UPDATES 8:00 pm:
**Tragic news: 7 more Israeli soldiers have been killed today. 4 IDF soldiers were killed in the tunnel fight this morning that killed 10 terrorists; 1 was killed later by a sniper; 2 were killed by friendly fire (hit by an artillery shell fired by the IDF).
**In Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s speech at 6 pm, he said that the death of the people of Gaza is Hamas’s greatest victory. He crowed that Hamas has control of the skies over Tel Aviv and the ground under Gaza.
UPDATES 6 pm:
**There is little clear information coming from the IDF concerning the results of fighting inside of Gaza.
Officially, the IDF now says that it has killed more than 150 terrorists and uncovered 16 tunnels that had 45 shafts. Unofficially, an IDF spokesman has reported that hundreds of terrorists were killed in Shujaiya alone.
**With every moment that passes, all of us in Israel now are beginning to realize how close to the precipice we actually were before this operation began. Who knows how many tunnels Hamas has dug into Israel? Who knows how many missiles Hamas has to fire at Israeli towns and cities? Whatever the estimates were, we now know that the actual numbers far exceed them.
Years of inaction brought about by attention to international concerns has left each and every Israeli vulnerable.
And now, the international community in the form of United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki Moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are supposedly going to appear in Cairo tomorrow to press for a “humanitarian ceasefire.”
They want a return to the agreement of November 2012–which gave Hamas everything it wanted and facilitated their vast military buildup and their massive tunnel building. In other words, the international community wants to call off the fighting and let a heavily armed Hamas continue doing what it was doing.
We have been treated on Israeli TV in the last few minutes to the warm meeting in Qatar today between two arch terrorists–Mahmoud Abbas of the PLO and Khaled Meshaal of Hamas. The kisses and hugs around the room were nothing short of nauseating.
In a few minutes Ismail Haniyeh is scheduled to speak followed by Meshaal a few hours later. Whatever they say, this is a time for Netanyahu and Israel to stand firm because if we don’t, there may not be an Israel to stand at all in the coming years.
At this very moment at 5:55 pm, the television warning system has flashed the warning incoming missiles for Ashkelon and the communities around Gaza. The explosions will be heard in about 3 minutes here in Ashdod.
Can Israel continue to exist like this?
UPDATES 12 pm:
**Palestinian media is reporting that the adult son of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was killed in a bombing strike last night.
**More info about the attempted infiltrations this morning. In one attempt, 5 terrorists were killed by an IAF strike after they had exited from their tunnel; in the other, 10 terrorists were killed by ground troops. In the latter incident, the IDF has sustained unspecified casualties.
The IDF was tipped off to both infiltrations by the GSS Intelligence Service based on information found in a tunnel in Gaza last night.
**The Golani Brigade along with the IAF is continuing to press the attack on Shujaiya and two nearby locations at this time. The names of those Golanis killed yesterday are being slowly released as their families are notified. At least one of them was lone soldier from Woodland Hills, California who was currently living in Beersheva.
**The IDF reports that it found and detonated six tunnels yesterday that led into Israel. One tunnel which was under a house in Gaza was 1.2 km long, 28 meters underground, and loaded with explosives. Unbelievably, another tunnel ended directly under a kibbutz dining room.
**The missile barrage that hit Ashdod about 20 minutes ago was one of the most intense of the current conflict. 20 missiles targeted the city, but only one got through (no other info at this time). The barrage came after a period of comparative quiet.
UPDATES 10 am:
**Your humble servant would like to preface all information today by stating his incredible admiration for the soldiers of the IDF. What they have been through in the streets of Gaza, and in particular in the terrorist hornet’s nest of Shujaiya, is indescribable. They deserve all of our support.
**Two major Hamas attempts to infiltrate heavily armed terrorists into Israeli border communities have been thwarted in the last few hours. 15 terrorists have been killed.
**The IDF is reporting that a “Hamas leader” was killed overnight in an air strikke, 10 more terrorists were killed in battles in Shujaiya, Golani soldiers killed a suicide bomber in southern Gaza. A complete report will be forthcoming.
**Israel is still reeling from the loss of 13 of its best soldiers yesterday from the Golani Brigade. That they died was horrific enough, but the fact that at least 7 of them did so needlessly is especially on everyone’s mind.
The soldiers were all being transported into a “hot” battle zone in an American-made M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. The problem is that 60 year old M113 was made for a time when RPGs and anti-tank missiles were not on the battlefield. The M113 was supposed to have been taken out of the IDF inventory ten years ago when another 11 soldiers riding in them were killed in Gaza by RPG fire.
Why it was on the battlefield (a street in the Shujaiya neighborhood) yesterday is not known since the Golani Brigade actually has two newer APC models–the Achzarit and Merkava, both of which can withstand RPGs and anti-tank missiles. The M113 yesterday was either hit by RPGs from the side and rear or by a buried bomb in the street.
By last night, the IDF claimed that it used the M113 yesterday out of “operational necessity”. When this war concludes, that decision will be one that will be severely questioned.
**Of the 18 soldiers killed so far, 9 have died in face to face combat with the enemy. 7 were killed in the APC yesterday, and two more were also killed when their vehicle (an IDF SUV) was hit by an RPG in an ambush.
Of the 9 who died in face to face combat, two were apparently killed by friendly fire, one died when a tank Trophy system malfunctioned, and yet another died when a hand grenade he threw at terrorists failed to explode.
**Yesterday’s missile count was remarkably similar to that of the day before. There were 46 launches of missiles into Israel involving 138 missiles. Again the hardest hit areas were the Gaza border regions. Beersheva and Ashkelon also suffered volleys of missiles. Here in Ashdod, we only had one missile attack. It came in the evening and only involved two missiles.
What is troubling is that the official IDF numbers are much lower–with “only” 87 rockets being fired from Gaza. Your humble servant hopes that this is not a reversion to the IDF tactic of the last decade of understating missile numbers.