UPDATES 11 pm Israel time:
*Latest IDF info:
—20 terrorist tunnels have been found, about 60% of expectations
—150 targets have been attacked: tunnels, rocket launch sites, homes terrorist commanders
—19 terrorists have been killed, another 13 have surrendered: 1 wounded terrorist was taken to Beersheva for treatment
*Incoming missile information:
Intense missile fire into Israel continues. As of this hour, there have been more than 45 attacks during the day. Our israelstreet missile count will be made available tomorrow morning.
The Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, and Chof Ashkelon regions continue getting pulverized. Beersheva, Ashkelon, and Ashdod have all received multiple volleys. As recently as a couple of hours ago, there was another attack on Tel Aviv focused on Ben Gurion Airport. The attack was unsuccessful.
—Israel has reduced its diplomatic delegation to Turkey following anti-Israel remarks by PM Erdogan which led to violent attacks on the Israeli embassy in Ankara.
—There have been violent clashes in Israel between leftists and those supporting the Gaza incursion–both in Jerusalem and Sderot. More on these tomorrow.
UPDATES 10:15 am Israel time:
*The IDF soldier who was killed last night was 20 year old Eitan Barak of Herzliya.
May his memory be honored and may he rest in peace.
*We have just been hit by a volley of at least 8 missiles here in Ashdod at 10:05 am, directly over our house again. Your humble servant says “at least” because you will note in the picture I just took (below) there are 7 missile explosions in the sky overhead caused by the Iron Dome interceptions of incoming missiles from Gaza. The 8th was out of the picture to the left.
*The IDF summary for activities in Gaza overnight:
“Overnight, we neutralized 14 terrorists, destroyed 20 rocket launchers, carried out 9 strikes on tunnels and hit a total of 103 terror targets. Furthermore, since last night, about 50 rockets were fired from Gaza. Of them, 25 hit Israel and 20 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.”
UPDATES 8:00 am Israel time:
*Unfortunately, the first casualties have been reported by the IDF. One IDF soldier was killed as a result of friendly fire in operations in Beit Hanoun (see map) and two others lightly wounded.
*IDF forces–infantry, armored, and engineering– have entered northern, central, and southern Gaza.
*The IDF reports that 14 terrorists have been killed.
*18,000 more reservists have been called up.
UPDATE 7:00 am Israel time: In the face of renewed and increased missile fire from Palestinian terrorists in Gaza coupled with attempted infiltrations of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces have launched a ground incursion into Gaza.
According to PM Netanyaahu, the goal of the incursion is twofold:
1. To eliminate the tunnels from which the terrorists are launching infiltrations into Israel such as the one yesterday at Sufa (see map), and in which they have hoarded thousands of missiles and missile launchers.
2. To significantly degrade Hamas infrastructure.
Of course, israelstreet is not privy to IDF plans, but in the past Netanyahu has talked about dividing Gaza into thirds in the event that Israel was forced to go in.
However, the current plan seems to be to divide Gaza in half, to go especially hard after the launch sites in northern Gaza, and to take control of the open area between the Israel-Gaza border and the populated areas (this is a relatively small area–but it is where the entrances to the tunnels are located–you may remember that these areas were turned over to Hamas following November 2012 war so that Hamas could have agricultural areas).
What do we know this morning?
Not much except there have been intense clashes between terrorists and the IDF overnight. At least one IDF bulldozer was hit by anti-tank missile and rendered inoperative. There has been extremely heavy shelling and bombing of Palestinian terrorist positions all night–and we can hear them continuing now.
Meanwhile, missiles continue pouring into southern Israel–especially Qassam rockets into the border communities in the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, and Chof Ashkelon regions. At around 1:30 am this morning, we had a severe volley of Grad rockets here in Ashdod.
Fortunately, no casualties have been reported by the IDF.
In the end, the Netanyahu government, which had been so averse to making a decision and so unwilling to commit troops and so eager to embrace ceasefires, was left with no choice.
To begin with, Hamas almost immediately broke the humanitarian peace yesterday at noon by firing mortars into southern Israel. Then, at 3 pm when the truce expired, all hell broke loose in southern Israel as terrorists pummeled Israeli communities with volleys of missiles.
Even then, from approximately 3 pm until 4:30 pm, the IDF did not respond, but it quickly became clear that the situation was intolerable, and Hamas had no intention of engaging in an overall ceasefire. In fact, what became clear was that no Hamas member living in Gaza was even in Egypt negotiating for a ceasefire. The only Hamas representative who was there was one who lives in Cairo.
Speaking of Cairo, there is every reason to believe that Egypt is actively cooperating with Israel. Egyptian television last night ran continuous programs demeaning Hamas and making fun of its leaders. The United States, and John Kerry in particular, appears to be isolated and unwanted–though true to form he is supposedly arriving in either Israel or Egypt today.
The israelstreet missile count from yesterday:
From 12 am to 10 am: 11 missile launches involving 35 missiles
From 10 am to 3 pm (the truce): 1 mortar attack involving 3 mortars
From 3 pm (actually 2:59 pm) until 12 am: 46 launches involving 161 missiles
Total for the Thursday: 57 missile launches involving 196 missiles
This blog will be updated continuously during the day as events warrant.
Israelstreet encourages all supporters of Israel everywhere to pray for the safety of our troops.