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TheIsraeli anti-terrorist operation Pillar of Cloud in the Gaza Strip is growing into a full-scale war. In retaliation to massive shelling in southern Israel the country dispatched the troops and the tanks to the Gaza borders. The ground operation can be launched at any moment. According to the forecasts of the experts, this operation will be more sweeping than the military operation Cast Lead in 2008.
After the news report about the killing of leader of the military wing of the Palestinian radical movement Hamas Ahmed al-Jabari as a result of an Israeli air strike 150 missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip on Israel, the Kommersant daily noted. Most missiles were intercepted by the missile defence system Iron Dome. From the start of the operation the Israeli troops hit more than 100 targets in the Gaza Strip, delivering strike on the headquarters of the militants, arms depots and missile launchers. The silos for the launch of long-range Iranian missiles Fajar-5 were selected as the main target. These missiles can reach central districts in Israel. 15 people were killed in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated that the army is ready to make the operation Pillar of Cloud more sweeping, unless missile shellings from the Gaza Strip stop. Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai named a ground operation probable. The press service of the Israeli army explained to the Kommersant daily that this decision will depend from the development of the events within next few days. However, according to numerous reports, not confirmed officially yet, the tanks and the troops were already brought to the border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday. The army also launched the mobilization of the reserve servicemen.
The experts believe that the ongoing escalation of the conflict can be profitable for the Israeli government, which would like to show to the electorate its firm position towards Palestinian extremists ahead of early parliamentary elections on January 22. The Cast Lead operation in the Gaza Strip in 2008 that was also carried out before the early elections was supported by over 90% of Israelis.
“This operation is forced,” political expert Arik Elman claimed. “The number of missile and mortar shellings on the Israeli territory reach the critical level, the militants are trying to capture the Israelis in order to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners,” Elman said. The political expert noted that the current operation may surpass the scale of the Cast Lead operation, because Israel shows that the country is ready to destroy high-ranking commanders of the militants and deliver strikes on the Hamas strategic potential.
Meanwhile, the observers warned that the escalation of the conflict in the Gaza Strip can have very negative consequences for the situation in the region that is not stable at all after the events of the Arab Spring, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported.
The first alarming signal became Egypt’s decision to recall its ambassador from Israel. This demarche was accompanied with a tough note of protest with the condemnation of Israel’s actions and the appeal to stop the operation. Israel has taken a retaliatory step and its ambassador with nine diplomats had already left Cairo.
After the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in January 2011 the relations between these two countries became tense, the newspaper recalled. The border incidents, the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, statements of Egyptian Islamists over a possible revision of the peace treaty create a quite nervous atmosphere.
However, the international community cannot take a common position on the situation in the Gaza Strip yet. An extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council that was devoted to the situation in the Gaza Strip, was futile. Russia condemned both parties in the conflict and urged them to stop combat actions. France also calls for deterrence. Meanwhile, the United States and Britain supported Israel, stating that the country has the right to protect the country from the raids of terrorists.