UPDATE 11:30 pm:
**In what can only be described as a shocking development even for the craven Netanyahu security cabinet, numerous sources have leaked that the IDF–which is already partly pulling out of northern Gaza at this moment–is planning to be completely out of Gaza in a few days.
PM Netanyahu is declaring that the last of the tunnels which the IDF has found will be destroyed by tomorrow. In the same breath, Netanyahu is adding that the Israeli government does not believe that all of the tunnels have been found.
All of this comes as more than 100 missiles and mortars hit Israel again today–mainly in the communities along the border.
Some of these communities–especially Sderot– have erupted in large angry protests tonight over what they rightly see as the government’s abandonment, again.
If indeed all of these reports are accurate, Israel will be leaving Gaza without even remotely wiping out the tunnels, without even remotely stopping the rocket fire, and without recovering our kidnapped soldier.
Every goal that the Israeli government set before this war started has not been met.
Such is the sorry state of affairs in Israel tonight.
Let’s hope we wake up to some better news tomorrow.
UPDATES 5:00 pm:
**With the exception of token missiles fired at Tel Aviv and Beersheva (actually at a mililtary base near Beersheva) this morning, all Hamas missile and mortar fire has been directed at the Gaza border communities today.
With soldiers still stuck in staging areas along the border, the obvious hope for Hamas is to repeat its successes of the last few days when mortars hit soldiers who were grouped together.
In the coming hour or hours, we will see another token shot toward Ben Gurion airport and perhaps further north, one toward Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem, and probably one or two toward Ashdod.
**A number of IDF soldiers have been wounded today. Two were moderately (which in IDF parlance means “seriously”) wounded by sniper fire, and two more were hit by mortar shrapnel.
There are currently 138 soldiers in hospitals in Beersheva, Ashkelon, and Tel Aviv. About 10 of them remain in critical condition.
**The five hour cabinet meeting that took place last night was apparently meant to decide whether to expand the ground operation or to begin to withdraw.
It is not altogether clear what was decided.
On the one hand, the IDF announced its intention to withdraw from northern Gaza a few hours ago and informed Palestinian residents of Beit Lahiya and surrounding neighborhoods that they may return to their homes. According to the IDF, Israel has finished destoying tunnels in the area.
On the other hand, there is a mixture of three reports that indicated that something else may be in the works.
First, Israel has announced that it will not be going to Cairo in the next few days: “Let Hamas chase us for a change” was the statement from one unnamed security cabinet member early this morning.
Second, an IDF spokesman, also speaking early this morning, indicated that the work on the tunnels is nearing its conclusion and when it does, the large number of soldiers involved will be freed to return to an attack mode. (In your humble servant’s opinion, the idea that the IDF is in any way close to finishing the tunnels is sheer folly especially when there are still terrorists emerging from tunnel shafts and killing IDF soldiers.)
Finally, there seems to be movement today toward Israel taking control of the Philadelphi route from which we withdrew years ago at the time of the disastrous disengagement.
In the opinion of israelstreet, we all know PM Netanyahu by this point. Despite the evidence that there may be a more focused attack on Hamas in planning, the hesitant, indecisive Netanyahu is almost certainly looking for a way to get out of Gaza.
**One of the most heartwarming aspects of this current war with Hamas has been the extraordinary way that the country has come together to support the soldiers.
Here in Ashdod, patriotic spirit is everywhere. Virtually every house and apartment has an Israeli flag flying or haning out the window. Most cars have one or two Israeli flags attached to their windows or bumpers. Thousands of people have flocked to Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon and Soroka in Beersheva to visit wounded soldiers. Thousands more have volunteered to help provide food and clothing to soldiers.
In one of tomorrow’s updates, we will be listing organizations that you can donate to in order to help.
UPDATES 8:00 am:
**The news about Israel’s kidnapped soldier is all bad. Hamas’ military wing declared overnight that it “assumed” that 2nd Lt. Goldin is dead. However, the terrorists went on to say that they have “lost touch” with the group that captured the soldier (or grabbed his dead body).
**The Egyptians have announced that “ceasefire talks” have been “postponed until further notice.” The egregious way that Hamas used the “humanitarian ceasefire” yesterday to kill two Israeli soldiers and kidnap a third was even noticed in Washington, the United Nations, and Europe.
In Washington especially, President Obama condemned the kidnapping even as his own spokesman was somewhat less forthcoming. White House spokesman Josh Earnest could only blather these words: “That would be a rather barbaric violation of the cease-fire agreement.”
“Would be”? “Rather barbaric”? A Hamas suicide bomber blew two Israeli soldiers to pieces to create a diversion in order to have his fellow terrorists take the Israeli soldier. That “is” not “rather” barbaric. It is barbaric.
**Speaking of barbaric, a picture emerged yesterday that speaks volumes about the war crimes that are being committed by Hamas against their own citizens.
**IDF military activity overnight included attacks on embedded terrorists at the Islamic University of Gaza, and the Mosque of Omar in Jabaliya.
**Terrorists in Gaza launched 23 missile attacks on Israel yesterday–involving 64 missiles. This reduced number is an anomaly–Hamas was totally focused on the kidnapped Israeli soldier for at least 7 hours yesterday, during which time few missiles fell.
Missiles have already been fired at Tel Aviv and Beersheva this morning.
**Isn’t it ironical that the European community just doesn’t get it?
They just don’t understand that Gaza is one of the most heavily armed terrorist havens in the world. They can’t grasp the fact that after a decade of complete automony, Hamas has transformed Gaza into a gathering point for every conceivable terrorist organization (at last count there are 37 operating in Gaza).
A joint French-German delegation under the auspices of the European Union has just arrived in Cairo to help “bring peace to the people of Gaza” by opening all of the border crossings from Gaza into Egypt and Israel.
What they don’t understand is that neither Egypt nor Israel wants to open the six crossings into Gaza–except under the tightest restrictions. Where the Europeans see “the free movement of goods and people to Gaza and abroad”, Egypt and Israel see “the free movement of terrorists in and out of Gaza”.
Where the Europeans see themselves as “honest brokers” who will “monitor” the Rafah crossing into Egypt, Egyptians and Israelis see European fools who couldn’t spot a terrorist if he or she was looking at them in the face.
More than this, the thought that Egypt and Israel will surrender control of the crossings to European monitors is nothing less than demeaning and patronizing.