The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Consulate of New York, invited me to participate in a briefing on the current situation in Gaza -- I just got off the phone, liveblogging it.
Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff (Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy) and Brigadier General in Reserve Relik Shafir of the Israeli Air Force, briefed bloggers and broadcasters on the latest developments regarding Israel's response to continued rocket and mortar fire from Gaza.
Much discussion of what precipitated this military option - the tens of thousands of rockets fired into Southern Israel, with intense escalation last week.
"Israeli wanted to exhaust the diplomatic option..... military option was the last resort. Hamas always chooses the military option first."
"Hamas wanted to escalate the conflict" to undermine Fatah ....they felt much more isolated. This puts them center stage
Israel two objectives to cripple the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas - the military primary purpose we are focused what they are using all their air force assets
Military capabilities is the target. Disarm Hamas. Their military infrastructure is the target.
Up to yesterday 89 trucks of humanitarian aid.....
93 additional trucks went through the south of Gaza today Five ambulances (provided by Turkey) went through ....all humanitarian efforts are being made while the guns are firing
"We do not want a return from the status quo". "This is the key"
General Shafir conferences in from the field in Ashkelon where it has taken 30 hits from rockets and kassams - sirens going off - and you can hear in the air the sounds of war.
"We have tried to minimize collateral damage because we know it is going to be a long battle"....
My question was what is the objective of the war - to disarm Hamas or to take take out Hamas? If Hamas's objective is to destroy Israel, disarming is not enough - this is just more foreplay ....
"We need goals we can measure"
The objective is to "defend our citizens".
General said, we are in for the long haul this kind of power game is something we cannot shouldn't tolerate. This conflict will end will power or fire power
"we are not willing to fore go our ethics ...... we will not change who we are.
we will not target civilians
we will not fire into civilian areas
we will take out one by one - so course this will take longer. so it will probably take longer, but this is who we are."
They have destroyed three major weapon smuggling tunnels - they cannot guarantee a complete stop of shooting. Now its a hunt - taking out the targets.
"We could have stopped a lot more firing but will not bomb places where uninvolved civilians will be hurt"
"We have warned citizens in homes with factory making facilities. We have dropped leaflets, made phone calls - we see them moving out of their homes and then we remove the target ...."
"This is why you see a minimum of casualties" .... it's going to take a little while.
UPDATE: Rick Richman has more here.
The bloggers that participated on the call included Anne Lieberman of Boker tov, Boulder!, Carl in Jerusalem of Israel Matzav, Omri Ceren of Mere Rhetoric, Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, Bennett Ruda of Daled Amos, Jerry Gordon of Israpundit, and Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit.