UPDATES 10:00 pm:
**Three more Israeli soldiers have been killed and more than 10 have been seriously to critically wounded–including a few who are in “grave” condition. The three were paratroopers involved in the assault on the terrorist center at the Wafa Hospital. They were apparently killed by a remote control bomb detonated by Hamas terrorists.
Thirty three Israeli soldiers have now fallen in defense of this country.
**There is seriously bad news coming out of Jerusalem tonight that Israel, at the insistence of John Kerry, has agreed to a 5 day humanitarian ceasefire beginning tomorrow morning. If this report is true, and Israel is halting in place, it not only leaves the IDF soldiers in Gaza in an unbelievably vulnerable situation–but also the country of Israel.
Obama and Kerry seem intent on disarming Israel and leaving us in the same situation as in November 2012 with Hamas tunnels under our communities and Hamas missiles pointed at our heads.
We can only hope and pray that Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet have more spine than they did two years ago.
**In regard to the Kerry ceasefire, the entire episode with the FAA cancelation of flights into Israel is looking more and more like a political decision designed to apply pressure on Israel. Some of the airlines were ready to fly today–but were told that they would have to wait for one more day.
The question is simply whether the Obama Administration is blackmailing Israel into a ceasefire or not?
**We have continued to have intense missile attacks throughout the afternoon, mainly centered here in Ashdod. An hour ago, we had another volley of 12-14 missiles. It was surreal watching the missiles being launched from Gaza and knowing that they were were coming directly to us.
Today has seen an increase in the number of launches out of Gaza and the number of missiles that have exploded here. More on that tomorrow.
**Hamas launched more than 20 mortars today at the Israel field hospital that has been set up at the Erez Crossing to treat Palestinians.
**A group of some 25 Israeli reservists who were ready to enter Gaza this afternoon refused to be transported in the same model of APC in which the 7 soldiers were killed several days ago. Rather than providing one with protection, the IDF inexplicably released them from service.
UPDATES 5:00 pm:
–Not surprisingly because he is desperately searching for a friendly ear wherever he can find one, John Kerry has arrived in Israel. However, there were no Israeli dignitaries at the airport to greet him, but he has just held an “unscheduled meeting” with President Peres.
It will be his last meeting with Peres as President. Shimon Peres’ terms of office ends tonight at midnight. Tomorrow Reuven Rivlin will be sworn in as Israel’s new President for a term of seven years.
Regular readers of this blog know that your humble servant is happy to see Peres go.
–The IDF continues to be cryptic about the number of Hamas terrorists who have been killed. The latest information is that more than 100 have have been killed in the last 36 hours.
As an example, the IDF uncovered a tunnel shaft in Gaza this morning in which they found weapons, communication equipment, and maps of Tel Aviv. As soldiers continued to uncover more of the tunnel, they came up a group of some ten terrorists and killed them. In other action, a terrorist cell of more than 10 terrorists was killed in southern Gaza, and a cell firing anti-tank shells was eliminated.
As the bombing continues, mushroom clouds have begun appearing in places where secondary and even tertiary explosions are taking place–caused by hidden weapons respositories.
–The IDF is actively engaging an entire Hamas Brigade in Gaza City. Fierce fighting is taking place at many points.
–A specific target that is being leveled at this moment is Wafa Hospital in Gaza–a command and control center for Hamas. The IDF only attacked after all patients and staff had evacuated. Who knows how many terrorists were disguised as both? The hospital was also the source of intense anti-tank fire at the IDF.
Next on the list is Shifa Hospital–and the IDF has ordered its evacuation immediately.
–30,000 people attended the funeral of “lone soldier” Max Steinberg of California as he was buried a few hours ago on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. This follows the 20,000 person funeral of another lone soldier, Sean Carmeli in Haifa.
UPDATES 9:30 am:
**The pathetic farce that is Ban Ki Moon was revealed repeatedly yesterday.
To begin with, the Secretary General of the United Nations is supposed to be the epitome of neutrality. But lo and behold, it turns out that Moon is being privately pampered and transported around the world by the Hamas-supporting Qataris. Everywhere that is except for Israel–since Emirates and other Qatari concerns will not fly into Israel (or anyone into Qatar with an Israel stamp in his or her passport).
Secondly, the bizarre speech Moon gave in Israel yesterday at a joint press conference with PM Netanyahu in which Moon began by discussing how much he admired Israel and then devolved into how the grievances of Hamas must be addressed was morally reprehensible. It was no wonder that Netanyahu immediately deviated from the protocol of the press conference and gave Moon a tongue-lashing and pointed out to a discomfited Moon that Hamas’ main grievance is that Israel exists.
**In the first update of the morning, your humble servant referred to the fact that about 66% of the Hamas tunnels into Israel have been found. This percentage is based on a fascinating interview given by American counterterrorism expert Stephen Emerson yesterday in which he said that NASA infrared photography (taken several years ago) had revealed the presence of at least 60 tunnels coming from Gaza into Israel.
The oddity about the interview was that Emerson reported that the Netanyahu government had rebuffed efforts by the NASA people to share the information, suggesting that Israel had enough experts to discover tunnels. If this is true, it is just one more case of how the Netanyahu government ignored the tunnels to the obvious detriment of Israel.
**As the battle continues to rage in Shujaiyeh, a map seems in order.
Hopefully, as we hear plane after plane roaring overhead on their way to Gaza at this moment, let’s hope the IDF is turning Shujaiyeh into a wasteland.
UPDATES 8:00 am:
**Two more IDF soldiers have been killed overnight. One has been identified as Dimitri Levitas, a 26 year old company tank commander killed by a sniper, and the other is Lt. Nathan Cohen, a 23 year old platoon commander. This brings to 30 the number of Israeli soldiers who have died in Gaza (including the one soldier who is “missing but presumed dead”).
**IDF activity overnight:
—Fierce battles continue in Shujaiyeh and in Beit Lahiya. At this hour, IDF tanks and aircraft are in action.
—The Golani Brigade has now uncovered 38 tunnels and 57 shafts, including a huge one discovered under Shuyaiyeh last night. It is believed that this represents approximately 66% of the tunnels leading into Israel (this will be discussed in this blog later today).
**There were 26 missile attacks on Israel yesterday involving 91 missiles. This represents a signficant 40% decline in the number of attacks and missiles. Today will tell if this drop was an anomaly or not.
**The following is taken from the online version of the Jerusalem Post (JPost), this morning, in a section entitled “In Memorium” to the soldiers who have given their lives for the country of Israel.
Major Dmitri Levitas, 26, from Jeruslaem and Geshur, was killed by sniper fire in Gaza on Tuesday, July 23. He was a company commander serving in the Armored Corps.
St.-Sgt. Evyatar Turgeman, 20, from Beit She’an, was killed on Tuesday morning in a firefight with terrorists in Gaza. Turgeman served in the Paratroopers Brigade.
NCO Ohad Shemesh, 27, from Beit Elazari was killed in action on Monday from enemy fire in the Gaza Strip.
St.-Sgt. Oded Ben Sira, 22, from Nir Etzion served in the Nahal brigade. He was killed on Monday in clashes with terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
St.-Sgt. Jordan Bensemhoun, 22, from Ashkelon served in the Golani Brigade. He was killed Monday in an exchange of fire with terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
St.-Sgt. Yuval Dagan, 22, from Kfar Saba served in the Golani Brigade. He was killed Monday in an exchange of fire with terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
St.-Sgt. Tal Yifrah, 21, from Rishon Lezion, served in the Golani Brigade. He was killed Monday in an exchange of fire with terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Chief Warrant Officer Baynesian Kasahun, 39, of Netivot served in the Northern Brigade of the Gaza Division. He was one of four soldiers killed when his military jeep was hit with an anti-tank missile fired by a Gazan terrorist squad, which used a cross-border tunnel to infiltrate southern Israel on Monday morning.
Sec.-Lt. Yuval Haiman, 21, of Efrat, was a soldier from the Bahad 1 officer training base. He was killed Monday morning when his military jeep was hit with an anti-tank missile fired by a Gazan terrorist squad.
Sgt. Nadav Goldmacher, 23, of Beersheba soldier from the Bahad 1 training base was killed Monday morning when his military jeep was hit with an anti-tank missile fired by a Gazan terrorist squad.
Lt.-Col. Dolev Keidar, 38, of Modi’in, was commander of the Gefen Battalion of the IDF’s Bahad 1 officer training base. He was killed when his military jeep was hit with an anti-tank missile fired by a Gazan terrorist squad Monday.
Stf.-Sgt. Shachar Tase, 20, from Pardesiya, served in the Golani Brigade and was killed when Hamas terrorists targeted his APC in Gaza.
Stf.-Sgt. Daniel Pomerantz, 20, of Kfar Azar, served in the Golani Brigade and was killed when Hamas terrorists targeted his APC in Gaza.
Sgt. Shon Mondshine, 19, of Tel Aviv, served in the Golani Brigade and was killed when Hamas terrorists targeted his APC in Gaza.
Sgt. Ben Oanounou, 19, from Ashdod, served in the Golani Brigade and was killed when Hamas terrorists targeted his APC in Gaza.
Stf.-Sgt. Oren Simcha Noah, 22, of Hoshaya, served in the Golani Brigade and was killed when Hamas terrorists targeted his APC in Gaza.
Sgt. Oron Shaul, 21, from Poriyah is missing in action. Shaul serves in the Golani Brigade and was in the infantry APC targeted by Hamas in an attack in Gaza on Sunday. It is unknown whether Sgt. Shaul is dead or alive.
St. Sgt. Moshe Malko, 20, of Jerusalem was a Golani combat soldier killed during IDF operations in the Shejaia neighborhood in Gaza on Sunday morning.
Sgt. Max Steinberg, 24, a lone soldier from Woodland Hills, California who lived in Beersheba, was killed in action overnight Sunday. Steinberg was a Golani brigade sharpshooter.
St.-Sgt. Gilad Rozenthal Yacoby, 21, of Kiryat Ono, was killed in action in Gaza on Sunday along with 12 other soldiers and officers in the Golani Brigade.
Capt. Tsvi Kaplan, 28, of Kibbutz Merav, was killed on Sunday in Gaza. Kaplan was set to become a company commander in the Golani Brigade in the coming months.
Maj. Tzafrir Bar-Or, 32, from Acre, was killed on Sunday in Gaza. Since his conscription in the IDF, Bar-Or served in the Golani Brigade through numerous conflicts in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.
Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, a lone soldier from South Padre, Texas who lived in Ra’anana and served in the Golani Brigade, was killed on Sunday.
St. Sgt. Oz Mendelovich, 21, of Atzmon in northern Israel served in Golani. He was killed on Sunday in Gaza.
2nd-Lt. Bar Rahav, 21, from Ramat Yishai served in the Combat Engineering Corps and was mortally wounded on Saturday as a result of an anti-tank missile fired at an IDF vehicle in southern Gaza.
St. Sgt. Bnaya Rubel, 20, from Holon, served in the Paratroopers 101st Battalion. He was shot dead by a terrorist in Gaza who emerged from a tunnel shaft and opened fire at soldiers.
Maj.(res.) Amotz Greenberg, 45, of Hod Hasharon was killed on Saturday morning trying to stop Hamas infiltrators who had crossed Israel’s southern border through a tunnel.
Sgt. Adar Barsano, 20, from Nahariya was killed in action on Saturday when his patrol unit encountered a Hamas terrorist cell that had infiltrated into Israel close to the Gaza border.
St.-Sgt. Eitan Barak, 20, of Herzliya was killed at around 3 a.m. on Friday morning, becoming the first fatality since the IDF ground offensive began Thursday night. A combat soldier in the Nahal Brigade, the circumstances of his death were under investigation.