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Liveblogging the War: Thursday July 27th

As Israel mourns the 9 soldiers killed yesterday – 8 in Bint Jbail, and 1 in Maroun Ras – it has been revealed that the troops had been ambushed by Hizbullah terrorists, as they approached several homes on the outskirts of Bint Jbail. Many of the casualties occurred during this initial encounter at close range. It is believed that anywhere from 15-50 terrorists were killed in the fighting.
 
Last night, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened a late-night meeting to discuss options in view of the rising casualties, and the continued Katusha rocket attacks on northern Israel. According to Ha’aretz, it appears that the IDF is “gradually moving away from its previous tactic of raids targeting specific positions along the border, in favor of one of capturing and temporarily holding a security zone whose aim would be to push the rocket launchers further north,” a strategy that “will not completely prevent the rocket attacks, but it will limit the scope of the threat against northern Israel.” This morning’s cabinet meeting will try to decide on a course of action.
 
The IAF hit approximately 90 targets in Lebanon this morning, including 40 Hizbullah structures, 3 rocket launchers, 3 trucks, roads and bridges, a Lebanese army base, and a relay station belonging to Lebanese state radio north of Beirut (the target of this last strike being a radar station used by Hizbullah for attacks like the one on the IDF missile boat on July 14).
 
Meanwhile, Hizbullah have continued to fire rockets on northern Israel this morning, with Katushas landing in Safed, and Ma’alot.
 
On the diplomatic front, the Rome talks held between US, European and Arab officials did not result in any agreement on an immediate plan to force an end to the fighting between Israel and Hizbullah. Nevertheless, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice did not characterize the talks as a failure.
“Just because no exact time frame was set for stopping the violence does not mean the summit failed. We discussed the important preconditions needed to reach a cease fire and there was an agreement on the necessity to deploy a mass international force in Lebanon, the details of which will be discussed next week,” Rice told reporters on the plane on her way to a meeting with South East Asian leaders in Malaysia.
Elsewhere on the diplomatic front, the US blocked the UN Security Council from issuing a statement that would have condemned Israel’s bombing of a UN post on the Lebanon border on Tuesday night.
 
On the southern front, the IAF struck during the night 3 ammunition and arms depots in the Jebalya refugee camp in northern Gaza, but not before warning residents to leave the area. And in the West Bank, the IDF arrested 5 wanted terror suspects.
 
Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)
Friday updates here.
 
11:58PM: Over 100 Katushas landed in Israel today, bringing the total, so far, to over 1,400.

11:30PM: Here is some disturbing footage that lends credence to the possibility the UN has been assisting terrorists (hat tip: Brian).

10:20PM: Thank goodness for summer vacation: Hizbullah terrorists have fired more than 20 rockets in Kiryat Shmona, with one of them exploding on a high school, and flattening 2 classrooms.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Carmiel thinks Hizbullah is getting by with a little help from its friends – local Arabs.

9:50PM: Here’s a news item I almost missed, but needs to be highlighted: The IDF Chief of General Staff  stated that we will help supply humanitarian aid to the Lebanese.

9:46PM: Arab member of Knesset Talab El-Sana has told an anti-war rally that Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War not only did not lead to peace but also led to more wars.

Well, of course it led to more wars, since it allowed Israel to continue existing.

It is very simply, really.

Israel existing = Arab and Muslim countries wanting to destroy us = war

And this is why El-Sana was at an anti-war rally, demonstrating against IDF operations in Lebanon. You see:

IDF acting in self-defence = Israel existing

And this is an unbearable state of events for any self-respecting, fifth column Arab MK.

9:25PM: My good friend Joe, the managing director of Honest Reporting, has posted a must-see set of video reports from northern Israel:

Introduction
In the Bomb Shelter
Safed Under Fire
Missile Damage in Safed
Visit to Sieff Hospital

I bumped into Joe just before he went up north, and he invited me along for the ride. I had to unfortunately decline, due to work commitments, but would love to have been part of such a worthwhile endeavor.

8:57PM: The IDF Chief of General Staff has noted that although the IDF had paid a heavy price in the battle in Bint Jbeil, it had exacted an even greater price, killing hundreds of Hizbullah operatives.

7:35PM: Positive signs from Canada.
 
The new Prime Minister seems like a commonsense sort of guy. Much like Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Israel’s deadly attack on a UN observation post in Lebanon, which claimed the life of a Canadian soldier, was a “terrible tragedy” and he doubts whether the bombing was deliberate.
—-
The prime minister also said he wants to know why the post was still manned even though it was in the middle of an obvious war zone.
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UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has suggested Israel deliberately targeted the UN outpost despite repeated calls to stop the shelling.
 
But Harper said the facts suggest otherwise.
 
“I certainly doubt that to be the case, given that the government of Israel has been co-operating with us in our evacuation efforts, in our efforts to move Canadian citizens out of Lebanon and also trying to keep our own troops that are on the ground, involved in the evacuation, out of harm’s way,” he said.
 
“We want to find out why this United Nations post was attacked and also why it remained manned during what is now, more or less, a war during obvious danger to these individuals.”
And here’s some photos and video from a pro-Israel rally in Toronto. 
 
7:22PM: I know I haven’t posted a follow-up to the UN outpost incident since yesterday, when I conjectured that UNIFIL, at best, tolerated having Hizbullah operate near them, and, at worst, were cooperating with them.
 
Charles has posted an interview with a retired Canadian Major General, who said that the Canadian peacekeeper killed there had previously emailed him telling him that Hizbullah was using their post as cover.
We received emails from him a few days ago, and he was describing the fact that he was taking fire within, in one case, three meters of his position for tactical necessity, not being targeted. Now that’s veiled speech in the military. What he was telling us was Hezbollah soldiers were all over his position and the IDF were targeting them. And that’s a favorite trick by people who don’t have representation in the UN. They use the UN as shields knowing that they can’t be punished for it.
Go to Charles’ post to hear the interview.
 
Also on the topic, is this great post by Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun. Excerpt:
What makes Annan’s allegation so unforgiveable is that his UN Interim Force in Lebanon has been warning for days about what almost certainly caused this tragedy. Hezbollah fighters, who have already been firing behind screens of women and children, have also been shooting from behind and next to the UN positions, presumably hoping Israel will not dare shoot back and risk exactly this kind of propaganda disaster.
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UPDATE 3: Hezbollah is listed here and in the US and Canada as a terrorist group. Yet The Age today gave one of its spokesmen, Ali Fayyad, a senior member of Hezbollah‚Äôs executive committee, a quarter of a page to put his case against Israel. Am I alone in finding this shameful? I guess the paper at least ‚Äúbalanced‚Äù it by running alongside it a piece by an Israeli minister. Can someone older than I tell me if it was the habit of The Age in World War 2 to run pieces by Mr Hitler alongside ones by some Jewish spokesman not yet dead for the sake of a ‚Äúbalanced‚Äù argument?  We can‚Äôt be far from the day that The Age hires Mr Osama bin laden as a columnist. When Michael Leunig retires, perhaps?
7:09PM: The Katushas are still landing in the north.
 
7:07PM: It seems like not everyone in Europe is clueless about this conflict.
In a highly symbolic gesture of friendship, the central Polish city of Lodz has offered to host a group of 15 youngsters from northern Israel for a
two-week vacation in Poland to give them a respite from the war in the North, Polish officials said Thursday.
 
The initiative, which was the brainchild of Lodz Mayor Jerzy Kropiwnicki, has been passed on to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs for final approval, Polish Ambassador to Israel Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska said.
 
The all-expenses paid vacation will include relaxation and recreation in the Polish countryside for the youths from the northern coastal town of Nahariya and three of their educators after two-weeks of non-stop Hizbullah rocket attacks.
 
Relations between Israel and Poland are considered to be among the best in Europe.
7:03PM: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the release of Gilad Shalit could be “imminent.”
 
Hamas have denied this, and PA negotiator Saeb Erekat has stated that it is “premature” to say Gilad is about to be released.
 
2 habitual liars against 1. I don’t know who to believe.
 
5:30PM: The Katusha tally for today so far is 75 (22 of which hit populated areas).
 
The daily average seems to be around 100, and has not dropped significantly since fighting began.
 
4:45PM: 5 more people have been lightly wounded by the Katusha strikes on Carmiel.
 
4:21PM: 3 people have been lightly wounded in the latest Katusha attacks on Kiryat Shmona, near Rosh Hanikra and near Nahariya.
 
4:15PM: Here are some images of the war that your’e probably not going to see through the mainstream media.
 
4:12PM: Ha’aretz has more on the comings and goings of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah (last suspected of hiding in the Iranian embassy):
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah was to visit Damascus on Thursday to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad and the head of the Iranian national security council, Ali Larijani, the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Seyassah reported.
 
The report, which quoted Syrian sources, said Nasrallah would arrive in disguise and not wearing his customary traditional garb.
So if you are living in Syria, yet have sympathy towards Israel, please let us know if you see a man who looks something like this:
 
 
3:29PM: As mentioned in the 2:35PM update, one of the soldiers killed yesterday – Assaf Namer – was an Australian citizen. Here is a Sydney Morning Herald writeup on him.
 
3:27PM: Yet more Katushas have landed in the north.
 
2:35PM: Here’s more on the IDF soldiers who fell yesterday. I have summarized below:
Lt. Col. Roee Klein, 31
 
In his community, friends told of how his most prominent characteristics were his gentleness, his peacefulness, and his ever-present smile.
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Those who knew him mention his quest for self-awareness, improvement and personal progress. “Anyone who looked at Roee saw before him a tender and quiet guy, but when he entered the fight, he demonstrated an outburst of strength and decisiveness that could not be withstood. His great love for his country and people is what drove him to invest so much of himself in his military service and, in the end, to sacrifice his life to protect them,” added other friends.
 
Shulik Leshem, from Mitzpeh Iron, knew Roee well. “I studied will him from about the age of 15, we later served together and traveled together in Africa.” Leshem tells: “He was a spectacular man, a go-getter with a great sense of humor, there’s no one who doesn’t remember his rolling laugh..”
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Eventually, he left the army and pondered whether to rejoin the army or go into academia. “He really debated over this. This was a moral and idealistic guy and, moreover, his family was important to him. He thought how he could best contribute to Israel and how to manifest himself in ways that would help those less fortunate. He was very intelligent; he wanted to learn in the university and his family background gave him a leaning towards academia. But he didn’t get the chance. He decided to return to the army because that’s what he loved and that’s what he wanted to do.”
—-
“He was striking, with his gravity, his charisma and his quiet nature. He was someone with a quiet presence.”
 
Capt. Amichai Merhavia, 24
 
“Amichai was head and shoulders above the crowd. One glance at his walk and manner of speaking was enough for anyone to recognize his leadership skills. His ever-present smile, good hear, and love for his friends and students made Amichai truly special,” said Ali residents.
 
Shimon Adega, 21
 
Shimon Adega, 21, from Kiryat Gat, arrived with his parents from Ethiopia 16 years ago. His last phone call with his family was Saturday night. His brother David tells: “Saturday evening he told us that they were going to Lebanon, and that he couldn’t give us details. He was drafted in March of 2004 and the IDF wanted to give him a desk job but he fought to be drafted to a combat unit. He was given a month of leave and, afterwards, was drafted to the Golani division.”
 
Shimon Dahan, 20
 
His friends told that “he was a special person, who loved to help and never complained about difficulties. Shimon was psyched about the army. He thought of signing on more when his three years were up. He loved army service and stood out during the squad commander course and the sergeant’s course.”
—-
Shimon’s cousin, talked of how much he loved the army. “A few months ago, Shimon got sick and had to stay home. The whole time, he stubbornly insisted on returning to the unit. In the end, he returned and made up the stuff that he’d missed. He loved to help people. When he came home one leave, he would volunteer in a charity organization and distribute food to the needy.”
 
Idan Cohen, 21
 
One of the neighbors said that “Idan was a modest boy, who wanted to join Golani. His parents worried about him a lot and left him a lot of messages, but didn’t manage to speak to him.” Another neighbor added “he was the sweetest boy you ever met, a good boy who was about to finish his service and had his whole life ahead of him.”
 
Idan’s friend, Eran Agison, told of their last conversation. “A second before he entered Lebanon he said to me ‘We’re going in. What’ll I tell me mom? I’ll tell her that it’s an exercise.’ I asked him if he was scared and he answered that there isn’t anyone who isn’t afraid, but that he has to do it.”
 
Sergeant Assaf Namer, 27
 
Sergeant Assaf Namer, 27, an Israeli youngster with an Australian citizenship, had left Israel with his mother and sister when he was 10 year-old and returned to Israel two and-a-half years ago in order to enlist in the army and serve in the Golani division.
 
Assaf was due to be discharged a month from now, and was planning to settle down in Israel with his girlfriend, Revital, who lives in Tel Aviv.
—-
Kiryat Atta’s mayor, Yaakov Peretz, visited the father on Wednesday night to offer his condolences. Peretz said that Assaf, who did not have to join the army, made it a pint to come to Israel in order to live her and serve. “Although his life was in Australia, he was a Zionist who chose to come to Israel in order to do his part,” he stated.
 
First Lieutenant Alexander Schwartzman, 24
 
Schwartzman moved to Israel with his family at the beginning of the ’90s from Ukraine.
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 “He was the pride of the family,” told his neighbor, Larissa Shabtaib. “He was a quiet boy who liked to go to the gym. He always smiled and said ‘hello’ to anyone he passed on the street.”
 
Alexander’s friend, Alex Glutzky, said, “We learned together from elementary school through to the air force technical school. This September I am getting married and Alex was supposed to drive me to the wedding. I still am not processing what happened and don’t understand how within one moment I lost my best friend.”
—-
Alex was a role model for all the neighborhood kids as an ambitious young person, who from the streets of Akko got to a commanding position in Golani. It is hard for us to think about the difficult days the family and their friends are going to go through,” said one of the neighbors.
 
First Sergeant Ohad Klausner
 
“He was only 21 and a half,” said his mother, Orit, yesterday. “Every time I see bereaved parents speaking on television about how wonderful their children were. They are all wonderful and great. It really is true.”
—-
After finishing his studies at in Jerusalem, Ohad chose the combat track. A year and four months ago he enlisted. He was the youngest of three sons, one of the founding families of the settlement Beit Horon.
 
Yiftach Schrier, 22
 
Yiftach, 22, a paratrooper, was killed on Wednesday in battle near the village of Maroun al-Ras in Lebanon.
—-
“He was a sensitive child,” his mother said, and his father added: “He kept telling me ‚Äì ‘don’t worry dad, it’ll be fine.”
—-
Yiftach was born and raised in Haifa, went to the Hugim school and was a coordinator at the local Scouts branch. “They were the most handsome twins in Haifa. Everybody knew them, our youngest sons. I don’t know what Yarden will do now, without Yiftach,” Yaffa said about her two sons.
 
Yiftach’s parents said that “he loved the army, took care of his troops like a father. When a soldier was sick, Yiftach would phone him to see how he was. When we dropped him off at the base, one of the soldiers’ parents approached us and said: ‘We never saw anyone like your son before’.”
2:07PM: The IAF have struck 2 buildings in use by Hizbullah, as well as 6 rocket launch sites and access roads leading to them.
 
2:05PM:  By noon today, 24 Katushas had landed in the Galilee area, with one person sustaining light wounds.
 
2:00PM: Al-Qaida are threatening to get more involved:
In a taped message broadcast by al-Jazeera television, Ayman al-Zawahri, second in command to Osama bin Laden, said the al-Qaida now saw “all the world as a battlefield open in front of us.”
As if they didn’t until now?
 
According to Reuters, he also called on Muslims to fight the “Crusader-Zionist” war. And to think there are still many people (in the Western world) who cannot see that this is a clash of civilizations..
 
1:47PM: 2,000 Palestinians have demonstrated in Nablus to show support for Nasrallah.
 
9:50AM: A company called MrModchips (website in UK, but company is based in Thailand) has voided an Israeli customer’s order, and sent the following reason for their actions:
You are viewed as a fraud risk and it is company policy not to support people whos government kill innocent civilians and children.
Thank You
Brian has the full story, as well as a suggestion.
 
9:36AM: Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has opposed sending an international peacekeeping force in Lebanon, for the simple reason that there is no peace.
Sending an international peacekeeping force into southern Lebanon without a commitment that Hizbullah guerillas will withdraw from the area would amount to a “suicide mission,” Australia’s foreign minister said Thursday.
 
“There’s no point in sending an international peacekeeping force on a suicide mission,” Downer said. “It’s only in the environment of a peace settlement that you can send in peacekeepers, otherwise of course you’re going to send them into the path of destruction.”

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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