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