While most of our focus has been on Ukraine, Israel this afternoon (eastern time) launched what appears to be a significant ground incursion into Gaza. Palestinian sources are reporting “scores” of casualties. The reports out of Israel are scattered and contradictory. A statement from the Prime Minister’s office says the assault is focused on destroying the cross border tunnel infrastructure between Gaza and Israel. Initial reports suggested a limited incursion. But IDF spokespeople are now saying that the IDF is operating in the north, center and south inside the Gaza Strip. There are also unconfirmed reports of a possible amphibious landing as well. All of this comes amidst continued rocket fire into southern and central Israel and along the coastal plain.
The backstory on the Israeli side has been a tug of war between the military chain of command and the government over whether to intensify the campaign in Gaza and whether to launch a ground invasion. The military, cognizant of 2009, has generally been trying to avoid an intensification of the campaign. And Netanyahu himself seems to have been generally siding with the generals, but with intensifying demands from members of his own government for a full out ground assault. As the rocket fire out of the strip has continued, the pressure to launch a ground invasion has escalated.
That question now seems to have been answered.