Since we last met, the IAF has continued with its targeted strikes of terrorist infrastructure, bombing the Islamic University (two laboratories were used to store rockets and explosives – science lessons can be so much fun!) and a government compound in Gaza City. We also struck the house next to Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s home in a refugee camp next to Gaza City. Needless to say, Haniyeh was not there. He was too busy cleaning his underwear in his hiding place.
Palestinians claim seven people were killed in the raids, including a baby and three siblings. If this is true, then I am obviously saddened by this loss of life, as well as the fact that Hamas terrorist commanders have decided to hide amongst civilians in order to protect their own sorry behinds.
For their part, terrorists in Gaza continued to fire rockets at Israel during the night, thankfully causing no injuries or damage.
In other news, Israel is allowing 100 more trucks of aid in to Gaza, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon (his name, as well as a good suggestion) has continued in the fine tradition of all UN Secretary Generals, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shows he has a sense of humor, and Operation Cast Lead looks far from over.
I will try to provide updates during the course of the day.
6:03AM: Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital moved its most essential departments into an underground bomb shelter because – you know – palestinian terrorists actually aim for it.
7:20AM: Hamas are claiming captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was injured in one of the IAF attacks.
9:00AM: An Arab air conditioner technician has gone beyond his job description and tried his hand at stabbing some Israeli civilians in the Israeli community of Kiryat Sefer, near the central city of Modiin. Two people have been injured seriously and another one lightly. There are contradictory reports regarding the terrorist’s fate, with Ynet reporting he was shot but got away, and Ha’aretz reporting he was shot and taken into custody.
And they complain that we take away their livelihood..
9:35AM: A grad missile has exploded in the city of Ashkelon, wounding 4 Israelis.
9:50AM: The IDF says it doubts Gilad Shalit was injured in an IAF strike (read: that Hamas harmed him) because he “is a valuable asset for Hamas.” I think we can safely assume that there is an implied threat there, if Hamas does dare harm him.
9:55AM: One of the rockets that hit Ashkelon killed one Israeli and injured 9 others.
11:40AM: The count from the Ashkelon strike is one killed, and at least 14 wounded. Meanwhile, today’s rocket count is 17 – 8 have hit Ashkelon, 5 Sderot and 4 others various towns in the western Negev.
12:13PM: The UN estimates that 51 civilians have been killed during the IAF strikes of the past few days.
While I am genuinely saddened by the loss of any innocent life, I am also proud of the way we have tried to limit civilian casualties.
Bear in mind the following:
It is not automatic that all of the 51 were entirely innocent civilians. For instance, some may have been harboring terrorists and/or weapons.
Even assuming that 51 is the correct number, given that the terrorists have been hiding amongst civilians in densely populated neighborhoods, and something like 300 people have been killed in these air strikes, this is a relatively small number of civilians killed. It also means 250+ terrorists have been killed.
If Israel was deliberately trying to kill civilians (like the palestinian terrorists do), you can be sure more than 15% of those killed would be civilians.
1:38PM: The IDF has denied palestinian claims it bombed Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
2:20PM: In case you are wondering why my updates are less frequent than yesterday, the reason is because I am back at work.
I have taken the opportunity to ask my work colleagues what they think about Operation Cast Lead. Without exception, they have expressed support for it, although they wished it hadn’t come to this.
2:45PM: Arab students at variousIsraeliuniversities are protesting against Israel’s operation against Hamas. Given that these same Arab students were strangely silent while Israeli communities were bombarded with rockets these past years and months, one need not guess where their loyalties lie.
Nariman house is the Chabad House in Mumbai, in which innocent Jews were slaughtered by Islamic terrorists last month.
3:15PM: Many work colleagues also expressed their opinion that Israel is doing a much better job with its PR this time around. I couldn’t agree more.
3:17PM: I’m hearing unconfirmed reports that the ground offensive has started.
4:00PM: An Egyptian editorial published in the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram has ascribed partial blame to Hamas for the current IDF operations.
Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit has ripped Hizbully Hassan Nasrallah a new one.
4:06PM: Next time I hear anti-Semitic drivel from anyone, I am going to respond by saying “It’s all Greek to me.”
An influential Iranian group of conservative clerics began registering volunteers Monday to fight against Israel in response to the Israeli assault against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip that has killed more than 300 people since Saturday in an attempt to bring to an end Palestinian rocket fire against Israeli civilians.
The political-religious group, the Combatant Clergy Society or Jame-e-Roohaniat-e-Mobarez, provided volunteers three ways of fighting Israel on its Web site, including through military, financial and publicity means.
Combatant Clergy Society…sounds like a good name for a movie.
He’s just a happy-go-lucky kinda guy whose interests include loving, dancing, partying and burning things while calling for the destruction of Israel.
“This operation will be extended and deepened as we find necessary. Our goal is to strike Hamas and stop the attacks on Israel. Hamas controls Gaza and is responsible for everything happening there and for all attacks carried out from within the Strip. The goals of this operation are to stop Hamas from attacking our citizens and soldiers..I would like to remind the world that Israel withdrew from the entire Gaza Strip more than three years ago. We gave a chance for a new reality, and all we’ve seen is Hamas firing rockets and missiles on our citizens and carrying out attacks against Israel..We have nothing against the citizens of Gaza, but we must fight against the Hamas leadership. We are making great efforts to prevent civilian casualties… We are not preventing humanitarian aid from entering the Gaza Strip.”
5:55PM: Hamas admits that over 130 of its police officers have been killed.
8:25PM: You can blame my radio silence for the past 2-and-a-half hours on the truck driver who decided to drive like a ninkinpoop and had an accident, causing my usual one-hour drive from work to double.
I am also about to go out again for a few hours, so blogging will hopefully resume after then.
8:50PM: Senior exiled Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk rejected Monday any talk of a new truce with Israel unless all attacks on Gaza cease and the border crossings are reopened, and promised to confront any ground invasion.
8:52PM: A palestinian girl places the blame on…well, just watch the video.
10:00PM: Since my last update, 2 Israelis have been critically injured after a Katusha rocket (or “crude, homemade projectile” in the eyes of commenters like Shukri) hit a bus stop in Ashdod.
10:05PM: Earlier today, exiled senior Hamas leader Abu Marzouk rejected talk of a new truce with Israel unless all attacks on Gaza cease and the border crossings are reopened. I’m assuming he’s not a card player.
10:10PM: Meanwhile, in other news, Arabs in Israel have expressed their loyalty to the state in various ways, including stones and molotov cocktails – the latter being lobbed at a hospital of all places.
10:13PM: Israel is finally getting a clue when it comes to PR. Here’s some more proof of that:
Tomorrow, 30 December, from 1-3PM EST, David Saranga, Consul of Media and Public Affairs in New York, will answer your questions about the situation in Israel and Gaza in a “Citizens’ Press Conference.”
You can submit your question by directing it to our Twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/IsraelConsulate . We will do our best to answer through Twitter. If an answer requires more than the 140 character limit, we will respond on Twitter with a link to an answer posted in this blog.
We hope you will be able to join us–tell your friends!!
The other fatality occurred when a woman got out of her vehicle when she heard the early warning siren in the city of Ashdod, and sought shelter in a bus stop on the side of the road. She sustained critical shrapnel wounds, and later died. Another passerby who also ducked into the bus stop for shelter suffered serious injuries in the attack.
11:40PM: A man has reportedly been seriously wounded after 3 rockets hit the western Negev town of Ofakim a short time ago.
11:42PM: And that’s it from me for today. I will likely be liveblogging again tomorrow, in 5 or so hours.
In the meantime, 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 feel free to donate here.
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