Before dawn today, IDF tanks and troops went into Gaza. Their mission is clear: to secure the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. As National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio:
“We have no desire to remain in the Gaza Strip..We want to bring our boy home, that’s all.”
According to an army source, the aim is to secure his release by placing pressure on the palestinians to the point that they will decide to release Gilad. According to Ha’aretz:
The IDF operation is designed to gain “bargaining chips” by taking control of open areas, such as the area near Rafah and later the northern Gaza Strip.
Israel hopes that this will eventually lead to a diplomatic agreement that will include freeing the kidnapped soldier in return for ending the fire.
On the other hand, I get the feeling that directly rescuing him is also an option. This might be garnered from the IDF’s actions until now.
Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)
Day Two Updates: Click here.
10:25PM: Ok, that’s it from me for tonight. I’ll be joining you again tomorrow for the latest updates regarding Operation Summer Rains. Before I call it a night, a big thank you to those who linked to this post, as well as the countless people who emailed me and expressed their support for Israel’s predicament.
Please have in your prayers Gilad Shalit, Eliyahu Asheri, and Noah Moskovitch, as well as the young, heroic soldiers who are fighting the good fight.
10:20PM: Here’s a bit more on Noah Moskovitch:
Moskovich’s family reported his disappearance two days ago, after he left the Yad Sarah Center in the city and did not come home.
Moskovich himself, police said, was unhealthy and had suffered a stroke in the past. Police are looking into the possibility that he lost his way.
He usually carries a note bearing his name and address in order to avoid such situations. Worried family members said that “he has never been gone for this long.”
They also said he does not carry a mobile phone and that it was therefore difficult to trace his most recent movements.
Following the sensitive situation, Rison Lezion Police decided not to take any chances, and have launched wide searches for Moskovich. Rishon Lezion police commander held a meeting of top officers in the station in order to carry out special preparations for the searches.
10:05PM: New joke of the day (see 10:20AM update for old joke of the day): Syria are claiming that our planes retreated after they were fired upon by the Syrians.
10:03PM: Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade have identified the third kidnapping victim as 62-year-old Noah Moskovitch. Considering he does seem to be missing, it is not looking good.
9:00PM: Another example of Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties.
IAF planes will distribute flyers on Wednesday night in the Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun areas in the northern Gaza Strip.
The aim is to warn the residents of the areas that they are endangering their lives by being in the vicinity of Kassam launch sites.
This will, of course, be ignored by the anti-Israel crowd, who will shout out “massacre” and “ethnic cleansing”, in predictable fashion.
8:42PM: Israeli television reports that Fatah (reminder: Abbas’ own party) are threatening to attack Israeli embassies overseas.
8:33PM: The IDF are set to enter northern Gaza this evening, in order to neutralize the Kassam rocket threat.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Wednesday evening authorized the IDF to begin operations in northern Gaza and it is possible the incursion will begin within the coming hours.
The IDF will distribute flyers warning residents of the northern Gaza village of Beit Hanun, from where Qassam crews have been shooting at Sderot, to leave their homes as the army will begin targeting populated areas in response to the Qassam rocket fire.
The IDF said the shelling will not be conducted by artillery units but will rather be precision fire from land and air.
8:27PM: Don’t let pictures like this escape your radar:
Rockets stored by Palestinian militants in a warehouse in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, burn after an Israeli airstrike on the building Wednesday, June 28, 2006.
It is an indication that Israel is trying to surgically strike terrorist targets, and avoid civilian casualties. And here’s another indication, albeit with snarky BBC commentary.
8:05PM: According to a Ha’aretz news alert, IAF warplanes have flown over President Assad`s palace in Syria.
This is a clear warning to the “Dorktator”, and indicative of Israel’s view that Hamas’ Syria-based leader, Khaled Meshal, ordered the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.
7:52PM: Even Shimon Peres is talking tough.
7:50PM: This is one example of the kind of twisted thinking amongst many palestinians. No condemnation of the kidnappings that have sparked this operation, and in fact, support for the palestinians demands: what the blogger claims is an “inherently non-controversial demand by the kidnappers: the release of hundreds of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails.”
It is worthwile having a look at the first comment to this post.
7:15PM: Consistent with my last update, Israeli television reports that the IDF has called on northern Gaza residents to leave their homes.
7:12PM: Defense Minister Amir Peretz has approved widening the operation, which will enable the IDF to go into northern Gaza.
6:58PM: And the Kassams are still being fired at Sederot.
6:52PM: The 3 palestinians arrested in Ramallah have reportedly been released.
6:45PM: White House Spokeman Tony Snow has reiterated the US view that Israel has the right to defend itself, but should ensure innocent
civilians are not harmed.
“The hostage taking and the attacks by Hamas last weekend
have precipitated the current events in Gaza.”
6:32PM: The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (reminder: it is part of Mahmoud Abbas’ organization) are claiming responsibility for the third kidnapping, revealing that the kidnapped person is a man in his 60s from Rishon Lezion.
6:22PM: Channel 2 have reported another possible kidnapping.
6:20PM: As I surmised in a previous update, the IDF are operating in Ramallah in order to locate Eliyahu Asheri.
Palestinians reported that troops had surrounded a building in the city and arrested three people. They also reported exchange of gunfire between soldiers and terrorists.
6:15PM: The BBC makes clear how it views the likely effectiveness of the operation:
Israeli pressure always produces a reaction on the Palestinian side.
It will strengthen the resolve of the Hamas military wing and other militant groups to fight.
5:50PM: The Hamas government is calling for the prisoner swap.
5:35PM: I just had to include this photo of some of our boys today, by Limor Edrey.
5.22PM: According to a news alert from Ha’aretz, some 30 IDF vehicles are surrounding a building in Ramallah. Could this be the location at which Eliyahu Asheri is being held?
5.10PM: In case you are wondering why Israel has not agreed to release all palestinian women and children from Israeli jails in exchange for Gilad, here is one reason: Amona Mona, the palestinian woman who lured 16-year old Israeli Ofir Rahum to a grisly death.
4.30PM: The charred body found in the Ramallah area was thankfully not Eliyahu Asheri, but rather a palestinian man who was killed in a local feud. Let’s keep praying for him.
4.25PM: Two palestinians have been killed in an explosion in Gaza. According to the Jerusalem Post, it seems to have been the result of a work accident. Given scenes like this, I wouldn’t be surprised.
4.00PM: Even at his time of need, Gilad Shalit’s father is demonstrating humanity:
“The emphasis here is on an intelligent, rather than
impassioned, operation…We would like no additional
injuries, not among IDF troops and certainly not among innocent
civilians on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian. This is of the utmost
importance to us.”
Even as his son’s fate is uncertain, Mr Shalit is not lashing out, and showing a concern for all human life.
And let me make myself very clear: I am also hoping not even one palestinian civilian dies in this operation. As, I suspect, are 99.9% of Israelis.
3.53PM: Further proof of the ISM’s support of terrorists is manifest in this post of theirs from Gaza:
….the resistance movement is going ahead with their preparation too, but the balance of power is obvious to which side, any way Israel with Palestinian resistance or no resistance is attacking us all the time…
3.37PM: They are still firing Kassams at us.
Only a matter of minutes after OC Southern Command
Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant briefed reporters near Kibbutz Mefalsim about the
ongoing IDF operation in Gaza, A Kassam rocket landed a few hundred
meters from where reporters had gathered to hear the general speak.
3.30PM: More ominous news from the Jerusalem Post:
A charred body found in the Ramallah area Wednesday morning will be taken shortly to the Institute for Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir in order to verify its identity and the possibility that the body is that of missing Itamar resident Eliyahu Asheri.
3.22PM: If you are also covering this operation, feel free to leave a hyperlink to your blog in the comments.
3:20PM: Arutz Sheva report that a Hamas training camp in Gaza was hit by an Israeli missile.
3:08PM: The Jerusalem Post are reporting that the Air Force are striking northern Gaza; while the troops are in southern Gaza.
3.00PM: What’s this? A response from palestinian President Abbas? I feel a war crime accusation coming on.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the operation as a crime. “This is an attack against our infrastructure and civilian targets,” he said.
Abbas said the operation is an act of collective punishment, but made it clear that the Palestinian Authority is doing all it can to convince the kidnappers to free Shalit.
“We were surprised by the violent Israeli escalation, which doesn’t serve a purpose but to destroy Palestinian lives,” he said.
As mentioned clearly by the Israeli government, the purpose is clear: release our boy. Show us you are a true peace partner. Show us you are actually able to be in control. Otherwise, why are we even bothering with you?
2:55PM: Random thought moment: Here I am blogging about all of this from the safety of my own home, while our brave, young soldiers are actually out there, defending us. G-d bless them!
2.43PM: JPost have photos of some of the hacked sites.
2:25PM: Hackers are attacking Israeli sites.
Hundreds of websites were damaged by hackers in recent hours, following IDF activity in the Gaza Strip. The hackers are members of the Moroccan ‚ÄúTeam Evil‚Äù group, responsible for most of the website damage in Israel in the past year. This is the largest, most concentrated attack on Israeli websites in recent years.
The good news is that even if they hack me, they cannot stop the truth getting out, since there are thousands of pro-Israel sites spreading the word.
2:20PM: Here’s an AP news alert via Ha’aretz:
Hamas lawmaker: Olmert`s adventurism is putting the missing soldier at risk
I wonder if the “Hamas” lawmaker they are referring to is Israeli member of Knesset Ahmed Tibi (see my 10:20AM update below).
2:15PM: Just an observation: the Israeli government are stating that their withdrawal from Gaza is conditional on Gilad Shalit’s release. But why are we not also making it conditional on Eliyahu Asheri‘s release? This really bothers me.
2.10PM: Arutz Sheva are also now mentioning this unconfirmed report about Eliyahu Asheri’s body being discovered, citing the Arab news agency in Judea and Samaria as the source.
2.05PM: The Jerusalem Post have now returned to their alarming story from this morning:
The report is not confirmed, and I pray that it is not true.
1.55PM: The PRC have presented proof that they have captured 18-year old Eliyahu Asheri – his Israeli ID card.
However, it was known to be an almost certainty well before this point, since they mentioned his middle name, Pinchas, which had not been revealed to
1:23PM: Now I see there is a second objective to the operation: to try to curb the launching of Kassam rockets at Israel, responsibility for which also lies with the palestinian “government.”
1:13PM: The good ol’ BBC is up to its usual tricks, implying that if not for Israel, there was willingness on the Hamas and Fatah sides to negotiate for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict.
On Tuesday, Hamas and its main factional rival, Fatah, agreed a document outlining a common political platform for negotiations with Israel, but the move appears to have been overtaken by events on the ground.
Please do not allow yourselves to be duped by this subtle misinformation. Read the document yourself. There is no need for me to give my own analysis, when you already have available online great analyses like this one and this one.
1:02PM: The EU are calling for Gilad’s “immediate and unconditional release,” urging the Palestinian leadership to undertake all necessary efforts in this regard.”
But which leadership was this directed to? The Hamas terrorists, or the Fatah ones?
12:58PM: Abbas’s own Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is urging that Gilad not be released. There are two possibilities:
- Abbas really is pulling the strings and can insist that they release Gilad.
- Abbas is powerless, even to command his own people.
In either case, why on Earth is he being groomed as our peace partner?
12:50PM: Israeli Prime Minister Ehul Olmert has stated that “We won’t hesitate to carry out extreme action to bring Gilad back to his family.” But at the same time:
Government officials have stressed that the operation is limited in its scope, adding that it is also aimed at hurting Hamas‚Äô terror infrastructures.
10.25AM: The Jerusalem Post have now changed their previously alarming headline from Report: Israeli body found in Ramallah to PRC: We have Eliyahu Pinchas Asheri. No apology for the error, nor notice of a correction. And not before many bloggers linked to the previous headline, including Pajamas Media and Meryl Yourish.
10:20AM: Joke of the day: Arab Knesset member/terrorist sympathizer Ahmed Tibi is suddenly concerned about our soldier’s welfare:
MK Ahmad Tibi of the United Arab List-Ta’al party condemned Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip to free Gilad Shalit, the Israel Defense Forces soldier abducted on Sunday.
“The operation endangers the life of captive soldier,” he said.
I think he’s more concerned about the terrorists’ welfare.
10.15AM: An important post by fellow Anglo-Israel blogger AbbaGav, who has beaten me to the punch with his ruminations on how Israel will almost certainly be accused of Jenin II.
He points to some pictures of terrorists setting up explosive equipment:
To many, this is just a perfectly innocent picture of Palestinian militants setting up explosives to blow up the Israeli soldiers they expect will soon pass by in search of their kidnapped comrade.
But, while there is a slight chance these explosives could take out an Israeli soldier, it is far more likely that history will remember the explosive charge shown in the photo only as one more atrocity committed by Israel in what will likely be publicized as “Jenin II.” That’s right, in all likelihood, after this bomb blows up — this bomb we see being laid before our very eyes — after it takes down all the nearby walls of surrounding houses, the worlds’ photographers — perhaps including Ahmed Jadallah himself — will be brought back to this very same spot to photograph and report on the cruel war crimes committed by the Israelis as they massacred and wantonly blew up poor refugees’ homes.
I would just like to add that the bomb would also likely take out the small boy in the background. So it would also likely be al Dura II.
10.05AM: Former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Zalman Shoval, was quoted as saying that Abbas is a terrorist masked as Snow White. I fully agree. The problem is that our Prime Minister recently referred to Abbas as “a genuine person” with “serious intentions that ought to be recognized and respected.” How do we expect the world to believe Abbas is essentially a terrorist, when we are sending out mixed messages?
10.00AM: A Mideast analyst has reinforced my previous point about the mission’s objectives.
Mideast analyst Aaron David Miller told CNN it was not clear whether
Israeli forces knew the abducted soldier’s location or whether the
incursion was meant to increase pressure on the Palestinian Authority.
major objective is to try to find a way to extricate this soldier and
get him back safely,” said Miller, a former U.S. State Department
official and Mideast negotiator. “That may well be the only thing that
stands between the situation we have now and a serious escalation.”
9.55AM: Biased reporting alert: CNN in its report on the operation:
Israeli troops and armored vehicles crossed into southern Gaza early Wednesday in what the Israeli military said was an attempt to rescue a soldier kidnapped by Palestinian militants.
When the palestinians claim something, it is reported as fact.
9.45AM: The Jerusalem Post are running with the alarming headline:
Report: Israeli body found in Ramallah
But when you click on the link, there is no news of Eliyahu having been killed.
9.40AM: The PRC are threatening to kill the other kidnapped Israeli teenager, Eliyahu Asheri, unless the IDF leaves Gaza. Since this is not likely, unless Gilad Shalit is released, I am extremely worried about Eliyahu’s chances of survival.