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).
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.