UPDATES 11:30 pm:
**The main news at the moment is the cancellation of flights into Israel by all American and most European airlines because of a missile that hit relatively near (Yehud) Ben Gurion Airport today. Most of the cancellations are for a period ranging from 24 to 36 hours, but Hamas is hailing this is a great victory (El Al is continuing its flights).
These cancellations were bound to happen–especially in light of the shoot-down of the Malaysian plane over the Ukraine–but your humble servant had predicted this last week in a letter published in the Jerusalem Post.
The truth is that if Hamas had enough M75 and M80 rockets to fire volleys of six or more rockets at a time, this would have happened before now. As it is, in every volley of six or 12 Grad rockets, at least one or two missiles get through. The Iron Dome, while a wonderful defensive weapon, only has a successful shoot-down rate of about 80-85%.
It will be interesting to see what the effect of the airlines’ cancellation on the Israel stock market tomorrow morning and the value of the shekel.
One last point. Ironically, the constant Hamas attacks on Ben Gurion and the subsequent flight cancellations may well spell the end of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. Critics of the two-state solution have always theorized that Ben Gurion would immediately be attacked by Palestinians in Judea and Samaria if they controlled the territory.
**In a speech in Ramallah this afternoon, our so-called partner for peace and darling of the Israeli and international left, Mahmoud Abbas, pledged to pursue “every Israel war criminal” in the International Criminal Court. Of course, each and every rocket Hamas fires is a war crime as is their continuing use of their own population as human shields.
**A fierce attack continues in Shujaiyeh. This afternoon more than 100 bombs were dropped on the neighborhood from which civilians have left. The bombs weighed up to one ton and flattened numerous terrorist hideouts. For the first time in memory, authority for the bombing was passed from the IDF General Staff to the Commander of Troops in Gaza, Gen. Mickey Edelstein.
The fighting is continuing tonight.
UPDATES 4:00 pm:
**The just concluded press conference involving John Kerry in Cairo has shown that there is no ceasefire in the works in the next 24 hours. In short, the Egyptians have stuck to their guns and insisted on their plan as the basis for a ceasefire.
**Compared to any day in this war so far, Tuesday has thus far seen fewer terrorist missile launches against Israel. This could change at any moment, and could be the result of a myriad of reasons, but your humble servant hopes that the trend continues for the rest of the day–and that it is because of IDF activity.
**The IDF has attacked three mosques in Gaza today that have been hotbeds of terrorist missile launching and storage. Of course, Hamas has placed its weaponry in any place that it thinks that Israel will not attack–apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals.
The Shifa Hospital in Gaza, from which Al-Jazeera (completely owned and operated by the “royal” Thani family of Qatar) has been doing virtually 24 hour coverage of the “dead and wounded” (showing endless repetition of two or three video clips), is one such location. Not only have Hamas members commandeered the top three floors for their own offices–and have taken to making speeches from there with a fake backdrop–but also it has long been known that Hamas has bunkers under the main building.
In fact, Al Jazeera’s coverage has been so blatently biased that FM Lieberman suggested today the removal of the television company’s license to broadcast here.
UPDATES 10:00 am:
**It’s 10:00 and where is the humanitarian ceasefire?
Apparently both Hamas and Israel have rejected it for the moment.
At this moment, there is a Hamas missile attack taking place against Tel Aviv–every section of the city is getting incoming missile sirens–as is the Sharon area and the area around Ben Gurion airport.
In the last 50 minutes we have had two Hamas missile attacks on southern Israel. In the most intense one, we here in Ashdod had 8 incoming missiles intercepted over the city–in fact, directly over our house in far south Ashdod. The intercepts were low to the ground with massive, concussive, explosions shaking the foundation of our home.
**The IDF has just released the following information:
—Apparently only 6 of the 7 Golani soldiers killed in the APC incident two nights ago have been retrieved. The IDF suspects that the one body missing may be the “kidnapped” soldier, Shaul Aaron, who Hamas has been declaring that it has.
—Since the beginning of the current war, 23 tunnels have been destroyed and 183 terrorists have been killed.
—Overnight, the IAF struck Shujaiya repeatedly bringing to 100 the number of strikes on the Hamas terrorist stronghold in the last 24 hours. Most strikes had secondary explosions indicating the presence of Hamas weapons repositories.
**You may have wondered about the high level of IDF fatalities in the firefights with Hamas. The two items found in greatest quantities in the tunnels are weapons and Israeli army uniforms.
All of the terrorists killed yesterday as they emerged from tunnels were wearing full Israeli army gear. Similarly, IDF troops are encountering and fighting against terrorists in Israeli army uniforms throughout Gaza.
There have been a number of incidents in which IDF soldiers did not know whether to shoot or not.
UPDATES 6:00 am:
**Unfortunately, two more Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza bringing to 27 the number who have given their lives in defense of this country. The two deaths reported this morning occurred yesterday afternoon. The IDF has announced that hereafter, the deaths of Israeli soldiers will only be announced at 6 am and 7 pm each day.
More than this, there are more than 100 wounded Israeli soldiers in Israeli hospitals–primarily in Beersheva and Ashkelon. Of these, 27 soldiers have conditions classified as “serious to critical”.
May we all pray for the recovery of these brave soldiers.
**The funeral of every fallen soldier is emotional beyond description and traumatic for the entire country, but one last night was particularly poignant.
Sgt. Sean Carmeli, a 21-year-old lone soldier from South Padre Island, Texas, was buried in Haifa at 11 pm. When the word went out that a lone soldier (a soldier without immediate family in the the country) was being buried, a call went out for people to attend his funeral.
Tens of thousands came.
May the memory of Sgt. Sean Carmeli be forever blessed.
**As usual, there is no report on IDF activity in Gaza last night. However, there was at least one case of a female suicide bomber who was shot and killed by Israeli troops just as she detonated herself. Meanwhile, Hamas claims it has distributed thousands of hand grenades to “children” in Gaza. In a speech last night (as already reported on israelstreet), Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh proudly boasted that the “deaths of the people in Gaza” are “our greatest victory.”
Here in Ashdod, we heard continuous Israeli naval cannon fire at Gaza and planes taking off for Gaza all night.
**There were 46 launches of missiles out of Gaza yesterday which involved 161 missiles (the IDF official number is 139). Here in Ashdod we experienced the most intense volleys–receiving 20 in one attack, and 14 in another. But without question, the hardest hit areas were the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, and Chof Ashkelon regions around Gaza.
The bottom line is that IDF action in Gaza has not yet stopped or even decreased the number of missile attacks.
**What is happening today is anyone’s guess—as the international community led by Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Ban Ki-Moon desperately attempts to hand victory to Hamas.
The United States announced last night that it was pouring $47,000,000 into Gaza to “help displaced persons”. What nonsense. The U.S. is pouring 47 million dollars into the Hamas war fund for more weapons and missiles to target Israeli soldiers and civilians.
As John Kerry’s Under Secretary of State Rick Stengel tweeted on Saturday night: “@StateDept. . . .#UnitedForGaza”.
A “humanitarian ceasefire” is supposed to go into effect for 5 hours between 10 am and 3 pm though Hamas has already signaled that it has not agreed. As to a longer ceasefire agreement, the Egyptians have apparently adamantly told the U.S. and Qatar that they are not changing the principles of their original ceasefire proposal. The Egyptians seem particularly incensed that the U.S. and other internationalists want to wrest control of the Rafah Crossing away from Egypt and open the Crossing all the time.
Meanwhile, the dynamics within the Netanyahu’s security cabinet have changed. Bennett and Lieberman have now been joined by at least two more members in demanding that Israel not agree to any ceasefire “until the job is done.”
Further updates will be posted as warranted.