Liveblogging the Conflict: Sat/Sun Feb 29-Mar 1

The IDF launched it’s Gaza military operation last night, with 2 IDF soldiers killed and 5 wounded until now. The fighting has been fierce, with IDF soldiers being met with heavy gunfire from palestinian gunmen (mainly from Hamas), who used rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles against the troops. IAF planes have been providing air support for the troops, launching missiles at the terrorists during the fighting. One soldier was killed when a terrorist threw an explosive device towards him, and the second soldier was killed during a gun battle.

43-47 palestinians have reportedly also been killed, which, according to palestinian sources, includes civilians. According to Ynetnews, most of the terrorists killed were from Hamas, but also included members of Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees. It is truly a united effort to bring Israel to her knees.

As usual, I am finding it difficult to find a consistent number of palestinian civilians killed. From the Israeli news sites, Ha’aretz reports 10 civilians, Ynetnews 12 (based on a lower figure of 43 palestinians killed), and JPost 16. From the palestinian sites, Ramattan reports 45 dead, the majority of which were civilians. While I do not doubt civilians have been killed, remember we are at war here. Also remember the Hamas quote I blogged yesterday:

“We will not play into Israel’s hands. If and when the operation is launched, we will combat it with no more than 20 percent of our manpower. The remaining 80 percent will wait for the Israelis inside Palestinian territory to fight under the conditions that we are familiar with and to show that are forces are still there..”

The terrorists are operating within civilian areas, many times with the actual assistance of these civilians, and more often than not with their tacit approval. Brace yourselves for the palestinian propaganda offensive going into overdrive, including stories about civilian deaths, many of which may not be true. Here is an example:

Earlier Friday night, the Palestinians reported of four people killed in IDF strikes in the Strip, including a one-year-old baby. However, there were conflicting versions over the circumstances of the child’s death.

At first, the Palestinians accused the IDF of attacking the baby’s house, but later reported that the house was hit by a stray rocket fired by the Palestinians from within Gaza.

Also brace yourselves for “Israel-Nazi” comparisons. Already today, both PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal have compared Israel’s defending herself to the holocaust. In fact, Abbas said our military campaign is “is more than a Holocaust,” which disappoints me since he is somewhat of an expert on the subject.

Meanwhile, another 5 Israelis were wounded in two separate strikes on Ashkelon, with terrorists launching approximately 50 rockets at southern Israel over the course of the day.

Don’t make any mistake about it. We are at war (and have been for a while now).

I will, as usual, endeavor to liveblog the conflict as it ensues.

Updates (Israel time)

Saturday Mar 1st

8:13PM: Bullseye! The IAF has reportedly struck a truck transporting 160 Qassam rockets and several gunmen. That is potentially a lot of lives saved right there.

8:23PM: From the Department of Extreme Chutzpah: The PA announced it was halting peace talks with Israel over our Gaza operation. Because defending yourself from terrorists is apparently not good for peace.

8:26PM: The soldiers killed today were Sergeant Doron Asulin, 20, from Beersheba, and Sergeant Eran Dan-Gur, 20, from Jerusalem.

8:52PM: More from infolive.tv. Pay special attention when palestinian propaganda expert Saeb Erekat is speaking and count the number of empty catchphrases and cliches coming out of his mouth, including “This will add to the complexities”, “This will add fuel to the fire,” and “cycle of violence.”

9:14PM: 2 more Qassams have been fired at Israel.

9:27PM: It’s good to see Mr Bean is working for the other side: Militant lightly hurt by own pipe bomb he planned to throw at IDF in W. Bank.

9:35PM: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that IDF operations in Gaza must continue in order to drive terrorists launching Qassams into Israel deeper into the central Gaza Strip, as well as destroy rocket productions labs.

I’m guessing we are planning to be there for a while.

9:40PM: According to palestinian sources, we killed the bodyguard of Mahmoud al-Zahar. Now if we could only remove that hideous wart. Not to mention the evil creature attached to it.

9:50PM: According to Arutz Sheva, the IDF is investigating a report of shooting coming from the Arab village of Beit Jala, near the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.

10:48PM: More on the pipebomb klutz (9:27PM update):

A gunman who had attempted Saturday to throw a pipe bomb at an IDF post near the West Bank town of Bethlehem, ultimately ended up having the device blow up in his hand.

The militant, who was lightly injured, was arrested by IDF troops and was transferred for treatment at a local hospital. He will later be sent to security personnel for questioning.

10:52PM: The fallen soldiers Sergeant Doron Asulin, 20, from Beersheba, and Sergeant Eran Dan-Gur, 20, from Jerusalem:

fallen-soldiers.jpg

11:00PM: Welcome back to the French of old.

11:10PM: As I predicted above, the palestinians are going into propaganda overdrive.

Palestinian security officials reacted to the IDF’s Saturday attack on the Rafah Border Crossing and stated that “this is the height of the IDF’s moral bankruptcy. The IDF realized it cannot win the battle against Palestinian operatives, so it is now targeting civilians and civilian infrastructures.”

So I’ll again bring out the Hamas quote from yesterday to remind you all that this is not a matter of Israel targeting civilians, but rather the terrorists deliberately operating from within civilian areas:

“We will not play into Israel’s hands. If and when the operation is launched, we will combat it with no more than 20 percent of our manpower. The remaining 80 percent will wait for the Israelis inside Palestinian territory to fight under the conditions that we are familiar with and to show that are forces are still there..”

11:42PM: Ha’aretz reports that the Gaza death toll is now 61, with 31 of them confirmed terrorists. Meanwhile, Hamas has tried to claim the number of dead “militants” is much lower.

Sunday Mar 2nd

12:12AM: Russia has called for a UN Security Council emergency session on the situation for 7pm, CET (2am GMT).

6:40AM: Since the last update, the IAF struck the Gaza headquarters of Hamas terrorist/palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned what he described as Israel’s “excessive and disproportionate” use of force in the Gaza Strip, as well as the palestinian rocket attacks against southern Israel that triggered our military action in the first place.

8:26AM: We have struck 3 arms caches, as well as 2 two weapon factories, in northern and southern Gaza, as well as shooting another terrorist.

8:32AM: Ha’aretz reports that a Qassam rocket struck the grave of Moroccan Jewish sage Baba Sali in Netivot.

8:45AM: More palestinian propaganda, with the assistance of AFP:

baby-holding.jpg

Tiny victim : A Palestinian medical worker rushes a baby into the hospital in Gaza City. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Not much of a caption. Brief and to the (painful) point.

But look at the picture again. Would someone really rushing a baby into hospital hold the baby up in that position?

All that’s missing from the picture is the Green Helmet.

9:42AM: Here is the Statement by Israel Ambassador Daniel Carmon to the emergency meeting of the UN Security Council yesterday:

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General,

Two days ago, and as a matter of fact a few minutes ago in his briefing, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Hamas’ rocket fire against Israel, and called on Hamas and other terrorist and militant groups to cease all acts of violence and terrorism. He also called on Israel to exercise maximum restraint.

Mr. President, Israel has exercised that restraint for many months now. This has been in spite of the constant firing of rockets and mortar shells on our towns and villages in southern Israel, every single hour, every single day. And this is in spite of Hamas’ attempt to carry out terrorist attacks wherever they can target and kill an Israeli.

While Israel has been showing restraint, Hamas has showed no intention of ceasing its vicious attacks. On the contrary. In the past week, since Hamas failed to organize a provocative demonstration in Gaza – a failure that might be seen as a weakness – it has dramatically escalated its rocket attacks and upgraded its capabilities against our people. Grad missiles. Qatyusha rockets. Mortar shells. And Qassams. Since Wednesday, more than 150 rockets were fired at Israel, dozens in the past 24 hours alone.

As I speak to you now, more than a quarter of a million Israeli citizens are in the range of the deadly and murderous weapons of Hamas, care of Hamas, of its backers in the region and their malicious vision.

The Government of Israel should thus not apologize for protecting its citizens.

Mr. President,

We have addressed this situation for a very long time. The Members of the Council can see the many letters we have sent, this week alone, expressing our alarm and concern with Hamas’ attacks and reiterating our determination to protect our people. This is our right. This is the right of all States to act in self defense, in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This is our duty. This is our obligation to our people.

I ask the Members of the Security Council, wouldn’t it be yours too?

No responsible Member State would sit back in silence and do nothing as its citizens and territory are under constant attack. They would not be idle as the alarms in Sderot – and now Ashkelon – blare “Colour Red, Colour Red”, giving Israeli civilians less than 15 seconds – 15 seconds of terror – that’s all it takes, before the rocket slams into their lives, their homes, hospitals, kindergartens, schools, and playgrounds. And their lives are destroyed forever.

There is only one way to describe the activity of Hamas against Israel – it is plain and blunt terrorism. Hamas is a terrorist group backed by Member States of this world body, an organization that denies the very basic principles set by the international community: the cessation of hostilities, cessation of terrorist acts, recognition of Israel, and abiding by previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hamas, Mr. President, not only seeks to kill Israelis; it has no concern for its own civilians. It fires rockets from populated civilian areas, using their civilians as human shields. This is a war crime – there is no other way to describe it – against both Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr. President,

We heard the term “war crimes” here today in this hall. May I suggest to the Palestinian observer to divert this term – or accusation – to the Hamas terrorist group, who brutally took over the Gaza Strip a few months ago in what the Palestinian Authority leadership itself calls a “coup”.

If they answer your phone, distinguished colleague, you can tell them something about “war crimes”, as well as much of what you told the Council this evening. The address is there: Hamas.

The Palestinians in Gaza are victims of Hamas’ regime of terror. It is not only Israelis. We are all being held hostage by Hamas, the real and only occupier in Gaza through its terror.

The situation is unacceptable – we do not accept it. We will continue with our fight against terrorism.

Mr. President,

There should be no doubt in our minds that Hamas’ true vision is the extermination of the State of Israel, and not to live peacefully side by side with us. It does not even seek to restore normalcy for the sake of the people of Gaza.

It is thus unfortunate that the Palestinian observer tonight, as has been the case in the past, does not recognize that Hamas’ bears sole responsibility for the violence. Once again, Hamas’ name, the word Hamas, was not mentioned even once in his address, and I think it says it all.

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General,

Hamas’ vision for the failure of the moderates is a vision shared by some States in the region, including Iran and Syria, who is sitting behind the scenes, orchestrating and supporting Hamas’ terrorism against Israel. They have done this in the past with other terrorist groups elsewhere in the region and around the world.

One must wonder about the timing of Hamas’ escalation of violence, and whether its purpose is to distract the international community’s attention today and this week.

Mr. President,

I reiterate Israel’s determination to protect its civilians and territory – cities, towns, and villages. It is what they expect from us, and it is what we must do for them.

Sitting on the sidelines will only embolden the extremists and convince them that they should not stop their violence, trying to derail the peace process is what the extremists want to do. Israel expects the international community – and the Members of the Security Council – to support us in our protection of our people.

Thank you.

12:12PM: Today’s Qassam tally stands at 10.

12:15PM: Some tough talking from Prime Minister Olmert:

“Let me be clear, Israel has no intention of stopping the fight against terror for even a second, and we will act according to the blueprint set by the government at a time and intensity of our choosing, in order to strike the terror organizations and those who provide them with cover and the ability to operate…I hear criticism and claims that civilians are being hurt and that Israel is using too much force. Israel is defending its residents in the south, and with all due respect, nothing will prevent it from protecting them – and no one has the right to preach to us about rights when we are acting in self defense.”

12:25PM: This morning, there were reports of east Jerusalem vendors in the Old City declaring a partial vendor’s strike, in protest against our operations in Gaza. It now turns out that 4 four east Jerusalem residents may have been trying to force these Arab shop owners to close their stores.

Exactly the same thing happened in January, with 4 Arab residents of Jerusalem suspected of threatening east Jerusalem shopkeepers to take part in a solidarity strike in support of the palestinians in Gaza.

I wonder if they are the same 4 arrested today.

12:48PM: The EU says “FU” to Israel.

Right back at ya.

1:05PM: Today’s tally: At least 18 Qassams, 4 people injured, and 12 treated for shock.

1:20PM: IDF Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Dan Harel, has stated that “Gaza terror groups have lost dozens of combatants and their infrastructure was severely damaged.”

1:23PM: Today’s Israel-Nazi comparison is brought to you by US allies Saudi Arabia.

2:20PM: The IAF has struck a terrorist cell at the Jabalyia refugee camp in northern Gaza City.

4:00PM: Now it’s the Pope’s turn to demonstrate his moral bankruptcy.

4:11PM: The Al-Quds Brigades of Islamic Jihad is claiming to have the limbs of Israeli soldiers (hat tip: Elder of Ziyon).

4:22PM: Arutz Sheva reports that Israel has allowed thousands of units of blood and other medical supplies, as well as basic food items, to be brought through the Sufa crossing to Gaza, despite ongoing rocket attacks on Israel.

4:25PM: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has asked Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann to examine whether the IDF can target populated areas from which Qassam rockets are being fired at the western Negev, according to international law.

5:45PM: Since my last update, a grad rocket hit Ashkelon, and 4 IDF troops were lightly wounded in Gaza.

8:22PM: In the past few hours, Kassam and Katusha rockets have struck the western Negev, with one rocket slamming into a house in Ashkelon, lightly wounding a woman who had been hiding with her two children, 2 Katushas landing in the city, 3 Qassams hitting open areas, and one landing near a public swimming pool in a Kibbutz.

Today’s tally so far: 32 rockets.

10:46PM: From the Ha’aretz news ticker:

Israel buys new supply of pills to protect civilians from nuclear radiation

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About Aussie Dave

An Aussie immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave is founder of Israellycool, one of the world's most popular pro-Israel blogs (and the one you are currently reading) He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and girlie drinks