So far there have been about 4,000 casualties from the fighting that began in December 27th. As with past battles between Israel and Arabs, most of the losses (in this case 98 percent) are Arab. This is worse than previous wars because Hamas has deliberately tried to get Palestinians killed, mainly for the propaganda value. The Israelis have developed new tactics that minimize their casualties, and those of Palestinian civilians. The mass media is in the midst of their usual anti-Israel/pro-Hamas hysteria. But, as in the past, when the dust settles, it will be revealed (if not universally admitted) that Hamas was trying to get Palestinian civilians killed, and Israelis weren't. Israeli tactics have denied Hamas the bloodbath they hoped to achieve. The Hamas gunmen die quickly, and the Israeli troops are very difficult to hit. The Israeli ground forces have moved into the suburbs of Gaza City. Arabs are dismayed by this disparity in casualties, which has occurred whenever Arab and Westerners have fought in the last century or so. The reason for it is the corruption and inefficiency of Arab society. The Arabs have proved to be unable to rule themselves effectively, and a long list of bad habits makes it difficult for Arabs to create effective armed forces. Thus we end up with Hamas cynically using tactics that try to get more Palestinians killed, so the "victimhood" of Hamas will be enhanced by a world that averts their eyes when it comes to seeing Arab faults, and the tragic results.
The Israeli objective is the dozens of warehouses and workshops for the rockets that are constantly being fired into Israel. This has been going on for seven years, and the Israelis want to destroy the Hamas rocket facilities they know about, and work their informant network in Gaza city to see if new rocket storage sites and workshops can be found before Israeli troops are pulled out. Many of these facilities are underground, usually in residential neighborhoods. Israeli aircraft have been making 20-40 air strikes a day, mostly at Hamas gunmen who have been spotted from the air, or by Israeli troops on the ground. As information is received about the location of Hamas leaders or weapons, they are also hit. The Hamas leadership has taken a big hit, and appears to be paralyzed and in a state of panic because of these attacks.
Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel are declining, to about ten a day. Apparently, Israeli forces believe they will have to sweep most of Gaza City to get the rocket firings down to none, or only one or two, a day. It is believed that about 75 percent of the 900 Arabs killed so far have been armed members of Hamas (about two thirds) or other terrorist organizations (the other third). The enemy are losing about fifty dead a day now, mainly in clashes with Israeli troops. The enemy ambush tactics (booby trapped homes, snipers, roadside bombs, suicide bombers) have proved remarkably ineffective so far. Hamas has boated of having up to 20,000 armed fighters, but few of these have shown up so far. There appear to be less than a thousand armed Palestinians fighting more than ten times that number of Israeli troops. Hamas leaders are reluctant to gather their local gunmen and go fight, because of the Israeli success at killing any Hamas leaders that become active like that. It's much safer to just hide in a basement and keep quiet.
Israel is willing to have a ceasefire, but only if European nations put their own troops in Gaza as truce observers. European nations are reluctant to do this, as they know (but will not admit) what a hopeless situation it is dealing with the Palestinians, and especially Hamas. Meanwhile, since December 27th, there has been a sharp increase in anti-Semite incidents in Europe (nearly 60 in France alone, with calls for boycotts against Jews in Italy and so on.) While there is some criticism of Hamas for their constant rocket attacks on Israel, the main focus of public anger is against Israel for defending itself with force, and Jews in general. Old habits die hard, although some of the anti-Semites insist they are simply demanding justice for Hamas. Ironically, or otherwise, the current criticism of the Jews is very similar to that used to justify anti-Semitic persecution in the past (the dark conspiracies and such).
January 12, 2009: Israel banned (for supporting terrorism) two of the three Israeli-Arab parties from next months elections. Arabs make up twenty percent of the Israeli population, and seven of the 120 members of the parliament are Arab. Some Israeli Arab politicians have been caught working for Hezbollah, and other anti-Israeli organizations, although most are loyal.
January 11, 2009: In south Lebanon, security forces outside a UN base found plastic explosives hidden in a garbage truck entering a UN base. The two men on the truck were arrested and are being questioned.
In Gaza, Israeli troops began entering populated areas (most of Gaza is semi-desert and unoccupied). The new Israeli tactics slowed down the troops, but resulted in any Hamas fighters getting killed, with little or no loss to the Israelis.
January 10, 2009: Israeli mechanized forces slowly moved towards Gaza City, while Hamas fired about a dozen rockets into southern Israel, causing no casualties.
January 9, 2009: The UN passed a resolution demanding that Israel and Hamas accept a cease fire. It was ignored in Gaza.
January 8, 2009: Three rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel. Hezbollah quickly denied that it was them. Israel played down the incident, which only caused a few injuries (when an old age home was hit). The UN pulled its aid workers out of areas in Gaza where there was combat. The UN was miffed that they were not provided with some sort of immunity from Israeli and Hamas weapons.
January 7, 2009: Israel halted combat for three hours to allow civilians in Gaza to stock up on food, and for 80 trucks of supplies to enter Gaza. Israel also warned some 5,000 civilians to stay away from the border with Egypt, because more Israeli bombing attacks were being directed at the smuggling tunnels.