10:00 pm, August 21 2014: Updates on the Israel-Hamas War

UPDATES 10:00 pm:

**The IDF has hit yet another Islamic Jihad launch team–bringing to 8 the number of Islamic Jihad terrorists killed today. 

**It has been another long day here in southern Israel but not one without good news.

There have been 46 launches by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza totaling 115 missiles since midnight last night. Assuming these numbers do not change too much in the next two hours, this represents approximately a 33% reduction in the number of launches from yesterday and approximately a 45% reduction in the number of missiles.

What is more, the grand Hamas attack announced last night on Tel Aviv this morning never took place (or hasn’t taken place yet). 

There have been a number of theories to explain the reductions and lack of Tel Aviv attack in the last few hours ranging from Hamas’ disorientation following the verified deaths of 5 of their commanders and probable death of Mohammed Deif to a vastly reduced Hamas missile arsenal (the numbers being given are that Hamas began with 10,000 missiles; 5000 were destroyed in Israeli attacks; approximately 4000 have been shot by Hamas–leaving only 1000.)

Your humble servant finds all of this theorizing wishful thinking–and yet again, an underestimation of a determined enemy.

We know that once a commander dies, his subcommander becomes the commander. There may be some temporary regrouping, but the war continues–though it may be fought much less effectively. Secondly, we have watched endless videos on Israeli TV which show Hamas missile production facilities operating around the clock underground in Gaza. However much the Hamas depository has been depleted, at least some of it has been replaced.

In the immortal words of Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day”, and we will see what it and tonight bring.

Let’s hope we awaken to some more good news tomorrow. 

UPDATES 1:00 pm:

**Missile launches out of Gaza have increased in intensity over the last hour with virtually all points from Ashdod south and from Beersheva east experiencing incoming missile alarms. Between 40 and 50 missiles have struck southern Israel so far today. 

A volley of four missiles fired here at Ashdod sent your humble servant running to his bomb shelter at 12:07 pm and another volley struck 4 minutes ago.

**A 33-year-old man was seriously wounded by shrapnel in the chest a few hours ago in the Eshkol region as he shielded a teacher and child while taking them to safety during a Palestinian missile attack on a kibbutz nursery school. 

The teacher reported that the man, as yet unnamed, saved her life and that of the child. 

Yet another missile struck an empty kindergarten in the Eshkol region:

The kindergarten where the Israeli man was wounded while saving a teacher and child (photo: Flash90).

The bombed kindergarten: fortunately there were no children in the building at the time (photo: Flash90).

**Six Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed in the last hour as they attempted to launch missiles at Israel. 

UPDATES 11:00 am:

**Missiles continue being fired out of Gaza this morning at approximately 30 minute intervals. However, given the fact that the massive attack on Tel Aviv that Hamas promised last night has yet to materialize, the feeling here in Israel is that we are merely in the eye of the hurricane.

**It has now been revealed that following the attempt to eliminate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif–which may or may not have been successful–at least three more senior Hamas commanders were killed last night: Rafah Division senior commanders Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar and Southern Division commander Mohammed Abu Shmallah.

Attar and Shmallah planned and carried out the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit some 8 years ago.

**Who knows what is going on in Cairo today? Israeli negotiators have apparently returned; Palestinian negotiators have apparently left; and Egypt has apparently disappeared after completely closing the Rafah Crossing into Gaza.

Meanwhile, the United States unbelievably continues to plead with Qatar and Turkey for a ceasefire. This is the same Qatar that undermined the Egyptian talks several days ago by ordering Hamas not to accept the Egyptian proposal. 

UPDATES 7:00 am:

**6:00 has come and gone, and there has been no attack yet on the Tel Aviv area.

Nevertheless, it is almost certain that the attack is coming by 8:00 am at the latest. Israel TV is currently showing live images from Ben Gurion Airport in anticipation of that attack.

**207 missiles exploded in Israel yesterday. 207 missiles after six weeks of war. What does this say about the military strategy of PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister “Boogie” Ya’alon, and IDF Head Benny Gantz?

It says that it has been a massive failure.

It is a failure that was emphasized by Netanyahu’s bizarre performance at a press conference last night in which he looked highly agitated and angry (while a smiling Ya’alon sat nearby twitching with his nervous tics). But instead of looking at the decisions that he had made, Netanyahu took the occasion to rail at those (read: Lieberman and Bennett) who have had “the audacity” to question what he is doing.

Yet from the beginning of this war, it has been Netanyahu, Ya’alon, and Gantz who have employed outdated strategies to deal with a Hamas that now operates almost completely underground. As your humble servant noted way back on August 1, the first thing that the IDF should have done was to kill terrorist leaders instead of blowing up their houses.

To hear Netanyahu last night, that seems to now be the direction that the IDF is taking.

Better late than never.

UPDATES 5:00 am:

**There were at least 69 separate launches of missiles out of Gaza yesterday with 207 missiles exploding in Israel. This was the greatest number of launches and missiles since the beginning of the war when the IDF was still undercounting missiles.

The official number of missiles reported by the IDF yesterday was 168, but this does not include 39 missiles that exploded in Israel with no warning sirens. 

11 of those missiles exploded right in front of our house here in Ashdod between 9:30 pm and 11:30 pm last night. And when your humble servant says “right in front”, he means directly in front–in the 600 meter “open space” area between our house and the Mediterranean. They were so close that we could hear the swooshing, sizzling, tearing, noises in the air just before the explosions.

Why were the missiles hitting there? All day long Hamas was trying to hit the gas platform that is just off the coast here. Either they were trying to hit that platform or they were trying to hit the port of Ashdod, the largest in Israel, which resumed operations a week and a half ago.

**The question of whether the military and spiritual leader of Hamas, Mohammed Deif, was killed two nights ago remains unanswered with Hamas and Islamic Jihad claiming that he is still alive, but a death certificate from a Gaza hospital with his name on it has appeared online.

Is this Mohammed Deif's death certificate? His name is on it.

Is this Mohammed Deif’s death certificate? His name is on it.

**At 6:00 am, one hour from now, Hamas has promised a massive launch of missiles at Tel Aviv.

We will return with the next update in a few hours.

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