The news out of Gaza and the border area is so bad that I’ve abandoned my Good News Friday post. Maybe next week we’ll be in a better mood to hear cheerful news.
The 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire held barely 2 hours when Hamas breached it and began firing rockets at the Kerem Shalom area on the Israeli side of the border. The IDF did not let this pass and fired back. In the ensuing battle, Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel together with a suicide bomber who exploded. Two IDF soldiers were killed and another soldier, Lt. Hadar Goldin of Kfar Saba, has disappeared, presumed kidnapped. The IDF are frantically searching for the missing soldier:
IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, an officer in the Givati Brigade, was abducted in the Rafah area of Gaza on Friday morning, in an attack perpetrated some 90 minutes after the onset of a truce, an IDF spokesman said Friday.
The attack, which included a suicide bombing and involved enemy gunmen emerging from a tunnel shaft, came at 9:30 in the morning, during the early hours of what was to have been a 72-hour truce, and may signal a significant escalation in the 25-day-old war with Gaza.
A suicide bomber and other gunmen engaged the IDF forces as they sought to decommission a tunnel. Shortly after the combined attack, it became clear to Israeli forces in the area that a soldier was missing.
“Everything that has happened since then in the Rafah area is on account of the attack,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.
Hamas’s Moussa Abu Marzouk announced that it had captured the soldier, and claimed it did so before the ceasefire went into effect. A spokesman for the Hamas military wing in Gaza, however, denied any kidnapping.
Palestinian sources in Rafah reported the most intense barrages yet during this campaign, leading to the deaths of more than 50 Palestinians, with upward of 200 wounded. Egypt has reportedly shut all access to the Sinai Peninsula.
MK Omer Bar-Lev, a former commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, said the militants will have likely tried to get the soldier out of the area via tunnels. “It’s a race against time… by the ground forces, to close off the area, and search house by house,” he said.
The army said in an official statement that it was “currently conducting intelligence efforts and extensive searches in order to locate the missing soldier.”
Lerner added that only a short while elapsed between the attack and the realization that a soldier had gone missing. He said the searches were being led by Col. Ofer Winter, commander of the Givati Brigade, and that the soldier’s family had been updated on the situation.
The incident came on the heels of a mortar attack Thursday evening, in which five Israeli soldiers were killed in the border region. The mortar attack brought the IDF death toll up to 61 since the start of the operation.
The names of the five soldiers killed Thursday were announced as: Staff Sergeant Noam Rosenthal, 20, an armored corps combat medic; Captain Omri Tal, 22, an armored corps combat officer from Yahud; Staff Sergeant (Res.) Daniel Marash, 22, an armored corps combat medic from Rishon L’zion; Staff Sergeant Shay Kushnir, 20, an armored corps combatant from Kiryat Motzkin; and Cpt. Liran Adir (Edry), 31, of Azuz.
A senior Israeli official slammed Hamas for again violating a humanitarian truce.
“It’s clear that Hamas has violated yet again another humanitarian ceasefire,” the official told The Times of Israel. “They broke commitments given to the United Nations secretary-general and to the United States secretary of state. This is obviously a flagrant violation of the ceasefire arrangement, which specifically allowed Israeli troops to remain in place and allowed us to continue to work on tunnels.”
WHY do we fall for Hamas’s bait every single time? WHY do we agree to these ridiculous ceasefires, humanitarian or not, when it is absolutely clear that they will breach those ceasefires within a very short time. What’s the point of agreeing to the ceasefire just to make a good impression on the outside world when that same outside world gives us no credit at all for observing the ceasefire or any other humanitarian act that we do to save the enemy’s civilians when they themselves don’t give a damn about their civilians?!
The Algemeiner (h/t Brian Goldfarb) adds that Hadar Goldin has dual British-Israeli citizenship. I wonder if that will move the British to act strongly on Israel’s behalf for a change:
Britain’s Channel 4 reported that the captured Israeli soldier is a British citizen and is related to Israel’s defense minister: “Channel 4 News understands that the soldier is from a family of British Jewish immigrants. It is also understand that he is a cousin – either second or third – of Israeli’s defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon.” Ynet further reported that Goldin got married a few months ago.
It was not clear whether the soldier currently presumed captured was wounded in the clash. Immediately after the fire exchange, artillery units began a heavy bombardment of targets inside the southern Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Friday afternoon spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry and told him that despite his joint statement with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, according to which assurances had been received from Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip regarding a ceasefire from 8 a.m. local time Friday morning, the Palestinians had unilaterally and grossly violated the humanitarian ceasefire and attacked Israeli soldiers after 9 a.m.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu told Kerry that Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip will bear the consequences of their actions and that Israel would take all necessary steps against those “who call for our destruction and perpetrate terrorism against our citizens.”
On Thursday, a senior IDF officer deployed inside the Gaza Strip told the Israeli news website NRG that Hamas was dedicating many resources to capturing a soldier.
“Unlike its rocket attacks aimed at civilians, Hamas has tried to fight IDF soldiers, in an effort to capture a soldier and use them as a bargaining chip in a future prisoner release. Attacks that have been carried out by gunmen until now have been targeting soldiers and not communities. The reason for this is that the issue of prisoners is always in the back of the minds of Hamas officials and also because of a realization that harming civilians will hurt their public image,” the officer told Israeli news website NRG.
“There has never been an effort to attack the IDF’s line of defense near the Gaza Strip border as intense as this one. We realized the enemy can attack us from 360 degrees and at a depth ranging between 300 meters and one kilometer inside the Gaza Strip border,” the senior IDF official said.
I hope the IDF go in with all guns blazing, literally, and smash Hamas and their supporters to pieces. And if there are civilian casualties, so be it. We get no credit from the world for our efforts so we may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. Why endanger our own soldiers to save the civilians whom no one cared about until the Israelis appeared?
I apologize for the rushed posting. It is almost Shabbat. I hope we have a quiet and safe Shabbat and that we hear good news at the end of it.
I won’t be updating over Shabbat, but if any of you would like to provide updates, you are welcome to do so in the comments.
Shabbat Shalom everyone.