A huge escalation between Israel and Gaza has developed over the last 24 hours, with the toll being:
one IDF special forces officer killed, another injured,
7 Hamas terrorists killed including one of their commanders;
over 100 rockets fired into Israel within the space of one hour;
plus direct hits to houses in Ashkelon and Netivot,
a direct hit by a Cornet missile on a bus which minutes earlier was carrying 50 soldiers, seriously injuring one of the soldiers;
and other property damage across the south with several Israeli citizens injured.
To give you an idea of how frequent the rocket attacks were occurring, this is how my phone looked like earlier (and still ongoing as I type a couple of hours later) with the Red Alert app lit up:
The bus mentioned above had been full moments before the hit. We have to thank G-d for our miracles, even though someone was very badly hurt:
The episode began started last night, in circumstances which are unclear and will most likely remain unclear: a special forces IDF soldier who remains unnamed was killed and another injured in an undercover operation.
IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said Monday that the overnight mission in Gaza was intended as an intelligence-gathering mission by IDF special forces operating deep inside Gaza, not an assassination or kidnapping attempt.
Most details of the raid, including the identity of the officer who was killed, remained subject to a military censor and could not be published.
At some point during the overnight operation, the Israeli troops clashed with local Hamas fighters, killing a senior commander and several other members of the Gaza-ruling terrorist group.
The IDF unit called in aerial support — aircraft to bomb the surrounding area — and made its away out of the Gaza Strip.
Manelis said the soldiers operating in Gaza overnight “became trapped in a highly complex situation but they had responded “heroically, hit those who threatened them and extracted themselves to Israeli territory.”
In addition to the IDF lieutenant colonel who was killed — identified only by the Hebrew letter of his first name, “Mem” — a second IDF officer was wounded in the firefight and taken to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center in moderate, stable condition.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, seven Palestinians in total were killed in the exchange and another seven were injured.
Following the raid, Palestinian terrorist groups launched at least 17 projectiles — rockets and mortar shells — at southern Israel. Three of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. The rest fell in open fields outside populated communities, one of them causing light damage to a greenhouse in the Eshkol region.
The slain IDF officer was a hero and a wonderful man according to all the reports. Sadly he has to remain anonymous but we can get a small picture of him from these eulogies:
“This is a great loss,” the father said, according to a report from Hadashot news television. “I hope it will be the final loss for the people of Israel.”
A close relative said that the officer, who has been identified by the military only by the Hebrew initial “Mem,” joined the army after high school and had remained in the service ever since.
The lieutenant colonel was 41 years old, was married with two children and lived in a town in northern Israel.
“He was a social activist and contributed greatly,” the relative said. “The family didn’t know what he did aside from the fact that he was a senior officer in an elite unit. His family was exemplary, his wife works in the medical sector and helps children.”
A close acquaintance of Lt. Col. Mem said he volunteered in various organizations and “raised the next generation with values of patriotism, and values of contributing and volunteering.”
“He began to think of the future, of advancing in the civilian security establishment,” the acquaintance said. “Or alternatively, he considered progressing through the military establishment.”
Condolences and commiserations over the death of the officer came from senior Israeli figures including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein.
Netanyahu tweeted: “I bow my head in sadness at the loss of Lt. Col. Mem, a glorious fighter who fell during an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip.”
May Hashem send comfort and strength to the family of “Mem” and may He avenge his blood.
The slain Hamas commander was Nur Barakeh and was apparently involved in Hamas’ tunnel-building. Even if he was not the intended target of the operation, it can only be a good thing that he has been eliminated:
A senior Hamas leader was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip Sunday night, Arab sources have reported. At least six other terrorists were also killed in the strike, Gaza hospitals reported.
According to the reports, an IDF attack involving roughly a dozen missile strikes in the southern Gaza Strip Sunday night killed multiple Hamas terrorists, including a senior commander of Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
The missiles reportedly struck targets in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.
At least six terrorists were killed, and according to the Gaza health ministry, Nur Barakeh, the deputy commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, was one of the fatalities. A second fatality was identified as Muhammed Al-Qara, an aide to Barakeh.
There were several rocket attacks last night in retaliation for the Israeli raid to which the IDF responded in measure.
However this afternoon with no warning and no provocation, Hamas and its allies suddenly opened fire on Israel with a massive barrage of rockets and missiles into the south of Israel. Within the space of one hour over 100 missiles were fired! Since the beginning of the barrage at around 4 p.m., over 200 missiles and rockets have been fired into Israel causing serious damage.
Palestinian militants in Gaza fired over 200 rockets into southern Israel within a span of two hours Monday evening.
Rockets landed in the city of Sderot and Netivot where the local religious council building was hit. A rocket also hit a home in Ashkelon causing a fire to break out. Code Red sirens were sounded throughout the south, including in Be’er Sheva.
At least five people were injured in the latest barrage; damage was reported as well. One young man was injured when terrorists fired an anti-tank missile at a bus travelling near the border.
Due to the barrages, residents were instructed to stay close to shelters and protected areas.
The Israeli Air Force struck at least 20 terror targets throughout Gaza; at least two were killed in the airstrikes.
IDF reinforcements are making their way toward the Gaza Strip vicinity as security is being beefed up to prevent terrorist infiltrations into Israeli communities.
Among the regions where Code Red sirens went off: Sdot Negev, Ashkelon Beach, Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol. Sirens were heard in the Dead Sea region and the Hebron Hills area as well.
Residents of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva were also instructed to remain near shelters.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has convened the Security Cabinet to discuss dealing with the deteriorating situation.
Here are several tweets from the south:
In the wake of the violence Prime Minister Netanyahu cut short his visit to Europe for the celebrations of the end of WWI (how ironic) and the security cabinet has just wrapped up 4 hours of consultations.
Meanwhile, as mentioned above, the Israel Air Force is attacking in Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces releases footage of its airstrikes against terror targets in the Gaza Strip.
The videos appear to show strikes on Palestinian rocket-launching teams, military facilities, and other sites in the coastal enclave.
The IDF says it has targeted upwards of 20 sites operated by the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups throughout the Strip.
Whether this will bring quiet or lead to more escalation is anyone’s guess.
Our big mistake seems to my untrained eye to be that we leave the decision making to Hamas. We are not pro-active any more. We are solely reactive to Hamas – to the extent of giving in to their blackmail and allowing in suitcases of cash ($15 million worth!) from Qatar to buy their “peacefulness” – which lasted all of 24 hours.
It’s time for a different solution to be found.
No genuine peace can be had with Hamas. Time to carpet bomb Gaza.
Everyone I speak to agrees with you. Now try and convince our cowardly leadership.
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I too vote, carpet bomb Gaza. I know there’s plenty that we are not privy to but I also know that helping to deliver $15 million to Hamas was insane!
I have to disagree with the notion of carpet bombing Gaza (there are actually many innocents there: they have little choice as to what to do – it is always thus under an authoritarian regime). However, Hamas (or rather their foot soldiers) will live to regret the over-reaction by the leaders. Under the laws governing war, the attacked may lawfully use whatever force is necessary to stop the attacker.
Hamas had already responded to the incursion by the IDF. With the launching of those rockets [“within the space of one hour over 100 missiles were fired”], Hamas created a new situation. Thus the 100+ rockets is a separate event, and I’m sure that the IDF & the IAF will make Hamas pay a heavy price, while attempting (as Colonel Richard Kemp is always reminding us) to avoid collateral casualties.
They started it, Israel will finish it.
I know we are not going to carpet bomb anyone and in truth none of us really want it. We are just venting our frustration and anger. But there has to be a better way than what we’ve been doing till now.
I disagree with Brian Goldfarb. Hamas and others are indiscriminately bombing Israeli civilians, so there is no legal or moral reason why Israel cannot indiscriminately bomb their civilans. It’s not a question of whether these civilians have a say or not. Please remember that the Allies destroyed Dresden killing thousands of civilians as a response to the bombing of Coventry. And of course the Americans destroyed Hiroshima and the next day Nagasaki to force a Japanese surrender. No-one questions whether this was moral or legal. The precedents exist. Only when Arab civilians are killed in massive numbers might (and it’s only a might, but worth trying) the Gazan population rise and overthrow their leaders. When the knife is at their throat, they will have nothing left to lose but their lives, either way. But can anyone really see yellow-Bibi or scaredy cat-Eizenkot even considering this?
Sadly, David, the situations are not equal. The Western allies (and the USSR) had no need to worry about world opinion (they were world opinion). And even if they were, Israelis need to remember that they have a moral compass and it is irrelevant that Hamas do not.
Israel, collectively, has to be able to sleep at night. Remember, the Almighty put before us (as the Rabbis remind us) the choice between life and death, and demanded that we choose life, that we might live. (Israel here includes the Diaspora.) It is irrelevant that Hamas (and Hezbollah) choose death. Ours is the more powerful choice, for we shall live to defend ourselves and those we love, while our enemies will choose death and be unable to defend their evil way of life (this is not an attack on Islam, but on Hamas’s & Hezbollah’s perverted version of it).
What I am arguing is that, despite the apparent acceptance of a temporary cease fire (which Hamas will break as soon as it suits their perverted view of the world), Israel and the IDF won’t relax their guard and this time, as soon as Hamas breach the ceasefire, the response will be awesome.
What Hamas and Hezbollah see as weakness is the greatest strength of the only democracy in the region and the possessor of the world’s best small army. Yet again, Hamas will lose, big time, and whatever the rest of the world thinks, Israel will be the moral victor. Israel will be able to live with their choices.
As readers of this site know full well, I am not a fan of Bibi, but I know that he is a canny politician and he has made much the same sort of calculations I have outlined above. If silence continues in the South, so be it: Dayenu. If not, the response will be all the more powerful because the other side have been, yet again, perfidious.
And both the Yishuv and the Diaspora will be able to live with the result with a clear conscience.
And to hell with the other side’s conscience (or lack of it).
Brian, you write : “as soon as Hamas breach the ceasefire, the response will be awesome”. Where exactly do you derive that from? In EVERY previous breach of the ceasefire by Hamas the Israeli response has been anything but awesome including this week’s round. When, not if, Hamas next breaks the ceasefire we shall see the army again present only 2 choices to the cabinet and they will choose the passive one. Any military response will only be the bombing of real estate and empty command centres. We think we’re so clever because we destroyed their TV centre. Yet in 30 minutes they were back broadcasting from a backup site. Our leaders in government and the military have lost the plot, they are no longer Zionists in the traditional meaning of the word. And in the Trump age world opinion accounts for nothing. For examples see Syria, Yemen, Hungary, Venezuela, etc etc. .
You pretty much echo my thoughts David.
Brian, we live in the Middle East where world opinion counts for nothing and where Israel gets blamed for everything anyway because “Jews”. Even our friends like Jordan do this.
But more importantly we are broadcasting weakness to the Palestinians and by extension to Iran. Weakness to the Arabs is like the smell of blood to a shark. We are just asking for the next attack and with our present unleadership I can guarantee it will be more of the same.
WHY don’t we kill Hamas leaders? We did once when we killed Sheikh Yassin and another one (Rantisi?) one after another. We tried to kill Mashaal. Why can’t we bring Hamas’s leaders to the state of Nasrallah who hasn’t dared leave his bunker for 12 years?
Bibi is too busy looking after his “legacy”. He’s also too scared of his own shadow.
In fact the “ceasefire” was not actually agreed on in the cabinet. There were too many opposing so Bibi simply imposed his will on everyone. A cowardly dictator.
At the very least he owes the citizens of the south an explanation. They are the ones left living in fear and coping with severe emotional and mental trauma. Yes, buildings will be rebuilt. But who will cure a child of his nightmares? Who will help a teen who still wets his bed? THAT is on the head of this government led by Bibi.
When has Hamas kept a ceasefire, except after they have been hammered for their refusal to abide the conditions of a cease fire?
In 2014, the Elder of Ziyon noted on his blog that Hamas eventually accepted the same cease fire they had rejected 6 weeks earlier, because they had been hammered after their previous failure to keep that earlier cease fire. It is their perverted world view to see Israel’s acceptance of cease fires as weakness instead of what it is: a desire not to put Israeli lives at risk, whether these be those of members of the IDF or of Israeli citizens. Nor, come to that, to puttee lives of Palestinian non-combatants at risk: Bibi has said as much, if only because the higher the collective standard of living, the less likely are people to go to war unless they have no choice.
Hamas (and Hezbollah) don’t think like that and they are stupid enough to think that Israelis and their politicians are weak when they refuse to put Israeli lives at risk at the behest of Hamas.
You know I’m no fan of Bibi’s, but he is the one thinking clearly here, not Lieberman. He knows Hamas won’t be able to restrain themselves and will eventually decide to have another go. Then the Israelis will unleash a massive counterblow (that may risk Israeli lives) that will stop Hamas for another 4 years. What he doesn’t want to do is to be seen as the aggressor in the eyes of the important outside decision makers: the ones who convince politicians to keep the supply of arms up to Israeli.
Remember to careful of what you wish for.
We’re going round in circles here. You say that Hamas won’t be able to restrain themselves and will start again. That is true. But we have been there done that for ages now. And we have never had a barrage like we had this week of over 400 rockets in one day, not since before 2014. If THAT wasn’t a reason to hit harder, what is?
I’m not necessarily saying we should have gone in. In fact in that respect Bibi is right. But we have an air force, we have intelligence (of the military kind, the “seichel” kind is sorely lacking methinks), and we didn’t need to agree to a ceasefire when THEY demanded it, and so soon. We could have kept on bombing their infrastructure, the tunnels, their command posts… and maybe we SHOULDN’T warn their leaders before we bomb their command posts. Stuff like that.
And you can be quite sure, 100% sure, that Israel will be regarded as the aggressor no matter what we do. Just look at the Yom Kippur war for a prime example. The 2014 war too, we only went in after thousands of rockets and the kidnapping of the boys. The 2009 war was after thousands of rockets (I mean thousands) etc.
Einstein’s definition of insanity is very apt here: doing the same thing and expecting a different result every time.
Not surprisingly, I concur with DavidinPT. On my visit to IL in 2008, we were dodging rockets when visiting Sderot. Plus ca change…
I’d suggest applying pi*R2 at 100m of every rocket launch, and level everything within. Repeat in response to every successive rocket attack from Hamastan.
I also wonder whether the IDF has the capability of directed EMP attacks. Non-nuclear, but resulting in the destruction of every modern device in Gaza. These orcs are Dark Agers; send them (literally) back to the Dark Ages.
RIP, Col. Mem.
But however correct it is to attack Gaza or carpet bomb them or whatever,as soon as they realise that we will retaliate in full force(why it takes us so long I cannot fathom),they demand a ceasefire and stupidly we agree!All because we are scared of international reaction.Who cares?We can actually disagree to a ceasefire once and for all.
Reality, for the reasons I give above, I don’t think it’s stupidity. It’s deep thought by the politicians and the military. Despite the deaths and the damage, better that Israel knows (whatever others think) that it has the moral right on its side than just lash out at the beasts over there.
@ Reality: Good point. It is as though no one in the IDF or Cabinet understands Mohammedanism 101. Mo’s basic dictum was “war is deceit”, and these recurring hudnas merely permit the orcs to re-group tactically until the next terror attack on IL. The IDF should NEVER participate in such action. Hamas has declared war on Israel; Israel must oblige the hamastani leadership with Total War.
We all love venting and we all love to imagine Gaza flattened. But we all know it’s not going to happen.
It’s not only because we’re so moral and such good human beings. It’s because Israel is worried who would come after Hamas. Every time we get rid of one terror outfit an even worse one comes along.
And Israel does not want to be in the position of ruling Gaza and 2 million hostile Arabs.
I don’t know what the solution is. The only other viable option – and it’s not viable because there’s no cooperative 3rd party, is to transfer the entire lot. To Europe or Canada or some hell hole in Africa..
But it ain’t going to happen.
There is a will. I just don’t see a way.
I’m not venting nor suggesting “carpet bombing”. Just sustained, interminable and accurate targeting of any and all Hamas assets, including (as a FIRST priority) its leadership.
IL cannot be guaranteed of a second Trump WH; now is the time to permanently lance the jihadist boil.
/I simply cannot fathom how a First World country like Israel can be beset with a Dark Age scourge time and again. If the Town of Port Hope started lobbing rockets across Lake Ontario into Rochester NY, within an hour we would refer to it as “the smouldering remnants of the former Town of Port Hope”…
I could live with that. Sounds eminently reasonable to me. In fact it’s what we used to do.
The difference between Gaza and Port Hope is that PH doesn’t have another 1.5 billion inflamed Muslims ready to declare Jihad on the world, particularly the world’s Jews, and PH doesn’t have millions of idiotic Western useful idiots who can’t resist some radical chic “resistance”.
The Arabs have come up with this brilliantly diabolical scheme to keep Gaza in Israel’s throat. Either we swallow it or choke on it. We can’t spit it out. And no other Arab state, even the most friendly, is prepared to take it off our hands.
Actually, a little balancing here: apart from Iran and what’s left of Syria, much of the Arab/Moslem world cares less about the Palestinians and their problems. Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan (and Ei Sisi has just re-affirmed the strength of Egypt’s peace with Israel). Saudi and most of the Gulf States are much more worried about Iran’s expansionist tendencies than with the “Jewish State”. Turkey is more concerned with its Kurdish “problem” the its little local difficulty with Israel. Even Russia recognises Israel’s concerns with Hezbollah and with an unstable state to its north (Syria).
We all know that Israel could retake Gaza in a matter of hours, but who wants that? Not Bibi nor any other sane Israeli. And that really would change the moral balance – and I’m not referring to the antisemitic idiots of the BDS movement or of all the other members of the alphabet soup on the antisemitic front, but to the real grown-ups in the room: the proper politicians.
Despite the few deaths and serious injuries to Israelis, the physical damage can and will be rebuilt. The real damage is being done to Hamas’s infrastructure: the IAF knows exactly what it’s attacking, whereas as Hamas and Islamic Jihad are, literally, firing blindly into the dark.
Finally from me, the “Standing Together” movement needs collectively a very strong (metaphorical?) smack upside the head. Are these people utterly delusional? Sderotians are near-rioting at home and in TA to get the government to stop the violence, and a bunch of lunatic peaceniks want to sing kumbaya with Dark Agers who would slit their throats in a trice???? Words fail…
Oh G-d, don’t get me started on those lunatics. Stockholm Syndrome writ large is probably the best explanation.
Meanwhile, I am furious to learn that our mis-government has agreed to a ceasefire!!! AGAIN!!!
The people of Sderot are furious and are demonstrating and burning tires on the main road. If I lived nearer i would join them. They are planning demos near Tel Aviv tomorrow, saying why should only their lives be disrupted. They are 1000% right.
The rumours and theories are that Hamas implicitly threatened to bomb the center, when they said that Ashdod and Beer Sheva are not safe. The Sderotians are furious that Tel AVivians blood is redder than theirs.
Again, I agree 100%. I am ashamed of our government. I don’t care what their excuses are, how scared they are of a two-front war, or who they worry will come after Hamas.
There HAS to be a solution to this extortion/blackmail/hostage taking by Hamas.
No I don’t have a solution. But I’m not PM.
I literally feel my heart pounding as I write this I am so furious. (I need another word for furious).
Thank you Mr. Thesaurus 😛