As the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip moved into their third week, the Israeli military once again dropped leaflets on the residents of Gaza warning them “The IDF will escalate the operation in the Gaza Strip. The IDF is not working against the people of Gaza but against Hamas and the terrorists only. Stay safe by following our orders.”
The leaflets also cautioned Gaza residents from helping the Hamas government that rules over the strip, and cautioned them to stay away from Hamas members. The Associated Press quotes unnamed Israeli defense officials as saying that the leaflets portend “phase three” of the war in the Gaza Strip.
According to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, phase one of the attack was the air campaign which destroyed police stations, universities, and mosques across the tiny Gaza Strip, killing hundreds. Phase two began a week ago when ground forces began their invasion of the Gaza Strip, leading to enormous civilian casualties and worsening the humanitarian crisis.
So what does phase three mean for the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip? Nothing good. According to officials, the third phase will be a massive escalation of the ground invasion throughout the strip, made possible when the Israeli government rejected a UN Security Council resolution calling for peace.
Yet to be seen is if the Gaza populace (or what’s left of it after phase 3 is completed) will have to contend with phase 4, which according to defense officials is a full military occupation of the Gaza Strip.