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Middle East
War on Gaza diary: The frontline
Israelis constantly remind us we are in a closed military zone.
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2008 20:45 GMT

 

Israel continues to mass troops and tanks on the boundary with the Gaza Strip [AFP]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


There's been a build up of military forces.  Just driving south, shadowing the Israeli Gaza boundary, men and machines are being brought into the area.

Low loaders carry tanks and personnel carriers, which then churn their way on to the fields, their guns pointed towards Gaza. Men in uniform struggle through the clawing mud which would hinder any advance.

Our attempts to film what is going on are quickly snuffed out by Israelis who constantly remind us we are in a closed military zone.

This Israelis are showing that the possibility of a ground incursion is more than just talk. But there is the argument a ground attack would be a no-win war for the Israelis.

It would be difficult. They run the risk of inflicting high civilian casualties on the Palestinian side, world opinion would be against it; if they started losing soldiers, Israeli public opinion could turn and, when they leave, as they say they have no intention of re-occupying Gaza, one rocket fired into Israel, just one, would let the critics claim the whole operation was bloody and pointless.

The city of Be'er Sheva is known as the capital of the south. For years it has been a concerned observer as Hamas rockets brought fear and damage to towns nearby. Now it finds itself in the danger zone.

The missiles are travelling further, up to 45 kilometres, and that puts Be'er Sheva on the front line.

One man tells me: "Of course we're worried but we want to live in peace and if that means confronting Hamas, that is what we have to do. A young woman says: "This bloody cycle has to stop. Both sides deserve better than this."

Across the city they haven't started clearing the damage yet from a school which was one of the first targets.

From the outside the damage seems slight - but inside the full picture of what the single rocket had done. It fell when the school was empty. Lessons here and elsewhere across the city have been suspended.

The mayor, Rubik Danilobitz is a small, dark man who appears to favour dark clothes. He is animated and intense as he tells me: "We will not tell the army what to do. We will protect our citizens and our army will do their job too."

The new reality is that if the rockets fired from Gaza can reach Be'er Sheva - that puts more towns, more villages, more people under threat.

More people have been killed in Gaza in the past five days than in five years of rocket attacks on Israel. But now more people here are watching the skies, listening to the alerts and wondering if their town will be next.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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