Operation Cast Lead Sat-Sun Jan 3rd-4th, 2009

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AP

I am now back on my computer after a relatively peaceful Shabbat down south near Be’er Sheva, with no hint of the current conflict except for the more-than-occasional fighter jet flying overhead, conversations about the situation, and the fact that the synagogue in which I prayed doubles as a bomb shelter.

While I was enjoying the Sabbath, our brave IDF soldiers were continuing the amazing job they have been doing. Warplanes, gunboats and artillery units struck more than 40 Hamas targets over the day, including Hamas’s central intelligence headquarters in Sha’ati, weapons storage facilities (including yet another mosque), training centers, a launching site used for firing rockets on Ashdod, Hamashole leaders’ homes, and the main road that runs throughout the Gaza Strip. We also sent to hell yet another Hamashole leader.

The firing of artillery shells into the Gaza Strip was significant because besides the fact that it heralds a possible escalation in the fighting, it was the first time since the offensive began a week ago, and, in fact, the first time in three years, that the IDF has fired artillery shells at Gaza targets.

Meanwhile, the palestinians have continued to fire rockets into Israel, firing at over 31 at places such as Ashkelon, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Netivot, and the Eshkol region. Thankfully, no-one was killed, although some people were injured, including a woman after her house suffered a direct hit. I’m telling you, if you don’t see the miracles here, you are living in denial.

In other news, palestinian police violently cracked down on Hamas protests throughout the West Bank, outgoing US President Bush is saying the right things, and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal blabbered on about something.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

Monday Jan 5th – for latest updates, see here.

1:02AM: Brian of London Posting! : Here is something to read during the long dark teatime of Dave sleeping. It’s actually something worth reading at the Huffington Post (shock) and don’t fail to read the comments. How much longer can the moonbats keep Martin Lewis at the Huffington Post after he acurately compares the Pallis to Nazis

Dateline: January 3rd 1944

Fury continues to mount worldwide about the senseless loss of civilian life in Germany caused by England’s callous bombing of German cities including Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden.

End of Post by Brian of London

9:48PM: Well, that’s it from me for today – I am just too exhausted to continue. It’s been an eventful day, with the IDF continuing to hammer the terrorists, but losing one of our best in the process.

As usual, I ask that you please keep the brave soldiers and citizens of Israel in your prayers, including the family of Staff-Sergeant Dvir Emanuelof. And if you have appreciated my blogging and would like to contribute, please feel free to donate here:

9:17PM: I’m sure Freud would have something to say about this.

9:14PM: The palestinian Ma’an News agency reports that the spokesperson of the Czech government has resigned in wake of statements calling Israel’s operation ‘defensive.’ I couldn’t verify this with any more reliable news sources.

9:04PM: IDF forces operating in the east Gaza Strip neighborhood of Zeitun have disarmed three rocket launchers.

8:55PM: 2 more rockets fired at Ashkelon. Today’s rocket tally stands at over 50.

8:48PM: Say what you want about Bibi. The man can speak.

8:15PM: More genocidal Zionist behavior (hat tip: Harry):

Just face it. When it comes to being genocidal, we really, really suck.

7:52PM: Hamas is claiming it has used  “no more than 5%” of its capabilities so far.

7:50PM: The IDF soldier killed today was Staff-Sergeant Dvir Emanuelof, 22, from Givat Ze’ev.

dvir

6:23PM: Take your peace and shove it: Jordan will reportedly reexamine their relations with Israel, according to al-Jazeera.

5:39PM: Anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein has let his guard down, confirming everything we already suspected: he does not think that Hamas fighters are terrorists (http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2009/01/03/gaza-and-the-shame-of-american-jewish-liberals).

silverstein-civilians

For the record, he has not corrected this wording, even though it was pointed out to him in the comments.

5:19PM: A Knesset panel has approved the call-up of thousands more reservists.

5:15PM: The IDF have targeted senior Hamashole Muhammad Shalfuh, responsible for long range missile launching into Israel. It is not known whether we turn him in to worm food.

5:06PM: Word that an IDF soldiers was killed, and another critically injured today.

4:02PM: Gutless wonder of the day: The Czech FM has reportedly said his statement that the Israeli op is “defensive” was a misunderstanding.

4:00PM: Ma’an has more on father-of-the-year candidate, Nizar Rayyan, who we killed on Friday:

According to one of his four wives, Rayyan would tease his children in the days before his death, and ask them: “Who wants to die martyr with me?” and all his children used to answer, “Yes daddy, we all want to be with you alive or dead.” His youngest son said, “I can’t imagine that you die martyr and leave me behind unable to see you. I want to die with you.

And it wasn’t just his children to which he broached this topic.

One hour before he was killed Rayyan’s daughter in law Eyman Asfora went to visit him. Walaa remembers that Eyman, wife to Rayyan’s eldest son Bilal, was received with a smile. He asked her if she would like to die a martyr with him, and she said “yes.” But she left seconds before the missile struck the four-storey home.

Did Rayyan just go up to everyone he would meet and ask them if they wanted to be a martyr with him?

Is this the line with which he was able to pick up the women who later became his four wives?

Inquiring minds want to know!

3:28PM: And the rockets continue. Today’s tally is approx. 32.

3:15PM: Sky News is reporting that around 150 tanks have massed at the site of the former settlement of Netzarim.

2:10PM: Ha’aretz reports that IDF troops have split Gaza into two (contrary to the Ynet report in my 10:42AM update that we divided it into three).

2:07PM: Another day, another Jerusalem Post caption blunder (hat tip: Shy Guy).

cabinet-war

Yes, those cabinet meetings can get quite boisterous.

12:57PM: The Jerusalem Post reports that senior Hamshole Hussam Hamdan, in charge of Grad-type rocket launches into Beersheba, has been killed in an IAF strike, as was Muhammad Hilo, in charge of Hamas special forces in Khan Yunis. Ynetnews reports they were hurt, as does Ha’aretz.

12:52PM: My friend Bruce in Australia took some photos at some pro and anti-Israel demonstrations in Melbourne today. Here are some of the more noteworthy photos with some of my comments.

Let’s start with the pro-Israel demonstration. And it’s good to have a sense of humor in these times.

humous

Meanwhile, at the anti-Israel demonstration, someone had a final revelation – his bum was itchy!

itchy-bum

Of course, there were also the predictably stupid.

genocide

Here, I’ll lift Bruce’s comment since it is a pearler:

Number of Palestinian Arabs in 1948 = 1,308,00.

Number of Palestinian Arabs in 2008 = 10,574,521.

Israeli attempted genocide of Palestinian Arabs over 60 years = EPIC FAIL!

12:44PM: A short time ago, terrorists fired rockets at Ashdod, Sderot, and Ashkelon, with no injuries being reported.

11:58PM: The IDF estimates that more than 50 terrorists have been killed since the start of the ground operation.

11:03AM: Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has said that the Gaza Strip will turn into a “cemetery” for Israelis. Which I guess means it will turn into a good base for our operations.

10:52AM: Hamas are continuing their psychological warfare.

10:42AM: The IDF has reportedly divided the Gaza Strip into three, in order to prevent the transfer of arms.

10:10AM: Palestinians sources report the IDF is clashing with terrorists near Gaza city. Except I am sure they did not call them terrorists.

9:55AM:The UN Security Council last night failed to reach agreement on a draft resolution on our operation, thanks to the US quashing Libya’s demand for an immediate ceasefire. This has prompted Hamas to call the UN Security Council “ridiculous,” a sentiment with which I actually agree.

9:30AM: As you would be aware, I receive quite a bit of hate-mail from the anti-Israel crowd. But believe it or not, this morning I received a very nasty mail from someone in the pro-Israel crowd.

This person is a relatively well-known blogger known for her rather shrill and self-congratulatory style. She sent me this mail regarding my 11.55AM update of this post:

Would have been nice if you had given me credit for breaking the Roseanne Barr story on this, since as you know or should, I’m the one who broke it.  Instead, a million other websites that linked to this entry got the credit for my scoop: [link to her post]

I responded, emphatically denying I had lifted her post (I stand by this; as I told her, I have Barr’s blog bookmarked and check it regularly for good blog fodder. As for this blogger’s site, I only ever occasionally visit if linked to by one of the blogs I do regularly visit) and suggesting that perhaps a “well done” or “keep safe” might be more appropriate given I am blogging here in Israel.

Do you send me a “well done” or “keep safe”?  Why do I owe you one–for ripping off my posts?  I don’t think so.  I send “well done” and “keep safe” to those–including my relatives there–who are actually “in the firing line” for real, as they  are fighting on the front lines for Israe, instead of, as you put it, “sitting there . . . liveblogging my ass off”.  Are you doing that?  If blogging qualifies as such, I have done as much, if not more, than you–and the location doesn’t make you better.  And I’ve braved Islamic mosques and charity events undercover in the heart of Dearborn and had death threats from 4 separate Muslims who were prosecuted for it.  And I don’t rip people off, then make up excuses for it, and tell the original breaker of the scoop that I deserve kudos b/c I–in your case–blog Tzippi Livni’s and Ehud Barak’s costly (in lives) campaign commercial, which you don’t seem to get is what’s going on and you are right in the country.  Reading Roseanne’s site regularly, as you claim, does not qualify as “sitting in the firing line” for Israel, or if it is, I guess I am doing a better job of that than you–since you posted about this and made the exact same points as I did a day later.  I think it’s pretty clear who was your source.  Thanks for nothing.

It seems I do owe this blogger an apology for  not living somewhere where rockets are currently striking, or for fighting in Gaza right now. As for ripping off her post, she is 100% wrong. I have no trouble attributing my sources, and she was most certainly not my source. Given her profession, she should know better about onus of proof and innocent until proven guilty.

9:10AM: Since my last update, palestinians have fired rockets at Sderot and Netivot, with one person wounded and four more treated for shock.

6:02AM: Heh: Misleading advertising.

5:59AM: Video of Dutch parliament member Harry van Bommel (Socialist Party) calling for intifada against Israel. In other words, calling for the killing of innocent Israeli civilians (hat tip: Suzanne)

5:52AM: 2 soldiers have been moderately wounded and 9 others lightly wounded. Meanwhile, at least 30 terrorists have been killed (I reported that figure hours ago) and Hamas are in propaganda overdrive.

Hamas leader early on Sunday morning denied reports that armed groups affiliated with the Islamic movement had been killed by invading Israeli forces.

Appearing on Al-Jazeera just after midnight on Sunday, Mousa Mohammad Abu Marzook claimed that “there are casualties, but they are of the people of the Gaza Strip, not us.”

5:43AM: I am really impressed with the IDF Spokesperson blog, which is being constantly updated.

Here is a video of IDF ground forces preparing to enter Gaza. Notice how young these guys are, as well as the troop who is praying.

And here is Captain Benjamin Rutland announcing the entry of ground forces into Gaza.

Yes, that is an Aussie accent, and yes, Benji and I go back a long way.

5:37AM: In the last few hours while I was sleeping trying to sleep, the IDF expanded the closed military zone in the vicinity of Gaza,  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to the operation, and the terrorists fired a Qassam, which landed in an open area.

5:27AM: I’m back, after a mostly sleepless night due to the freezing temperature. I cannot even imagine how cold the soldiers must be feeling.

12:10AM: That’s it from me for tonight. I will hopefully be back in around 5 or so hours.

As usual, I ask that you please keep the brave soldiers and citizens of Israel in your prayers.

Good night for now.

12:02AM: Disturbing video of a pro-Hamas demonstration in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (hat tip: Dan).

Notice how these people want Israel destroyed, not peace.

Sun Jan 3rd

—–

11:53PM: The IDF expects that “rocket fire towards Israel will continue over the coming days and may even increase.”

11:48PM: Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“This past year, we have seen far too much violence throughout the world, from the continued genocide of the people in southern Sudan to the horrible bombings in the city of Mumbai, to this week’s violence between Hamas and Israel.

“Every nation has the right to defend itself against terrorism and cold-blooded attacks on its people. Israel is no different and is right to defend itself against the unceasing violence of rocket attacks launched by Hamas.

“The goal should be just and lasting peace not only in Gaza but throughout the world, and all sides have the choice and ability to reject violence and work toward that goal.

“My thoughts are with all of those who face senseless violence and with all Californians who are affected by conflicts throughout the world.”

11:42PM: Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that palestinian fighters (i.e. terrorists) “detonated a 50 kilogram bomb as Israeli forces crossed into the Gaza Strip.”

11:27PM: A few points about my liveblogging:

  • While I try to keep up-to-date, I cannot guarantee it due to personal and work commitments (tomorrow is the start of the work week)
  • Unlike some of the other liveblogs (which I recommend you check out), I try to “mix things up,” interposing reports with my own punditry, links to editorials, pictures, and videos.
  • Despite the seriousness of the situation, I try to use humor as much as possible. It helps keep me sane.

11:15PM: IDF Spokesperson blog:

A short while ago (Jan.3), IDF forces began to implement the second stage of Operation Cast Lead. Ground forces have begun to maneuver within the Gaza Strip.

The objective of this stage of the operation is to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the precise area of operation, while taking control of some of rocket launching area used by the Hamas in order to greatly reduce the quantity of rockets fired at Israel and Israeli civilians.

The IDF Spokesperson emphasizes that this stage of the operation will further the goals of Operation Cast Lead as communicated till now: To strike a direct and hard blow against Hamas while increasing the deterrent strength of the IDF, in order to bring about an improved and more stable security situation for residents of southern Israel in the long term.

A large number of IDF forces are taking part in this stage of the operation including infantry, tanks, engineering forces, artillery and intelligence, along with the support of the Israel Air Force, Israel Navy, Israel Security Agency and other security agencies.

The operation is in accord with the decisions of the Security Cabinet. This stage of the operation is a part of the IDF’s overall operational plan, and will continue on the basis of ongoing situational assessments by the IDF General Staff.

The forces participating in the operation have been highly trained and were prepared for the mission over the long period that the operation was planned. The Commander of the operation is Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, GOC Southern Command.

The IDF and the Home Front Command has taken the necessary steps to protect the civilian population. All residents of Southern Israel are requested to follow the guidelines of the Home Front Command as communicated via the media.

The IDF Spokesperson wishes to reiterate that the residents of Gaza are not the target of the operation. Those who use civilians, the elderly, women and children as human shields are responsible for any and all injuries to the civilian population. Anyone who hides a terrorist or weapons in his house is considered a terrorist.

Based on a situational analysis, The IDF is taking steps to raise the level of alert for its forces in other areas of the country

11:12PM: France has condemned out ground op. Apparently, we haven’t been waving enough white flags.

11:10PM: A short time ago, a Qassam rocket landed in open spaces in Sdot Negev Regional Council.

11:00PM: Channel 2 is reporting approx. 30 terrorists have been killed in the ground op.

10:58PM: Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly condemned our ground operation. No word yet on whether he has been able to wipe the smile off his face.

10:52PM: Some fan mail.

Herman Grueminn (www.cnn.com) wrote:

You murdering species should be exterminted. As for you, jewboy, stop poluting a cristian country with your presents. Go to israel and join your choosen people in murdering innocences. You are ALL f*cking murderers.

As you can tell from his spelling, Hermie’s a real winner.

10:48PM: The IDF has struck an Islamic Jihad compound.

10:43PM: Arutz Sheva reports that approx. 20 Hamasholes have so far been killed in the ground operation, and a gas terminal exploded during the fighting.

10:38PM: Good on ya, Oz.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard has refused to criticise Israel’s bombing campaign on Gaza, as fears mount that a land invasion of the enclave may be imminent.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown on Saturday demanded Ms Gillard add weight to global calls for Israel to halt its attacks.

But the acting prime minister was only willing to express concern about civilian casualties, while again condemning Hamas’s rocket attacks over the border.

“I’ve made clear on behalf of the Australian government our very deep concern about the resumption of violence,” Ms Gillard said.

“Our condemnation of the actions of Hamas in shelling into southern Israel .

“Our concern about civilian casualties. Our concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”

Senator Brown said Ms Gillard should speak out against the “violent and disproportionate action by Israeli leaders”, which had led to the death of more than 400 Palestinians.

“Australia’s voice should also be raised against the threat of an imminent invasion of Gaza by the Israeli army and instead push for internationally-brokered peace talks,” he said in a statement.

—-

Australia’s response to the crisis has angered the local Palestinian community, which is calling on the Rudd government to speak out against what it says is a disproportionate response from Israel .

10:30PM: The IDF earlier imposed a naval blockade on Gaza.

10:08PM: Israel television is reporting that dozens of Hamasholes have already been killed.

10:00PM:  The EU president expressed support for the  ground operation, saying the EU sees it as “defensive not offensive.”

9:42PM: Prayer for the welfare of the IDF soldiers (stolen from David):

prayer

English Translation:

He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Force, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.

May Hashem cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighting men from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.  May He lead our enemies under their sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is Hashem, your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.  Now let us respond: Amen.

9:30PM: I can’t get my site to load. Is this a problem for anyone else?

9:24PM: If I had a baton in this situation, no prizes for guessing where I would lodge it.

9:20PM: The rocket launcher we just struck was reportedly in the “refugee” camp’s cemetery.

No surprise that they have no respect for their dead given the way they treat the living (ours and theirs).

9:18PM: The IDF struck a rocket launcher in Jabalyah.

9:10PM: Interesting poll results reported by the palestinian Ma’an News:

Near East Consulting surveyed Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip in late December, where results found that a full 60 percent of Palestinians there believe Hamas made a mistake by not seeking to renew the ceasefire with Israel.

Which means 40% do support Hamas’ decision. Hardly a small minority. But read on.

Just a slim majority of Palestinians in Gaza support rocket fire against Israeli targets, with about 54 percent in favor of the continuing bombardment. A nearly identical percentage of Israelis support the ongoing airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, incidentally.

You just have to love that last sentence. Professional and objective reporting at its finest.

About 92 percent of Hamas supporters agree with projectile fire, however, which is opposed by 72 percent of Fatah affiliates.

Meanwhile, here is another interesting result:

Regarding the needs of Palestinian families in the besieged coastal strip, 42 percent surveyed said they are most concerned about food supplies; about 20 percent named electricity as their top concern.

About nine percent said their children’s safety is the most urgent concern, while a full eight percent said “all of the above” were equally complicating their lives.

If Israel was indeed indiscriminately bombing Gaza, then you would have expected way more than 9% having the children’s safety at the top of their list.

8:54PM: The Israeli cabinet has decided to call up tens of thousands of reservists.

8:51PM: Troops and terrorists are trading gunfire as we speak.

8:49PM: The IDF has stated that the objective of the ground incursion is to strike Hamas’ foundations and to take control of the areas from which rockets are being fired.

8:43PM: Notice how I have changed the direction of the updates, due to overwhelming public demand. Latest is at the top.

8:40PM: Here we go: A while ago, Israeli television reported that we have launched a ground offensive.

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