We’re now halfway into the 18th day of Operation Protective Edge and the 8th day of the ground operation.
Here’s a quick summary which I won’t update until after Shabbat unless something very dramatic happens before Shabbat.
Day 18 … The ground offensive is a week old now, and Israeli military sources say approximately 200-500 Hamas gunmen are dead. But the fighting — and the rocket fire into Israel — continues, and there is no ceasefire in the offing.
Sadly another soldier was killed this morning, bring the total number of IDF dead to 33:
Sergeant First Class (res.) Yair Ashkenazi was killed in the early morning hours of Friday during operational activity in the northern Gaza Strip, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported. Ashkenazi is the 33rd casualty of Operation Protective Edge.
Ashkenazi is survived by his wife and three children, the youngest of which was born a few months. The couple moved to Rehovot from the north six years ago. Ashkenazi, a lawyer by profession, worked as an external legal counsel to Modi’in Municipality.
May his memory be for a blessing and may his death not be in vain.
There have been several rocket barrages over south and central Israel again today, including yet another one over PT.
12:18 p.m. Rocket alert sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council.
11:50 a.m. Three rockets intercepted over Rishon Lezion. One man went into shock.
11:45 a.m. Gazan rockets fired at Tel Aviv and intercepted. Sirens sound in Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion airport, Rishon Lezion, Ness Ziona, Rehovot and Yavne.
11:25 a.m. Iron Dome intercepts a number of rockets over Ashkelon; direct hit on home reported, no injuries.
11:10 a.m Rocket sirens sound throughout Ashkelon, Sharon and Dan regions in southern and central Israel.
9:36 a.m. The IDF and Shin Bet killed senior Islamic Jihad member Salah Abu Hasnin on Friday morning by targeting his Rafah home by air. Since Thursday morning, the IDF has killed around 40 terrorists in Gaza.
7:53 a.m. Sirens sounded in Ashkelon and the communities surrounding Gaza.
The IDF targeted 45 terror sites overnight:
The IDF says it targeted 45 sites overnight Thursday-Friday.
Targets include a command post, which houses Hamas internal security offices, as well as the office of senior Hamas member Ra’at Habat.
According to army figures, 65,000 reservists have been drafted so far. Since the beginning of the ground operation last week, 843 rockets were fired at Israel. The Iron Dome intercepted 166, while 658 struck inside Israel.
The total number of rockets fired at Israel since the beginning of Protective Edge is over 2,000.
The IDF also released the names of the senior Islamic Jihad commanders it targeted:
Shortly after the Shin Bet confirms it killed senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Salah Ahmed Hassanein, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit releases the names of senior terrorists it targeted in the past week:
• Tafat Muhammad Hamed, a senior PIJ operative in the Beit Hanoun area. The IDF says he was responsible for rocket attacks into Israel.
• Hasim Abad Elkader Mecusan, a senior PIJ operative in the area of Shejaiya.
• Akrem Sha’ad, senior PIJ operative in the area of Khan Yunis.
• Mahmud Ziada, a senior PIJ operative in the area of Jabaliya.
• Ahmed Sahamood, a senior terrorist in the Khan Yunis area.
• Asama Alhia, a leading Hamas terrorist around Shejaiya. Alhia was the son of Halil Alhia, a senior member of Hamas’s political wing.
• Mahmad Shaaban, a senior Hamas operative.
• Abdala al-Haras, a senior leader in Hamas’s military wing.
Turkish Jews seem to have a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome as they urge the AJC not to withdraw an award given to Turkish PM Recepp Tayipp Erdogan, who has lately been given to raving and making lunatic anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements.
The IDF and police are on high alert after last night’s violence by Palestinians in and around Jerusalem and Kalandia.
Israeli security forces are on heightened alert Friday after two Palestinian man were shot dead during a huge protest in the West Bank against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.
Palestinian factions in the West Bank declared a “Day of Rage” after the Thursday night clashes, which took place throughout the West Bank and in some sectors of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
Police say that, due to fears of violent protest over the deadly Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip, they will bar men under the age of 50 from Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque for what are usually packed prayers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Palestinian security and medical officials named one of the slain men as Mohammed al-Aaraj, 25, and said he was among at least 10,000 people who clashed with soldiers and Border Police in Qalandiya, between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
They said 150 people were wounded by Israeli fire, with five of them in critical condition.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appealed for blood donors.
The army tells AFP that live fire was used in a confrontation with the protesters after some threw rocks, firecrackers and petrol bombs at soldiers and Border Police.
The fighting ended in the early hours of Friday, an army spokeswoman says.
Israeli public radio said Palestinians and troops also clashed in the areas of the West Bank cities of Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem and Tulkarem.
The confrontations came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as Ramadan nears its end.
Large numbers of police were deployed throughout Jerusalem Thursday night. The police said two officers were injured by stone-throwers near the al-Aqsa mosque.
Police say that 39 protesters were arrested in various violent disturbances in Palestinian areas of the city. At least 27 police officers were slightly injured in the clashes.
The fear is that Hamas is trying to heat up the Israeli-PA front as well as Gaza.
Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and abroad are calling on Palestinians in the West Bank to start a Third Intifada.
Qatar-based Hamas spokesman Husham Badran, responding to the reports of clashes between thousands of Palestinians and police at the Qalandiya checkpoint, says the timing is right to rise up, Israel Radio reports.
“This is your opportunity,” he says to West Bank Palestinians.
Hamas official Izat a-Rishk calls, on Twitter, for a revolution against the enemy, adding that the blood of Gazans ignites the West Bank.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri says the events at Qalandiya prove that the Palestinians are one people and that Gaza cannot be isolated.
The outrage at Israel over the school bombing in Gaza, most of it manufactured sanctimony in order to smear Israel, is still ongoing. To remind you, the IDF says that the casualties are probably from Hamas rockets that fell short. The horrific Palestinian child abuse continues, as reports come in from injured IDF troops that terrorists charge at the soldiers “with a gun in one hand and a baby in the other” hoping to cause the death of either the soldier or the baby. It’s a win-win situation for them.
Illustrating this ghastly situation, Here’s a timely reminder of what Israel is facing – an excellent video “I hope the Gazans love their children too”. (Hint: it would seem the answer is – No).
I conclude this post with the news that the cabinet is discussing John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal. However the latest report (on TV) is that Netanyahu objects to any ceasefire that does not enable Israel to continue dealing with the terror tunnel threat. Ynet reports (not updated though):
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who will convene his security cabinet at 3 pm Friday, has said any truce should lead to the eventual stripping of Gaza’s rocket arsenals – something Hamas rules out.
However, some senior coalition members and members of the security cabinet, are already objecting to the truce – regardless of its length or timing – though Netanyahu himself is said to support the idea.
Bayit Yehudi chairman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett has expressed his absolute objection to any such deal.
“We must not take our foot of the gas pedal now,” sources close to the minister said, adding that “(Bennett) objects to any deal that does not include Hamas of its rockets and the dismantling of all tunnels in Gaza.”
Likud strongman and Interior Minister Gideon Saar said “we need to reject the ceasefire… what we should do is continue and even expand Operation Protective Edge.”
Sources said that because of the disagreements in the cabinet, Netanyahu decided to postpone the meeting from 1:30 to 3 pm Friday.
Alongside Bennett, Foreign Minister Lieberman indicated during the week that he supports the continued bid to dismantle Hamas, and senior Likud members and Communication Minister Gilad Erdan also said he would not support ending the operation before the IDF has completed its mission.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, a centrist, has not yet publically commented on where he stands regarding a ceasefire. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to support the deal.