UPDATES 5:00 pm:
**72 missiles and mortars have struck southern Israel today. No missile has been fired north of here in Ashdod–which has been hit by twice by incoming volleys.
**Following the murder of 4-year-old Daniel Tregerman by a mortar salvo yesterday in Kibbutz Sha’ar Hanegev, the evacuation of families from the border kibbutzes has changed from a flood into a tsunami. The call went out across the Eshkol region this afternoon from Eshkol authorities for all families with children who are still in their homes to leave.
**In an remarkable act of cowardice, Israel’s so-called Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon canceled his visit to a border meeting with residents this afternoon because the “risk of mortars was too high”. This is the same Ya’alon who is in charge of defeating Hamas and the same Ya’alon who has encouraged residents to not leave their homes.
**The IDF has spent the afternoon dropping leaflets on Gaza warning Palestinians to leave all places which harbor terrorists and not to turn over their homes to Hamas. The leaflets suggest that an action against Gaza is imminent.
**Further reflections on the death of Daniel Tregerman yesterday afternoon and the critical wounding of a soldier in his car at an Ashdod intersection last night:
1. There is a tendency to attribute the relative lack of casualties in Israel to the Iron Dome interception system–which is still intercepting about 80% of incoming missiles destined for populated areas.
However, yesterday showed again that another major factor is luck. Numerous apartments and houses have been sprayed with shrapnel just like the Tregerman house yesterday. And how many thousands of us have been stuck out in the open at an intersection or elsewhere in a car with nowhere to run?
2. Daniel Tregerman’s death was inevitable given the ineptitude of the Netanyahu government. Any government that would let tons of metal be fired at its kibbutzes, moshavs, towns, and cities day after day, week after week, bears ultimate responsibility when people are killed and wounded by that exploding metal. And any government that would put the protection of the people in this country in the hands of an utterly incompetent Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff can only be described as an accomplice when deaths occur.
UPDATES 7:00 am Israel time, Saturday, August 23 2014:
**There were 44 launches of missiles out of Gaza yesterday totaling 154 missiles and mortars. Again, 90% of them hit the border communities of the Eshkol, Chof Ashkelon, and Sha’ar Hanegev regions.
As reported last night, the most tragic event of the day was the death of 4 year old Daniel Tregerman in Sha’ar Hanegev. Daniel was playing in a tent set up in the living room of his house along with his two siblings when a 5-mortar salvo hit the cars parked outside the house. The shrapnel that exploded into the house killed him.
Why, you may ask, were Daniel and his siblings playing in a tent inside their living room? Simply because no children in the Gaza perimeter communities can play outside.
Why, you may ask, wasn’t Daniel in a bomb shelter? Simply because his mother and father, Gila and Doron, didn’t have time to get him there.
Why, you may ask, was Daniel’s family back in Sha’ar Hanegev place considering the massive attacks on the community in the last six weeks? They had just returned the day before because PM Netanyahu and IDF Chief Benny Gantz had assured them that the area was safe to return to.
Gantz, by the way, was at it again yesterday following up on his infamous “anemones” speech by assuring residents of the southern communities not to worry: “It’ll be ok.”
It’ll be ok? It most assuredly is not ok and doesn’t seem to be getting more ok at all.
Last night, during the 3rd attack of the day here in Ashdod, a soldier was critically wounded in a car at the southern entrance to the city when a Grad missile exploded right beside it. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his head, torso, and limbs. Three other people in the car including another soldier and a pregnant woman were also wounded.
The two soldiers had been serving in Gaza and were on a break from that service.
This explosion occurred fewer than 1000 meters from the Ashdod Iron Dome batteries–which somehow failed to intercept the incoming missile–just as they failed to intercept another incoming missile in Ashdod yesterday that hit a synagogue and wounded three worshipers.
**The first terrorist salvos of the day struck 35 minutes ago at 6:25 am at Sdot Negev. It promises to be another Shabbat here in Israel with no Shalom.