths Become Unbearable, Diplomats Flock

The International community continues to urge a cease fire but in the UN the US has blocked resolutions demanding that israel stops its attack.

Now France, Britain, Egypt, Turkey and other nations are apparently urging Hamas to relent and stop the rocket attacks.

And Israel will not stop its offensive until Hamas stops the rocket attacks.

“Before the military operation, Hamas targets Israelis whenever it likes and Israel shows restraint,”  Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni  told foreign ministers from the EU. “This is no longer going to be the equation. When Israel is targeted, Israel is going to retaliate.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who unsuccessfully proposed a two-day truce before the land invasion began, was due to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Asked about civilian deaths in Gaza, Israeli Maj. Avital Leibovich said, “If Hamas chose cynically to use those civilians as human shields, then Hamas should be accountable.  Civilians will probably continue to get killed, unfortunately, because Hamas put them in the first lines of fire.”


 France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy Seeks Peace in Gaza
Gaza Cease Fire? Israel Clarifies Tough Stand


From The Associated Press:
In Washington, the State Department said the U.S. was pressing for a cease-fire that would include a halt to rocket attacks and an arrangement for reopening crossing points on the border with Israel, said spokesman Sean McCormack. A third element would address the tunnels into Gaza from Egypt through which Hamas has smuggled materials and arms.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has spoken by phone with 17 foreign leaders — in Europe as well as the Middle East — in pursuit of such a cease-fire agreement, McCormack said, adding that much detailed work remains to be done.

“We’re doing a lot of work on these three elements. The secretary is trying to get the international system and various actors in the international system to coalesce around those three elements,” McCormack said.

President George W. Bush, however, emphasized “Israel’s desire to protect itself.”

“The situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas,” he said in the Oval Office.

In Damascus, Syria, a senior Hamas official rejected the U.S. proposal.

The deputy head of Hamas’ politburo in Syria, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told The Associated Press the U.S. plan seeks to impose “a de facto situation” and encourages Israel to continue its attacks on Gaza.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who unsuccessfully proposed a two-day truce before the land invasion began, was due to meet Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who lost control of Gaza to Hamas in June 2007.

While blaming Hamas for causing Palestinian suffering with rocket fire that led to the Israeli offensive, Sarkozy has condemned Israel’s use of ground troops, reflecting general world opinion. Sarkozy and other diplomats making their way to the region are expected to press hard for a cease-fire.

A European Union delegation met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday.

“The EU insists on a cease-fire at the earliest possible moment,” said Karel Schwarzenberg, the foreign minister of the Czech Republic, which took over the EU’s presidency last week. Rocket attacks on Israel also must stop, Schwarzenberg told a joint news conference with Livni.

The EU brought no truce proposals of its own to the region because the cease-fire “must be concluded by the involved parties,” he added.

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Gaza and Obama’s “Deafening Silence:” Arabs and Muslims Wonder

January 5, 2009

With Israel pounding Gaza and killing Palestinians and the U.S. President-elect totally silent, it is difficult to find anyone in the Arab world that is gaining faith in Barack Obama and his ability to change the course of U.S. Middle East policy.

“Change” sounded good to everyone but in a few weeks it may be too late to change the facts on the ground in Gaza: a lot of people will be dead and there may be new management.

Many nations cancelled New Year’s celebrations to show support for the Gazans.  But in Washington D.C. it is inauguration tuxedo rental time, it seems….


By Simon Tisdall
The Guardian (UK)

Barack Obama’s chances of making a fresh start in US relations with the Muslim world, and the Middle East in particular, appear to diminish with each new wave of Israeli attacks on Palestinian targets in Gaza. That seems hardly fair, given the president-elect does not take office until January 20. But foreign wars don’t wait for Washington inaugurations.

Above: The President-elect arrives in Washington

Obama has remained wholly silent during the Gaza crisis. His aides say he is following established protocol that the US has only one president at a time. Hillary Clinton, his designated secretary of state, and Joe Biden, the vice-president-elect and foreign policy expert, have also been uncharacteristically taciturn on the subject.

But evidence is mounting that Obama is already losing ground among key Arab and Muslim audiences that cannot understand why, given his promise of change, he has not spoken out. Arab commentators and editorialists say there is growing disappointment at Obama’s detachment – and that his failure to distance himself from George Bush’s strongly pro-Israeli stance is encouraging the belief that he either shares Bush’s bias or simply does not care.

The Al-Jazeera satellite television station recently broadcast footage of Obama on holiday in Hawaii, wearing shorts and playing golf, juxtaposed with scenes of bloodshed and mayhem in Gaza. Its report criticising “the deafening silence from the Obama team”….

For Barack Obama, Middle East Pressure Cooker Intensifies With Each Unchecked Israeli Move
Obama Inaugural Turning Into 4 Day Fest Needing Massive Security

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Monday in Gaza Day 10: Israel’s Assault Continues

January 5, 2009

Israel continued its air assault and ground attack in Gaza yesterday as both Hamas and the Israelis suffered additional casualties.  Doctors worry about the humanitarian condition and deaths of so many Palestinians caught in the crossfire.

The U.N. Security Council seemed to be gridlocked and no cease-fire was in sight, But France, Turkey, Egypt the EU and others vowed to restart the peace process today.

 France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy Seeks Peace in Gaza
Gaza Cease Fire? Israel Clarifies Tough Stand

Israel called up the reserves a few days ago.  Last night, an Islamic leader called upon Allah.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an ally of Israel, used exceptionally harsh words overnight on Sunday to describe Israel’s offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, saying Israel would be punished by Allah…..

But Israel shows no signs of letting up on Hama in Gaza.

But neither does Hamas, which continued rocket attacks into Israel.

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip early Monday.

Above: Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip early Monday.

“After all this overnight pounding that we’ve heard … continuing gun battles … the warning sirens sounded in the town nearby here,” CNN’s Nic Robertson reported Monday. “That was an indication that a rocket was being fired out by Hamas into Israel and the rocket landed on the hillside a little bit away from where we are …”

Israeli troops and tanks continued their offensive and Gaza was divided but not conquered.

Israel’s ground forces moved in after nightfall Saturday following hours of intense, fiery artillery shelling to clear the way, and Hamas warned that its fighters would turn Gaza into an Israeli “graveyard.”

John E. Carey

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: Can He Regain Gaza?
Gaza: Pressure Grows on Hamas To Agree to A Cease Fire


The New York Times reported:
Even as President Nicolas Sarkozy of France readied a new quest for a cease-fire, Israeli forces took control of rocket-launching areas and surrounded Gaza City after slicing through the center of the beleaguered territory on Sunday. Israel Radio reported street fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters in the streets of Gaza City early on Monday.

Despite the onslaught, Hamas militants continued to lob rockets into southern Israel, witnesses said, as Gaza residents, fearful of growing casualties, faced severe power shortages and other deprivations. The reported death toll of Palestinians passed 500 since the assault began, including 100 said to be civilians.

Read the rest:

Rockets continue despite Israeli strikes

The Los Angeles Times reports on the Gazan people:

Five civilians die when shells hit a market, while most residents stay indoors to avoid Israeli shelling. ‘Anyone who survives this wave, it will be like they were born again,’ said one man.


From The Jerusalem Post:

Speaking in Antalya following his Middle East tour, Erdogan said Israel was perpetrating “inhumane actions” which would “bring it to destroy itself.”

“Allah will sooner or later punish those who transgress the rights of innocents,” Erdogan said. His recent tour of the Middle East conspicuously skipped Israel despite the bilateral ties both countries enjoy.

Erdogan has over the past week visited Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as Turkey engaged in shuttle diplomacy with Arab countries in the search for a cease-fire in the Middle East.

From the JerusalemPost:


Turkey Could Push The Hamas case at UN

Turkey could bring the Palestinian faction Hamas’ conditions for ceasefire to the attention of the United Nations, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said late on Sunday, broadcaster CNN Turk report.

“As a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council, we could bring the conditions of Hamas for a ceasefire to the attention of the United Nations. Hamas officials have full confidence in Turkey,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.

He also criticized Israel for laying the groundwork for provocation without removing the embargo on Palestinians.

Earlier on Sunday, Erdogan slammed Israel’s Gaza operation, saying the disproportional use of force causes “humanitarian tragedy.”

“Israel creates a humanitarian tragedy with using disproportional force. This would cause problems for Israel as well,” Erdogan said in the southern province of Antalya, without specifying what the problems would be.

He said he would discuss the latest situation in Gaza in his meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Monday.

Erdogan had visited Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt after Israel launched air operation against Gaza in Dec. 27. He returned Turkey on Sunday as he ended the Middle East tour aimed at helping to reach a ceasefire in Gaza.

Tens of thousands of protestors demonstrated in central Istanbul on Sunday, burning Israeli flags and chanting slogans, after Israeli tanks and ground troops moved in Gaza Saturday.



From The Associated Press:

Nightfall In Gaza: Israel in Partial Control, Day 9 Closing

January 4, 2009

Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early Sunday, cutting the coastal territory into two and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas militants gained momentum.

The military used overwhelming firepower from tanks, artillery and aircraft to protect the advancing soldiers, and Gaza officials said at least 31 civilians were killed in the onslaught. The military said troops killed several dozen militants, but Gaza officials could confirm only four dead — in part because rescue teams could not reach the battle zones.

By IBRAHIM BARZAK and MATTI FRIEDMAN, Associated Press Writers

An Israeli military jeep drives in front of the sun setting ... 
An Israeli military jeep drives in front of the sun setting on the Israel-Gaza border January 4, 2009. Israeli troops and tanks split the Gaza Strip and ringed its main city on Sunday in an offensive against Hamas militants but civilians trapped in the Palestinian enclave suffered more bloodshed.REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (ISRAEL)

The ground invasion and live images of the fighting in Gaza drew international condemnations and dominated news coverage on Arab satellite TV stations, many of which aired footage of wounded Palestinians at hospitals. Hamas threatened to turn Gaza into an Israeli “graveyard.”

Israel reported one soldier was killed by mortar fire on Sunday — the first Israeli death in a ground offensive that so far has been widely popular with the Israeli public.

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Israel Carves Up Gaza: Day 9

January 4, 2009

Israeli troops advanced into Gaza on Sunday under cover of heavy air, tank and artillery fire after opening a ground war against the militant group Hamas on Saturday night.

The New York Times

Witnesses said the Israeli forces had punched across Gaza, bisecting its northern and southern parts, and had taken over certain strategic areas, including what the military has described as rocket launching sites.

The ground campaign came after a week of intense airstrikes. Israel’s stated goal was to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza’s government, and to significantly decrease the threat to southern Israel from Palestinian rocket fire.

In a telephone briefing for a group of foreign correspondents, a senior Israeli military official said that Israeli troops would hold the areas they have taken inside Gaza at least for the duration of the operation to prevent militants from returning to fire rockets from there.

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Israeli Forces Bisect Gaza, Surround Biggest City, Sunday Noon GMT

January 4, 2009

Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas gained momentum.

Thousands of soldiers in three brigade-size formations pushed into Gaza after nightfall Saturday, beginning a long-awaited ground offensive after a week of intense aerial bombardment. Black smoke billowed over Gaza City at first light and bursts of machine gun fire rang out.

From the Associated Press
In his first public comments since the ground operation was launched, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet on Sunday that Israel could not allow its civilians to continue to be targeted by rockets from Gaza.

“This morning I can look every one you in the eyes and say the government did everything before deciding to go ahead with the operation,” he said.

A senior military officer said Hamas was well-prepared for the Israeli incursion into Gaza, a densely populated territory of 1.4 million where militants operate and easily hide in the crowded urban landscape. He said the operation was “not a rapid one that would end in hours or a few days.”

Still, he said, “We have no intention of staying in the Gaza Strip for the long term.” He spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with army regulations.

TV footage showed Israeli troops with night-vision goggles and camouflage face paint marching in single file. Artillery barrages preceded their advance, and they moved through fields and orchards following bomb-sniffing dogs ensuring their routes had not been booby-trapped.

The military said troops killed or wounded dozens of militant fighters, but Palestinian medical teams in Gaza, unable to move because of the fighting, could not provide casualty figures. Hamas said only three of its fighters had been killed, and Gaza health officials said eight civilians also died, including a 12-year-old girl in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya and four family members killed in an airstrike in southern Gaza.

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Israeli ground forces enter Gaza in escalation

January 3, 2009

Israeli tanks and infantry rolled into Gaza after nightfall Saturday, launching a ground offensive in a widening war against Hamas that the Israeli defense minister said “will not be easy and will not be short.”

The ground operation was preceded by several hours of heavy artillery fire after dark, igniting flames in the night sky. Machine gun fire rattled as bright tracer rounds flashed through the darkness and the crash of hundreds of shells sent up streaks of fire.

By Ibrahim Barzak And Jason Keyser, Associated Press Writers

Artillery fired illuminating rounds, sending streaks of bright light drifting down over Gaza’s densely packed neighborhoods. Gunbattles could be heard, as troops crossed the border into Gaza, marching single file. They were backed by helicopter gunships and tanks.

“Gaza will not be paved with flowers for you, it will be paved with fire and hell,” Hamas warned Israeli forces. Spokesman Ismail Radwan said in a televised speech Gaza will “become a graveyard” for Israeli soldiers.

“This will not be easy and it will not be short,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a televised address shortly after the ground invasion began. “I don’t want to disillusion anybody and residents of the south will go through difficult days,” he added.

“We do not seek war but we will not abandon our citizens to the ongoing Hamas attacks.”


Read the rest:

Israeli Ground Forces Push Into Gaza

January 3, 2009

Israel moved its troops into Gaza starting a ground offensive eight days after launching an airstrike campaign in efforts to end rocket attacks from Hamas militants.

The New York Times

A statement from the Israel Defense Forces said that this second stage of the operation was intended to “bring about an improved and more stable security situation for residents of Southern Israel over the long term.”

The statement added that “large numbers of forces are taking part in this stage of the operation including infantry, tanks, engineering forces, artillery and intelligence with the support of the Israel Air Force, Israel navy, Israel Security Agency and other security agencies.”

Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, said in a statement broadcast on television: “This will not be short. This will not be easy. I do not wish to delude anyone,” adding that the coming days will be difficult for the residents of the south of Israel.

“Our aim is to force Hamas to stop its hostile activity and to bring about a significant change,” Mr. Barak said. “We have carefully weighed our options,” he said, adding that “we have restrained ourselves for a long time but now we have to do what must be done” for peace and tranquillity.

A spokeswoman for Israel Defense Forces, Maj. Avital Leibovich, said in an interview broadcast on CNN that troops were targeting areas responsible for the launching of rockets into Israel, as well as tunnels, bunkers, and training facilities — “everything that is affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target,” Major Leibovich said.

“We have many, many targets, and therefore to my estimate it’s going to be a lengthy operation,” she added, with specifying how long the ground war could last.

Ms. Leibovich said the Israel Defense Forces were avoiding targeting civilians and were trying to give people leaflets and messages warning of the strikes. “Hamas is not putting any efforts to avoid targeting civilian deaths,” she said, referring to rockets launched by Hamas into Israel.

“For us, people that don’t recognize the right for Israel to exist, terrorists which train day after day and try to target as many Israeli civilians as possible, are for us a legitimate target for self defense.”

Read the rest:

Israel Launched Ground Offensive Into Gaza; Saturday Night Jan 3-4

January 3, 2009

Sources in Israel and Gaza tell us that Israeli troops and tanks are moving forward into Gaza.

Israeli ground troops move into Gaza

Hamas is returning fire “heavily” acording to sources on the ground.

The Israeli government has confirmed that the attack on the ground has commenced.

As many as 10,000 Israeli soldiers were believed to be around Gaza prior to the start of this operation.

An Israeli military spokesman said the ground action will take “days.”
“We have many many targets,” Maj. Avital Leibovich told CNN. “To my estimation, it will be a lengthy operation.” She said the goal of the operation was to take over the areas used by militants to launch rockets against Israel.

“The civilians are not our target, only militants, Hamas militants,” she said.

“The objective is to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure in the area of operations,” said Israel Defense Forces Major  Leibovitch, confirming that incursions were under way. “We are going to take some of the launch areas used by Hamas.”
Reacting to the incursion, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority Saeb Erakat said: “What this will do is undermine the peace process.” The Palestinian Authority is the government of President Mahmoud Abbas.
We are adding to this report as we lean more….



The New York Times:
Israeli Ground Forces Push Into Gaza

Israeli tanks fire shells toward Gaza as evening falls Saturday.

Above: Israeli tanks fire shells toward Gaza as evening falls Saturday.

From: BBC
A small column of Israeli military vehicles, backed by attack helicopters, were seen crossing the border into the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday evening.

From AP:

See the Fox News Report:,293

From Reuters

A column of Israeli tanks, some firing their weapons, rolled into the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, a Palestinian witness said, in what appeared to be the beginning of a ground offensive against Islamist Hamas.

The witness, a resident of the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, said the column crossed the boundary fence under darkness and was accompanied by Israeli combat helicopters.

The witness could not immediately say how deep the Israelis had penetrated into Palestinian territory.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Israeli media quoted unconfirmed witness reports suggesting there were incursions under way elsewhere in Gaza.


From The Jerusalem Post

For the first time since the start of Operation Cast Lead, the IDF sent a large number of ground troops into the Gaza Strip on Saturday evening.
Several hours earlier, the army began to fire artillery shells into the northern part of the Strip.

According to reports, the artillery units were attacking targets in northern Gaza from where Palestinian terrorists had been firing rockets at southern Israel.

Warplanes, gunboats and artillery units blasted more than 40 Hamas targets throughout Saturday, including Hamas’s central intelligence headquarters in Sha’ati, weapons storage facilities, training centers and Hamas leaders’ homes.

Air strikes that had waned during the day gathered pace after dark. One raid hit a mosque in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, killing 14 people and wounding 33, seven critically, according to a Palestinian health official.

Other Palestinian reports claimed that the mosque was hit by an artillery shell.



Israeli troops began moving into Gaza tonight, on the eighth day of their assault on the Hamas-ruled territory, Israel Defense Forces said. Earlier Saturday, the Israelis had begun using ground artillery in addition to the ongoing airstrikes in their assault against Gaza.

From Haaretz:

From the Associated Press:

Israel’s military says ground forces are crossing the Gaza border in an escalation of Israel‘s week-old offensive against the territory’s militant Hamas rulers.

Israeli TV channels are broadcasting images of troops marching into Gaza after nightfall. The military confirmed a ground operation was under way.

Defense officials say around 10,000 soldiers have massed along the border in recent days.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information.

A text message sent by Hamas’ military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam, said “the Zionists started approaching the trap which our fighters prepared for them.”