The commander of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation in the Gaza Strip, southern regional commander, Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, has called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to authorize expanding the operation to its third phase.

The phase would include sending large numbers of reserve troops into Gaza and taking over large portions of the territory. Mr.
Galant told the senior Israel Ministry of Defense leadership the IDF can achieve a “decisive situation” against Hamas without being forced to take Gaza in its entirety.

Expanding the operation, he told Mr. Olmert and Mr. Barak, would come at the cost of soldiers’ lives and would require extending the reservists’ terms of duty. However, it would solve southern Israel’s security problems for many years to come. 



He said the operation has created a “once in a generation” opportunity to solve the problem of Hamas.

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“If we don’t do that we’ll be missing an historic opportunity,” Maj. Gen. Galant said. He he anticipates that ending the operation at its current stage would result in quiet along the Gaza front for a number of years. During that time period Hamas would likely resume its rearmament and, and Tel Aviv would then fall within range of their rockets. 



He also addressed efforts to persuade Egypt to take 
more effective actions to prevent arms smuggling on the Philadelphi Road. “Israel,” he said, “can only count on the IDF.” 




Preparing For Intensified Army Activity 


IDF troops are preparing for activity at a level of intensity that has not yet been seen. 

On Saturday, the IDF warned the Palestinians to prepare 
themselves for a possible offensive. Leaflets that were distributed throughout Gaza announced an “escalation in the army’s operations.” 



“In the near future,” the leaflets read, “the IDF will continue to 
attack tunnels, weapons caches and terrorist activists with mounting 
intensity throughout the entire Gaza Strip. For the sake of your safety 
and the safety of your family you are required to refrain from remaining 
in proximity to terrorist elements or places in which weapons are stored 
or terrorist actions are perpetrated. You should continue to heed the 
instructions that are given to you… “

Throughout the weekend, only a small number 
of engagements between IDF troops and Hamas fighters occurred, resulting in seven soldiers sustaining light injuries. The troops were mainly engaged in 
clearing the areas now under their control from bombs and in breaking 
any routines so as to impede any efforts by the terrorists to strike at 
the troops. 



The Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacked some 60 targets, including 10 rocket-launching sites, five tunnels that served for arms smuggling and 14 ammunition 
storehouses and weapons production sites. Golani Brigade soldiers killed 
a suicide bomber in the northern Gaza Strip who was armed with a bomb 
belt. 


IDF Troops Kill Leader Of Rocket Forces 



Amir Mansi, who was defined as the commander of the rocket crews in 
the Gaza City area, was among the 50 terrorists who were killed by IDF forces over weekend. He was among the more important Hamas officials who had been believed to have been involved with the BM-21 Grad rocket attacks against Israel. IDF officials say that Mansi came under fire after he was identified firing mortar shells at Israel.

Mansi, who was trained by Hezbollah, was killed on the spot, and two terrorists who were with him were hit.

According to eyewitnesses who were nearby when the incident took 
place, Mansi, 28, was seen walking in the streets of Gaza City 
late on Saturday afternoon. Several minutes later, as Mansi was 
passing by a school in the northern Gaza Strip, a powerful 
explosion that shook the street and its inhabitants was heard. The same eyewitnesses recalled that a missile fired by the IDF scored 
a direct hit on him. 


Mansi, one of the greatest Palestinian experts on rocket launching, was killed instantly. 


Mansi was the son of Yusuf Mansi, 
the communications minister in the Hamas government, also considered a religious extremist figure. 


An Israeli security source described the hit as a heavy blow to 
Hamas. “This is a figure of the first rank on Hamas’ team,” the source said. “He was a particularly knowledgeable expert on operating Grad rockets. 
Operating a long-range rocket is much more complicated than the Qassam 
rocket, and so he was in charge of the training and launches.” 


A high-ranking commander in the Gaza sector added, “We are seeing 
people deserting and going AWOL among Hamas’ combat personnel. They are 
afraid to go out and fight. Therefore, today we saw Amir Mansi, a 
high-ranking man in high trajectory fire launches, whose subordinate 
did not go out to launch rockets, so he went out to launch them 
himself.”

A security source in Gaza assessed that Mansi had been forced to fire the mortars himself because his troops had refused. Mansi allegedly had no choice, and he was forced to go out and fire the mortar shells himself. 


IDF officials said they believed 300 Hamas fighters had been killed in battles with IDF troops – in addition to the others who had been
killed in IAF strikes that were carried out in the week preceding the ground operation.

A high-ranking Israeli officer said Hamas has suffered hundreds of casualties from the range of fighting.

“There are entire companies and battalions that have simply been wiped out,” he 
said. “We’ve also identified fear among activists to make an appearance 
that might endanger them when dealing with IDF soldiers. Only when the
Hamas people stick their heads out of their bunkers will they realize 
the magnitude of the destruction that Israel has caused them.”

The IAF also attacked last night the home of Ahmed Jaabri, the commander of Hamas’ military wing, in Gaza City’s Sajaiya neighborhood. The IDF has attacked some 60 targets in Gaza since last night, including tunnels and a mosque that served as a weapons storehouse where a machinegun and shells had been stored.

IDF officials also allege that the mosque served as a 
training ground and a meeting place for Hamas activists. 
 
 


Diplomatic Maneuvering

In the meantime, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Israel yesterday, after having met with with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo Saturday.

He told the Egyptian leader Germany was prepared to send a team to Egypt that would examine how to prevent arms smuggling. The Italians also voiced their willingness to send troops, as did NATO, which announced that it would help address the arms smuggling routes from Iran to Gaza. 


Israel Accuses: Condoleezza Worked Against Us 


Relations between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were warm until a short time ago, but two days ago something changed. During the night between Thursday and Friday, when the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire, Ms. Livni spoke with Ms. Rice seven times – tough conversations with raised voices. 


Israeli officials accused Ms. Rice of having worked behind Israel’s 
back and of having been the “engine” behind the wording of the Security 
Council’s resolution, contrary to the promises that she gave to Israel.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s dramatic appeal to President George W. Bush last Friday at 3:30 a.m., where Mr. Olmert demanded that the Americans veto the resolution – caused Bush to force Ms. Rice to abstain from voting although she had wanted to support it from the beginning. 


A tough conversation between Ms. Livni and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also erupted. Israeli officials claim that Mr. Miliband was the
 one who put pressure on the French to hold the vote on Thursday night
 and not postpone it by 24 hours, as the Americans and the 
 
 


IAF Commander Sets Personal Example And Bombs Gaza 


In the initial stages of the current IDF operations, were complaints existed about how Israeli commanders had been watching events unfold on their computer screens instead of leading their troops on the battlefield. This reminded many people of the 2006 War in Lebanon, when Israeli military commanders chose to remain in their command posts near the border fence.

As the past two weeks have transpired, IDF commanders have worked to change that image.

Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan personally took part in one of the air strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Nehushtan, formerly an F-16 squadron commander, flew in the plane he knew so well from the days when he commanded the squadron at the IAF’s Hatzor base.

The IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, has been seen in the combat zone in the Gaza Strip, and Mr. Galant accompanied IDF Armored Corps troops from the 401st Brigade, while other high-ranking commanders have also begun to set a personal example and have gotten into the fray of things along with their subordinates. 


In addition, Israel Navy Commander Maj. Gen. Eliezer (Cheney) Marom was aboard an Israel Navy missile boat off the Gaza coast, while Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni also entered the battlefield when he came to visit the troops from the 401st Brigade, which is subordinate to him.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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