Operation Protective Edge
|Aryeh Savir||July 31st 2014|
The IDF is continuing to dismantle the terror tunnels in Gaza, while deepening its hold on the Gaza Strip. For the first time in the operation the IDF entered the Jabaliya refugee camp. Israel has reportedly stepped up its military strikes on Hamas targets as well.
In one incident, Givati forces shot and killed a gunman who fired an anti-tank missile at troops in the southern Gaza Strip overnight. In the course of house searches in the central Gaza Strip, IDF soldiers uncovered sensitive intelligence gathered by Hamas on the IDF, numerous weapons, and a large number of tunnels used as bunkers linking a string of houses. A joint IDF task force further uncovered a tunnel entrance on the ground floor of a mosque that had been used by Hamas terrorists to attack Israeli soldiers. See video here.
Three soldiers were killed yesterday when the structure they entered, a former UNRWA clinic, blew up. They were operating in Gaza in order to uncover offensive tunnels, and indeed uncovered a tunnel opening inside a house in the southern Gaza Strip. Two explosive devices were detonated against the soldiers, one from within the tunnel and a second one that was concealed within the house. The explosion caused the building to collapse and the injury of several other soldiers. The three, members of an elite paratrooper unit, are Staff Sgt. Matan Gotlib, 21 and Staff Sgt. Omer Hay, 21, and Staff Sgt. Guy Algranati, 20. Fifty-six soldiers and three civilians have been killed in three weeks of fighting.
The IDF is set to call up an additional 16,000 reservists today to give the military “some breathing room”, bringing the total of reserve soldiers called up to 86,000.
Israel called for another four-hour humanitarian truce yesterday afternoon, which Hamas did not reciprocate. Indeed, Hamas fired more than 130 rockets into Israel in the course of the day.
Endless reports on a possible ceasefire continue. An Israeli delegation reportedly flew to Cairo for ceasefire discussions, and left after just a few hours. The Hamas delegation did not come. Egypt was said to be refusing to host a Palestinian delegation until Hamas ceases fire, which it is refusing to do.
Channel 2 reports that some 300,000 residents of southern Israel have left their homes since the start of Operation 'Protective Edge' due to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and the infiltration threat. Many are reluctant to return, as the tunnel threat is still immanent.
Since last night, the IDF and IAF have targeted approximately 110 terror activity sites across the Gaza Strip. Five of the targets were the homes of senior Hamas officials who used their homes as command and control centers.
Over the past 24 hours over 140 rockets were fired at Israel, 81 rockets hit Israel, 9 were intercepted, and 50 fell short in the Gaza Strip. 36% of rockets fired at Israel yesterday fell short in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has fired over 2,670 rockets at Israeli civilians since the beginning of Operation 'Protective Edge'.
Aryeh Savir writes for Tazpit News Agency, from where this article is adapted.