Ground operation day 6: IDF and civilian casualties, UN condemnations, rockets and IDF onslaught continue

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:

Capt. Dimitri Levitas HY’D

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.

3 troops killed Wednesday morning:

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.

Lt. Paz Eliyahu HY”D

St. Sgt. Li Mat HY’D

St. Sgt. Shahar Dauber HY’D

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.

This brings the number of civilians killed to 3.

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.

May they all have a full and speedy recovery, a refuah shlema.

Max Steinberg HY’D

Yesterday the funeral of lone soldier Max Steinberg, like the funeral of Nissim Sean Carmeli, was attended by 30,000 people who turned out to support his family and pay their respects for his sacrifice:

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.

30,000 attend funeral of Max Steinberg HY’D

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.

See the video of the IDF warning Wafa Hospital to evacuate and then the actual bombing, including secondary explosions indicating there were explosives hidden in the hospital (a clear war crime):

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.

Those numbers were updated later in the day:

Since the beginning of the ground operation in the Gaza Strip, more than 28 underground tunnels have been uncovered, along 60 access shafts leading into them.

Some good news:

Israel takes out Islamic Jihad field chiefs

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.

Also: Top Hamas commander rumoured killed.

On the political front, former minister MK Danny Danon says Israel should cancel its security coordination with the PA.

The recently fired deputy defense minister writes in an op-ed for Foreign Policy: “Those among us who naively thought we could outsource the security and safety of our citizens to the Palestinian Authority should now understand that this was a dangerous gambit. While we will continue to encourage the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria to take responsibility for their day-to-day civilian lives, we can no longer allow the PA even the smallest amount of autonomy when it comes to anti-terror efforts. Only by allowing the Israel Defense Forces and our other security services to operate freely in every corner of Judea and Samaria will we be able ensure that all the residents of this land receive the level of security they deserve.”

He’s absolutely right. With the PA denouncing Israel, inciting violence against us and aiding and abetting Hamas, they are no peace partners. They are partners in crime with Hamas.

Just before the cabinet meeting this evening, the dovish Finance Minister Yair Lapid said that Israel may need to retake Gaza.

“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.”

On the diplomatic front, as expected, the UN Human Wrongs Rights Council condemned Israel’s actions as war crimes. Israel in turn condemned the Human Wrongs Rights Council resolution as a travesty:

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.”

The indefatigable Hillel Neuer of UN Watch addressed the UNHRC and defended Israel in the face of interruptions from the usual suspects (Palestinians, Syria and Iran). Watch his impressive performance in this video:

This is particularly relevant since for the second time, rockets were discovered in an UNRWA school:

“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.”

UNRWA has been up to other nasty stuff, as Elder of Ziyon reports that they praised the smuggling of cement into Gaza back in 2011:

OK, you might be thinking, UNRWA surely didn’t know that the cement it was praising was being used for building terror tunnels, right?

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.

So, as I had reported recently, lots of the cement that was supposedly earmarked for UNRWA projects was being diverted to Hamas tunnels – and now we see that in all probability, some UNRWA officials were complicit with this crime.

I know we shouldn’t be surprised by this perfidy but it shocks me anew each time.

Interestingly, Britain seem to be fairly supportive of Israel at the moment, without the usual condemnations that we have become used to hearing. The British Foreign Secretary arrived in Israel this afternoon and the redoubtable Colonel Richard Kemp voiced support for Israel’s operation in Gaza.

And just a catch-up from yesterday’s news, here are two articles about Ban Ki Moon’s shameful message to Israel, and Binyamin Netanyahu’s response:

Anne Bayefsky in the Jerusalem Post writes about Ban’s shameful message at Israel’s hour of need:

It is hard to imagine two more unwelcome, uninvited visitors to Israel in the middle of a war against Palestinian terrorists than UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.  But even more unwelcome is that they are working together.

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.

Ban Ki-moon said nothing about Hamas having failed to protect Palestinian civilians.  He said nothing about Hamas having put Palestinian civilians directly in harm’s way.  In fact he said nothing about any “atrocious action” by Hamas.  He also made no demand that Hamas “restrain” itself from fulfilling its stated goal, namely, that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”

For the UN, no move that Israel makes short of surrender to the Palestinian mob, will ever be sufficient.

One rule for Israel and another for everybody else, evidently appeals to both the UN and the Obama administration. A shameful scheme in Israel’s hour of need.

Daniel Greenfield at Front Page Magazine mocks Ban’s request of Israel to discuss the root cause of the conflict:

Maybe the Secretary General can discuss the root cause of the Korean War with Kim Jong Un. That should be a fun chat.

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.

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8 Responses to Ground operation day 6: IDF and civilian casualties, UN condemnations, rockets and IDF onslaught continue

  1. Earl says:

    Neuer needs elocution lessons, but Bayefsky’s message is sound. Of course, it largely falls on intentionally-deaf ears. May Bennett be given unlimited air time.

    Pay no heed to Banki; like Pillay, he is nothing but a well-fed apparatchik gorging in the OIC’s satrap. The OIC cuts the cheques- Banki et al. dance to its tune. Give him a condescending pat on the head and send him back to Geneva… Kerry can carry his bags (assuming he hasn’t winded himself pontificating that day).

    RIP to the IDF troops who died, and a speedy and full recovery to the wounded. GO, IDF!

    • anneinpt says:

      I think he’s Neuer is French Canadian so his English is French accented, but it’s pretty darned good. And compared to some of the barely literate Arabs I don’t think it makes the slightest difference. Those who are interested will listen to the translator anyway.

      Re Ban, Pillay et al, it’s not that they condemn Israel, demand restraint and all that crap. It’s the fact that they said it all, it’s on the record, and this record is used to demonise and delegitimize Israel over and over and over.

      Now perhaps this can be ignored as just so much propaganda, but it DOES have an effect. It influences the average ignorant man in the street who demands – and sometimes gets – government boycotts of Israel due to their “war crimes” – e.g. the Brits stopping exporting arms and parts to Israel during Cast Lead – all because of the pernicious influence of the UN and its henchman, the media.

      And even if it had no effect at all – why should Israel always be in the stock? I’m FURIOUS! They make me sick. I want to punch their lights out. Put them on the Gaza border with an Israeli flag and see how long they last.

      Pompous pontificating pillocks. Puke.

      (your alliteration of the day here…)

    • cba says:

      I think Neuer’s amazing.

      BTW, does anyone know who the fellow sitting in front of him is? (The one to the right of the screen.) I THINK his sign said “OIF” but I don’t know what that stands for (or even if I read it correctly). He seemed to be smirking a lot during Neuer’s speech.

  2. LL Cheung says:

    Anyone in his/her right mind (probably excluding those trying to silence Hillel Neuer in UNHRC) should have noticed what “proportionality” means: in Israel, 3 civilians have been killed vs 32 soldiers, when thousands of rockets, mortars and missiles have come aiming at civilians; in Gaza, even after the Israeli troops had dropped leaflets and called by phone to warn the people to flee, the media say most of the over 600 deaths were civilians with no concrete number at all for Hamas “soldiers”. The “proportionality” that these figures show should really be how the Israeli government and IDF have endeavoured over the years to protect their civilians, whom are valued and considered precious. Shouldn’t the Hamas be SHAMEFUL when they boast the civilian death toll? It only shows Hama’s incompetence and disproportionate lack of intention to protect their civilians. Yeah, now we all know Hamas just want their children dead by giving them hand grenades and making them into human bombs. This is so painfully obvious that it makes the average gullible public who condemn Israel along side the media so inexplicably brainless (sorry for this harsh word).

    • anneinpt says:

      Hi LL, sorry I didn’t get to your comment earlier. You make an excellent point about the proportionality of Israel’s own civilian vs. military casualties.

      As I mentioned in my post about the Gaza casualty figures, Hamas’s figures have anyway to be taken with a very large grain (or sack) of salt.

      Indeed Hamas should be ashamed of their civilian casualties but as everyone knows, they WANT civilian casualties. It’s a win-win situation for them. They can claim to be “victims’ and Israel gets the blame. The Palestinians can call their victims “martyrs” and everyone goes home happy except the Israelis. And perhaps the Palestinian families who don’t dare admit that they’re not happy with having martyrs and would rather their martyrs stayed alive.

      As for the gullible public, some are brainless, but some WANT to be convinced that Israel is the biggest evil in the world. Perhaps it helps justify their own unjustifiable antisemitism, or perhaps it just confirms all those superstitions they had about those sneaky evil Jews. Truly I’d love to know what goes on in their heads (if they have a brain at all).

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    re: “the media say most of the over 600 deaths were civilians with no concrete number at all for Hamas “soldiers””, please see my posting of a link to an Algemeiner article that attempts to disaggregate this figure – and shows that app. 70% of the dead are military-aged males. Need any more be said?

    I don’t know how much of the following is accurate, it’s from the Times of Israel live blog as of today’s date, 15.13 my (UK) time):

    17:16 (i.e. Israel time, possily yesterday (today being 24 July):
    “Today may be the “turning point” in the fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip, Channel 2 reports, citing sources in the IDF.

    The sources reportedly say that the tide of the fighting is turning, that a certain demoralization has set in among the Hamas fighters in the Strip, and that there has been a “major decline” in rocket attacks on Israel.

    The military says 150 Hamas fighters have turned themselves in today, and that the organization’s best units were fighting in Shejaiya, where the IDF has focused many of its efforts to uncover terror tunnels.

    However, the military is said to continue warning troops against relentless kidnapping attempts by Hamas. The soldiers are warned not to underestimate the terrorist organization, which will not surrender easily.”

  4. LL Cheung says:

    Yes, thank you for posting. I have seen the analysis about the numbers versus the population demographics in Gaza and learned the indication behind the numbers. I think anyone who is willing to spend time to look into reports from different sources will know how biased the media, the UN and general picture are. What I tried to point out was that the numbers in biased TV news reports alone should at least arouse the not-very-interested general public to think about “proportionality” in a way different from what the biased reporting was saying, if they use their brain. But sadly, as Anne pointed out, some people have had this picture of Israel as the villain in the world and want to keep believing that way.

    • anneinpt says:

      The key words in your comemnt are “anyone who is willing to spend time to look into reports from different sources”.

      The anti-Israel people are not interested in learning the facts – or being confused by teh facts as I like to put it.

      I’m not sure whether it was G.B.Shaw or Churchill or someone else who said it but the following is so true:

      “You cannot reason a man out of an opinion into which he was never reasoned in the first place”.

      The hatred of Israel, and by extension of Jews, i.e. Antisemitism, is irrational and cannot be combatted by quoting facts and figures. It won’t make a difference and these will be further distorted for their own aims.

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