Operation Protective Edge – Ground op day 2

Over Shabbat the pattern of preceding days repeated itself: multiple rocket and missile launches at Israel, scores of Air Force attacks against Hamas targets, terror tunnels discovered and destroyed, and several terrorists killed.

The IDF’s figures as of 2 a.m. this morning are as follows:

2:00 a.m. The IDF has targeted 500 Gaza sites in the past two days and 2,500 targets altogether. Thirteen tunnels have been discovered, five of which lead into Israel. Furthermore, 34 tunnel opening have been uncovered, which the IDF is in the process of investigating. Thirteen terror suspects have been arrested.

Sgt. Adar Barsano, 20, from Nahariya (left) and Maj. (Res.) Amotz Greenberg, 45,

Sgt. Adar Barsano, 20, from Nahariya (left) and Maj. (Res.) Amotz Greenberg, 45, from Hod Hasharon, who were killed when Hamas gunmen inflitrated into southern Israel on July 19

In the worst incident of the ground operation so far two more soldiers were killed over Shabbat when Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel on the Israeli side of the border and opened fire at an IDF patrol:

The two were named as Amotz Greenberg, 45, a major in the reserves from Hod Hasharon, and Sgt. Adar Barsano, 20, from Nahariya. The information was cleared for publication after the families were informed.

The deaths were the first of soldiers killed by Hamas since Operation Protective Edge began on July 8.

The terrorist cell infiltrated Israeli territory through a tunnel, in an apparent attempt to carry out a major attack on one of the nearby communities, the army said. The IDF vehicle was not the intended target. Its presence at the scene prevented a much larger planned attack, military sources said late Saturday.

The army believes there are 20 more such tunnels, and that further efforts to infiltrate and kill Israelis are likely. Larger contingents of soldiers were deployed to the Israeli side of the Gaza border area after the incident, military sources said, to guard against further such attacks.

An initial investigation indicated that eight or nine Hamas gunmen clad in IDF uniforms infiltrated beneath the border fence.The gunmen encountered the IDF patrol and opened fire with machine guns and anti-tank weaponry, killing the two officers, moderately wounding two other soldiers and lightly wounding two others.Troops returned fire, killing one of the terrorists; others fled back into Gaza.

Military sources said that material found at the scene, including plastic handcuffs, indicated that the terrorists intended to kill and kidnap Israeli civilians and/or soldiers.

Residents in nearby areas, including Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha, were told to stay indoors for several hours while the IDF searched for other gunmen.

The wounded soldiers were evacuated to hospitals, and the families of the dead soldiers notified.

The army said afterwards it had carried out an air strike in Gaza targeting several terrorists involved in the attack, although it was unclear if there were casualties.

The army was investigating why the tunnel was not spotted earlier and the infiltration thwarted.

To understand the difficulty of discovering and destroying the terror tunnels, read this chilling article by Mitch Ginsburg in the Times of Israel:

The tunnel threat, the unknowingness of it, has eclipsed the threat of rockets in Israel’s war with Gaza.

Conversations with current and former officers illustrate some of the challenges those forces now face in Gaza.

Brig. Gen. Miki Edelstein, the Gaza division commander, told reporters near an offensive tunnel discovered in October 2013 that the entrance to that tunnel was likely in the back yard of a civilian’s home in Rafah.

IDF soldiers stand near the entrance to a tunnel on July 18 2014

Brig. Gen. (res) Shimi Daniel, a former commander of the combat engineering corps, painted a more complex picture. He said Thursday on Channel 2 news that the entrance shafts of the tunnels are located within civilian homes and that, by the time troops arrive, “they’ve already poured fresh concrete over the opening.”

Once detected, soldiers from the SAMUR unit, specializing in counter-tunnel operations, lower a robot into the shaft. Major Ido, the commander of the combat engineering special forces school, said in a phone interview several months ago that the robots can send back video to the squad on the ground and have the capacity to map the contours of the tunnel.

Afterward, the army will usually send explosive-detecting dogs from the Oketz unit into the channel. On Thursday, an Oketz soldier was lightly wounded and a dog was killed in the tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa. Ordinarily, if the dog detects explosives a bomb disposal robot can be summoned.

Hamas terror tunnel from July 18 2014

Hamas terror tunnel from July 18 2014

Only then are the troops lowered into the darkness. Some of the recently discovered tunnels have been more than 60-feet-deep and over a mile long. Many have branched out near the border, with multiple exits, so as to enable a more complex attack. The army has discovered at least eight and reportedly as many as 30 offensive tunnels, thus far, and the channels are now, the army says, “under comprehensive investigation.

Read the rest of the article to gain an insight into the complexity of the challenge.

Besides dealing with tunnels, the IDF have to watch out for booby-trapped civilian buildings. Watch this IDF video of how troops discovered a booby trapped house rigged with explosives (via the Muqata’s facebook page):

We can see from the sheer number of tunnels discovered so far, and the estimate of those yet to be found, how the determination of the terrorists to kidnap Israelis, whether soldiers or civilians, and from the Israeli side of the border puts the lie to any claim made by them that they are fighting for “freedom”.  Their entire and sole purpose is to kill Israelis, terrorise the populace and eradicate Israel as a country.  I know I’m repeating myself here, but if they would only invest their energies into building instead of destroying, the Palestinians could have been one of the richest countries in the world.

Sadly, a Bedouin man was also killed in his village by a direct hit from a rocket, and his entire family was wounded.

Contrary to initial reports, a Bedouin family hit by a rocket near Dimona earlier has suffered grave casualties.

A man, 32, was killed in the attack. Four other family members, two women and two children, were wounded in the attack. Reports on their conditions vary; some reports say a baby is in serious condition.

(On a personal note, that Dimona attack had my daughter and her family taking shelter twice over Shabbat morning.)

In other news of the day, the bestial terrorists used (and abused) a helpless donkey to carry out a suicide bombing:

Hamas militants sent a donkey laden with explosives on a suicide mission in one of the most unconventional tactics yet seen in the fighting in Gaza, the Israeli army has said.

Troops said they were forced to open fire on the animal – blowing it up – as it approached their position in the southern city of Rafah, near the Egyptian border.

The Israeli army had received prior intelligence that militants were going to try to use animals to carry out attacks, according to a press release on the Israeli Defence Forces website.

“They used this donkey as a human shield, or an animal shield, if you like,” said Major Arye Shalicar, an army spokesman. “Anything, an animal or an international building, that can help make use of innocent people or international [citizens], they will use it. We see it time and again.”

Every time we think Hamas can’t sink any lower … they do.

However, it is not Hamas against whom the nations protest all over the world. It is against Israel, and the Jews, upon whom the nations pour their ire.

Turkish demonstrators burn the Israeli flag at an anti-Israel demo outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul

Turkey has taken the crown in antisemitic protests, headed by its own leader who called Israel “more barbaric than Hitler“.

Early Saturday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning to Israeli citizens against nonessential travel to Turkey. “Given the public atmosphere in Turkey in light of Operation Protective Edge, we are honing our recommendation to avoid visits to the state that aren’t essential,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Israel decided Friday to pull some of its diplomatic staff out of Turkey in the wake of violent protests targeting the buildings of its embassy and consulate in Ankara and Istanbul, an embassy spokesman said, as well as recent statements that accused Israel of attempting a “systematic genocide” on the Palestinian people.

After protests against Operation Protective Edge in front of Israel’s missions in Ankara and Istanbul turned violent Thursday night, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman instructed Israeli diplomats stationed in Turkey to return home.

And demonstrations in London also displayed some vile antisemitic signs  (via Tom Gross’s facebook page):

Anti-Semitic signs at anti-Israel demo in London

Anti-Semitic signs at anti-Israel demo in London

Douglas Murray at the Spectator once again exposes the hypocrisy as well as the inherent antisemitism of these anti-Israel demonstrations:

But what a picture. These are the people who stayed at home throughout the Syrian civil war, stayed at home when ISIS rampaged across Iraq, stayed at home when Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab carried out their atrocities across central Africa and showed no concern whatsoever when the Muslim Brotherhood was running Egypt into the ground. Yet they pretend to care about Muslims.

And here they all are, coming out to scream because Israel is carrying out the most specific and targeted campaign in the history of warfare in order to stop Hamas – a group dedicated to the annihilation of all Jews – from firing thousands of rockets into the Jewish homeland.

Astonishingly enough, anti-Israel protests were also held – in Israel! The good news is that traitorous MK Hanin Zouabi found herself in handcuffs, albeit only for a short while:

Over a thousand Arab Israeli protesters massed in the northern city of Haifa on Friday evening to rally against the IDF’s ongoing ground incursion in the Gaza Strip. The demonstrators, led by controversial Balad MK Hanin Zoabi, clashed with police as they attempted to block several roads in the coastal city.

A number of police officers and protesters, among them Balad MK Jamal Zahalka, who also took part in the rally, were lightly injured and received medical treatment at the spot.

Some of the protesters were reported to have waved Palestinian flags as they chanted slogans welcoming Hamas rocket fire at Tel Aviv. The demonstrators also shouted out slogans against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Thirty protesters were arrested, including Zoabi, who was handcuffed by police officers at the site. The Balad MK was released from police custody a short while later.

Police maintained the rally was unauthorized as the demonstrators had failed to alert authorities of its existence.

Speaking of rockets, the only good thing about all that massive rocket fire is that Hamas are using up their stock:

[IDF Spokesman Peter] Lerner went on to say that the army had already eliminated close to 3,000 rockets in Gaza. Considering the fact that terrorists in the Strip have fired some 1,100 projectiles, it is estimated that half of the projected 10,000 rockets in the possession of Gaza terror groups have been used or destroyed.

That is probably small comfort to the communities of the south who are undergoing a heavy bombardment as I write:

Code Red alerts Saturday night 20th July 2014

May we hope for a quieter night and for quieter and safer days ahead.

May Hashem protect the soldiers and citizens of Israel and keep them all safe.

Posted in Antisemitism, Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gaza ground operation – Friday-Shabbat edition

There is not going to be a Good News Friday post this week. I just felt it was inappropriate at a time when the country is technically at war, with so many of our men, husbands, fathers, brothers and sons called up to battle, entering into the pit of hell that is Gaza to root out the demonic maniacs whose sole aim is to destroy us, and with the south under intensive rocket fire even at this minute, even with the IDF swarming all over Gaza.  Add to all that the terrible month that we have just gone through, and I am exhausted with trying to find good news to post about that isn’t too inappropriately irrelevant.

(This is not to say that there won’t be some good news in this post. You’ll have to read through to the end).

Sg. Eitan Barak, killed in the IDF ground operation into Gaza

Sg. Eitan Barak, killed in the IDF ground operation into Gaza

As you all know the IDF entered Gaza last night on the long-awaited ground incursion with the purpose of rooting out the terrorist tunnels and killing, catching or otherwise neutralizing as many Hamas terrorists as possible.  Tragically, the IDF had its first casualty when Sgt. Eitan Barak from Herzliya was killed:

Sergeant Eitan Barak, 20, from Herzliya, was critically wounded during an operation against rocket launchers in the area of Beit Hanoun and died of his wounds before he could be evacuated. Four other soldiers were injured, one moderately and the rest lightly.

May his family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. יהי זכרו ברוך.

From the Times of Israel’s live-blog, here is a summary of the events that have taken place since last night:

The land operation was approved unanimously by the Israeli security cabinet, and will be expanded as needed, Netanyahu said Friday morning. Hamas is vowing that Israel will pay dearly for sending in its troops and is rejecting ceasefire proposals. At least 19 Hamas fighters were killed in gunfights with Israeli troops and one Israel soldier died, and at least 13 Hamas men were taken captive by Israel.

Read through the rest of the live-blog to stay updated with ongoing events.

An IDF commander motivated his troops with these stirring words:

“I don’t think I need to explain to you why we are doing what we are doing,” he says. “We are here in order to do what we trained for, and what we enlisted for — to protect the State of Israel, and to enable its right to exist in freedom, without them shooting mortars at us, and without us worrying about the families here on the border, and I am confident in what we are doing, because it is our right to be free in our land. It’s not a slogan, it’s the truth.”

Watch a short clip of the IDF entering Gaza:

The IDF uncovered 5 sprawling tunnels (updated to 8 on the latest news) and are investigating them:

The army’s latest statement reads:

Dozens of terror tunnels are spread throughout the Gaza Strip, the majority of them constructed and utilized by Hamas. The Hamas tunnel network is highly developed and continuously preserved, interconnecting launch sites, rocket maintenance and command and control positions.

Since the beginning of the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge yesterday, July 17, approximately 5 of these terror tunnels have been exposed by IDF soldiers and are now under comprehensive investigation.

Offensive tunnels are complex and advanced, crossing the border from Gaza to Israel, with an agenda to enable terrorists to infiltrate into the Israeli home front.

Such tunnels, with openings deep within Israeli territory, are intended to carry out attacks such as abductions of Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers alike; infiltrations into Israeli communities; mass murders; and hostage-taking scenarios.

In order to disable such capabilities and eliminate the possible threat, the IDF will continue on its course of action, targeting terror infrastructure, including tunnels, rocket launchers and impairing other terrorist capabilities.

It is beyond astounding to consider how much time, energy, money and materials have been extended in building these huge tunnel networks, a veritable country underground. I have heard reports that these tunnels are 10,12, even 20 storeys below ground. Can you imagine what Gaza could have looked like if those tunnels were built upwards instead of down? What amazing buildings, what factories, schools, hospitals and residential housing could have been built! Gaza could have been a seaside paradise, but instead they have a hell-hole.

And it is incomprehensible to me that a leadership of a country – Gaza is a state in all but declaration – has expended all that time and money and effort for the sole purpose of destroying its neighbour. Nothing has been invested in infrastructure, education (beyond brainwashing and inciting the next generation to continue their murderous aims), or health care. When they run out of money they blame it on the Jews and run whining to the UN.

OK, this post will now be cut short since we had another missile just fired at us and I had to take an enforced 10 minute “break” in the shelter. Apparently that was part of a barrage of 15 missiles shot at the Sharon and Shefela region. The IDF has still a long way to go unfortunately.

Olim receive their Israeli ID cards

Olim receive their Israeli ID cards

One small point of good news for Shabbat: a group of 400 French Jews made Aliya  Israel – and they will be making their homes in Ashkelon and Ashdod, the joint capitals (together with Sderot) of missile targets, no less!

The group is set to arrive aboard two special flights organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, and notably is comprised largely of families with young children, including 195 minors and 18 babies according to the Jewish Agency.

Most of the immigrants are from the Paris area, which has seen particularly virulent manifestations of anti-Semitism in recent years and which has spiked further still during the current conflict between Israel and Gazan terrorists. On Sunday, a synagogue in Paris came under attack by a crowd of Muslim anti-Israel demonstrators in a shocking incident which one witness described as reminiscent of Kristallnacht.

Remarkably, although the new olim will be moving to communities throughout the country, a sizable proportion will be moving to cities in southern Israel which even now continue to be targeted by terrorist rockets. 60 families will be moving to Ashdod and Ashkelon, which have faced daily attacks by Gazan terrorists.

A further 100 will be moving to Tel Aviv, which has also received its fair share of rocket attacks, including four long-range rockets fired this morning. 50 more families will be moving to Jerusalem, which has faced sporadic rocket fire, and 130 more will be starting their news lives in the coastal city of Netanya, which is already home to a large French expat community.

ברוכים הבאים! Bienvenue! Welcome to Israel! May you have an easy absorption into your new lives here.

To conclude this post, and to put us into a better mood for Shabbat, here are some great pictures: (Thanks to Chaim and Reality for the pictures).

Astonishingly, the lefty Ynet published the prayer before going to battle. Kol hakavod to them.

Prayer before going into battle

Prayer before going into battle

 

IDF soldiers at prayer

IDF soldiers at prayer

Translation: The red signpost reads “Soldier-kidnapping Brigade”. The speech balloon reads: “Idiots! Your mission was to bring ONE soldier here. Not the entire IDF!” :-)

And to conclude, how could I not bring you the Prayer for the State that we say every week in shul, and is more relevant and necesary than ever this week.

May Hashem protect us and our soldiers and bring them home safely, Amen.

Shabbat Shalom everyone. May we all have a quiet safe Shabbat.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Operation Protective Edge – humanitarian truce ends, ground operation begins

Today’s events, beginning with the attempted infiltration by a large group of terrorists into a Kibbutz in the south, punctuated by a shaky humanitarian truce which was violated by Hamas in the middle, and culminating in a massive and intense barrage of rockets and missiles all over Israel, some 150 in number, finally led the government to give the order to the IDF to enter Gaza on the ground.

IDF bombing causes Gaza explosion

IDF bombing causes Gaza explosion

The last straw appears to have been the tunnel infiltration at Kibbutz Sufa this morning, according to Minister Gilad Erdan:

Erdan says cabinet unanimously approves ground op

Minister Gilad Erdan says the decision to launch the ground offensive was approved in principle “several days ago” by unanimous vote of the security cabinet. He says the Hamas tunnels dug under the Israeli border are “a strategic threat” that Israel could not abide.

From the Jerusalem Post report:

After days of waiting and deliberation, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday night directed the IDF to send ground troops into Gaza to strike the terror tunnels into Israel.

A statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon Netanyahu directed the IDF to prepare to expand the ground operation.

The statement said that the security cabinet approved the operation after Israel agreed to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal on Tuesday, which Hamas rejected. In addition, the statement said, Hamas even fired rockets during the Thursday’s five-hour humanitarian cease-fire.

“In light of Hamas’ continuous criminal aggression, and the dangerous infiltration into Israeli territory, Israel is obligated to act in defense of its citizens,” the statement said.

The statement said that Operation Protective Edge, now in its 10th day, will continue until its goals are reached: restoring quiet for an extended period of time,and delivering a significant blow to Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza.

Prior to the commencement of the ground invasion, the IDF launched a massive wave of combined air and artillery strikes on Thursday night.

The ground invasion comes hours after a Hamas assault squad of thirteen highly armed terrorists attempted to carry out a massacre of civilians at Kibbutz Sufa, near the border, before being blocked by the IDF.

Infantry, Armored Corps, Engineering Corps, artillery, and intelligence units are taking over various areas in Gaza, and are all working with one another and the air force. They are operating in northern, central, and southern Gaza, where Hamas has dug an extensive terrorist tunnel network.

A 155mm artillery vehicle fires towards Gaza

A 155mm artillery vehicle fires towards Gaza

The IDF’s Southern Command is overseeing the ground offensive.

The units involved have undergone intensive training recently ahead of their missions, Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz, IDF spokesman, said on Thursday night.

“The operation has reached its ground phase,” Almoz said. “Large numbers of forces began a focused effort to destroy tunnels in Gaza.

We are in a new stage,” he stated. At the same time, the air force is continuing with air strikes against Hamas and Islamic Jihad around Gaza.

The Ground Forces are currently engaging terrorist infrastructure, and the operation “will be expanded as needed,” Almoz said. “They’re moving now in various areas of Gaza. We will continue to attack in every location we think needs to be struck,” he warned.

The IDF is currently calling up more reserves, Almoz added.

The Times of Israel says that 18,000 more reservists have been called up. The Jerusalem Post report continues (I apologize for copying the entire article, emphases are mine) with a recap of the day’s events:

Hamas bombarded Israel on Thursday with rockets after the end of the humanitarian truce, firing over 100 projectiles after 3 p.m. Eighty one rockets landed in open areas, two fell inside villages, damaging two homes, and 20 were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.

Trails of multiple rocket launches out of Gaza July 17th

Trails of multiple rocket launches out of Gaza July 17th

Also on Thursday, a drone from Gaza was detected in Israeli airspace, over the Ashkelon area. The IAF fired a patriot surface-to-air missile at the aircraft, shooting it down. It was the second Hamas drone to be shot down in recent days.

The IDF on Thursday warned citizens of Gaza to evacuate their homes and make their way from less populated areas to the Strip’s major cities.

Close to 100,000 leaflets containing the message were dropped over the territory and hundreds of thousands of citizens from all over Gaza received recorded phone messages warning them to vacate villages.

Air raid sirens sounded throughout southern and central areas during the day. Ashkelon and Ashdod were targeted by Hamas repeatedly in the evening, and were successfully defended by Iron Dome.

Iron Dome intercepted two rockets over central Israel and the Sharon district in the evening, and one over the city of Ashdod. Several rockets landed in open areas.

The Gaza-border region of Eshkol came under continuous rocket barrages. Some ten rockets in open areas, and one damaged a home.

Between 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Hamas fired 40 rockets at Israel, and Iron Dome shot three down Two rockets were fired at Beersheba, with one falling in an open area and a second intercepted over the Negev city.

Within a minute of the ceasefire ending, rockets were fired from Gaza at the Ashkelon industrial area and Hof Ashkelon region. Most fell in open areas.

The humanitarian ceasefire was violated when Hamas fired 3 projectiles at the Eshkol region. The rockets exploded in open areas.

On Thursday morning, one rocket was intercepted over the greater Tel Aviv and Sharon district, and one rocket fell in an open area. In Beersheba, Iron Dome intercepted an incoming Gazan rocket.

Having been listening incessantly to endless talk-shows, discussions and analyses, it appears that Netanyahu’s hesitance in launching a ground operation stemmed from concern about lack of public support in Israel, and the worry about losing legitimacy from the world if the Palestinian civilian casualties climbed too high.

Leaving aside the issue of what is it the world’s business to examine Israel’s morality under a microscope when their own is so sorely lacking, Israel clearly hoped to avoid such casualties by dropping 100,000 leaflets on Gazan civilians warning them to evacuate before an Israeli attack. However most Gazans chose to stay put, being more afraid of Hamas than Israel. But after this morning’s tunnel infiltration it became glaringly clear that civilian casualties or not, Israel was left with no other choice if it is to end the terror tunnel threat once and for all.

As for the people’s support, that is coming through loud and clear. Besides the odd extreme leftists who never met an Israeli defensive action that they could support, the country is solidly behind the government. In fact there was almost a revolt when the first ceasefire was tentatively tried out.

It is true that there is always the fear in the political echelon about military casualties, but it is important to remember – and the Israeli people do remember – that the army’s job is to protect the civilian populace and not the other way round. Until today, the situation has been reversed. The civilians, particularly in the south, have been taking the brunt of the terrorists’ fire, while the soldiers ahve been sitting in the back. Now is the time for the military to do what it knows best – to attack the enemy and defend the people of Israel.

DavidinPT posted a link (in the comments on the previous post) to an excellent item in the Times of Israel: “Who’s afraid of boots on the ground in Gaza“. Here are a few excerpts:

The problem with a ground invasion, say experts both in Israel and abroad, is that it will cost Israel dearly in the lives of its soldiers.

Recent history shows the exact opposite.

Military operations should never be undertaken lightly, but the preponderance of evidence shows that when Israel embarks on major ground operations in the Gaza Strip, IDF deaths are remarkably low.

Looking at the past decade of Israeli incursions into the coastal region, the pattern is clear: Hamas struggles mightily to exact even moderate casualties among Israeli forces, while losing dozens, even hundreds, of its own fighters.

After losing 11 soldiers in APC explosions on the Philadelphi Route near Rafah in May 2004, Israel sent in ground forces from the Golani and Givati infantry brigades, supported by combat engineers, the Shimshon infantry battalion, and a tank brigade. Israel killed around 40 terrorists in and around Rafah, and lost a grand total of zero soldiers in the week-long operation.

The pattern of low Israeli losses and heavy Palestinian casualties continued in the operations. Two IDF soldiers were lost and 28 injured, while Israeli forces killed around 270 Palestinian militants.
Every soldier killed is an indescribable loss for Israel, not to mention their families, but the major ground operations over the last decade have averaged around three dead per operation — not exactly the mass losses being described by commentators this week.
Still, with its stunning past successes, a ground invasion of Gaza is well within the capabilities of the IDF. Israelis should not be overconfident, but they have no reason to scare themselves away from one either. If the best answer to Hamas’s attacks is an incursion, then order the troops forward. I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end.

The article certainly offers a refreshing and different perspective. Let us hope that his optimism is justified and let us pray that our soldiers all return home safely.

May Hashem watch over and protect our soldiers wherever they are: in the air, on the ground or at sea, and may He watch over all of Am Yisrael.

הנה לא ינום ולא ישן שומר ישראל.

The Guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers not.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Operation Protective Edge Day 10: Huge terror attack foiled, temporary truce begins after rocket salvoes

Some of the weapons recovered from the terror tunnel

Some of the weapons recovered from the terror tunnel

Operation Protective Edge began its 10th day with an attempt by Hamas to commit a huge terror attack by infiltrating a civilian community via an enormous tunnel network with the aim of either kidnapping or murdering Israeli civilians or soldiers. Unfortunately for the terrorists, the IDF were waiting for them, their plan was foiled and most of them were killed.

The Israeli army thwarted a large-scale infiltration attempt along the Gaza border, during which 13 armed Palestinians emerged from a tunnel on the Israeli side of the border at dawn Thursday, an army spokesperson said.

The spokesperson described the attack as in line with a series of other thwarted attacks over the past 10 days of warfare, including two infiltration attempts from the sea near Kibbutz Zikim, a tunnel near Kerem Shalom, and a drone attack earlier this week.

The IDF action that stopped the infiltration attempt before it was sprung “was obviously a huge success,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

The gunmen, he said, emerged from the tunnel early Thursday some 250 meters inside Israel. Lying flat on the ground, in an open area two kilometers from Kibbutz Sufa in the Eshkol region, the 13 armed men were spotted by what Lerner termed “different sensors.”

Realizing that they had been discovered, they attempted to run back underground but were struck by Israeli aircraft. Lerner said some had been hit but he could not state how many.

The tunnel is part of a network of underground channels, laboriously dug, as offensive lanes into Israel. In June 2006 two Israeli soldiers were killed in an ambush that began via a tunnel in the same region, and a third, Gilad Shalit, was captured and taken back to Gaza. His exchange, five and a half years later, for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, is considered one of Hamas’s crowning achievements.

Hours after the tunnel attack was thwarted, the IDF published footage of the incident:

Kol hakavod to the IDF whose resources and “assets” all worked in perfect coordination to thwart what could have been a disastrous terror attack.

Meanwhile the temporary truce has gone into effect, but not before Hamas fired off a final salvo, as I predicted in my earlier post.  My own home-town of Petach Tikva was amongst the targets again. In fact part one of the rockets fell outside my old house. Just as well we moved! Here’s a picture taken by a family member:

PT rocket

PT rocket

The rocket salvo was aimed first at the south and then over the entire center of the country. My children in the Shomron said they could hear the sirens from those areas under attack because they were so concentrated. They also faintly heard the booms of the rockets and Iron Dome. I can assure you those booms were not faint in this part of the country! Once again our building shook.  But still, we cannot complain when we receive one rocket every day or two. To think that the residents of the south live through this experience 24/7, and have suffered it for years on end is almost too difficult to comprehend.

Explosions were heard in the skies over greater Tel Aviv on Thursday morning as Palestinian rocket launchers fired a fresh barrage of projectiles at towns and suburbs in the Sharon region.

One rocket was intercepted over the greater Tel Aviv and Sharon district and one rocket fell in the area.

Rocket sirens were sounded in highly populated suburbs of Tel Aviv, including Kfar Sava, Ra’anana, Petah Tikva, Kiryat Ono, and Bnei Brak.

The latest salvo came just after terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched a trickle of rocket fire at southern Israel on Thursday morning ahead of a temporary cease-fire set to take effect at 10 a.m.

Four rockets fired from the Gaza Strip toward Beersheba exploded in open territory on Thursday morning.

Earlier in the morning the Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted two rockets over Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi. Three rockets also fell in open area in Kiryat Malachi, and the Eshkol and Ashkelon Coast regional councils on Thursday morning.

And true to my prediction from yesterday, Hamas have already violated the truce with a couple of isolated mortar rounds. This is their standard modus operandi – just fire a “little trickle” of rockets or mortars, little enough to make Israel seem unreasonable in reacting, but in fact outrageous and an utter violation of the truce.

How long will the quiet hold? Why don’t you go to my poll at the end of the previous post and make a guess?

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Operation Protective Edge Day 9: Temporary humanitarian truce and reader poll: How long will the 5 hour humanitarian truce last?

Operation Protective Edge has closed another day of intense rocket fire by Hamas terrorists on Israel, and IDF assaults on Hamas installations around Gaza.

Dror Hanin HY'D, killed at the Erez crossing

Dror Hanin HY’D, killed at the Erez crossing

The day started, or rather  ended on Tuesday evening, with the first Israeli death from Hamas fire. It was not a rocket that killed volunteer Dror Hanin at the Erez crossing, but a mortar round, against which Iron Dome cannot protect:

Dror Hanin, 38, a married father of three from Beit Aryeh in the Shomron, was killed Tuesday by a Hamas mortar shell as he gave out gift bags to soldiers at the Erez Crossing near Gaza.

Avi Naim, Head of the Beit Aryeh Council, expressed condolences to Hanin’s family and friends, and said, “The residents of Beit Aryeh are shocked at pained by the death of our friend, Dror Hanin, as he gave out gift bags to IDF soldiers near the Gaza Strip. Dror was a special person, motivated by values, who found his death while he did what he loved to do most – expressing love for his fellow man and endless giving.

“I hope that the government of Israel completely eradicates the terror threat from Gaza,” he added.

The Judea and Samaria Firefighting District eulogized Hanin, who volunteered in the local firefighting team. “He was a true fighter, imbued with the spirit of volunteering, the first to initiate and take action, dominant and active in the fire station at Beit Aryeh. Three years ago, he finished his trainng in the firefighting course for adult volunteers and he took part in various events.”

Dror was struck by a mortar shell as he gave out food and sweets to soldiers, near Erez. Emergency teams took him to Barzilai Hospital but it was too late to save him. His friend, Beit Aryeh’s sceurity officer, was lightly injured.

May Hashem avenge his blood and may his memory be for a blessing.

Today, Wedensday, saw a total of 132 rockets launched at Israel, from the south to the center. The government also gave its approval for the call-up of a further 8,000 reservists, bringing the total to 50,000.

Rockets launched from Gaza City, showing Hamas's clear violation of international law by attacking from a civilian population

Rockets launched from Gaza City, showing Hamas’s clear violation of international law by attacking from a civilian population

And then the day ended as it had begun, with the death of civilians – this time four Palestinian children were killed on a Gaza beach – according to the Palestinians by Israeli shelling. The IDF is investigating (which is probably more than it is obliged to do in time of war):

IDF Spokesman, Brigadier General Moti Almoz addressed reports of four Palestinian Arab children being killed in an IAF airstrike on Wednesday, noting that the accidental deaths were the result of Hamas using civilians as human shields.

“Hamas is hiding among civilians targets,” Almoz said, on Channel 2. “Hamas continues to make cynical use of civilian casualties and we will continue to operate within a civilian environment.”

The IDF is still conducting an internal investigation on the reports.

If true, he said, “the fact that uninvolved civilians were killed is a tragic event. It is important to remember the cynical use of civilians by Hamas in Gaza, which holds them hostage by encouraging them to stay in the line of fire as Israel take out terrorist targets.”

“As demonstrated numerous times in recent days, the IDF has no intention to harm civilians caught in the reality of fighting between Israel and Hamas,” he continued.

The international media has fired a frenzy over the alleged deaths, with witnesses telling reporters at some outlets that Israel was deliberately targeting the children.

Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra named the four children as Ahed Atef Bakr, aged 10; Zakaria Ahed Bakr, also 10; Mohamed Ramez Bakr, 9, and Ismail Mohamed Bakr, 11.

This is a very tragic event, but as is completely clear to anyone with eyes in their head and who has been keeping up with the news, the extent to which the IDF makes efforts to avoid civilian casualties does not jibe with the deliberate killing of children. This was obviously either a tragic mistake, a technical error (e.g. a missile mis-firing) or a case of human shields being cynically abused by Hamas.

We saw this deliberate use of human shields only this morning, when Hamas urged residents of Beit Lahiya to stay put rather than evacuate as warned by Israel before the IAF began a bombing raid on Hamas hideouts. Unfortunately for all concerned, many residents heeded Hamas and not the IAF. I’m sure the world will take note of this wilful disregard by Gaza’s residents of Israel’s humanitarian concerns. (Please ignore my sarcasm).

Following the intense IAF bombing and the over 200 deaths in Gaza, the UN asked for a 5 hour temporary truce in order to enable humanitarian agencies to transfer food and medical supplies into Gaza. Israel accepted the ceasefire:

Israel announced Wednesday that it would halt all military operations against targets in the Gaza Strip for a period of five hours in order to allow humanitarian agencies to transfer food and medical supplies into the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.

The ceasefire, which was unilaterally agreed upon by Israel, will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the IDF said in a statement.

“This humanitarian window is meant to allow the civilian population of the Gaza Strip to engage in resupply for their humanitarian needs,” the statement said. “Should the humanitarian window be exploited by Hamas or other terror organizations for the purpose of launching attacks against Israeli civilian or military targets the IDF will respond firmly and decisively.”

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry had requested that Israel initiate the truce in the hopes that Hamas would join in later.

It was unclear which of the border crossings into the Strip would be opened for humanitarian purposes.

However Hamas took its own sweet time Hamas took its time, and only after firing a “final” salvo (who knows how final that is) at 1.30 a.m, did they too agree to the temporary ceasefire:

Hamas agreed on Wednesday night to a temporary humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, but not before firing another salvo of rockets towards Israel.

…Shortly before 2:00 a.m. Thursday morning, however, sirens were heard in the Eshkol region, Hof Ashkelon region, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi.

Sirens were also heard in the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, near Jerusalem.

Several rockets from Gaza exploded in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon and Eshkol regions, causing no physical injuries or damages.

There are no reports of damages or injuries in the other areas where sirens were heard. The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted one rocket over Kiryat Gat and is believed to have intercepted other rockets as well.

And now, dear readers, in the light of Hamas’s rejection of the previous ceasefire, which lasted not 5 minutes, I present you with a poll where you can bet on how long the ceasefire will last, and what the consequences will be.

 It will be interesting to see how close our guesses are to the real thing. I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised by Hamas but I’m not holding my breath. Meanwhile I wouldn’t be surprised if Hamas launch a massive rocket salvo until the very last minute, or even a minute or two after the official truce begins, just to be “davka” (contrary).

Stay tuned for more tomorrow. Let’s hope for a quiet night.

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Ceasefire? Now you see it, now you don’t: Operation Protective Edge Day 8

I had drafted a summary of yesterday’s events but, as you shall see shortly, the news overtook me as always.  So here’s a quick summary of yesterday’s damage:

  • More than 115 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel.
  • At least 92 rockets struck Israel.
  • 15 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
  • The IDF hit 163 terror targets in the Gaza Strip.

In the morning a drone from Gaza was shot down over Ashdod – by a Patriot missile. We haven’t heard about those since the Gulf War in 1990/91; and the night before, 2 Katyushas were shot from Lebanon into the north of Israel.  Oh, and amongst all the scores of other alarms, there was another siren and rocket-fall in or around Petach Tikva yesterday afternoon, catching me still at work.

Rocket slams into Eilat hotel

Also for the first time, early this morning, Eilat was targeted when 2 rockets hit a hotel, injuring several people lightly:

Two rockets were launched. One landed in an open area in the Shachmon neighborhood, the second landed on a car in the hotel’s parking lot, which is also next to the Beatles Pub.

Five people were lightly injured from shrapnel. Two additional people were treated for shock.

The article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Update: Two terrorist groups, Islamic Jijad and the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, which is part of Hamas’s military wing, both independently claimed credit for the attack. (Maybe they should fight it out among themselves, and leave us out of it).

By the time I was ready to post this update, I was hearing rumours of an impending ceasefire. I was so shocked that I was incapable of stringing a coherent sentence together on this post.

The first official reports were that Egypt had proposed a ceasefire to start from today (Tuesday), and that the cabinet was to meet today to discuss the proposal. The terms were short and clear:

The proposal, which was published on the eve of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s expected visit to Cairo, states that Israel would end all “hostilities” in the Gaza Strip from the land, air and sea and would refrain from launching a ground offensive that targets civilians

According to the proposal, the Palestinian factions in would cease all “hostilities” emanating from the Gaza Strip against Israel.

The Egyptian initiative calls for the reopening of the border crossings into the Gaza Strip to passengers and goods as the security situation becomes stable.

Although Israel set out its own conditions …

While diplomatic officials have not stated what Israel’s conditions are for a ceasefire, they have said over the last few days that the type of agreement that would lead to quiet for only a year or two – such as the agreement that led to the cease-fire in Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 – would not be acceptable.

… to say I was furious is a gigantic understatement.  Why on earth was Israel even stopping to consider a ceasefire at this early stage, when its hand is clearly on the upper and the enemy is feeling the pressure if not on the run?

The deadly rocket arsenal of Hamas

The deadly rocket arsenal of Hamas

It’s a pattern that has repeated itself in ever-shortening time spans, and the only result is an emboldened Hamas, better armed, with more, longer-range and more powerful missiles (see the chart at left) that can reach more or less every corner in Israel.  We agreed, under international pressure, to a premature ceasefire after Operation Cast Lead in 2009; then again after Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012; and now barely a year and half has passed and here we go again.

In defence of previous ceasefires, we didn’t have the Iron Dome system yet, and the Home Front was taking a severe battering, which in turn put pressure on the government. In Operation Protective Edge however, the Iron Dome has performed spectacularly, enabling the home front to continue as normal a life as is possible under these crazy circumstances. Certainly life in the south has been severely affected as citizens still have to run into their shelters several times a day. There have been several injuries and countless cases of shock and psychological trauma.

Nevertheless, it is precisely the residents of the south who were outraged at the ceasefire, and who want the IDF to continue their campaign to root out the terrorists and their infrastructure once and for all.

Continuing the mathematical progression of the time spans between military operations halving themselves each time, we can probably bet that hostilities will be renewed (if they ever actually cease) within 6 months.  In which case, what was the point of this whole exercise? Why call up 40,000 reservists? Why paralyse the south and let the rest of the country find itself under sporadic fire if you are not going to finish the job completely?

I am not a war-monger and would dearly love to have peace between us and our neighbours. But peace means no hostilities, not even one little rocket aimed at a minor kibbutz on the border. Peace means not inculcating your younger generation to viscerally hate Jews and Israel and wish for the death, nor teaching your children to love death and to wish for martyrdom more than life.  Real peace means normalization, accepting the existence of Israel in your neighbourhood and taking advantage of all the good that we have to offer. And yes, peace means sitting down and talking out our differences or going to arbitration, not war, when we can’t agree.

In the absence of all the above, or of the enemy’s complete surrender, no ceasefire should be considered.

Israel was also not under any great international pressure, certainly not when compared to previous military operations.  The UN hasn’t even issued a resolution condemning Israel as yet.

Even the Palestinian UN representative condemned Hamas for their “crimes against humanity”!

“The missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets,” said Kraishi during the interview, translated by MEMRI.

The ambassador said that, by contrast, Israel’s actions follows legal procedures, because the IDF warns Gazan civilians to leave sites and areas before they are bombed.

“Many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than an intentional killing because [the Israelis] followed the legal procedures.”

“As for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall or about the operations we carry out,” he says.

The world in general is both fed up of Hamas, bored with the repeated conflict with Israel, and more concerned with greater dangers such as ISIS as well as their own home-grown terrorist threat from European-born jihadis returning home brainwashed into extreme Islamism and with battle skills learned from their adventures in Iraq and Syria.

Folding Bibi

From a series of “capitulating Bibi” memes: Translation: In honour of the situation A FOLDING BIBI! 1. Shoot rockets. 2. Threaten war. 3. Bibi folds by himself.

So in the absence of any explanation from our government, I will have to assume that they lost their sanity or their backbone in the rush to the bomb shelter. If they ever had one that is.

One would have thought that Hamas would have jumped at the chance of a ceasefire, after the battering they got and the lack of support they received:- even from the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world:

Having gained the upper hand over Hamas, Israel has agreed to the Egyptian ceasefire, an Israeli official told journalists on Tuesday. Hamas was unable to “sell” its rocket fire to the Arab world or even to Palestinians in the West Bank, who remained largely indifferent to Operation Protective Edge. The officer said that Hamas was “unpleasantly surprised” by the small amount of damage it managed to cause Israel and by Arab and international disinterest.

According to the officer, citizens of Gaza were pushing for the rocket launches to end for both financial reasons and given the widespread damage inflicted on the Strip. While the local leadership in Gaza — which hid within the civilian population — has favored a ceasefire, the movement’s leadership in Qatar, primarily Khaled Mashaal, would like to see it continue.

However you can always rely on Hamas to shoot itself in the foot – as well as at us literally – and they both refused to accept the ceasefire, but continued brazenly to shoot rockets at us. By 3 p.m. today, when 47 rockets had been fired into Israel and after multiple warnings from Israel, (that number has since grown to over 70 at 6 p.m.),  PM Netanyahu finally decided at 3 p.m. that the rocket-fire was too intense, (even one rocket should not be allowed and ought to be responded to) and ordered IDF operations to resume:

 Israel’s cabinet said Tuesday morning it would accept an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire with Hamas, after seven days of fighting, but Hamas was quick to reject the offer, continuing rocket salvos across the country. In mid-afternoon, Israel resumed attacks on Hamas targets, as Foreign Minister Liberman called to retake full control of the Strip.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman set out his proposal to end the violence from Gaza:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman says any ceasefire with Hamas is mere preparation for the next round of violence.

“Israel must go all the way in Gaza. The world must give us its full backing to go all the way,” he says at a press conference.

Liberman says a truce will only allow Hamas to replenish its stock and build more rockets.

“An end result to the operation would see the IDF control Gaza,” he says “Given Hamas’s blatant rejection [of the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire], we must make a clear decision. All this hesitation works against us. We must go all the way. There is no alternative,” he says.

Liberman says that the current situation in the Middle East, in which Hezbollah is bogged down in Syria, Iran is preoccupied with the P5+1 nuclear talks, as well as Syria and Iraq, allows Israel to undertake such an operation. “I hope the [security] cabinet takes this decision,” he says.

MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) is of the same mind:

Speaking at the Knesset, MK Ze’ev Elkin tells US Jewish leaders that when Israel leaves territory it once held, it leads to more attacks on Israel and provides opportunities for its enemies.

Elkin says that the disengagement from Gaza has taught Israel three key lessons: not to rely on foreign forces, not to leave territory without a security arrangement, and to prevent weapons — especially rockets — from being brought into territory formerly held by Israel.

I’m not completely un-understanding of the Prime Minister’s difficult choices. According to some sources, there aren’t many Hamas targets left to be bombed from the air, and the only option left is to go in on the ground. No one has much stomach for a ground invasion with all the difficulties and pitfalls it presents: IDF casualties, civilian casualties, the very real possibility of kidnapping or infiltration from the Hamas city of tunnels underneath Gaza. However the alternative is to continue the status quo with a sequel expected within the year.

There are also other options which for some reason have not been initiated, for example cutting off water and electricity to Gaza completely, and closing the crossings to all goods. Yes, there are those who would call this collective punishment, but no other country in the world would provide fuel, water and food to its deadly enemy, and no other country in the world would allow its own citizens to be collectively punished by incessant rocket-fire for years on end without an appropriate response.

Being Prime Minister entails making difficult, even unpopular choices, and getting them carried out. If Netanyahu cannot do that, he should either create a unity government or call a new election.

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