UPDATES 10:00 pm:
**Fierce firefights are now taking taking place in several locations in Gaza, most notably in northern Gaza where the Nahal Brigade is closing in on the location from which most missiles are being fired. More forces are being transported to the front to overwhelm the terrorists.
As you may not know, the Nahal Brigade is commanded by Col. Uri Gordon, famed former commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal special forces. Yesterday, Gordon had this to say: “We are at war, and in war the other side puts up a fight. We are taking strong action against them and we intend to win. We win every encounter.”
**For the moment at least, we are beginning to see the results of IDF efforts against the launchers. Today has seen a decrease in the number of rockets fired–a significant one (unless missile fire picks up in the next two hours). More on this tomorrow morning.
**More suicide bombers have been stopped today; another tunnel leading from Shujaiyeh to under a kibbutz in Israel was discovered; more terrorists have been killed; and more terrorist infrastructure has been destroyed.
There is a remarkable story of a Golani soldier who was shot in the chest this morning by a terrorist. However, the bullet that should have killed him hit a hand grenade in his vest. And the hand grenade that should have exploded and killed him, failed to explode.
**There is increasing evidence that the shell that hit the UNRWA school today was not an IDF artillery shell but a Hamas anti-tank shell. This evidence comes in the form of the direction from which the shell came, and the destruction that was caused. Simply put, if an IDF artillery shell had hit the spot that it is claimed, the destruction and casualties would have exponentially increased.
But the international media–led by CNN and Al-Jazeera– has already found the IDF guilty. As have the ever despicable Ban Ki Moon and John Kerry.
More on this tomorrow–and the appallingly biased international media that presenting a searingly false picture to the world of what is taking place in Gaza.
UPDATES 5:00 pm:
**The IDF is continuing to take the battle to the terrorists. More than 60 shafts to more than 30 tunnels have now been discovered. More targets that had been previously avoided are being tackled because of the intense terrorist fire coming from within. Mosques, schools, and hospitals in Gaza are being warned to evacuate.
In the last few minutes, there has been an incident in which an UNRWA school was supposedly (according to Palestinian sources) hit by an IDF tank shell resulting in “dozens of casualties” (according to Palestinian sources). The school was operating not as a school but as a shelter. And as a Hamas missile firing and storage center.
Your humble servant wonders at what point UNRWA must be held responsible for taking civilians into UNRWA “schools” which are de facto Hamas military positions.
**The outpouring of support for wounded Israeli soldiers has overwhelmed both Soroka Hospital in Beersheva and Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Thousands of Israelis have flocked to the hospitals to bring food, flowers, and gifts to the more than 150 IDF patients.
The scenes have been heartwarming.
More than this Israeli children have been writing thousands of letters to support the troops.
**There are reports that Iran has rushed development of a missile that can avoid the Iron Dome interceptors. The missile, which relies on an advanced speed and an elliptical orbit, is apparently in production–and there are even reports of Iran trying to smuggle the missiles into Gaza by sea.
**Egypt continues to provide support to Israel. Not only has President Sisi resisted John Kerry’s continuous efforts to broker a Hamas-favored ceasefire which involves Turkey and Qatar, but also Egyptian soldiers killed a terrorist suicide bomber as he rushed toward Israeli soldiers at the Kerem Shalom crossing last night. In another incident, the Egyptians destroyed a vehicle loaded with Grad rockets headed for Israel.
By the way, when John Kerry left Israel today, he went straight back to Cairo where he let it be known that he was contacting Turkey and Qatar–both of which are hated by Egypt–to try to get them involved in a ceasefire.
The Obama Administration is truly clueless.
UPDATES 10:00 am:
**The big question of the moment that no one seems to be asking, at least publicly, is what is Hamas up to? The missiles have now gone largely silent (except for a launch at 8:01 am) for the last 13 hours.
All of southern Israel is waiting for the shoe to drop: a sudden series of massive missile barrages, attempted terrorist infiltrations, or some other unforeseen attack?
Whatever else one wants to say, Hamas military head Mohammed Deif seems to have a well thought-out plan of attack; so something must be in the works.
**The IDF continues to take the fight to Hamas with the result of increasing numbers of Hamas surrenders. More than 150 terrorists surrendered yesterday and were taken to Israel where they were interrogated.
Of course the process of taking such prisoners–any one of which could be a suicide bomber is extremely dangerous.
**Since yesterday, the IDF has been acceding to continuous Red Cross humanitarian requests for ceasefires in pockets throughout Gaza. All of these ceasefires are unilateral–and all of them put IDF troops in severe peril.
**Just minutes after this blog was first published at 7 am this morning–the FAA lifted its ban on flights into Israel (the suspiciousness of this ban, its activating and lifting is discussed below).
In the meantime, the sheer outrageous nature of the ban has been put into even sharper relief today.
If you can believe this, there is no ban on American flights into Afghanistan or Pakistan both of which have airports that have been regularly rocketed by terrorist groups–and neither of which has anything like the missile defense system around Ben Gurion Airport.
President Obama apparently signed off on the order to ban the flights from coming to Israel and signed off on when to resume the flights. If this can be firmly proven, it was an incredible attempt to blackmail Israel.
More to come later on this subject.
UPDATES 7 am:
**John Kerry has left Israel. After Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal’s rant in Qatar last night in which he said there would be no humanitarian ceasefire unless the “siege of Gaza was lifted”, there was little reason for Kerry to stay.
Moreover, PM Netanyahu and the Security Cabinet showed some backbone and indicated the Gaza operation will continue.
**American and European airlines are still not flying into Ben Gurion airport this morning even though El Al and Arkia have full schedules of flights.
As was noted in yesterday’s blog, your humble servant smells a rat in all of this. How odd was it that the FAA suddenly decided to cancel American flights into the airport precisely before John Kerry flew into Ben Gurion—and informed airlines (who wanted to resume flights yesterday) that they could not resume until today–after Kerry has left.
Very very fishy. As others noted yesterday, it is apparent that the Obama Administration, led by the State Department and FAA, has instigated its own boycott of Israel.
**The IDF is continuing its attack on the terrorists today, but as usual there are few reports coming out of Gaza.
**In terms of missiles, the night has been strangely quiet from the Hamas side with no missiles fired into Israel since the barrage at 9 pm last night which set off alarms at Ben Gurion Airport again.
Yesterday saw terrorists make 31 separate launches involving about 96 missiles–slightly more launches and slightly more missiles than the day before.
Here is the breakdown of the Hamas missile targets on Wednesday:
The Gaza perimeter (Chof Ashkelon, Sha’ar Hanegev, and Eshkol regions): 18 times
The Beersheva area: 2
The Ashkelon area: 3
The Ashdod area: 6
The greater Tel Aviv area (Tel Aviv, Rishon, Nes Ziona, Lod, Ben Gurion Airport): 2
Here in Ashdod, those six missile attacks involved some 25 missiles that exploded over our city and our house. Fully 25% of all missiles fired yesterday were fired at Ashdod.
It should also be noted that despite the relative lack of missile fire at at Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion, the terrorists do it just enough to set off the incoming missile alarms every 4 or 8 hours intervals.
**The incident at the Wafa Hospital yesterday in which 3 Israeli paratroopers were killed is an excellent example of how the element of surprise–crucial in any military encounter–has been completely lost to IDF soldiers in Gaza:
1. To begin with, Israeli troops had been taking machine gun and anti-tank missile fire from the upper floors of the building for days (there are many videos of this).
2. The IDF repeatedly called the hospital to find out if the hospital had been evacuated of all staff and patients (there are many recordings of these conversations).
3. Even as the machine gun and missile fire was continuing from the upper floors of the hospital, the remaining staff continued to insist that there were no people on the upper floors.
4. The IDF warned repeatedly that it was going to attack the building and urged the remaining staff to leave–which they did.
5. Finally, after hours of advance warnings the IDF attacked, an attack that took place without aerial support because of the fear of hitting nearby civilian residences.
6. When the IDF troops finally entered, 3 of them were killed because Hamas had booby trapped the building and remotely detonated the bombs. More paratroopers were seriously wounded.
The tragic fact is that we are sacrificing our soldiers on the altar of political correctness. The moment that our soldiers started taking fire from the terrorists in the upper floors of the Wafa Hospital, those terrorists should have been killed.
**The COGAT unit of the IDF unbelievably continues to pour supplies into Gaza–as if our humanitarian effort will cause the world to love us. On Tuesday alone, 86 trucks of food, medicine, and general supplies were trucked in through various Gaza crossings, along with 85 tons of propane gas, and 216,000 liters of gasoline.
The truth is that the more supplies we send into Gaza and the more we try to help Gazan civilians, the more the world embraces the terrorists.