Israel Digs in for Long Battle to Dismantle Hamas
ISRAELI-GAZA BORDER - Israeli tanks and gunships targeted Hamas in Gaza, Tuesday, in the heaviest night of bombardment in three weeks of fighting.
The pounding of missiles overnight hitting key Hamas targets followed the killing of 10 Israeli soldiers, nine of them in two separate attacks inside Israel.
The latest Israeli fatalities make it likely the Jewish state will push harder to dismantle the Hamas threat, including the many infiltration tunnels along Israeli-Gaza border, before it even considers a ceasefire.
On Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders told the nation to prepare for a prolonged battle.
"We will not complete the mission; we will not complete the operation, without neutralizing the tunnels, the sole purpose of which is the destruction of our civilians and the killing of our children," Netanyahu said.
Surveys show that a large majority of Israelis support the war against Hamas. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told CBN News that Israel wants a full Hamas disarmament.
"We have to stop this suffering of Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza by demilitarizing Gaza and by ejecting or dismantling any terrorist organization that is operating from Gaza," he said.
Israel targeted more than 70 Hamas terror sites overnight, including two command centers, four weapons storage sites hidden in mosques, and the full route of a terror tunnel shown in Israel Defense Forces footage.
Israel also hit Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh's house as well as government buildings and the Hamas satellite TV station.
Meanwhile, U.S. and European attempts to impose a ceasefire led by Secretary of State John Kerry have failed so far.
The Obama administration is angry about charges that Kerry is trying to rescue Hamas at Israel's expense.
"We have strongly supported Israel's right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks and we've engaged together in sensitive negotiations," National Security Adviser Susan Rice said. "We will continue to do so, and we'll continue to set the record straight when anyone distorts the facts."
But Zvi Mazel, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, said Israel is confused by the White House's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which includes Hamas.
"Kerry started a kind of matchmaking between Israel and Hamas and put Hamas and Israel on the same level," Mazel said.
"No, you cannot put a democratic state like Israel and an Islamic terroristic state organization like Hamas on the same level. Absolutely not! America should be pro-Israeli and say it loudly," he charged.
Meanwhile, pressure is building not just on Israel as the Palestinian death toll grows, but also on the administration. Congress is asking hard questions about why Israel is pushed to stop defending itself from ongoing attacks.