Operation Cast Lead Tuesday Dec 30th

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

For other liveblogging, see The Muqata.

The IAF renewed their air strikes early this morning, reportedly dropping at least 16 bombs on Hamas government buildings and security compounds, killing 10 and injuring more than 40.



For their part, the terrorists are trying to draw Israel into a ground operation and “fight like men.” Yes, apparently this whole conflict is over a girl. For what it’s worth, they will likely get their way.

Meanwhile, Hamas are intensifying their propaganda given they are losing the PR war.

For a start, they are claiming that many of their casualties were “normal policemen”  who did not fire rockets into Israel, and it was for this reason that they did not run away and hide like “real men” evacuate their headquarters but instead went ahead with their graduation ceremony. Of course, Israel’s disinformation campaign and element of surprise had nothing to do with it.

In addition, Hamas are speaking with forked tongue, saying one thing to the international community and one thing to their own people.

In other news, the IDF is “ready to go all the way” (I guess this really is all over a girl), the EU is to press Israel to behave like Europe, Israeli PM Olmert has instructed officials to not talk about the truce (think Fawlty Towers), and a molotov cocktail was thrown at a synagogue…in Chicago.

Updates (Israel time)

6:08AM: Well look at that. They are recycling old (and incorrect) signs.

7:32AM: A short time ago, Israel allowed 100 trucks carrying food and aid to enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

9:05AM: The Israeli navy has turned back the Free Gaza ship on its way to Gaza, ordering it to return to Cyprus. But that might be a problem:

However, sources close to the activists on the ship claim it does not have enough fuel to reach the Island.

Oops.

For their part, they are claiming they were attacked by the Israeli navy!

The Dignity, a Free Gaza boat on a mission of mercy to besieged Gaza, is being attacked by the Israeli Navy in international waters. The Dignity has been surrounded by at least half-a-dozen Israeli warships. They are firing live ammunition around the Dignity, and one of the warships has rammed the civilian craft causing an unknown amount of damage. Contrary to international maritime law, the Israelis are actively preventing the Dignity from approaching Gaza or finding safe haven in either Egypt or Lebanon. Instead, the Israeli navy is demanding that the Dignity return to Cyprus – despite the fact that the ship does not carry enough fuel to do so. Fortunately, no one aboard the ship has yet been seriously injured.

Sounds to me like a desperate ploy to turn public opinion against Israel. Given the lengths Israel has gone to to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza, I seriously doubt they would risk hurting a bunch of press-hungry moonbats, them being terror-supporters notwithstanding.

9:12AM: Contradictory claims on the Free Gaza mailing list, with one member saying the Israeli Navy claims they didn’t know it was an aid ship and they are now allowing them in, and another saying the boat is badly damaged and is heading toward Lebanon.

9:58AM: The Israeli Foreign Ministry admits we “clashed” with the Free Gaza ship after the ship failed to respond to Israeli naval radio contact, but denies any shooting took place.

10:10AM: A little off-topic, but worth mentioning.

The four-year-old son of Gavriel and Rivak Holtzberg, who were killed in the terror attack on the Chabad house in Mumbai, has died of a severe genetic disease overnight.

If I am not mistaken, he lived in Israel. He is not the small boy who was saved by the nanny and who was shown crying out for his mother.

11:15AM: Yesterday’s rocket attack victims were a Jew, a Bedouin and a Druse.

11:25AM: Get a life: Would you believe anti-Israel protests in Second Life?

second-life-protest

Meanwhile, is that Waldo in the background?

12:12PM: 3 more Qassams have struck Sderot, damaging a house.

12:15PM: The IDF destroyed 4 rocket launchers ready to fire.

1:25PM:  Israel is claiming that the Free Gaza boat tried to outmaneuver the navy ship and crashed into it.

2:00PM: Czech mate!

3:08PM: Laurence Simon rips the protesting second-lifers a new one (hat tip: J).

3:15PM: More on some of today’s IAF strikes:

One Israeli attack targeted a house in the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing seven people, but the Hamas activist was not there, Hamas security and relatives said. Another hit the Jabaliya home of Abdel-Karim Jaber*, a Hamas political figure who is a senior administrator at Gaza’s Islamic University.

He was not at home and it wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was hurt in the strike.

In another air assault, an Islamic Jihad commander was killed as he was walking near his house, said Abu Hamza**, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad’s military wing.

* Not to be confused with this man

** Not to be confused with this man

3:28PM: Terrorists have launched at least 10 Qassams at Sderot and surrounding areas in the western Negev since late  morning, hitting a home, and lightly injuring a person.

3:40PM: Egypt is refusing to open its crossing into the Gaza Strip unless the PA is in control of the border post.

4:03PM: Here is something to bear in mind – the populations of Israeli cities and towns under attack:

Ashdod: 210,000
Ashkelon: 109,000
Yavne: 32,000
Ofakim: 25,000
Sderot: 19,000
Beersheva: 186,000

That’s close to 600,000 (so far) under fire!

4:38PM: A rocket has reached the furthest point eastward up until now – near the Bedouin town of Rahat.

Meanwhile, fellow blogger David has tweeted that a rocket landed 10 minutes from his office.

4:42PM: The IDF has hit 390 targets since the start of Operation Cast Lead.

4:43PM: Interesting fact: Apparently, one can wound a ship.

5:00PM: The UNRWA Commissioner has been caught lying.

5:05PM:  Ha’aretz reports that a Qassam has scored a direct hit on a kibbutz dining hall in Sha’ar Hanegev Council.

5:22PM: Huh? Defense establishment to recommend 48-hour truce with Hamas.

5:28PM: More on this morning’s alleged boat ramming.

5:35PM: More on the recommendation for a 48-hour truce:

The defense establishment on Tuesday said it would recommend that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seek out a diplomatic initiative to abate the war against Hamas and embark on a 48-hour truce, before it becomes necessary to begin a significant ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Senior defense officials believe that such a diplomatic process need not be a unilateral Israeli procedure, but should rather be based on an initiative originally proposed by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

The goal of the temporary calm would be to see if Hamas can abide by the truce and cease firing rockets at Israel.

The initiative is seen as a possibility to cease the operation before sending a massive Israel Defense Forces ground corp into the Gaza Strip.

5:38PM: Completely off-topic but I found out this afternoon that this blog is a finalist in the Best Middle East or Africa Blog category of the 2008 Weblog Awards.

5:45PM: A great editorial from Canada’s National Post (hat tip: John)

When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the Jewish state gave the local Palestinians political autonomy for the first time since the pre-Roman era. The hope was that the Palestinians would use their newfound freedom to build a free and prosperous state — one that would live in peace, if not friendship, with its Jewish neighbour.

That didn’t happen. Hamas took over Gaza and renounced all previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements, reiterating its rejection of the Jewish state’s right to exist. Rather than build up local infrastructure and a consumer economy, Hamas forged ties with Iran and dug weapons-smuggling tunnels into Egypt. A variety of groups — including Hamas itself — began raining missiles on Israel. Predictably, Israel did what it could to stanch this flow of weaponry, even as it ensured that a baseline of humanitarian supplies made it into Gaza.

Effectively, Hamas turned Gaza into one giant launching pad for jihad, the welfare of the local Palestinian population be damned. It is thus ridiculous — comical, almost — to hear Hamas officials play the pity card in the wake of Israel’s ongoing military operation in Gaza. It is Hamas, not Israel, which seeks to “martyr” Palestinians in furtherance of a religious war.

As for the world’s leaders — many of whom are balancing their denunciation of Hamas with calls for Israel to halt its allegedly “disproportionate” military operation — may we ask what they would do if their nations were under daily bombardment from a hostile neighbour?

Israel’s initial barrage in Gaza killed about 200 Palestinians — most of them Hamas security officials. The fact that just a few dozen civilians were killed, despite Gaza’s high population density and Hamas’s tendency to embed its jihadis in dense residential areas — is a testament to Israeli military professionalism.

Such a civilian death toll would be a rounding error in any major military operation in Chechnya, Afghanistan or Iraq. And in those cases, you can bet the world’s leaders wouldn’t line up to wag their fingers. Only Israel gets lectured and condemned when it defends itself against deadly, unambiguous acts of military aggression.

Israel enters 2009 as it seems to enter every year — as a target of unquenchable Arab hatred, and the subject of global hypocrisy. The West can do little about the former pathology. Let us at least have the moral clarity to renounce the latter.

5:55PM: Hamas say they will not agree to a truce.

6:00PM: The Al Jazeera report on the Free Gaza boat incident, which includes Israel’s version of events near the end of the video.

6:10PM: Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has refused to comment on the reports of a 48-hour ceasefire.

6:13PM: Some of that famed Reuters sloppiness.

7:35PM: Military sources estimate that our IAF assaults have destroyed one-third of Hamas’missiles.

7:45PM: Yesterday, the IDF opened a channel on YouTube, posting videos providing proof of many of Israel’s assertions, some of which I included on here. Today, YouTube’s Overlords removed some of the most watched videos from the channel, including the “worm food” video I posted yesterday (see yesterday’s 10:33PM update).

Noah Pollack has more. In the meantime, the IDF spokesperson’s unit informs me that they created a LiveLeak account here. (Given the link does not work, I am hoping it due to an error with the link, and not LiveLeak getting all YouTube on us).

7:55PM: Jeffrey Goldberg writes:

It’s a strange world, but there you have it. I’ve been talking to friends of mine, former Palestinian Authority intelligence officials (ejected from power by the Hamas coup), and they tell me that not only are they rooting for the Israelis to decimate Hamas, but that Fatah has actually been assisting the Israelis with targeting information. One of my friends — if you want to know why they’re my friends, read this book — told me that one of his comrades was thrown off a high-rise building in Gaza City last year by Hamas, and so he sheds no tears for the Hamas dead. “Let the Israelis kill them,” he said. “They’ve brought only rouble for my people.”

I knew the Russians were involved.

8:05PM: The Israeli Consulate Citizen’s Press Conference in Twitter is in session here (answers posted here).

8:10PM: 3 more Qassams hit the Negev a short time ago.

Today’s tally stands at 40+ rockets.

8:22PM: “How does that star-thingie look again?” (hat tip: Snapped Shot)

8:25PM: The IAF has destroyed dozens of tunnels. No word yet on how many goats were killed.

8:55PM: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has stated that the operation “will not end…. until our goals our reached.”

9:00PM: The palestinian Ma’an News quotes an Israeli source as saying that our airstrikes are over, and we will either send in our ground forces or declare a ceasefire.

9:05PM: Trouble in paradise: Pro-Palestinian protesters have gathered outside Obam’s Hawaii house. Obama was reported to have been heard saying “You have the wrong Barak!”

9:10PM: A rocket has exploded in the region of Beersheva, one of Israel’s largest cities.

9:11PM: My father-in-law who lives near Beersheva says he heard sirens go off.

9:12PM: So far, no casualties from the Beersheva strike.

9:18PM: Home Front Command urged all southern residents to enter shelters calmly (my in-laws included).

9:25PM: My mother-in-law says the grad rockets hit an empty field and a children’s kindergarten! Lucky it is nighttime.

9:39PM: Several people are being treated for shock.

9:48PM: Just to make clear something that may have gone over your heads (no pun intended). The rockets that hit Be’er Sheva were Katushas, not Qassams.

9:54PM: A rocket hit Ashkelon a short time ago. A person has been lightly wounded.

I swear, I can’t keep up with this.

9:56PM: I am taking a short break to regain my sanity. Back soon.

11:00PM: I’m going to call it a night. I’m just too exhausted and frustrated by the situation.

Hopefully, I will be back liveblogging tomorrow. 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 feel free to donate here:

Wednesday Dec 31st – for latest updates, see here.

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