Operation Cast Lead Thurs Jan 8th, 2009

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

For other liveblogging, see The Muqata

Last night, after having already struck tunnels and buildings used to store weapons, the IDF stepped up its operations, shelling Rafah. IDF tanks were also reportedly heading towards Khan Yunis (according to Sky News), and the IAF reportedly attacked at least one target.

From their side, the palestinians fired significantly fewer rockets than in the other days of fighting. As if aware of this fact, they fired rockets very late in the evening and even early morning, bringing the day’s tally to approx. 30.

In other news, Senior IDF officers said the army is far from achieving optimal conditions in the Strip to implement an exit strategy, and Iranian speaker of parliament Ali Larijani met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Syria to discuss the Egyptian ceasefire proposal.

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).

Thanks to your help, we are ahead of the blog of the very anti-Israel Juan Cole. So please make sure to vote if not just to stick it to him.


The 2008 Weblog Awards

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

Friday Jan 9th – for latest updates, see here.

1:09AM (Brian of London): The Israeli Consulate in New York, highlighted via it’s Twitter account has released a link pointing to a video answering common questions by Attorney Benjamin Brafman. What is important here is that the Israeli government is bypassing the overwhelmingly negative press and going straight to the people of the world. Kol ha kavod! (and may I say too, Vote for Shire Network News?)

12:15AM:  Ok, that’s it from me for now.

Brian of London (and possibly NeoZionoid) will continue with the updates tonight/this morning if anything major arises.

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.

12:05AM: In case you haven’t already seen this:

11:53PM: Swedish blogger Lennart Eriksson was fired from the Swedish Migration Board because they didn’t think taking Israel’s side and referring to Hamas as “terrorists” was appropriate for an employee (hat tip: Fredrik).

11:43PM: According to the Shin Bet, 790 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel since the IDF Gaza operation began.

11:10PM: Reader Shahar has created this website showing all of the fallen soldiers from Operation Cast Lead.

11:00PM: More sad news, with publication of the news that Capt. Omer Rabinovitch, of the Golani infantry brigade, was killed during a clash with Hamas gunmen in Gaza, bringing the IDF death toll for today to 3.

9:53PM: IDF soldiers have discovered a Hamas map in Gaza that confirms everything we have been saying about Hamas’ cynical use of human shields.

Soldiers from the Paratrooper’s Brigade operating in the northern Gaza Strip uncovered a map prepared by Hamas that shows how the terror group prepared for the IDF’s incursion by deploying different types of bombs as well as snipers throughout the town of al-Atatra.

The map is handwritten and is based on a bird’s-eye view of the town, likely taken from Google Maps. On the map, Hamas split up the town into three different sectors – red, blue and green. On the map, Hamas highlighted several important sites such as mosques, a gas station and a fuel depot.

“Inside the map, the terrorists also marked sniper positions, as well as the location of roadside bombs, anti-tank bombs and landmines,” Chief Intelligence Officer Brig.-Gen. Yuval Halamish said Thursday.

The map was discovered by soldiers from the Paratroopers Brigade during operations in al-Atatra and was translated in the field and used by the troops to avoid casualties.

Halamish said that the map showed how Hamas does not hesitate to use civilian infrastructure for its terrorist activity. On the map, a brown dot is marked next to a mosque representing a nearby sniper position.

“This is a civilian area and you can see on the map how Hamas booby-trapped the entrance to homes in order to hit the IDF,” Halamish said. In another case, a large explosive device was marked on the map next to a gas station. Had it been detonated it would have likely destroyed the gas station as well, killing and wounding civilians who live in the area.

In another case, Halamish said that soldiers discovered a mannequin dressed like a soldier at the entrance to a home. Had soldiers entered the home, the mannequin would have exploded, collapsing the floor and causing the troops to fall into a tunnel where they would have been abducted by Hamas operatives.

9:38PM: I interrupt this transmission with a brief word about the Weblog Awards.

Anti-US/anti-Israel moonbat Juan Cole is indignant that he was overtaken by Michael Totten, and has used it as an opportunity to once again complain about the “Neocons.

The Neoconservative Style & Weblog Awards

Michael J. Totten has surged way ahead in the voting online for the best Middle East weblog. The way he has done this is very instructive and tells us something about how the Neoconservatives always run rings around the American left and leave them with nothing to do but complain about Neoconservative power.

First, Totten demonized me and mobilized rightwingers in general and right-Zionists in particular to vote for him as a way of voting against Informed Comment.

One way he did this was to take a leaf from Karl Rove’s campaign book. I had written that lead 9/11 hijacker Muhammad Atta wrote his will and testament, an implicit dedication to seeking martyrdom, in response to the 1996 Israel Grapes of Wrath attack on Lebanon. During Grapes of Wrath, the Israeli air force committed a massacre of civilians at a UN refugee station that no one in the UN thinks was an accident. The sight of those innocent, bloody children being pulled out of the rubble angered many in the Muslim world.

Pulitzer-prize winning author Lawrence Wright wrote in his Looming Tower, p. 307: “On April 11, 1996, when Atta was twenty-seven years old, he signed a standardized will he got from the al-Quds mosque.l It was the day Israel attacked Lebanon in Operation grapes of Wrath. According to one of his friends, Atta was enraged,and by filling out his last testament during the attack he was offering his life in response.”

In my initial posting I had misremembered one detail, which is that the will was signed when Operation Grapes of Wrath began, not on the day of the Qana massacre. I corrected that within a few hours. But my over-all point was correct. Totten is still fulminating as though I had said something preposterous, and indeed, is using my quite legitimate point to suggest, as he has written around to others, that I am an “imbecile.” It is dishonest of him not to acknowledge the Wright quote, which I have provided.

My larger point is that Israeli atrocities in Gaza are endangering American security. If the Israeli operation were something other than a cynical power play that almost wholly disregards civilian welfare, then the US would be right to support it and damn the consequences. But it is a shame to place our land and even our democracy in danger on behalf of a barbaric military operation.

These tactics ot Totten remind me very much of what Bush and Rove did to John Kerry in 2004, when Kerry complained that Bush had allowed Osama Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora. Bush trotted out some military weasels to deny it all and then indicted Kerry for lack of patriotism. And he mobilized his base, and he won.

So that’s how you do it. 1) You assassinate the character of your opponent. 2) You make his correct statements into a liability by propagandizing that they are false or unpatriotic. And 3) you mobilize a base of single-issue true believers that you can depend on to dominate the discourse because most people don’t care and are not invested.

And that is how, having helped Obama win the 2008 election, the American left will still be marginalized and likely will gradually be supplanted in his counsels by rightwing organizations such as AIPAC, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (headed by Dennis Ross), the American Enterprise Institute, and so forth. They are good at demonizing opponents, good at twisting the truth, and good at strategic networking; and too few people who oppose their views are willing to put themselves out in any way.

It isn’t material who wins that little weblog award. It is illuminating for our politics to see how they are accomplishing it.

Of course, what Cole does not mention in that little diatribe is it was he who demonized Michael Totten, me, and the other competitors in this category, leading to his initial surge into the lead. Then when Michael hit back  – more effectively, may I add – it is all of a sudden an unfair “Neocon” tactic.

Unfortunately, I now find myself in third place, behind this numbskull.

You know what you have to do.

9:25PM: It has been published that Sgt. Amit Robinson, 20, from Kibbutz Magal, was killed, making him the second soldier killed today. He died after being hit by sniper fire.

8:18PM: Earlier today, the UN, followed hungrily by the media, reported that Israel had killed a UN truck driver.

But as the Jerusalem Post reports, it could very well have been Hamas.

Who killed a Palestinian humanitarian aid truck driver and wounded two others as their convoy made its way into the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing during Thursday’s ‘humanitarian ceasefire’?

According to the foreign media, who based their information on UN sources, IDF tank shells blasted the truck. According to the Magen David Adom medic who said he evacuated the Palestinians to an Israeli hospital, the truck came under Hamas sniper fire. The medic, who asked not to be named, said he got his information from soldiers in the field. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office has not been able to provide a response or establish contact with the relevant sources in the field.

Adding to the confusion, the Palestinian Red Crescent said it evacuated the Palestinians, but the MDA medic said soldiers told him they went in, with great risk to themselves, and evacuated the wounded Palestinians. What is certain is that there is one dead Palestinian, and two others being treated at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital with gunshot wounds to the chest.

As a result of the incident, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip said it was suspending operations relating to the collection and distribution of humanitarian aid.

But here too there seems to be confusion.

Richard Miron, the chief UN spokesman in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post that UNRWA was not suspending all of its operations, but just those relating to humanitarian aid.

“It’s too dangerous and our staff are not safe,” Miron said, adding that UNRWA would still be operating its schools and other centers in Gaza.

Miron’s comments to the Post came after Adnan Abu Hasna, the agency’s Gaza-based spokesman, said that UNRWA decided to suspend all its operations in the Gaza Strip because of the increasing hostile actions against its premises and personnel.

Earlier, Miron was quoted by the Timesonline website as saying that the IDF had been notified in advance about the UNRWA convoy, “which was hit as it approached the Erez crossing with Israel.”

Miron later told the Post that the UN was not sure in which direction the truck was traveling in when it was struck, either into or out of the Gaza Strip. Miron added that the UN believes the incident was caused by an IDF tank shell.

The Jerusalem Post then raises the very issue I myself raised a few days ago, after the UNRWA school strike.

The incident highlights the dangers involved in sending aid convoys through the crossings into the Gaza Strip. It also shows that the IDF Spokesperson’s Office is not always able to respond in good time to incidents of this nature. For at least seven hours, the international media were quoting a version of events which claimed the Palestinian truck drivers were killed by an Israeli shell.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office began fielding calls regarding the incident from the foreign press at about 12 p.m. Thursday, and by 7 p.m. had still not been able to get a clear answer from IDF Southern Command. Peter Lerner, a defense ministry spokesperson who responds to the international press about humanitarian issues, said, six hours after the event, that he was not aware of the incident at Erez Crossing and referred queries to the IDF.

I know the IDF Spokesperson’s Office is reading this blog (I was told as much). So if you are reading this, please improve your timing of information and respond promptly to media reports if you have contradictory information or evidence. The most lasting impressions are made within the first few hours of an incident.

8:03PM: Aren’t they cute?

8:00PM: The Elder of Moron hath spoketh (via LGF):

We were unable to confirm this in Jerusalem because of Israel’s unwillingness to admit to any negotiations with Hamas, but rocket firing was soon stopped and there was an increase in supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet the increase was to an average of about 20 percent of normal levels. And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.

I supposed if I went up to Carter and punched him in his teeth, that would be defensive too.

6:05PM: Heh: Putting the “ass” into Hamas.

5:56PM: In the last half hour, terrorists fired more rockets at Ashkelon, and the IAF struck targets in Gaza.

5:55PM: Here’s a must-see video about the people Clare Short refers to as “the only government in the Middle East that were properly elected.” (hat tip: Gaby)

5:30PM: The story of an IDF soldier who miraculously cheated death – reported by The Sun of all papers! (hat tip: Savannah Winslow)

Londoner Yaakov Wolf, 20, cheated death by a miracle when he was hit by shrapnel during the assault on Gaza.

His throat was slashed open and comrades could see his windpipe — but the fragment from a mortar blast missed his jugular vein by mere millimetres.

Yaakov, an avid Arsenal fan and Sun reader, said: “The shrapnel tore a hole in my neck the size of a 50p. I remember fearing I might die but kept telling myself to fight to stay conscious.”

Yaakov left home 18 months ago to join Israel’s infantry to “do his bit” for the Jewish people.

As he recovered in hospital in Jerusalem he said his mum had flown out to see him and brought him treats including a British paper — but he grinned: “I was gutted because it wasn’t The Sun.”

Make sure you also watch the video accompanying the report.

4:55PM: Here is the Al Jazeera interview with former US Representative and the 2008 Green Party nominee for President of the United States Cynthia McKinney, and British Member of Parliament Clare Short.

Part 1:

Parts of special interest:

5:20-6:00: McKinney melodramatically (but not articulately) talking of the supposed ramming incident between the Israeli navy vessel and the Free Gaza boat

“And..umm..everything went everywhere and people went everywhere and..umm..the Dignity was hit 3 times, twice in the front, once on the side, the side is where I was sitting, and..umm..one of the doctors on the boat said to me “Prepare to die.” And so that’s what I did. I mentally prepared myself  for death.”

10:50-11:50: Clare Short supports palestinian terrorism when she admits some weapons come through the tunnels, but justifies it (“.. in international  law, people who are occupied are allowed to resist occupation). She then goes on to describe how weak the palestinian rockets are, and describes Hamas as the only government in the Middle East that were properly elected.

Part 2:

Parts of special interest:

0.01-1:35: McKinney’s turn to defend palestinian terrorism as she juxtaposes Israel’s weaponry and military might with “A few arms being smuggled in for the purposes of resistance, which is..available resistance to the people against occupation.”

3:17PM: A number of rockets have been fired during the 1pm-4pm period that Israel designated as a “lull” to enable aid to flow through a humanitarian corridor in Gaza. Just saying.

3:08PM: Senior defense establishment officials have warned that the IDF has not yet completed its mission, and that continued military pressure on Hamas could significantly improve the end result of the entire operation.

2:20PM: The soldier killed today was Major Roey Rosner, 27, an officer with the Kfir infantry brigade.

1:42PM: A mortar shell that landed in Eshkol has injured four people, all of whom have been taken to the Soroka University Medical Center suffering from moderate and minor injuries.

1:38PM: The Home Front Command has instructed all municipalities in the North to open their bomb shelters.

12:50PM: An IDF soldier has become the seventh IDF fatality of the ground operation. He was killed during a gunbattle with Hamas terrorists, after his unit was bombarded with anti-tank missiles.

12:24PM: Lebanon’s PM has condemned the Katusha attack on northern Israel, as well as our entirely reasonable targeted retaliation.

Meanwhile, Hizbullah has denied any connection to the rocket attack.

11:58AM: The false alarm was apparently caused by supersonic booms from aircraft. Nevertheless, two Israelis have been treated for shock as a result of hearing it.

11:55AM: The IDF Spokesman in the GOC Northern Command:

“The rocket fire on the Western Galilee was carried out by Palestinian elements in Lebanon, wishing to drag Israel into war.

Israel holds the Lebanese government and its army responsible for thwarting any fire on Israel.”

11:55AM: My sense of timing is impeccable as usual, with a rocket alert sounding and then an explosion being heard in Nahariya a few minutes after my last update, and right after I had to go to a meeting. It turns out it was a false alarm.

10:43AM: Those terrorists we killed (10:05AM update)? Turns out they were Islamic Jihad members of a rocket squad and were taken out 150 meters from a hospital.

10:40AM: Not to fear! Lebanon is on the case to solve the mystery of Who fired those Katushas into Israel?

10:06AM: Current toll from Nahariya Katusha attack: 3 injured, 14 suffering shock.

10:05AM: Reuters have reported 3 terrorists dead after an IAF strike.

9:55AM: Said terrorist was reportedly shot and killed.

9:52AM: A short time ago, an Israeli was wounded as a terrorist tried to blow up a gas station near Ma’aleh Adumim.

9:39AM: Summary of the IDF’s activity overnight:

The operation in the Gaza Strip continued throughout the night, with Infantry Corps, Armored Corps, Engineering Corps, Artillery Corps and Field Intelligence Corps forces operating in large numbers throughout the Gaza Strip, with air and naval support of the IAF and the IN.

The IAF attacked a number of targets, based on IDF and ISA intelligence, including the house of Yaser Natat, who was in charge of the rocket firing program in the Rafah area, and the house of Muhammad Sanuar, the commander of the Hamas Han Yunes Brigade.

In addition, the IAF struck approximately 60 targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including:

* A mosque used as a weapons storage facility and as a meeting place for Hamas terror operatives

* A Hamas Police structure

* Fifteen tunnels used by Hamas terror operatives against IDF forces, some of which were located under houses

* Ten weapons storage facilities

* A number of armed operatives

* Fifteen launching sites and underground launching pads used to fire mortar shells at IDF forces

The Navy, Air Force and Artillery Corps continued to support the Ground Forces throughout the Gaza Strip, striking Hamas targets, groups of gunmen and terrorists identified in rocket launching areas and located near the forces.

One mortar shell was fired into the western Negev overnight.

One IDF soldier was lightly wounded during the overnight activity.

9:25AM: A brilliant video created by Israellycool reader Jim: What if Oklahoma were Israel?

9:23AM: From Lebanon’s Daily Star (Tuesday):

Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri dismissed concerns on Monday that Hizbullah might launch attacks on Israel’s northern border to support Palestinians coping with the Zionist state’s deadly assault on the Gaza Strip. “Yesterday, Hizbullah said that they would do nothing. I think that’s a good thing for Lebanon,” he said in Paris after having lunch with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon .

“Lebanon’s political parties know well what would be the consequences of a war with Israel today. We can see what is happening in Gaza and I’m sure that Hizbullah will make no bad mistake this time,” he added.

9:20AM: Hamas in Lebanon is denying they fired the Katushas.

9:17AM: Magen David Adom is on red alert up north, with 400 ambulances on call in the area like they have for southern Israel.

You can donate to them here.

9:14AM: While I was blogging about the attack up north, 2 more Qassams hit southern Israel.

9:04AM: A nursing home was hit in the Katusha attack on Nahariya. Luckily, none of the residents were hurt (I say luckily, but I don’t really believe in luck).

9:01AM: The IAF struck 60 targets overnight.

9:00AM: 2 people were lightly wounded in the Katusha attack on the area of Nahariya. Meanwhile, security sources have not ruled out Hizbullah having instructed another group to fire at Israel.

8:55AM: I just arrived at work now, and see that things have escalated up North, with 3 katusha rockets fired at Israel from south Lebanon, and Israel responding by firing 5 artillery shells. Israel’s channel 10 reported the rockets were fired by palestinian groups, and not Hizbullah.


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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