UPDATES 11:59 pm:
**Staff Sergeant Matan Gotlib, a 21-year-old from Rishon LeZion, and Staff Sergeant Omer Hay, a 21-year-old from Savyon, and Staff Sergeant Guy Algranati, a 20-year-old from Tel Aviv were killed late today when they entered a booby-trapped house in southern Gaza.
May their memories be blessed.
This brings to 56 the number of soldiers who have died in defense of Israel.
**A security cabinet meeting has directed the IDF to continue and expand its operation in Gaza in order to complete the destruction of as many terror tunnels as possible.
At the same time, Israel has declared that it will continue to adhere to “spot humanitarian ceasefires” that do not involve hot zones where IDF soldiers are in combat.
Also, a 2-man Israeli negotiating team in currently in Cairo to explore a ceasefire.
**Numerous Hamas terrorists have been killed during the last 24 hours–so many that Hamas appears to have softened its ceasefire demands from 10 down to 2: stoppping “Israeli aggression” and “lifting the siege on Gaza.”
Apparently an entire Hamas command and control center along with 10 top Hamas commanders was wiped out.
UPDATE 3:04 pm:
It took exactly 4 minutes for Hamas to break the “humanitarian ceasefire.” It so happens that they fired missiles at Ashdod and Ashkelon. One missile here in Ashdod was intercepted and exploded directly over our house.
UPDATE 3 pm:
As of this moment, Israel has agreed to a 4 hour “humanitarian ceasefire” at the request of the United Nations to end at 7:00 pm.
The truce only covers areas of Gaza where IDF ground forces are not deployed.
Start your stopwatch. Let’s see how long it takes for Hamas to fire missiles at Israel in an attempt to kill Israeli civilians.
UPDATES 9 am:
All night long, we were awake here in Ashdod listening to the roar of “low takeoffs” of Israeli aircraft from a nearby air base. “Low takeoffs” mean that the planes are so loaded with bombs that they cannot get to their usual altitude until after leaving Ashdod airspace.
Now we know why.
During the night, the IAF struck 206 terrorist targets in Gaza–the most of any night of the 22 day war. Hamas headquarters, weapons stores, rocket launchers, tunnels, and infrastructure targets were all slammed. For the first time, the IAF hit targets in Burej in central Gaza and Shati. Three more tunnels were destroyed and another two were discovered. More than 20 terrorists were reported killed in firefights with the Givati and 401 Brigades.
**IDF forces continue being stuck in the open no-man’s land between the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, and Chof Ashkelon borders with Gaza and the neighborhoods of Gaza. It is no mistake that the missile and mortar fire is intensifying in these areas as Hamas tries to kill IDF troops who are just sitting in place.
The Netanyahu cabinet is meeting again in a few hours, supposedly to decide whether to expand the war to central Gaza or not. In your humble servant’s opinion, the decision has already been made not to. Obviously what is happening is that the IDF ground forces are being held in place while the IAF continues to pound Hamas targets from the air.
**Another 80 missiles were fired at Israel yesterday in 32 missile attacks. Most of these were at the Gaza perimeter communities (as noted above to try to kill IDF troops in staging areas), with only a token volley in the direction of Tel Aviv and another toward Jerusalem. The process of stopping the missile fire is proving incredibly difficult because of the extraordinary number of launchers buried all over Gaza, and embedded in apartment buildings in Gaza.
Note the following picture of a Grad missile launcher found yesterday:
Launchers like the one in the picture above are operated by remote control.
**Muhammad Deif, the head of the Hamas military wing, issued another audio message last night claiming that Hamas had scored a great victory over the Zionists, and that there would be no ceasefire until all Israeli soldiers leave Gaza. He also promised a “big surprise” in the coming days.
There were more reports of Hamas shooting at a group of their fellow Gazans near the Shifa Hospital this morning because they were engaged in a mild protest against Hamas’ continuation of the war.
**For the 3rd time since the war began, Hamas missiles have been discovered in an UNRWA school. If you remember the first instance, UNRWA officials unbelievably turned over the missiles they found to Hamas.
By the way, an IDF investigation into the shooting at the UNRWA school last week that killed 15 Palestinians and wounded numerous more confirms what israelstreet had already surmised.
No IDF artillery shell hit the school.
If it had, there would have been more than a hundred dead, not to mention a huge crater where it would have struck. What happened was that Hamas was shooting anti-tank missiles at Israeli forces from all around the school, and the IDF fired an artillery shell at the empty plaza in front of the school. All of the people inside the school were killed as the result of a Hamas anti-tank missile which was supposedly aimed at Israeli forces (“supposedly” because Hamas is not at all averse to killing Palestinians in the hopes of a public relations coup).
**Hamas published a grisly video on its website last night which records their infiltration attempt at Kibbutz Nahal Oz two days ago which resulted in the deaths of five IDF soldiers. The video not only shows the dead soldiers but also the weapons that Hamas captured. It was only by the exigencies of time that they did not also take several of the bodies back into the tunnel that they came from.
That tunnel had already been discovered by the IDF—but we had not found all of the shafts that led out of the tunnel–and it was from one of those shafts that the terrorists came.
**A ceasefire at the moment seems unlikely, but one never knows. All roads to lead to Cairo–but Egypt indicated its position yesterday when a representative of Hamas head Khaled Meshaal landed in Cairo for ceasefire talks and was immediately arrested. Of course, Egypt could change its tune by mid-morning–but Egypt is no friend of Hamas, and Hamas knows it.