Israel has, for the moment, postponed or decided against a ground incursion into Gaza pending international diplomatic efforts to reach a cease fire. While Israeli leaders deliberate, it’s worth reviewing the last thirty years of Israeli ground wars, in which Israel conducted roughly four* major ground operations, to see whether Israeli they accomplished their strategic ends. The evidence suggests the incursions were occasionally tactically successful, but generally did not succeed strategically and always carried a high body count.
Two caveats. First, this is an attempt to assess whether Israeli ground incursions were successful on their own strategic-military terms, and does not examine any questions about the rightness or morality of Israeli actions. Second, the casualty counts below represent estimates from the entire conflict in question, not the ground campaign specifically. Since ground operations were major parts of each of the conflicts in question, and separating what counts as a “ground” casualty is methodologically difficult, it is fair to employ the more general casualty count.
POLL: Israelis Overwhelmingly Support Gaza Operation But Against Ground Invasion |
Haaretz released a new poll today finding that 84 perecent of Israelis supporting the Israeli military’s current Gaza operation. Only 12 percent of those who were surveyed did not support the operation, dubbed “Pillar of Defense.” Last week, a poll from Israel’s Channel 10 found that 91 percent supported Pillar of Defense with 75 percent backing a continued operation. However, a ground operation in Gaza strip is only supported by 30 percent of Israelis, according to today’s Haaretz poll.
According to a CNN poll, “57% of Americans think Israel justified in Gaza operation and 59% say their sympathies are more with Israelis than Palestinians.”
Israeli spokesperson Ofir Gendelmen confirms that no rockets struck Tel Aviv proper.
Israeli Defense Forces Kill Hamas Military Leader In Gaza Airstrike |
An airstrike on the Gaza Strip has killed Ahmed Jabari, the head of the military wing of Hamas. Hamas, labeled as a terrorist group by the United States and other Western countries, controls Gaza to the consternation of Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The strike that killed Jabari is part of a widespread Israeli Defense Force campaign within the Gaza territory, according to the IDF’s official Twitter account. The Israeli intelligence agency issued a statement saying: “Jabari was responsible for financing and directing military operations and attacks against Israel. His elimination today is a message to Hamas officials in Gaza that if they continue promoting terrorism against Israel, they will be hurt.”
Iraqi NSA Fayad (L) and Syrian President Assad (R) in December
Iraq’s national security adviser Faleh Fayad told a Saudi Arabian newspaper that his country would not support the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad “at any cost.” The statement could mean Syria is on the verge of losing support from yet another Arab neighbor.
But, as the violence in Syria drags on, those dynamics appear to be shifting one of Iraq’s top security official voiced support for the restive Syrian people. Fayad reportedly told Al-Riyadh:
We do not support the Syrian regime at any cost. We support reform and Syrians must have the political freedom to choose who rules them.
We stand completely with the aspirations of the Syrian people. We cannot hope for freedom and democracy (for ourselves) while denying [Syrians]. But frankly, we have not seen a scenario for resolving [the crisis].
The statements, if reflective of an official government position, would draw Iraq closer to the position of its wealthy Gulf Arab neighbors. The Iraqi statement does not match the aggressiveness of Guld Arab regimes in calling for Assad’s removal from power, nor their sometimes flirtation with military intervention, but nonetheless could signal a shift away from Iraqi support for Assad in the face of Arab initiatives to resolve the crisis.
Palestinian President: ‘Elections On May 4, God Willing’ |
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas set May 4, 2012 as the Palestinian election day. “We are planning to hold the elections on May 4, God willing,” Abbas said. The announcement comes after rival Palestinian factions — Hamas and Fatah, who hold sway over Gaza and the West Bank, respectively — held reconciliation talks last week in Egypt. The talks reportedly resulted scrapping the idea of an interim government before the May poll in order to avoid Israel cutting off funds to the PA. Hamas, an Islamist group that engages in terrorism against Israel, reportedly inched toward more mainstream and less rejectionist positions in the talks. A recent poll found that Palestinians increasingly object to armed resistance against Israeli occupation.
Deal Reached For Release Of Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit |
A Hamas spokesperson is confirming that a deal to exchange Palestinian prisoners for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has been reached. Details of the agreement remain unknown but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Shalit will be returning to Israel in the next few days. Israeli Army Radio reported that the deal could involve the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners including women and children. Netanyahu’s Twitter account said, “The agreement to release Shalit was signed in initials last Thursday and today was signed formally by the two parties.” Shalit has been held in Gaza since June 2006.
Reps. Ellison, Carson Press Hamas To Release Israeli Soldier |
Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Andre Carson (D-IN) joined with fellow American-Muslims in a letter to Hamas leader Khaled Mashal urging the release of an Israeli soldier captured five years ago. “[W]e urge you to act upon our higher calling to charity and compassion by releasing Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit,” wrote the group, appealing to the Muslim tradition of compassion during the holy month of Ramadan. Shalit is believed to be alive and kept in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas holds de facto authority since a 2007 counter-coup.
Last night, on Fox Business Happy Hour, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) attempted to make the case for why the language of the 14th amendment — which states “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States” — should be “clarified” to exclude the children of immigrants. As evidence, Gohmert cited a conversation he had with a “lady on the plane” who told him that her son-in-law was with Hamas and was planning on having a child in the U.S. that Gohmert thinks will likely come back to “blow us up”:
BOLLING: We’re actually experiencing situations where dangerous countries al Qaeda will send a pregnant woman over here, have a baby, and then start to train these babies to be terrorists, is that right?
GOHMERT: Well, Eric, it’s not just a theory. It first came to my attention. Some of us were traveling to the Middle East last August, a year ago. And a lady on the plane was telling one of our group that they were about to have their second granddaughter. Her husband was with Hamas, her grand — I’m sorry her son-in-law was with Hamas. And that they were going to do with the second as they did with the first grandchild. Daughter is going to come to America right before it’s born on a tourist visa. Have the baby. They just like the option of having American citizens in the family. [...]
We’re bringing them over here on tourist visas, some illegally, letting them be born here and saying this is an American citizen. So come back in 20, 25 years when you’re ready to blow us up.
Gohmert then went on to argue that “people are confused by the 14th amendment” and that the whole problem would be solved if a law was passed that says that anyone who comes on a visa is not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. According to Gohmert, this makes perfect sense because the “Constitution just anticipates different groups will have different rights.”
To begin with, since 9/11, travelers from most parts of the world who want to come to the U.S. on a tourist visa have to undergo a rigorous process just to obtain permission to enter the U.S. They must provide evidence which shows the purpose of the trip, submit fingerprints and photographs, and undergo an interview by a visa officer at the US Embassy. The requirements for anyone seeking to obtain a green card, which include a criminal background check, are even more stringent. And if Gohmert suspects the pregnant mothers of future terrorists are coming into the U.S. illegally, he may want to focus on fixing the broken immigration system rather than trying to rewrite the Constitution.
Ultimately, an isolated conversation with a “lady on the plane” on the way back from a first class trip to the Middle East doesn’t sound like a good reason to upend the 14th amendment. The Constitution is vague about a lot of things, however its citizenship clause is unambiguous. In an article released by the Center for American Progress, its authors argue “[e]leven years and a bloody Civil War later, when the framers of the 14th Amendment composed its text, they explicitly rejected the notion that America is a country club.” A couple centuries later, the U.S. Supreme Court explicitly confirmed in United States v. Wong Kim Ark that anyone born in the United States would be a citizen regardless of their parents’ nationality.
Finally, mandating that anyone who comes to the U.S. on a visa is not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. government would be a recipe for disaster. It would mean that, like diplomats, immigrants and tourists would enjoy legal immunity in the U.S. Their U.S. born children wouldn’t be citizens, but if they committed a crime — for example, a terrorist act — they would not be subject to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts and legal authorities.