The 6th day of the ground operation of Operation Protective Edge has drawn to a close and with it comes the sad news of 5 more IDF casualties over the last 2 days:
On Tuesday evening 2 soldiers were killed:
The IDF releases the name of one of the soldiers killed Tuesday evening in the Gaza Strip, Captain Dmitri Levitas, 26, of Jerusalem, a company commander in the Armored Corps who was killed by sniper fire.
Later on, the name of the second soldier was released:
First Lieutenant Natan Cohen, a 23-year-old platoon commander in the Armored Corps, is named as the second IDF fatality from Tuesday evening.
Three Israeli soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip this morning during a raid on a building, the IDF said.
All three belonged to the IDF’s Paratroopers Unit. According to the IDF, they were killed upon entering a booby-trapped house in the coastal enclave.
22-year-old Paz Elyahu, from Evron, 19-year-old Li Mat, from Eilat, and 20-year-old Shahar Dauber, from Ginegar, were killed by an explosive device activated against forces in the Gaza Strip. The IDF says Elyahu was posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant, while Mat and Dauber were both posthumously promoted to the rank of staff sergeant.
The soldiers’ entry into the house triggered an explosion that caused part of the house to cave in. A gunbattle between armed militants and Israeli soldiers then ensued, leaving seven soldiers wounded, two of them seriously.
The remaining soldiers evacuated the dead and wounded under fire, and they were transported to Israel by helicopter.
The soldiers’ families have been notified.
Altogether, 28 soldiers were injured in operations throughout the Gaza Strip today, two of them seriously, ten of them moderately and 16 lightly.
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, 32 soldiers have been killed.
May their memories be for a blessing and may their deaths not be in vain.
A foreign worker from Thailand was also killed today by mortar fire:
A foreign worker dies from injuries sustained by mortar fire from the Gaza Strip, the Ynet news website reports.
The worker was apparently in a greenhouse in a southern town when the attack occurred, and was subsequently evacuated to Ashkelon’s Barzilai hospital.
The number of wounded soldiers continues to rise with over 100 hospitalized:
Over 100 IDF soldiers are hospitalized for wounds sustained during Operation Protective Edge at medical centers around the country.
Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center is treating 61 troops, with three in serious condition, and 19 moderately wounded.
In the Sheba Medical Center, 21 IDF soldiers are presently hospitalized — one for serious injuries, 12 for moderate wounds, while eight are lightly injured.
Eighteen soldiers — two in critical condition, and four sustaining moderate wounds — are being treated at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, while 11 other soldiers receive care at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center.
Most of the participants in the funeral did not know Max. They were citizens who decided to honor him for his sacrifice, following requests to do so which circulated in the media.
He was eulogized by a friend who said: “I remember your smile, and instead of crying, I laugh. You are a legend. I have lost a brother and a dear friend.”
His sister said: “You are a hero for thousands of Jews today.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said: “Over 30,000 people came to give you the honor of a hero. The strength of the Jewish people lies in people like you. This week, we buried soldiers from Morocco, Russia and Ethiopia here. Soldiers who fought for the Jewish nation.”
“We will never forget the soldiers who are buried here at Har Herzl, which overlooks our capital, Jerusalem.”
MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, himself an Oleh, read out a beautiful eulogy
“Max made his decision to move back to Israel while on a Birthright trip to Israel in 2012, specifically while standing here, on this mountain, when he came across the grave of a fallen soldier who came from American to fight in the IDF. What sparked inside of Max when he had that experience?
“I think the answer can be found in words that Max’s mother related to the press in the United States – ‘He felt that if this was his calling, that being on the sidelines, or even in the backseat, was just not going to work,’ – Max heeded the call of Moses as we read in this past week’s Torah portion: ‘Will your brothers go to war while you remain here?’
There’s much more. Read it all. It will bring tears to your eyes. Arutz Sheva also has a beautiful photo essay and video of the funeral.
Other highlights of the day:
IDF publishes clip showing Hamas gunmen in ambulance
The IDF says in a statement that it observed Hamas fighters use an ambulance to flee the scene of combat earlier on Tuesday.
“This morning, soldiers from the Paratroopers brigade encountered a militant squad, who were then targeted by an IAF aircraft,” the IDF says. “A number of other terrorists were identified fleeing the scene in an ambulance. The IDF did not target the ambulance in light of the possibility uninvolved civilians were in it.”
The spokesperson’s office uploaded a video of the fighters entering the ambulance here.
On a related matter, the IDF bombed Wafa Hospital today - a move which, despite giving warning in advance, is sure to arouse the ire of the human
wrongs rights groups despite their silence until now about Hamas abusing the neutrality of these sites for their own nefarious purposes:
The IDF launches strikes on the al-Wafa hospital in the Gaza Strip which, it says, serves as a Hamas command center and rocket-launching site.
“This in light of several occasions in which fire was opened at IDF forces from within the hospital grounds, and despite repeated warnings against such activities, and notifications to civilians to vacate the premises,” it says in a statement.
“Hamas terrorists have been intentionally abusing the hospital and other international protected symbols to indiscriminately attack Israel and its civilians. The IDF is determined in preventing the ongoing aggression by Hamas that is directed by a strategy of exploitation and abuse of the civilian population and its wellbeing,” IDF Spokesman Peter Lerner says.
The IDF is slowly gaining control of the Shejaiya neighbourhood, scene of the most intense fighting and a Hamas stronghold:
“Our soldiers are there and are advancing carefully, destroying tunnels, and searching for weapons,” and have destroyed 120 targets in the area to date, he says.
The IDF killed 30 “terrorists” in the past 24 hours, and 210 overall since the ground offensive was launched last Thursday, the army said in a statement. Twenty-eight operatives are in Israeli custody.
The army has uncovered 28 tunnels in the Gaza Strip, and completely demolished six tunnels as well as 57 tunnel entrances, the IDF says.
The Shin Bet announces it has managed, along with the army, to either kill or incapacitate four mid- to high-level Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders.
The four are the commander of the Khan Younis area, Akram Shaar, who was behind a series of attacks against Israeli soldiers, the Shin Bet says, and in charge of rocket fire from the area; Mahmoud Ziada, a resident of Jabalya, who had served as a battalion commander in the northern sector; Sha’aban Dahduh, of Gaza City, also a battalion commander, whom the Shin Bet refers to as “outstanding”; and Saeed Ma’amar, also a battalion commander, in the Rafah brigade.
“We won’t stand aside and watch Israeli citizens being hurt and tunnels being dug to kibbutzim, to children’s houses or dining rooms,” he tells Channel 2.
Lapid stresses that it is Israel, not Hamas, that is deciding the pace of the fighting in Gaza.
“We are targeting the heads of Hamas as well. The heads of Hamas would do well to know that even their tunnels won’t save them,” he says.
Asked whether Israel distinguishes between the military and political leadership of Hamas, Lapid says there is “no difference” between “the political and military wings of a terrorist organization.”
Israel harshly condemns a statement made by the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier today accusing Israel of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip and calling for an investigation into its operation there, saying the council’s decision is a “travesty” that should be “rejected by decent people everywhere.”
“Rather than investigate Hamas, which is committing a double war crime by firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, the HRC calls for an investigation of Israel, which has gone to unprecedented lengths to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way, including by dropping leaflets, making phone falls and sending text messages,” reads a statement from Jerusalem on the matter.
“The HRC should be launching an investigation into Hamas’s decision to turn hospitals into military command centers, use schools as weapons depots and place missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes and mosques. By failing to condemn Hamas’s systematic use of human shields and by blaming Israel for the deaths that are caused by this grotesque human shields policy, the HRC is sending a message to Hamas and terror organizations everywhere that using civilians as human shields is an effective strategy.”
“As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets. The school is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons,” the organization said.
UNRWA said it “strongly and unequivocally condemns the group or groups responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law,” but did not name any Palestinian entities, like Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave.
“The Agency immediately informed the relevant parties and is pursuing all possible measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school. UNRWA will launch a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident,” the agency said.
The statement is almost identical to one released after the last hidden rockets case, when the organization found 20 rockets in another Gaza educational facility on July 16th, in the midst of fighting in Operation Protective Edge.
A day later, Israel’s UN Ambassador said he was certain that more such facilities housed Hamas weaponry.
“Yesterday, UNRWA admitted that it mysteriously found 20 missiles in one of its schools,” Ambassador Ron Prosor said on Friday in an emergency Security Council session on Gaza.
“I’m sure that if UNRWA takes the time to check its other facilities, it will discover that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hamas is using UN facilities to commit a double war crime by targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians.”
But as Israel Behind the News reported last year, UNRWA’s administrators union is dominated by – Hamas:
[T]he “administrators union” in UNRWA fell into the hands of Hamas in the union elections which were held in UNRWA facilities in 1999, 2003, 2006, 2009 and later again in 2012.
In other words, Hamas controls funds and supplies that are dispatched to UNRWA in Gaza.
Their common cause is that although Israel has a right of self-defense in theory, Israel ought to be prevented from exercising this right in practice.
Events over the past week have provided an extraordinary demonstration of this reprehensible nexus.
For the UN, no move that Israel makes short of surrender to the Palestinian mob, will ever be sufficient.
The one word that Ban Ki-moon doesn’t use in his remarks is the H-word. Hamas. And without that everything he has to say is empty idealism.
Oh I know the underlying logic. Reduce the whole thing to the usual terms like “occupation” and “despair”. Empower the PLO by giving them more money. And assume that Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza will then vote PLO instead of Hamas.
The problem with that is it’s based on a series of false assumptions. Hamas violence isn’t a response to the blockade. The blockade is a response to Hamas violence.
Netanyahu responded by reminding Ban Ki Moon of all that Israel had gone through:
Netanyahu told Ban that “no country could sit idly by while its civilians are being increasingly and indiscriminately targeted.” He then called on the international community to hold Hamas accountable for not accepting any of the cease-fire proposals that have been offered to date, such as the Egyptian initiative and the Red Cross temporary cease-fire, and for committing the “double war crime” of using Palestinian civilians as human shields whilst deliberately targeting Israeli civilians. “The people of Gaza are the victims of the brutal Hamas regime,” he said.
The prime minister also told the UN secretary-general that cement Israel delivered to Gaza under international pressure was used to build a tunnel leading to an Israeli kindergarten with the intention of blowing it up or murdering Israeli children.
Meanwhile the FAA ban on flights to Israel has been extended (no surprise there) but British Airways and Israeli airlines are continuing to fly. Ovda airport near Eilat was also opened for business but it’s not clear how many flights will be using it.
There’s much more at the Times of Israel live-blog, particularly about more anti-Israel demonstrations around the world.
Let us hope for a quiet night and better news tomorrow.
May Hashem protect our soldiers and watch over all of us.