Brutal Warfare Spreads Across Southwest Asia
July 20, 2014 • 4:08PM

Day Two of Israel's Ground Invasion of Gaza

Israel has entered a war without an exit strategy. That is the assessment of an expert source to EIR, this morning, who added that the Israelis jumped into the war against Gaza without thinking about it, and now they're screwed. The news reporting does not contradict that assessment, though there are efforts to portray Hamas as weak (it is) and Israel on stronger ground than during the last two wars against Gaza, in 2009 and 2012 (it isn't). To start with, the Palestinian death toll is still getting wide coverage. As of this afternoon, Gaza time, Palestinian authorities had put the death toll at 340, including 41 people killed, today, alone. According to the Washington Post, some 47,000 Palestinians have sought shelter in UNRWA facilities since the ground invasion began. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is continuing to warn civilians in areas near Israeli military operations to evacuate their homes, but there's really no place for them to go, as every part of Gaza is within artillery range of Israeli forces even outside the densely populated strip.

The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, based in Gaza City, issued a statement, yesterday, calling on the international community to stop Israel's aggression and said that civilians are bearing the brunt of the assault. "International community must intervene to ensure that the attacks on houses, mosques, hospitals, police stations and NGOs, are investigated and prosecuted as per the standards provided by international law," they said. By their count, the death toll includes 76 children and 36 women. They report that 50,000 people have been displaced.

The Israeli death toll is now reported to be 3 IDF soldiers, including 2 killed on the Israeli side of the border fence by militant infiltrators and 2 civilians, including a Bedouin man killed earlier today by a rocket that exploded near Dimona. The number of wounded is not reported, but seems to now number in the range of two to three dozen.

On the diplomatic front, the daily live updates in Ha'aretz reports the following: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has flown to Qatar to meet with Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal and the Qatari emir; Meshaal says the group will not agree to a cease-fire until Israel lifts the economic siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and frees detainees who were re-arrested after being released in the Shalit prisoner swap. Hamas also wants Egypt to show flexibility in opening the Rafah Crossing. Meshaal says he is willing to discuss any deal based on these demands, adding that Qatar and Turkey are also taking part in the mediation efforts alongside Egypt. EU foreign policy chief Lady Catherine Ashton published a statement, today, calling for an immediate cease-fire and unfettered access for Gaza to humanitarian relief.

Iraqi Defeat In Tikrit: Is Baghdad Next?

According to a McClatchy News report of July 18, the Iraqi army offensive to retake Tikrit from the forces of ISIS came to an ignominious end, when ISIS fighters overran the former U.S. base of Camp Speicher, killing or capturing hundreds of Iraqi troops in the process. This brought an end to the three-week campaign by the Iraqi army, bolstered by Shi'a militias, reported to be trained by Iran, to retake the city. The final collapse, followed by one day a "tactical withdrawal" of the Iraqi force from Tikrit to the town of Ajwa, a few miles away. That withdrawal ended with the troops becoming entrapped at Camp Speicher by ISIS fighters. Witnesses reached by phone told McClatchy that as many as 700 soldiers and 150 militia fighters were involved in the final battle, and that ISIS was now parading prisoners through the streets and that many had been executed.

Retired DIA officer Pat Lang on his blog yesterday: "The 'tactical retreat' to Ajwa became yet another massive defeat for the Shi'a run government. IMO there is nothing short of a full-blown intervention by Iran or use of U.S. strategic air (conventional munitions only) that can prevent an IS coalition advance to Baghdad. Baghdad International Airport is a logical objective in the next phase of the IS coalition campaign. This would physically isolate the government and put the renewed U.S. effort to support that government in an untenable position. Having done that a next phase would almost certainly be occupation of the Sunni inhabited western parts of the city."

A Kurdish officer who confirmed the destruction of the Iraqi force, told McClatchy that Iran, in the face of these defeats, is re-evaluating its strategy of aiding the Iraqi army and has decided to try to do what it has successfully done in Syria, "to use the army to hold checkpoints but properly train elite fighters to do the real fighting, like he's done with Hezbollah and other Syrian militias." The problem, he said, is that there is no Iraqi equivalent of Hezbollah.