UPDATES 9:00 pm:
**The head of the Eshkol region just made a statement on Israel TV Channel 10 which summarizes your humble servant’s opinion exactly.
When asked what he wanted to have happen, he said that first he wants the Netanyahu government to stop stuttering. Either attack full force or don’t attack–but if you’re not going to attack, don’t leave the IDF hung out to dry. Stop hopping from one ceasefire to another.
Second, the Eshkol leader said that the tunnel destruction must be completed and that the missile fire must be stopped.
Speaking of being hung out to dry. . . the IDF and Israel were very lucky a few hours ago. Another 5 soldiers were hit by another mortar as they were stuck in place. There were very serious injuries, but none appear life threatening at this hour.
**Cracks have begun to appear in the Hamas veneer. There are reports this evening of gunfire in some Gaza neighborhoods between Hamas terrorists and groups opposed to Hamas. This follows reports in the last few hours that Hamas has killed more than 20 people who were demonstrating against Hamas.
The above adds to the discussion at 6:00 pm (below) in which your humble servant discussed the bogus casualty count coming out of Gaza.
As does the rather amazing report released in the last few hours by the Hamas Ministry of Health (MOH) in Gaza. That report claims that 1200 Palestinians have died. The report goes on to say that many who were killed were “not involved” including the elderly and the sick (could they possibly have died naturally?). Then the report goes on to proudly claim that more than 400 fighters have been killed in the fighting so far.
**The fiasco that is John Kerry has stupidly opened his mouth a few hours ago in another press conference by claiming that the proposal he put on the table the other day would have allowed Israel to continue the attack on the tunnels.
Wasn’t it just 24 hours ago that Kerry was claiming that he never presented a proposal to Israel? Of course the biggest joke is that we have the actual document which contains Kerry’s proposal, and it does not contain one word about tunnels.
Then, Kerry concluded by launching an attack on Netanyahu claiming that it was Netanyahu who wanted the humanitarian ceasefire. This is the way Kerry put it: “Either I take his statement at face value or someone is playing a different game.”
Then Kerry put the cherry on the cake: “This is not about me.”
Of course, it is all about Kerry. . . and Barack Obama . . . both of whom have cast their lot with Turkey, Qatar, and Hamas.
UPDATES 6:00 pm:
**The Palestinian “civilian” death count, as calculated by the Palestinians, continues to mount. As of this hour, the Palestinians claim that 1,110 Palestinian “civilians” have been killed.
Let’s explore this for a moment.
To begin with, everyone who has died from anything during the period of the war, is part of this number. There is no evidence that Palestinian medics are separating those who have been killed from those who have merely died.
By extremely conservative estimates, about 16 people die per day in Gaza from natural causes (the estimated annual death rate in Gaza is 3.15 deaths per 1000 population). Over the course of 21 days, we would expect 336 people to die naturally.
Add to this that it has been announced in the last few days that Hamas has executed more than 30 “collaborators” in the last 21 days–deaths which it attibutes to Israel.
Add to this the number of Palestinians who have been killed by errant Hamas missile fire–Hamas calls these deaths martyrs. Again, conservatively, based on two incidents alone, we can estimate that at least 30 Gazans have been so killed.
Add to this number the big unknown–the number of Palestinian Hamas terrorists that have been killed by the IDF. The last number we had from an IDF source was three days ago–and at that time the number was 330. Since then, numerous other terrorists have been killed, and numerous other terrorist bodies have been pulled out of the rubble that resulted from IDF attacking Hamas positions. Let’s conservatively say 400.
So just taking these factors into account–336 natural deaths (a number of which are children), 30 collaborators, 30 accidentally killed by Hamas, and 400 dead “fighters”–we arrive at a new number, 314, who are unaccounted for and may be “civilians (other websites have noted that 82% of the reported dead are men between the ages of 18-29, the typical age of Hamas terrorists).”
**Another ceasefire proposal has suddenly reared its head with PLO Chairman and unelected Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas announcing that he has received calls from the leader of Islamic Jihad and the leader of Hamas’s political bureau asking for a 48 hour ceasefire.
Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly told both groups that the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire is the best way to move forward. In saying this, he is repeating what PM Netanyahu and the Israeli Security cabinet have repeatedly said.
The military wing of Hamas has been quick to declare that it has agreed to nothing.
All of which points to the fact that there seems to be an ever growing schism between the political and military wings of Hamas. The military wing is apparently happy with its achievements and sees no reason to stop the fighting. Just because they have lost anywhere between 400-500 fighters, their success in killing 53 Israeli soldiers and their continued firing of rockets on Israel are points of pride.
And they are counting on killing more soldiers if the war shifts to central Gaza now that the Obama-Kerry-Moon ceasefires have given them time to regroup.
**Hamas terrorists continue pouring through tunnels into southern Israel at almost regular intervals of 6 to 8 hours. This afternoon, Givati soldiers killed five more terrorists after they exited another heretofore unknown tunnel. The IDF General Command is now estimating that it will take another 7 days to finish destroying the tunnels.
In your humble servant’s opinion, this estimate is extremely optimistic and extraordinarily dangerous. Rushing soldiers through tunnels is recipe for disaster.
By the way, the IDF changed its mission again today. Now the new mission is “to impair Hamas capability to attack Israel.” There seems to be no more mention of eliminating the missiles and destroying all of the tunnels.
UPDATES 12:30 pm:
Consider the fact that there have now been nearly 3000 missiles and mortars fired into Israel since this conflict began. And for each one of those missiles there have been sirens blaring at unbelievably high decibel levels that they will shortly hit. It is simply difficult to imagine the terror that is generated when the incoming missile sirens scream, and you know that you only have seconds to get to a protected area.
The picture made yesterday in Beersheva above illustrates another problem. What do you do it there is no protected area? According to the experts, you are supposed to flatten yourself on the ground and put your hands over your head–in order to give the flying shrapnel less of a target. If your children are with you, your first concern is obviously for them.
**Very little information is filtering out of Gaza concerning the battles taking place at the front lines. We know that there have been fierce firefights because of the numerous wounded soldiers we can see on Israeli television hour after hour as they are brought into Soroka Hospital in Beersheva and Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. We pray that the large numbers of wounded does not have a corollary in killed IDF soldiers.
UPDATES 7:00 am:
**The news this morning is not good.
10 Israeli soldiers were killed yesterday. 4 were killed when a mortar exploded in their holding area–others were critically wounded; 5 more were killed in stopping a Hamas terror cell which emerged from a tunnel in an attempt to infiltrate Nahal Oz. The last soldier was killed in an RPG attack on a tank.
May their memories be blessed.
53 Israeli soldiers have now given their lives in defense of Israel.
**By the way, in the Nahal Oz attack, only one terrorist was killed, and an undetermined number of others escaped. At this hour, it is still not known if they fled back to Gaza or if they are loose somewhere near Nahal Oz. The entire area is on security lockdown.
**The IDF has sent messages (phone, text, and leaflet) to the Gaza residents of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya, Jabalia, Shujaiya, and Zeitoun to evacuate immediately toward the center of Gaza City.
**There were 23 launches of missiles from Gaza yesterday totaling 57 missiles and mortars.
At 2:30 am this morning, incoming rocket sirens sounded in areas from here in Ashdod north to Tel Aviv. 4 missiles were apparently fired by Hamas.