At least four Palestinians have been killed as a direct result of the ground assault, Palestinian medical sources said, bringing the death toll in Gaza to 460 since the conflict erupted December 27.After Israel's failure in Lebanon, if the Israeli army can't put an end to Hamas rockets, then the whole operation is a political failure. Let us not mince words here, Israel's real goal is nothing less than the end of Hamas in Gaza. Hamas is talking tough, but their leaders are expecting Israel to remove them and to replace them in Gaza with the more moderate Fatah.
The ground assault followed a weeklong campaign of airstrikes in what Israel says is an offensive to halt rocket attacks from Hamas militants in Gaza.
"We want to create a situation where the civilian population in southern Israel is no longer on the receiving end of those deadly Hamas rockets," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN.
"We haven't articulated regime change as the goal of this operation. Our goal is to protect our people," Regev said.
Fatah officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas militiamen had been assaulting many Fatah activists since the beginning of the operation last Saturday. They said at least 75 activists were shot in the legs while others had their hands broken.Nature abhors a vacuum, after all. The enemy of Israel's enemy is their friend and Fatah is more than willing to step in after being run out of Gaza.
Wisam Abu Jalhoum, a Fatah activist from the Jabalya refugee camp, was shot in the legs by Hamas militiamen for allegedly expressing joy over the IDF air strikes on Hamas targets.
"Hamas is very nervous, because they feel that their end is nearing," a senior Fatah official said. "They have been waging a brutal campaign against Fatah members in the Gaza Strip."
But will it work? Not without many deaths and a long, ugly campaign. How far is Israel willing to go to rip out Hamas and install a Fatah-led government in Gaza, a government the people of Gaza will never accept?
After all, we're still in Afghanistan after seven years after doing the same thing to the Taliban and replacing them with Karzai's government...a government that doesn't even reach outside Kabul's city limits.
Israel is falling into the same trap we did, and many Palestinians and Israelis will die as a result.