Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tzuk Eytan Day 13

13 Israeli soldiers were killed overnight in Gaza, bringing the number of soldiers that were killed in Tzuk Eytan to 18. Two civilians were also killed by rocket fire. Nearly 50 soldiers have been injured. Israeli sources estimate that over 120 Hamas fighters have been killed in the fighting, and 34 tunnels destroyed, one that actually went under the border fence and entered an Israeli kibbutz along the Gaza/Israel border.

The Golani brigade soldiers were killed during a midnight to dawn i battle of Sajiiyah, a city of 150,000 people packed tightly together. 7 of the soldiers were killed at 1:05 am when their Armored Personal Carrier ran over a mine, at 1:20 am 3 when their forces were fired upon by a RPG rocket while taking shelter in an apartment in Gaza, at about 1:30 am 2 in nearly hand-to-hand-combat. One was reportedly killed by friendly fire. Sajaiyah has been a base of attacks against Israel for years.

The Colonel in charge of the Golani Brigade was also injured in the fighting overnight, and was taken with serious injury to Saroka hospital in Beer Sheva. His condition improved and like a Hollywood movie he demanded to rejoin his troops. He is expected back in Gaza this evening.

Israel’s transport minister Yisrael Katz said in an interview that Hamas actually fired mortars onto their own population in order to hit Israeli forces in Gaza. “They are not using their people as human shields, they’re simply ignoring that their people are there when firing on Israel.”

Israel Chief-of-Staff Ganz told an impromptu news conference on the Gaza border that Israel was doing something no other country ever did, sending flyers, making phone calls, sending SMS messages, and other means, warning Gaza residents that an attack is forthcoming. All this in order to prevent injury to innocent civilians. Even so over 400 Gazans have been killed in the fighting.

Chief-of-Staff Ganz made it clear in his answer to journalists that Hamas used all its wealth, whatever that was, not to build factories, hospitals, schools, or develop industry, but to use the cement and rebar to build tunnels and the other money to buy missiles to make war. 

Ganz said that some days in battle are harder some easier. Military experts say that in Sajiiyah the outer ring of resistance is the thickest, the most prepared. Hamas had been warned that Israel is about to invade. They prepared snipers, booby-traps, fighters in tunnels, awaiting the Israeli troops. Once this thick outer ring is breached, the next layer of resistance is expected to be less difficult to overcome.

Israel TV Channel 2’s military correspondent Ronny Daniel said that the only way to prevent another attack on Israel is to continue the fight and take out the Hamas leadership. Prof. Guy Bahar of Haifa University told Channel 10 that when Israel goes public and says they are not after the Hamas leadership that leadership feels protected and safe. Israel has no option but to go after this leadership.

The IDF also lost two fighters who were driving along the Israeli/Gaza border on the Israeli side in an unprotected Jeep when they were fired upon by a group of Hamas fighters from the Gaza side using an RPG. Maj. Greenberg, 45, a reserve soldier, and his driver were killed. The IDF immediately opened fire on the group, killing one, the rest fled back into a tunnel. The terrorist group apparently  planned to kidnap  an Israeli soldier. This became clear by the equipment they left behind, sedatives, needles, drugs, and handcuffs. One of Israel’s fears is that Hamas will repeat a kidnapping of GIlad Shalit and drag out negotiations for release for years, all the while trapping attention and headlines.

Lately, voices have been heard to allow Qatar to become a broker for a ceasefire, since Hamas refuses to allow Egypt to participate. Qatar also has the economic ability to rebuild Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations took place in Turkey, Los Angeles, and other cities, in support of Hamas. One of Israel’s Haaretz correspondent has always considered himself the voice of high moral authority, reminding Israel of the mistreatment of the Arab community. One pundit commented that if a commentator is disliked by his fellow country men and loved by his county’s enemies, which side was he on?

Chief-of-Staff Ganz said that the fight would go on. Hamas continues to fire rockets. Sirens go off, even in Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva. In the quiet suburb of Modiin a boom was heard as a Hamas rocket landed somewhere near Tel Aviv. The fighting goes on.More tunnels are destroyed. The Israeli objectives seems to be expanding, perhaps to reach the Hamas leadership. Pundits say that the fighting is to continue for several days.