Sunday, July 27, 2014
Tzuk Eytan (Protective Edge) Day 20
A 24-hour “humanitarian” ceasefire might go into effect at 1:00 AM, Monday morning. UN Sec. Gen. Ban Ki Moon is reportedly pushing for this option. This will be the sixth ceasefire that has been agreed to. A ceasefire was to have gone into effect at 14:00 on Sunday afternoon, but Hamas continued firing before and after the deadline. What must be remembered, is that Israel has not gone father than 2 kilometers into Gaza.
As of now, according to Channel 2 TV military correspondent, the situation is "quiet will bring quiet." So that a reduction in firing from both sides is already in place.
Reportedly, Hamas had asked the UN for a ceasefire, then decided to break it when news leaked out they'd asked for it. Hamas is interested in a cease-fire during the Moslem holiday of Idl Fider, that marks the approaching end of Ramadan.
Saturday saw a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM. Israel tried to extend the cease-fire until midnight, but the entreaty was rejected by Hamas. Over 60 rockets have been fired at Israel since Saturday night, some aimed at Tel Aviv were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile rockets.
Israel's army continues to search and destroy what the Israeli media calls “terror tunnels.” The 32nd tunnel was discovered today stretching 2 ½ kilometers from Gaza under the border fence into Kibbutz Beeri. So far Israel's Channel 10 TV military correspondent Or Heller reports that 16 tunnels have been destroyed, so far. Most analysts say that Israel will not leave Gaza until all the tunnels have been destroyed. Israel has continued, and according to experts will continue to search and destroy the tunnels even during the humanitarian ceasefire.
The death toll continues to climb, on both sides. In Israel 42 soldiers have been killed so far in this conflict, hundreds injured, 51 still in the hospital. Three civilians have also been killed. The Gazans suffered far worse, mainly, according to analysts, because Hamas has been using civilians as human shields. The Gazan death toll has climbed to 1050, including nearly 300 armed Hamas fighters, with nearly 2,000 wounded.
Saturday was the first time the Israeli army allowed reporters to accompany IDF forces. The pictures sent back were or devastation that looked like Berlin after a bombing raid by the Allies in WWII. Alon Ben David, also a military analyst for Channel 10, said that the IDF is no longer taking chances. So far Israeli soldiers have been killed by entire homes rigged as booby-traps.
Some Israeli soldiers died in such booby-traps. Israel now calls in the air force to destroy the building, or the tanks to send in heavy rounds. The TV footage shows such buildings, three floors and stretching nearly a city block, blowing up with the extreme force caused by the bombs waiting inside for the Israeli soldiers. “One house was like a gas tanker,” said Ben David. When it was bombed, the explosion rocked the neighborhood.
The Paris meeting called by US Sec. Of State John Kerry last Friday created a stir in Israel. According to the reports, Kerry accepted all of the proposals put forward by Hamas' leader Khaled Mashal for a peace accord, effectively throwing US support behind Hamas while ignoring Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. He also agreed to donate billions of dollars to solve the problems of Gaza. According to Channel 2 TV's political analysts Amnon Rabinovitch, “He's an idealists, a real idealist, but he's a nerd. He doesn't get what's going on here.”
Kerry reportedly also agreed to the Hamas demands for a sea port, leaving the tunnels in place, opening borders, and deal with “security issues,” without mentioned Israel. Kerry's support of Hamas came about the same time that a Pentagon official came out in favor of leaving Hamas in place. Michael Flynn, outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a high-level security conference in Aspen, Colorado, that what may replace Hamas may be an even more radical Islamist Fundamentalist group.
The snub of the Palestinian Authority has left PA leader Machmud Abbas fuming, according to press reports. The Palestinian Authority today issued a sharp rebuttal to Kerry's plan saying only Egypt can be the broker for a peace agreement.
Military commentator Gen. (res.) Danny Rubenstein said that Israel and the west now have a golden opportunity to form an alliance with the moderate Arab states. Kerry's move, analysts say, has closed the door on a chance to not only replace Hamas but forge a new alliance with these moderate countries. Analysts say this was a confusing move since Kerry has proven to be a true friend of Israel.
Hamas has also called on Palestinians in the West Bank to join in the fight. Nearly 30,000 marched on the Qalandia crossing point into Jerusalem on Friday night. A fight ensued in which one Palestinian was killed, and 12 Israeli policemen wounded. It was also the first time that the Palestinians used live ammunition since the second Intifada. Over 300 spent cartridges were found on the ground after the demonstration.
A potential disaster was also averted when an alert border guard stuck his head into a suspicious vehicle at the crossing from the West Bank into Israel at the Betar Ilit crossing. The guard noticed gas balloons with electric wires attached to it. The guard pulled his weapon and arrested the Palestinian. The gas balloons were attached to explosives that could have done deadly damage had the car reached a civilian population.
Rumors are also circulating that Palestinian units are cruising Jerusalem looking for a candidate to kidnap. Reportedly two attempts were averted.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a series of interviews on American TV stressing the point that only Egypt's involvement can bring a ceasefire. While the Israeli cabinet meets to discuss another ceasefire, commentators are calling for Israel to continue the attacks until Hamas has been so weakened it will surrender. However, Gen. Farkash, former head of military intelligence, says that Hamas' leadership doesn't have to be confronted and destroyed. By turning the power over to the Palestinian Authority Hamas will be effectively made irrelevant, or at the least be forced to go underground. All that is left is to convince Sec. Of State Kerry that this is the best option.