UPDATES 9:00 pm:
**The fighting in Gaza has been extremely tough for IDF soldiers. Virtually every apartment building and multi-storied building holds snipers. But more than this, the IDF has encountered snipers today in mosques and in buildings belonging to the Red Crescent (Red Cross). Our soldiers are in a position in which even the most “civilian” of buildings such as schools are sources of deadly fire.
More unbelievable information has emerged about the booby-trap blast that killed three Maglan soldiers yesterday. The blast took place as the soldiers entered a United Nations’ UNRWA clinic.
If you can believe this, the UNRWA clinic had more than 80 kg of explosives built into the walls of the building, and soldiers later found that there were tens of terror tunnels under building.
In the last hour, another group of soldiers who are being held in place on the border with Gaza was hit by a mortar. At least eight soldiers were badly wounded–two of them extremely critically. As one soldier commented today, it is safer to be in Gaza than on the border waiting to go in.
**A man in Kiryat Gat was moderately wounded a few hours ago when he went out on his balcony to take pictures of Iron Dome intercepts. However, one missile got through, hit a car in the middle of the street under his apartment, and he was hit by shrapnel.
This sequence is remarkably similar to what happened 2 years ago when Israelis in Kiryat Malachi were killed in exactly the same way–they went out on their balcony to watch Iron Dome intercepts, and one missile got through and killed them.
**A little known element of Israeli forces operating in Gaza has been the Oketz Unit–soldiers who operate with dogs. The soldiers are relying on the dogs to ferret out terrorists and explosives–and they have been so successful that the terrorists are now pouring spices all over their hiding places in an attempt to disguise their smell.
Unfortunately, 5 dogs have already died during battles and also in tunnels.
**As reported yesterday, a two man Israeli team is currently in Cairo to talk ceasefire; however, they have no one to talk to. After arresting one of Khaled Meshaal’s representatives yesterday, the Egyptians have told Hamas not to come to Cairo unless they are ready for a ceasefire.
Ceasefire or not, Israel intends to stay in Gaza to continue destroying tunnels.
**In what had to be the most ridiculously hypocritical statement of the day, U.S. Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren declared: “The civilian casualties in Gaza have been too high. And it’s become clear that the Israelis need to do more to live up to their very high standards – their very high and very public standards – for protecting civilian life.”
The U.S. military has killed thousands of civilians in Iraq, Pakistan, and Aghanistan in an effort to kill terrorists. One website alone reports that more than 174,000 civilians have died in those countries by warring forces.
As the old saying goes, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
UPDATES 1:00 pm:
**PM Netanyahu has announced this morning that there will be no ceasefire until the tunnels are destroyed. Whether this will actually happen is anyone’s guess–new tunnels are being found with the passing of each hour.
**According to an IDF spokesman speaking under anonymity, more than 1000 terrorists belonging to the terror groups have now been killed in Gaza. Israel is bringing overwhelming power from the air and ground against terrorist positions. A few hours ago, more terrorists were killed as they emerged from another tunnel.
By the way, the 1000 number is conservative and only represents confirmed kills. When possible, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been disposing of their dead as quickly as possible in undisclosed locations in order to hide the magnitude of their losses.
**Since July 12 (5 days after the war began), there have been more than 23,000 alarms for incoming missiles (tsava adom–red sirens) in Israeli communities, towns, and cities. This means that there has been, on average, one incoming missile alarm per minute during this time.
**The widow of Sgt. Mjr. Bayhesain Kshaun, killed a few days ago in the attempted terrorist infiltration several days ago, gave birth today to a daughter (with apologies for the blurry picture):
Sgt. Mjr. Bayhesain Kshaun was a proud Zionist and defender of Israel:
May his family be blessed.
UPDATES 8:00 am:
**16,000 more reserve soldiers have been called up this morning bringing to 86,000 the number of Israeli miluim (reservists) who will now be actively engaged in the fighting in Gaza.
As the extent of the tunnels coming into Israel has become gradually known, so have the estimates of how long IDF troops will remain in Gaza. IDF estimates have increased from one or two days to one week to two weeks to the latest estimate this morning, about one month.
**The 3 soldiers who were killed yesterday were all members of one of Israel’s special forces groups–the Maglan. Also known as Sayeret Maglan or Unit 212, the Maglan soldiers specialize in operating behind enemy lines deep in enemy territory. In this war, Maglan soldiers have been carrying out hundreds of missions that none of us are even remotely aware of. The Maglan unit is the tip of the Israeli spear.
Even the circumstances of yesterday’s incident remain unclear. The soldiers were killed either when they entered a booby-trapped house and a wall collapsed on them–or when a booby trap went off inside a tunnel.
**For all of the bad interactions recently between the United States and Israel comes the good report this morning that the Pentagon has released stocks of grenades and mortars to Israel for use in the war. It is perhaps not well known that the U.S. has “pre-positioned warehouses” of weapons all over Israel that are supposedly to be used should conflict erupt in the region.
The word is that the Pentagon came to Israel even before Israel made a request for resupply and began providing the weapons. Most of these weapons were nearing an expiration date, and the Pentagon has characterized the handover to Israel as permitting the U.S. to stock the warehouses with more recently produced munitions.
Apparently, Israel has made a request for other weapons–and that request has yet to be approved (it has been reported that “the deal” has yet to be worked out).
**The missile attacks continue, but there is little doubt that the character of those missile attacks has sustantially changed–as has been indicated in this israelstreet blog over the last few days.
We had another 27 launches yesterday–involving 81 missiles. More than 90% of those missiles were Qassams aimed at the Gaza perimeter communities. We had a token Hamas launch at Tel Aviv again–and we were in our bomb shelter in Ashdod twice yesterday–but these three attacks “only” involved a total of 8 missiles. Similarly, the number of Grad rockets fired at Beersheva and Ashkelon decreased.
It must also be pointed out that Hamas terrorists are now also focusing on mortar attacks against Israeli soldiers who are in staging areas on the Gaza border.
**Israel’s extraordinary effort to provide humanitarian ceasefires in the midst of the ongoing war at tremendous risk to our own troops shows just how committed Israel is to helping the civilians of Gaza.
As is the allowing of humanitarian supplies to flow into Gaza–even from Israel’s enemies.
Yesterday, two shipments of “humanitarian supplies” arrived from Turkey. In one load of supplies that arrived by plane into Ben Gurion airport, Israeli inspectors found hundreds of Israeli look-alike army uniforms complete with boots (you will remember that one of the problems in Gaza is that the terrorists are wearing Israeli army uniforms).
Another shipment arrived here in Ashdod at the port. Here is what Israeli inspectors found in one barrel of flour (there were tens of such barrels):
If this looks familiar, it should. You will remember, dear reader, that several days ago, your humble servant posted of picture of the shrapnel and ball bearings that we had found in our yard after a missile from Gaza exploded over hour house.
All of these ball bearings were bound for Gaza missiles–courtesy of PM Erdogan and the Turkish government.
**We don’t want to read too much into this, but Hamas made an open request to Hezbollah yesterday to attack Israel in order to take the pressure off of Gaza.
Apparently, there has been no overt reply from Nasrallah, but the fact is that Hezbollah is already up to its eyeballs in wars. Just yesterday, the first Hezbollah dead were flown out of Iraq and back to Beirut.
And Hezbollah also suffered significant losses yesterday in Syria in an attack on their forces by ISIS (DAAS). This latter attack is of great concern to Hezbollah because ISIS has vowed to sweep into Lebanon.
On a separate but disturbing note, there have been numerous reports from northern Israel in recent days of the discovery of tunnels apparently leading from Lebanon into Israel.