I would assume that infantry units are massing as well, as sending unsupported armor into an urban combat situation is suicidally stupid.
In terms of tactics and technoligy (I really wish that the War Nerd were not on vacation), we have a report that IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi demanded a clear exit strategy during the planning of this action.
It shows that he’s rather a bit more together than the flyboy who screwed up in Lebanon in 2006.
It also appears that Israel navy is heavily involved too, though it’s unclear if they are shelling, enforcing a blockade, or using the ships as bases for UAV flights. (My guess would be all three)
We are also getting some reports on the use of sophisticated multi-spectral sensors to locate targets. (The top image is post strike imagery of an underground missile launch site, the bottom image is pre-strike imagery of a Hamas military post)
We also have a “News” story from Haaretz making rather a big deal of the fact that this operation has been actively planned for months:
Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.
It’s not really news. It’s the job of the military to plan for contingencies, and to keep their mouth shut about it.
It would be news if the Defense minister and the Chief of Staff weren’t planning for a breakdown in negotiations. It’s their job.
Politically, it appears that the Israeli right wing is seeing the immediate benefit of combat operations, with Israel Beiteinu, which advocates redrawing the borders of Israel so that predominantly Arab areas of Israel are included in a Palestinian entity (I call it ethnic cleansing, but you are moving lines, not people so pedants may disagree), picking up support.
I imagine that the same thing is happening on the Palestinian side.
Finally, as to the report in the comments (BTW, go to the commenter’s blog, it’s cool) that Israel sent SMS warnings to warn civilians living near Gaza that they needed to get out and keep their heads down, I now have two links, one from bazonline.ch (Google translation that reads a bit like a Salvadore Dali paintint) and one from The Forward, though the latter says that it’s voice mails:
Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language voice mails on their cell phones from the Israel Defense Forces, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons.
While identifying the appropriate recipients of message is involved, it’s by no means impossible, particularly when the basic directory information should be available to Israeli telcos.
Note that this sort of action has been policy, and documented by independent sources going back to the 1948 war for independence.
One of the things in the coverage that has surprised me is that Guardian Columnist Seth Freedman has come down fairly hard on Hamas.
I reviewed his articles, and his beat seems to be largely Israel, Palestine, and the NGOs therein, and he generally hews fairly close to the Guardian editorial line, which has been unsympathetic to Israel for about 30 years.