Ground Operation Day 3 – 13 Golani soldiers killed, Hamas human shields at Shejaiya

The news on Sunday evening that 13 Golani troops had been killed early on Sunday morning overshadowed all the other news that had been flowing in throughout the day of yet more rocket attacks, the dreadful, cynical abuse of human shields by Hamas in Shujaiya, and the continuing attacks by the IDF and IAF against Hamas and its infrastructure.

Arutz Sheva brings us the IDF’s timeline of Saturday night’s disastrous events:

In the first incident, at 1:05 a.m., an armored personnel carrier caught fire after an explosive device was set off under it. Seven soldiers were killed.

At 1:30 a.m., a soldier was killed when two soldiers got into a firefight with terrorists.

At 5:45 a.m., another Golani force got into a firefight with terrorists. Two soldiers were killed.

At 8:50 a.m., three soldiers were killed when a Golani squad was caught inside a burning building.

By tonight the IDF had released the names of 5 of the soldiers.  As is standard practice in the IDF, the names of the other soldiers will not be released until all the family members have been notified:

The IDF cleared for publication on Sunday night the names of five of the 13 officers and soldiers who were killed in an attack on an APC in Gaza.

Capt. Tzafrir Bar-On HY’D

Captain Tzafrir Bar-Or, a commander in the Golani Brigade, 32, of Holon. His funeral will be held Monday at 1:00 p.m. in the military section of the cemetery in Holon.

Major Zvi Kaplan, a commander in the Golani Brigade,

Major Zvi Kaplan HY’D

28, from Kedumim. His funeral will be held Monday at 11:00 a.m. at the military cemetery in Haifa.

Gilad Yaakobi, 21, of Kiryat Ono. His funeral will be held Monday at 10:00 a.m. at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv.

Sgt. Oz Mendelovich HY’D

Sergeant Oz Mendelovich, 21, from Avtalion. His funeral will be held Monday at 6:00 p.m. at the Misgav cemetery.

Nissim Shon Carmeli, 21, of Ra’anana.

The names of eight additional officers killed in the same incident have yet to be released.

Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli HY’D

Their deaths raised to 18 the total number of soldiers killed since the army began a major ground operation in Gaza late on Thursday.

Nissim Sean Carmeli was a dual Israeli-US citizen serving as a lone soldier in the IDF.

The deaths of these soldiers are a tragedy and loss to their families, the IDF and to the nation of Israel. But the army will not let their deaths deter them from their mission of rooting out Hamas and destroying their terror capabilities, as the Times of Israel writes:

IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz said the IDF would not be deterred by the deaths from its mission, to restore sustained security from Hamas attack for Israel’s citizens. He said the IDF would “learn from the incident” and that “the enemy had prepared” for conflict with Israel.

“In battle there are casualties, but our role is to fulfill missions –- and we will continue in that,” said Lt. Gen. Gantz. “The residents of Shajaiya, too, know that they fell victim to the deployment of Hamas personnel in the neighborhood.”

To the “misfortune of Gaza’s residents,” Gantz said, Hamas “instead of building houses, schools, hospitals and factories” had built a war machine in residential areas.

He said Israel mourned the loss of life and injury among Gaza civilians, but emphasized that Israel had repeatedly warned residents of the area to evacuate because Hamas had deployed there. “We issued warning after warning,” he said, making phone calls, distributing leaflets and more. He said the IDF would make “every effort” to prevent civilian casualties, and that Israel was sending aid into Gaza, and had opened a field hospital on the border. No other army or country would act in this way, he said. But “in the end there is a mission, a moral obligation” to protect the people of Israel.

Overall, said Gantz, the IDF offensive against Hamas was proceeding well, and the soldiers were doing “fantastic work.” He said: “I’m proud of them. All of Israel should be proud of them.”

Hamas was losing “more of its people, more capabilities, more infrastructure” hour after hour. “We will maximize our achievements” Gantz said, and “strip them of their capabilities.” He urged the Isreli public to be patient and stand firm.

It is good and right that the Chief of Staff addressed the people thus. When the country suffers a major loss like this it can easily lead to demoralization amongst the civilian populace which then spreads to the politicians and the military. We have to grit our teeth and remain resolute to stay the course.

The article continues with a summary of the day’s events:

The ambush in which the seven soldiers were killed triggered a heavy aerial bombardment of the area, prompting thousands of residents to flee on foot, AFP reported. Reports quoted Palestinian medical officials in Gaza saying that more than 70 Palestinians, among them many civilians, were killed in the fighting. Thousands more fled the neighborhood.

Israeli officials said Shejaiya is a Hamas stronghold, and that 150 rockets had been launched from that area in the past two weeks. Israeli military officials said Sunday that they had told civilians to leave the Shejaiya area days ago, ahead of IDF military action. Hamas has repeatedly told Gazans not to heed the Israeli warnings.

An army spokesperson added that the IDF has not been surprised by Hamas fighters’ willingness to engage its forces, saying it was “in line with our planning and assessments.”

The army, which has increased its troop presence in the Gaza Strip, reports having killed 130 gunmen since the ground operation began on Thursday night.

The violence at Shejaiya (or Shu’jaiya) was a clear-cut case of Hamas deliberately placing human shields where they had been warned by the army to stay away from.  The reason for the attack on Shejaiya in the first place was that it is a Hamas stronghold and the location of multiple rocket launches over the past week and the presence of several tunnels:

Shejaiya neighborhood a Hamas stronghold, says IDF

Military sources say the Shejaiya neighborhood in Gaza City is a Hamas stronghold and that more than 150 rockets have been launched from that area into Israel over the past two weeks.

The area also has several tunnel openings and weapons storage facilities, Channel 2′s Ehud Ya’ari reports.

According to Gazan medical sources, over 60 Palestinians have been killed so far today in fighting in that neighborhood.

Because of the large number of Palestinian casualties at Shejaiya, Israel has been accused, as always, of “disproportionality”, “war crimes” and assorted other ills. However if ever there was an entity guilty of abuse of human rights and a war crime all rolled up into one, it is Hamas in Shejaiya. But you can be sure that the international media, not to mention the UN, won’t see it that way:

The Elder of Ziyon sums up the whole terrible incident thus:

It was recognized days ago that the crowded civilian neighborhood of Shuja’iya was a major center of Hamas’ military operations. As Times of Israel reported at the time:

During the morning (Wednesday), the Israel Air Force dropped flyers while recorded phone calls and SMS messages to residents warned a series of military strikes was imminent, the military said.

The flyers said the military would carry out air strikes against targets in Zeitoun and Shuja’iya, two flashpoint districts east of Gaza City, noting that “a high volume of rocket fire” had been directed from there. Residents were advised to evacuate to Gaza City by 8.00 a.m. local time.

“In spite of the ceasefire, Hamas and other terror organizations continued to fire rockets, therefore it is the intention of the IDF to carry out aerial strikes against terror sites and operatives in Shuja’iya and Zeitoun,” the leaflets read. “A high volume of rocket fire at Israel has originated in this area.”

However, residents of Shuja’iya and Zeitoun were not evacuating their homes, in spite of the Israeli ultimatum issued, Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip told The Times of Israel.

As on Sunday, Hamas urged residents to ignore the warnings, dismissing it as “psychological warfare”.

“There is no need to worry about these (warnings), or deal with them. Do not respond to them in any way,” a Hamas interior ministry statement said. “This is part of the psychological war, intended to disrupt the domestic front.”

Now, what happened when the IDF troops entered Shuja’iya?

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, said that Israeli forces had been moving toward Shuja’iya, which he called a “Hamas stronghold” from which about 140 rockets had been fired at Israel since the start of the Israeli offensive.

The forces were “on the way to deal with tunnels they have in Shuja’iya and to deal with rocket launching from there,” Lerner said. “We met extensive resistance from Hamas terrorists shooting at forces from houses in the neighborhood, firing rocket-propelled grenades from several directions. Artillery was fired in support, to address that challenge.”

And then the IDF tweeted the following:

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett made a sterling effort at defending Israel from that hoary old charge of disproportionality – the charge that is only ever addressed at Israel, never at any other country:

The Elder notes the facts that Bennett, usually very articulate, should have mentioned:

Notice how the Sky News anchor takes it as a given that every death is the result of Israeli actions. He says explicitly, without any knowledge of  reality, that Israel is “indiscriminately kill[ing] women and children.”

He is clueless and he is making accusations based on emotions rather than facts.

When they see dead kids, most reporters reflexively assume they were killed by the “enemy,” not their own side – but they have a hard time internalizing that Hamas is the enemy of these children, and the IDF is not.

Bennett should have emphasized that under international law, Israel’s actions in Shuja’iya were entirely legitimate. Since Wednesday, the IDF did everything possible to ensure that innocents would not be harmed, and Hamas did everything they could to keep them in place as human shields – nearly explicitly, in their own statements. It is even possible that the Hamas edicts were being backed up by force.

As if Israel does not ahve enough to contend with in fighting Hamas and a hostile international media, the UN, via its UNRWA Palestinian “refugee” agency, is actively aiding and abetting Hamas. In my previous post I had mistakenly blamed the IDF for not removing the rockets discovered in an UNRWA school in Gaza. However (as cba in the comments corrected me), it was the UNRWA themselves who discovered the rockets – and the UNRWA themselves who effectively handed the rockets back to Hamas!:

UN hands rockets over to ‘Gaza authorities’

United Nations officials handed the rockets found in Gaza school over to “Gaza authorities,” sources in Jerusalem confirm, raising fears that they will find their way to Hamas and be shot at Israel.

Last week, some 20 rockets were found in a vacant school operated by the UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees.

Whenever I think the UN can’t sink any lower, it never ceases to surprise me by doing just that. The UN and all its agencies ought not to be allowed to set foot in Israel.

In other news today, Israel agreed to a 2-hour ceasefire requested by Hamas and the Red Cross in order to treat the wounded and remove the dead, but Hamas itself did not abide by the ceasefire. Of course. Are we surprised?

The day ended with Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Cairo for another ceasefire bid. Oh joy.  At least he had the decency to “allow” Israel to defend itself – at least while he was on camera. Read the Israel Matzav link for more.

The Times of Israel sums up the end of the 13th day aptly:

And so the blackest day of this conflict comes to an end.

Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed, in heavy fighting that is still ongoing in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood, a Hamas stronghold close enough to the border to be the source of numerous Hamas tunnels, the Israeli army says, and the source of some 150 rockets fired at Israel these past two weeks. Palestinian officials say 60 Palestinians have died in the fighting there.

May tomorrow be brighter

Amen to that.

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

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1 Response to Ground Operation Day 3 – 13 Golani soldiers killed, Hamas human shields at Shejaiya

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