IDF Southern Rain: Phase II (North Gaza)

Operation Southern Rains second phase appears ready to go at any time should the order be given.

Aqsa 207 - long range terrorist missileThe IDF has mobilized adjacent to the Northern area of the Gaza Strip, the site of thousands of Kassam rocket launches against Israeli population centers. Sderot, being the hardest hit. But longer range Soviet style Katyusha rockets & Grad missiles capable of striking approx 20 Km with a measure of accuracy have impacted critical zones as far North as the major industrial city of Ashkelon.

JPOST: IDF poised for northern Gaza entry

Southern Rain Phase II: Visual Aid
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Southern Rains Phase II - North Gaza visual aid

Objective: Strike at terrorist infrastructure, including manufacturing, support & Kassam rocket launching cells.

Key points on the graphic:
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Sderot in blue, is the site of the vicious never ending Kassam attacks, and the main impetus for the need of this operation. Its population has been under siege, unnaceptable for the State of Israel.

Beit Hanoun in red is a key staging ground for Kassam cells, and terror operations striking Israel. The deeper orange area is farming fields, some of which have been made notorious rather unjustly by the western media. Primarily devoid of population, these fields are where many of the thousands of IDF counter shells have been launched into by the two main Northern IDF Artillery battalions as a deterrent measure, with little success other than forcing the terrorists to rush their launches and often miss.

Beit Hanoun, and directly to its left Bet Lahiya is where IDF dozers, tanks and then infantry will be moving into for suppression purposes. One assumes this will be similar to the IDF 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, where major areas of the West Bank were reoccupied by IDF troops. Characterised by brutal terrorist engagements and warfare, like in the city of Jenin. The tightly & densely populated areas are mazes of tiny alleys, crumbling infrastructure and apparently now, booby traps.

It is important to note that in previous examples, the IDF has gone to great care and subjected GREAT risk to young IDF troopers by going house to house in these types of engagements, with close in urban combat. It is much easier & safer to drop smart bombs, but the safeguarding of all civilian lives of every stripe form a core driving principle of the IDF, one of the most moral armies on the planet.

Erez Crossing; Access to Gaza via Israel is tightly controlled by strategic crossing points. Erez is one such point, when one reads in the media that the crossing points are closed, or that access is denied due to terror & security considerations it most often Erez, or the Kissufim and Qarni crossings cited. Clearly, in the past few months with Hamas in control Erez has been shut tight, with aid flowing sometimes into Gaza but solely in a unidirectional manner.

The Jabaliya refugee camp just south of Bet Lahiya is a particularly nasty place (darker on the map). It is the largest of the Palestinian refugee camps, the source of the original Palestinian intifada in the 80's. Terror central, despite appearances on the map, the camp is only about 2km square in size (the map is at super high resolution.)

Photo of IDF artillery firing on Kassam launching areas (Reuters) 

Dangerous defensive mission

Should the final order be given, and it appears close. The IDF will be embarking on a dangerous operation, please keep the troops in your prayers. ( hat tip, one of my favorites Daled Amos )

I will update this post with key details on the operation if / when they develop. Already IAF air strikes of key production facilities have been reported, and the artillery battalions have fired in response to Kassam attacks on the gathered IDF forces.
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UPDATE ITroops informed operation in the North currently canceled.. Due to Foreign pressure at seeking a 'possible diplomatic solution'

Soldiers stationed in field informed on cancellation of operation planned for Thursday night. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convenes security consultation; decision to delay entry to northern Strip possibly related to diplomatic efforts [...]

Cycle of weakness continues..

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said earlier that "we are now in one of the most significant moments in terms of determining the rules of the game between us and the terror groups in the Palestinian Authority in the near future."

Fit for duty?Have you ever heard of anything so absurd in your whole life? The rules of conduct between US and the TERROR GROUPS!? This man will grasp at anything, he's a pacifist who's the Defense Minister of Israel, outrageous.

The decision to postpone plans for a ground incursion into northern Gaza comes as the foreign ministers from the group of eight industrialized nations called on Israel to show restraint and expressed concerned over the latest escalations during a meeting in Moscow.

WOW. More you say? No problem..

[...] During the meeting, Peretz approved further steps of Operation Summer Rain in Gaza and ordered the government's operations coordinator in the territories to continuously report on the "humanitarian situation in Gaza."

Peretz instructed security officials to examine every ground operation "for ifs affectivity." He noted that despite the fact that at this stage the political-diplomatic dimension has been fruitless in effecting the return of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, it may gain sudden momentum. [...]

Mr. Rogers is defending the State of Israel..