This is the way to do it!!
Over the course of the last few days, our government has been roundly criticized for being too quick to call a ceasefire with Hamas; this happened less than 24 hours after 100 rockets had been launched from Gaza.
Expressing my own distress, I cited Yaakov Lappin: “…each time Israel signals to its adversaries that it is interested in ending escalations as soon as possible, and responds in more-or-less predictable manners to attacks from Gaza, other, more powerful adversaries like Hezbollah and Iran take notice.”
But today (Tuesday), our government reversed itself. This plan had been set in place when Netanyahu met with security personnel and select ministers (I will get back to this) last week. It is not unreasonable to assume, in retrospect, that the premature ceasefire was a ruse to confuse the enemy.
And now the operation has been given a name: Operation Shield and Arrow (“Magen v’Chetz”), which suggests that something more than a momentary skirmish is anticipated.
Last night, starting at about 2 a.m., the IDF launched an attack against the leadership of Islamic Jihad in Gaza and their infrastructure. We successfully eliminated three of their top commanders via targeted airstrikes.
The three, all major players in Islamic Jihad, were bombed in their homes simultaneously: Jahed Ahnam, Khalil Al-Bahtini, and Terek Az Aldin. You can see details on the roles of each here:
However, I want to mention, in particular, Ahnam, for his involvement in a horrendous attack 19 years ago:
In May 2004, Tali Hatuel, who was eight months pregnant, and her four daughters, ages two to eleven, were destroyed in a vicious Islamic Jihad attack – while they were in their car they were sprayed with hundreds of rounds from machine guns. This was in Gush Katif before the disengagement. Ahnam was one of those who participated, but he evaded capture; once Israel withdrew from Gaza it became very difficult to get him. Until today. In the interim, he had become a person of great prominence in Islamic Jihad.
Said David Hatuel, the bereaved husband and father: This sends a clear message to the murderers that the people of Israel will always reach those who harm us.”
All three of the terrorist leaders had been in hiding. But they were scheduled to go to Cairo today and went to say goodbye to their families. This is when we were able to get them. Here we see one of the buildings that was hit:
This operation demonstrates, once again, what we are capable of when we are determined and serious. I refer to intelligence as well as sharp military planning.
Over 40 IAF aircraft were used in the attack against these three primary targets, which was referred to as an opening strike. During the day today the IDF hit a group of Islamic Jihad terrorists in Khan Yunis who were preparing to fire anti-tank missiles at Israel.
This has already increased our deterrence against Hezbollah. As they were watching when we called a premature ceasefire, so were they also watching now. A different message has been delivered. No more just hitting empty buildings.
The question is what happens next. I am putting this out as an opening bulletin and will obviously follow with more.
The south of Israel is preparing seriously for possible attack. Residents have been told to stay near shelters. Certain train lines will not run. Defense Minister Gallant has advised mayors of towns near Gaza to prepare their citizens.
In addition, some reserve units have been called up.
A major question is whether Hamas, which defends the IJ stance, will become actively involved. I have read that IJ and Hamas have already held a joint high level planning meeting.
During a Security Cabinet meeting today, Prime Minister Netanyahu said (emphasis added):
“Our working principle is incisive and clear: Whoever harms us will be harmed, and with greater force. Our long arm can reach every terrorist at the time and place of our choosing. We are in the midst of a campaign, and we are prepared for any eventuality. I suggest to our enemies – do not mess with us.”
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit chair) was at this Security Cabinet meeting and praised the actions of the government. One of the government’s severest critics with regard to the premature ceasefire last week, he is greatly pleased by the change in direction. Had he been privy to the plans – he was excluded from the last meeting – he would have had no cause to criticize. That was a regrettable situation for many reasons, but we are past it now. In time of war, we pull together.
The Zionists among us pull together, at any rate. Anti-Zionist head of the Ra’am party, Mansour Abbas, criticized it, blaming it on Ben Gvir. Make a note of this, please.
Meir Ben Shabbat, head of the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy and former National Security Adviser, has written a valuable piece with regard to what is necessary for Israel to secure true victory.
He suggests that the terror groups may be delaying a response until after the funerals of the three, and after the leaders of both groups have been able to go into hiding.
Pray for Israel, my friends. Pray for the safety of all Israelis, and for the strength and wisdom of our leaders.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.