Operation Cast Lead Tues Jan 6th, 2009

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Sticky post. Please scroll down for new posts and updates.

For other liveblogging, see The Muqata.

As Brian reported earlier, 3 of our soldiers were killed and 20 injured in a friendly fire incident last night, after one of our tanks fired a live round at an abandoned building in which Golani forces had taken cover. Besides the tragedy of the incident, it also once again demonstrates the bravery of our soldiers, with reports that IDF battalion commander Colonel Avi Peled, who was wounded in the incident, refused to be taken for treatment until after he directed the evacuation of all the wounded troops and called in artillery fire and IAF air strikes on enemy targets.

This comes after terrorists fired over 40 Qassam and Grad rockets at southern Israel, striking Ashkelon, Ashdod, Sderot, Kiryat Malakhi, Netivot and Be’er Sheva.

Meanwhile, another 12 IDF soldiers were wounded throughout the day in gunbattles with terrorists, while we killed approximately 100 terrorists and arrested another 80.

In other news, Israel is making diplomatic efforts to postpone a UN Security Council meeting scheduled for tomorrow, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak made clear to the EU that Hamas must not be allowed to win its conflict with Israel.

The 2008 Weblog Awards have commenced, and Israellycool is a finalist in the Best Middle East or Africa Blog category. If you feel this blog is deserving of that title, please click on the graphic and vote accordingly (you are allowed to vote once every 24 hours). And you can also vote for Shire Network News as Best Podcast if you have time!

The 2008 Weblog Awards

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

Wednesday Jan 7th – for latest updates, see here.

03:25AM (Brian of London): The Israeli Consulate in New York has released a statement on today’s civilian casualties caused by Hamas cynically hiding amongst their people:

These initial investigations indicate that Hamas used the UNRWA school to fire at IDF forces, indicating once again that Hamas is more than willing to sacrifice Gaza citizens to promote terrorism.

Competition is over… answer was “to strongly condemn” but I think they knew what they were doing and had adult supervision so that split infinitive was fine. I approve. And I will give a prize: a real prize worth actual money! (not much, but more than Madoff has in his back pocket) for the first person to send me an email or tweet me with the split infinitive that is to be found in that statement. brianoflondon at shirenetworknews.net

01:31AM (Brian of London): The IDF Spokesperson has just released their summary of today’s events and a new video.

The IAF attacked over 40 targets since the morning, including:

  • A vehicle carrying an anti-aircraft missile launcher.
  • Eight smuggling tunnels used by Hamas to bring weaponry into the Gaza Strip.
  • More than ten groups of gunmen, including one identified planting a bomb.
  • Approximately 16 weapons-storage and weapons-production facilities.
  • Approximately five rocket-launching spots, including one hidden underground.

12:53AM (Brian of London): In today’s big story, the word of the IDF has now been confirmed by none other than local “residents” via the AP:

GAZA CITY, Gaza (AP) — Israeli mortar shells struck outside a U.N. school where hundreds of Palestinians had sought refuge on Tuesday, killing at least 30 people – many of them children whose parents wailed in grief at a hospital filled with dead and wounded.

The Israeli army said its soldiers came under fire from militants hiding in the school and responded. It accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of “cynically” using civilians as human shields. Residents confirmed the account, saying militants were seen staging attacks from the area.

They must have really had to bite their tongues hard to report that Hamas had corraled a bunch of civilians in a school in the hope that they might get hit. Score one for the bad guys and their friends in the world’s press I guess.

Brian of London (and you can also vote for Shire Network News as Best Podcast if you have time!)

11:45PM: I’m outta here. It has been another exhausting day just following the news.  Brian of London will continue with the updates if anything major arises.

As usual, I ask that you please keep the brave soldiers and citizens of Israel in your prayers. And if you have appreciated my blogging and would like to contribute, please donate here:

And don’t forget to vote Israellycool for Best Middle East or Africa Blog over here (you are allowed to vote once every 24 hours).

Aussie Dave, signing out.

11:30PM: A Catholic priest in New Zealand has desecrated a memorial to slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Instead of spending his time vandalizing things, perhaps he could read up on some bible, since he is obviously not well enough acquainted with it.

11:28PM: Venezuela has expelled its Israeli ambassador in protest over the Gaza op.

11:18PM: Trust the UN to get it wrong. Again.

11:06PM: My mate Benji..ehh Capt. Benjamin Rutland..explains what happened with the UN school strike.

11:00PM: Egypt has proposed an immediate ceasefire after talks with the masters of surrender ceasefires, the French.

10:48PM: The IDF Spokesperson blog has more on the terrorists killed in the UNRWA school:

After an investigation that took place over the past hour it has been found that amongst the dead at the Jabalya school were Hamas terror operatives and a mortar battery cell who were firing on IDF forces in the area. Hamas operatives Imad Abu Askhar and Hassan Abu Askhar were amongst terrorists that were identified to be killed.

“We face a very delicate situation where the Hamas is using the citizens of Gaza as a protective vest,” IDF Spokesperson Brig. General Avi Benayahu said following the incident.

10:38PM: Israeli basketball team Bnei Hasharon, in Turkey to play sport, has found out the hard way that the crowd are not very good sports at all.

10:32PM: Weblog Awards update: One of my opponents (who happens to have a very worthy blog) says he is behind at the moment because “unlike the other nominees, I haven’t sent my readers over there yet.” While he could have a point, I would like to think this blog is actually deserving of the votes.

10:22PM: Greatest hits: Some of the IAF’s hits on Hamas targets today.

Still waiting for the video of the hit on the school showing the terrorists firing mortars.

10:00PM: Worst cheerleaders squad. Ever.

9:48PM: The first official Israeli video on the school strike (hat tip: Israel Matzav):

Weak. Get that footage out there, or even photos of the Hamas terrorists.

9:45PM: The IDF has stated that the bodies of Hamas terrorists were found inside the UN school after the attack.

8:46PM: Ok, seriously this is what Obama said:

Obama told reporters “the loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel is a source of deep concern for me.” But otherwise he said he would adhere to his principle that only US President George W. Bush would speak for American foreign policy at this time, but said he would have plenty more to say after his Jan. 20 inauguration.

8:45PM: US president-elect Barack Obama has broken his silence on the Gaza war.

8:39PM: Footage of a previous incident of palestinian terrorists firing mortars from a UNRWA school.

8:36PM: The latest from Queen on the Unhinged, Roseanne Barr:

anyone practicing a warmongering religion that demeans women as chattel and unworthy of the priest class is a satanist operation, and needs to willingly blow itself up and leave this planet. the writings of this group of unsavory folks that speak of a heinous and punishing sky god are encoded with self destruction as their aim. farewell to all those who live in these words, this world will be better without you running/ruining it. tata!

The sad thing is the religion she is talking about is almost certainly not the one you would think.

8:18PM: The Jerusalem Post sheds even more light on the UNRWA school incident (hat tip: Shy Guy):

At least 30 people were reportedly killed and 53 wounded in an explosion in a UN-run school in the town of Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, according to Palestinians. The IDF issued a statement saying the school grounds were used by terrorists to fire mortar shells at the troops.

The infantrymen returned mortar shell fire into the school grounds, the army said. Defense officials told The Associated Press that booby-trapped bombs in the school triggered the secondary explosions which killed scores of Palestinians on the site.

The IDF released a video taken by a UAV last week showing terrorists firing mortar shells from right outside the school.

“Hamas has in the past fired at Israel and at troops from inside schools, cynically using civilians, as is proven by UAV footage,” the army said.

The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the number of casualties reported by Palestinian sources.

Channel 10 reported that the military had a video filmed by a drone proving that the school was used by terrorists to fire mortars at IDF troops.

I suggest they release the video ASAP.

8:15PM: The IDF Spokesperson posts:

A missile launcher and a number of anti tank missiles were discovered hidden in a Palestinian school yard in Sajalya, northern Gaza Strip, during an IDF operation against terror threats. The IDF force returned fire at an armed Palestinian gunman who opened fire at the soldiers and identified hitting him.

rockets-in-schoolyard

Wow, terrorists using schools for cover? If I didn’t know any better, I would say this lends even more credence to Israel’s assertion that terrorists were firing mortars from the UN school.

8:07PM: Ma’an is claiming that 42 palestinians died in the UN school strike, even though they quote a UNRWA official as saying 30 were killed.

7:50PM: Please remember to vote for Israellycool here if you haven’t already (assuming you think it is worthy of this title). You can vote once every 24 hours. We are currently in the lead, but the lead is rapidly diminishing.

7:40PM: An interesting piece from former New York Times Middle East Correspondent and Wall Street Journal Energy Editor Youssef M. Ibrahim.

To my Arab brothers: The War with Israel Is Over — and they won. Now let’s finally move forward

With Israel entering its fourth week of an incursion into the same Gaza Strip it voluntarily evacuated a few months ago, a sense of reality among Arabs is spreading through commentary by Arab pundits, letters to the editor, and political talk shows on Arabic-language TV networks. The new views are stunning both in their maturity and in their realism. The best way I can think of to convey them is in the form of a letter to the Palestinian Arabs from their Arab friends:

Dear Palestinian Arab brethren:

The war with Israel is over.

You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children.

We, your Arab brothers, may say until we are blue in the face that we stand by you, but the wise among you and most of us know that we are moving on, away from the tired old idea of the Palestinian Arab cause and the “eternal struggle” with Israel.

Dear friends, you and your leaders have wasted three generations trying to fight for Palestine, but the truth is the Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years. Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness.

At the moment, brothers, you would be lucky to secure a semblance of a state in that Gaza Strip into which you have all crowded, and a small part of the West Bank of the Jordan. It isn’t going to get better. Time is running out even for this much land, so here are some facts, figures, and sound advice, friends.

You hold keys, which you drag out for television interviews, to houses that do not exist or are inhabited by Israelis who have no intention of leaving Jaffa, Haifa, Tel Aviv, or West Jerusalem. You shoot old guns at modern Israeli tanks and American-made fighter jets, doing virtually no harm to Israel while bringing the wrath of its mighty army down upon you. You fire ridiculously inept Kassam rockets that cause little destruction (I strongly disagree with this -ed.) and delude yourselves into thinking this is a war of liberation. Your government, your social institutions, your schools, and your economy are all in ruins.

Your young people are growing up illiterate, ill, and bent on rites of death and suicide, while you, in effect, are living on the kindness of foreigners, including America and the United Nations. Every day your officials must beg for your daily bread, dependent on relief trucks that carry food and medicine into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, while your criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government continues to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win.

In other words, brothers, you are down, out, and alone in a burnt-out landscape that is shrinking by the day.

What kind of struggle is this? Is it worth waging at all? More important, what kind of miserable future does it portend for your children, the fourth or fifth generation of the Arab world’s have-nots?

We, your Arab brothers, have moved on.

Those of us who have oil money are busy accumulating wealth and building housing, luxury developments, state-of-the-art universities and schools, and new highways and byways. Those of us who share borders with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, have signed a peace treaty with it and are not going to war for you any time soon. Those of us who are far away, in places like North Africa and Iraq, frankly could not care less about what happens to you.

Only Syria continues to feed your fantasies that someday it will join you in liberating Palestine, even though a huge chunk of its territory, the entire Golan Heights, was taken by Israel in 1967 and annexed. The Syrians, my friends, will gladly fight down to the last Palestinian Arab.

Before you got stuck with this Hamas crowd, another cheating, conniving, leader of yours, Yasser Arafat, sold you a rotten bill of goods — more pain, greater corruption, and millions stolen by his relatives — while your children played in the sewers of Gaza.

The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?

7:32PM: Ynet reports that the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit is claiming that palestinians fired mortar shells from the yard of the UN school. Sounds to me like they were deliberately trying to draw a heavy response from Israel.

7:28PM: And now for some unsolicited advice for the IDF Spokesperson, Foreign Ministry and all organs involved in PR.

While your efforts have improved dramatically, with your embrace of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and blogging, you still need to work on getting your messages out quicker. The strike on the UN school has been reported as a brutal strike on a building in which innocents were hiding. If you knew terrorists were hiding in there and firing at our soldiers, you should have communicated this much quicker. I had to wait hours for a Ha’aretz article to confirm my suspicions.

So yes, it is great you are disseminating information via social media, but the timing of the information is also of paramount importance.

7:23PM: And the winner of the Most Transparent Attempt to Paint the Palestinians As David and Israel as Goliath Goes To..

7:12PM: As I suspected, Israeli sources are being quoted as saying that Gaza terrorists opened fire on IDF soldiers from inside the UN school.

6:42PM: Contrary to palestinian claims that 40 were killed in the strike on the UNRWA school, the UN is reporting 30 dead.

6:37PM: Another reasonable editorial from Canada’s primary national paper, The Globe and Mail (hat tip: John).

The ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, to prevent the firing of rockets into Israel, is consistent with the Israeli government’s prudent, limited war aims.

Though the invasion is unlikely to change Gaza in the medium or long term, the rocket attacks are intolerable and must be stopped at their source before more Israeli civilians are killed. If the Israel Defence Forces have to return again and again, to suppress new supplies of such rockets, so be it.

Mark Regev, the spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, made clear on Sunday that Israel is not trying to depose the Hamas government, much as a new regime in Gaza would be welcome. Some members of Fatah go so far as to complain that Israel is refraining from regime change in order to keep the Palestinians divided. But Israel is wise not to attempt a reoccupation of Gaza, and a removal of Hamas personnel might well open the way to a similarly fanatical faction.

The IDF is also right to be cautious about getting bogged down in street-by-street fighting in the city of Gaza itself, avoiding the horrific precedents of Stalingrad in 1942 and Manila in 1945. The seizure of a few apartment buildings on the city’s outskirts, however, makes sense to provide the IDF with good vantage points.

The priority is to root out as many rocket-launching positions and mobile militia squads as possible, from a wide swath of land beside the Gaza-Israel border.

It is true that many more Palestinian than Israeli civilians have been killed in the current conflict. But the government of Israel, like that of any other nation-state, is answerable above all for the safety of its own people; it cannot acquiesce in violent deaths by rocket attack. By such an invasion, the IDF can greatly diminish the number of such killings, but cannot prevent them all. Fortunately, the government understands that better than in the 2006 war with Hezbollah.

This is not conventional warfare, on Hamas’s part; some civilians in Gaza are combatants. The ground invasion may yet turn out to be less harmful to non-combatants, more precisely targeted than a campaign that consisted largely of aerial bombing.

When the dust settles for a while, there is a great need for a system of credible supervision of Gaza’s borders, which would allow in food, medication and other necessities of life, and indeed other goods, apart from war matériel. The economic blockade of Gaza has been questionable; everyone would benefit if most adult Gazans were gainfully employed; jihadists and terrorists find work for idle hands, as the devil is proverbially said to do.

A ceasefire is much to be wished for, as the United States and the European Union are urging, but it must be truly bilateral, and much better enforced by Hamas than in the past.

On the contrary, after the six-month ceasefire expired in December, Hamas intensified its attacks well beyond its mostly amateurish past efforts. Israel had no choice but to take strong deterrent and preventive action.

6:33PM: A false alarm sounded in Ashkelon a short time ago.

6:10PM: A short time ago, it was cleared for publication that a 6th soldier was killed this morning.

5:44PM: Regarding, the UNRWA school incident, the IDF is not commenting. I am guessing that there were either terrorists or weapons in the school.

5:40PM: In other news I missed during the afternoon due to work commitments, more rockets were fired at Israel, Jewish and Arab students at universities in Jerusalem and Haifa clashed over Israel’s operation in Gaza, palestinian took a stab at terrorism in Hebron, and 40 30 palestinians were killed in an IDF strike on a UNRWA school.

5:32PM: Dumbass of the day goes to this “peace” protester:

A protestor from the Adalah human rights organization demonstrating outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem against the IDF operation in Gaza threw a stone at a vehicle in the area after the driver shouted, “Shame on you” to the protesters.

The stone hit the head of a police officer in the area and he was evacuated for medical treatment. The stone-thrower was arrested and the demonstration was scattered.

The protester seemed to forget the basic human right of not having large objects thrown at you while you drive a moving vehicle. Then, to add to their dumbassery, they managed to hit a police officer.

I wonder if the protester is going to have any human rights denied in the prison shower.

2:58PM: 3 of the soldiers killed last night:

dead-soldiers

From left: Cpl. Yosef Muadi, 19, Capt. Jonathan Netanel, 27, and Staff Sgt. Nitai Stern, 21. (IDF Spokesman)

2:50PM: Lack of updates in over an hour and a half because hey, I have a day job.

1:05PM: The two friendly fire incidents are to be investigated.

12:52PM: Is it just me, or does it look like the picture of George Bush has come alive, as he tries to not ingest the noxious fumes?

Reuters

12:28PM: Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has rejected an EU request for a 48-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

“Look where they are shooting. They are reaching Gedera. Before the lull, they were shooting 20 kilometers (9 miles). After the lull, they are shooting 40 kilometers (18 miles). If there is another lull, they will reach 60 kilometers (25 miles) and more. I respect the UN and its institutions, but right now we must act in accordance with the regional initiative lead by the Americans and to put an ‘international blanket’ over the fire in Gaza.”

12:18PM: Scene from an apartheid state.

12:11PM: The names of the other 3 dead soldiers have been released:

Golani Brigade Major Dagan Wertman, 32 from Maaleh Michmash

Paratrooper Captain Yonatan Netanel, 27, from Kedumim

Golani Brigade First Sergeant Nitai Stern, 19, of Jerusalem.

12:10PM: A short time ago, a grad missile landed near Be’er Sheva.

11:57PM: The rocket that landed in Gadera represents the furthest that Hamas has penetrated Israel until now – about 36 kilometers (23 miles) north of the Gaza border.

11:46AM: More on the friendly fire incident:

Three IDF soldiers were killed, one was critically wounded, three were severely wounded and 20 soldiers were lightly to moderately wounded as a result of an IDF tank shell explosion fired in error during an operation in the northern Gaza Strip. The shell hit a structure where the soldiers were located.

The families of the fallen and injured soldiers have been notified.

The incident occurred during an intensive battle waged by Golani Brigade soldiers against Hamas.

In the hours following the incident other scenarios were taken into consideration as the cause, including that the explosion was caused by an enemy anti-tank missile or that the structure was rigged with explosives, but these were later ruled out.

The injured soldiers received initial medical treatment in the field before being evacuated by helicopters and vehicles to hospitals in Israel. Heavy IDF artillery fire provided cover for the evacuation.

Golani Brigade commander, Colonel Avi Peled, sustained light injuries in the incident. Col. Peled oversaw the evacuation in the field and directed the artillery and aerial cover via communication systems. Only after all those injured were evacuated did the brigade commander seek medical attention for himself.

10:58AM: News that a 4th soldier, an officer from the paratroopers brigade, died earlier in a different friendly fire incident.

10:46AM: 3 more rockets fired into Israel, landing in open areas in the western Negev.

10:42AM: Bye bye, rocket man.

Ayman Siam.

Sam I am.

10:21AM: My friend Richard Landes has an astounding update on the Gaza Beach tragedy from 2006.

9:35AM: Another day, another 80 trucks humanitarian aid.

9:22AM: A 3-month-old baby has been lightly wounded in the rocket attack on Gedera that occurred over half an hour ago.

9:12AM: Separated at Birth? (hat tip: Anna)

umbrella-mangogogo

8:58AM: One of the soldiers killed in last night’s friendly fire incident has been identified Corporal Yosef Muadi, 19, of Haifa.

5:45AM: Not content with publishing the obituary of Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan, The Guardian have now published an op-ed by Hamas leader Khalid Mish’al.

5:33AM: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

“We can take decisive and swift and credible action for (a) binding resolution to bring an immediate end to this crisis… I think we have some convergence on the major elements which can be the basis of discussions at the Security Council,” he said.

Yep. Nothing says decisive and swift like promising to discuss it more.

Not that I am complaining since any resolution is sure to be to the detriment of Israel. Hey, it’s a fine UN tradition.

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