UPDATES 6:00 pm:
Your humble servant hardly knows where to start.
Israel is currently adhering to the “humanitarian” ceasefire that began this morning. As of this hour, after a day of no shooting at all from the Israeli side, Hamas has fired more than 60 mortars and missiles into southern Israel. Civilians have been wounded; soldiers have been wounded, and who cares?
Absolutely no one.
In fact, according to John Kerry, the ceasefire has been such a success that tomorrow morning he is going to announce an extension of the ceasefire for 72 more hours. A ceasefire that is only for Israel. We are all supposed to sit here like sitting ducks and let Hamas fire away at us.
Thank you PM Netanyahu.
Meanwhile, your humble servant sits here in Jerusalem on a terrace at the King David Hotel looking out at the Old City. It is a wonderful view that belies the violent events that have taken place here today–almost as if we brought the war with us from Ashdod.
As we drove into the city this morning at 11:00 we had an inkling of what was to come. Just after passing through the Maaleh Adumim tunnels on our way into the city from the east, we were greeted by a phalanx of ambulances, bomb squad trucks, and police vehicles all rushing in the opposite direction. As we learned later, there had been a shooting of an Israeli.
Meanwhile we heard on the radio that massive riots were taking place in Issawiya, Shuafat (the road we were on passes through these neighborhoods), and on the Temple Mount. As soon as we sat down to eat lunch with our son a little after noon, the air was filled with helicopters, police car and ambulance sirens, and undercover cars rushing toward another terrorist event.
This time, an Arab tractor driver drove over a 25-year-old orthodox Israeli man and killed him, then turned a bus over on its side. He was then shot and killed. This happened about 5 minutes away from our location.
Back in the hotel a short time later, the same sequence of helicopters, police, ambulances–this time heading to where a soldier had been shot. It turns out that he was seriously wounded in the stomach in exactly the same location where the previous incident had taken place in the morning–after the tunnels. At this moment, he is considered in “very serious” condition.
Meanwhile, we have just received news of another tractor attack in Beersheva which was fortunately thwarted.
What, you may ask has been the Israeli government’s reaction to the events in Gaza, Jerusalem, and elsewhere? According to PM Netanyahu’s unofficial spokesman Tzahi Hanegbi, “we should all take it easy” because the “events are contained”.
The situation all around here is spiralling out of control with no adult in sight to put out the fire.
But back to Jerusalem. The reason we are here is to participate in the Women in Green’s Annual March around the Old City in remembrance of Tisha B’Av, the date on which the first and second Jewish Temples were destroyed.
We have just been informed that the Temple Mount is now closed to Jews because of Muslim rioting (can you believe it), and the march has been delayed until midnight, if it takes place at all.
This may be the last update for today depending on the events of this evening.
UPDATES 8:30 am, on the 29th day of the war:
**About 80% of Israeli forces are currently out of Gaza and repositioned in Israel along the border. According to the IDF spokesman, the units are “reorganizing.”
**The other 20% of Israeli soldiers are members of the Givati Brigade who are still fighting in Rafah in an effort to eliminate weapons, tunnels, and infrastructure.
**PM Netanyahu said last night that after action against the tunnels is completed, the operation will proceed according to security needs (read the ludicrous: “silence will be met by silence”).
Netanyahu used new terminology last night to redefine the war’s goals for the tenth time. Instead of demilitarization of Gaza and elimination of rockets and tunnels, we now have “pacification” and “security for an extended period” (read: until the next war in two years).
**Vodnjan Mansour, the commander of the northern division of Islamic Jihad and the person responsible for organizing actions in the field including firing missiles into Israel, was killed last night in a joint Shin Bet and IDF action.
**PLO-Hamas representatives are currently meeting in Cairo to set forth their conditions for a ceasefire. Israel has chosen not to attend citing the fact that Hamas “participation” in ceasefires is worthless.
Nevertheless, Israel has apparently once again agreed to a unilateral “humanitarian ceasefire” –everywhere except Rafah–from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm today so that Hamas can reposition its fighters and supplies again and so that foreign journalists can go into areas and accuse Israel of more war crimes (pardon your humble servant’s cynicism).
By the way, it goes without saying that Hamas has not agreed to the ceasefire.
**There were 43 missile and mortar attacks on Israel yesterday involving 126 missile and mortars. As noted last night, there was very little IDF response to these attacks, as the Netanyahu government prays that Hamas will simply stop shooting on its own.
Thus far this morning there have been two missile launches against Israel. One of these was at 6:09 am and involved three missiles that exploded directly over your humble servant’s house; the other occurred at 6:40 am and struck far north Ashkelon (which means virtually far south Ashdod) about 5 km from our house.
Do you think that Hamas is reading this blog?
**Speaking of your humble servant, he is heading down to Jerusalem in a few hours to participate in the Women in Green’s annual Tisha B’Av march around the Old City tonight. Our next update will be from there.