Monday, July 07, 2014

7-Jul-14: A day in the life

In a society that values life, a mother shielding a child
as an incoming Gazan rocket pierces the sky is part of an
everyday experience. We hate it, we know we can end it at
a huge price, and we keep hoping the people on the far side of
the fence will be brought to their senses before all of us
pay even more for the hate and the madness.
We happen to be thinly stretched at the moment with family issues, and keeping track of the rapid-fire events going on in our area is beyond our capabilities.

So we are borrowing some work being done over at Haaretz, where they have a live-blog timeline of the rising violence and terrorism now underway. This post is based partly on events they report there, starting from midnight last (Sunday/Monday) night, as well as from other news sources.

Midnight to 3:00 am, Monday
  • Twelve individuals are arrested for "rioting and stone-throwing" in parts of the Negev, including the Israeli Arab communities of Tel Sheva (see our earlier post), Hura, Ar'ara and Laqiya.
  • It's the middle of the night, but firefighters from Be'er Sheva are rushed in to tackle burning debris caused by that imam-inspired Tel Sheva violence. Police are needed when the firefighters come under attack from locals on arrival. 
  • Tzeva Adom incoming rocket sirens are sounding in Sderot and the Sha'ar Hanegev region
  • Hamas says four of its militants/activists/revolutionaries are dead following an Israeli air strike in Gaza. On their own numbers, this brings Sunday night's total to six dead terrorists, with no suggestion of any innocents killed in the fire (though deaths of innocents are highly likely under the conditions that prevail in Gaza). Reuters, quoted by Haaretz, calls it "the biggest single Israeli hit against Hamas since 2012's Operation Pillar of Defense". We say they might more helpfully have called it an illustration of pin-point firepower, and a tour de force by an ethics-minded defensive military that takes more trouble to separate combatants from the civilians among whom they are deliberately embedded than any other military has managed to do in modern times.
  • Around 2:30 am, the IDF spokesperson confirms an IAF strike on nine targets, including "concealed rocket launchers and other centers of terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip."
  • Reuters says, around 2:50 am, that those IAF air strikes on Gaza have resulted in seven deaths.
  • According to the IDF, a mortar shell has hit Israeli territory in the northern Golan Heights near the border with Syria. IDF opens fire across the border.
3:00 am to 6:00 am, Monday
  • By Haaretz' count, there are now seven dead Hamas "men", along with two dead Islamic Jihad "members", plus three more confirmed wounded as a result of those IAF air strikes on Gaza. Quoting DPA, a major German news agency, it says six of those casualties come from a single strike on the Gazan town of Rafah.
  • The IDF spokesperson says another five concealed rocket launchers are targeted by IAF airstrikes in north Gaza and destroyed.
  • An AP report quoted by Haaretz puts the overnight death toll in the Palestinian Arab terrorist ranks in Gaza at 9, with the addition of two more from the ranks of Islamic Jihad.
6:00 am to 9:00 am, Monday
  • Two rockets explode in the Eshkol region of southern Israel. One explodes inside a built-up area (deliberately fuzzy language for security reasons). A soldier is injured, and cars are damaged.
  • The early morning rocket tally, as measured by the GANSO people (funded by the European Union and serving the small army of NGO workers based inside Gaza), was "32 rockets and 20 mortar shells... 3 rockets exploded at the launching site and 1 dropped short." In other words, still more Fell Shorts - the self-inflicted rocket casualties that are never ever reported by the mainstream media channels. To keep in mind when the body counts are published. 
9:00 am to noon, Monday
  • According to the Palestinian news agency Ma'an, Israeli air attacks on Rafah and Beit Hanoun cause injuries to six civilians. One is in serious condition.
  • The seven Hamas "members" killed overnight died (says Haaretz) in a tunnel collapse. It's unclear whether the collapse was the deliberate result of an Israeli attack. It points out that two weeks ago Hamas lost five other "members" in a mysterious explosion in a Gaza tunnel; at that time, there was no revenge attack by Hamas. "The high death toll overnight may paint a different picture, however. It remains to be seen if last night's airstrikes will prove to be a turning point, leading to an escalation in the rocket fire to Israel's south", writes Amos Harel.
  • Israel's prime minister speaks to Hussein Abu Khdeir, father of the Arab 16 year old killed last week; reports say six Israelis have been arrested in connection with the death. "I wish to express the shock Israeli citizens and I feel by the repugnant murder of your son... We've acted immediately to find the murderers; they will be brought to trial and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We reject any brutal behavior, and the murder of your son is despicable and cannot be accepted by any person." The boy's mother says “They’re only going to ask them questions and then release them. What’s the point? They need to treat them the way they treat us... They need to demolish their homes and round them up, the way they do it to our children.” We consider showing her some of our posts (this one, for instance) about how the head of the Palestinian Authority holds aloft the arms of men who murdered Israeli children and calls them heroes of the Arab nation. For now, we assume the impact of our message might get lost for all the fire-bombing and rock-hurling being done in memory of her son. 
  • Around 11:00 am, Hamas confirms six of its "members" were killed in Israeli air strikes at a "resistance location" in Gazan Rafah, early this morning. Haaretz thinks this means a smuggling tunnel. Hamas says via Sami Abu Zuhri that Israel committed a "grave escalation" in violence and threatened to retaliate, saying Israel would "pay the price." For a sense of the moral and war-crimes background, read an earlier post of ours here quoting this same Abu Zuhri disgustingly praising the murder-by-Islamism of an Israeli woman in her seventies. 
  • Times of Israel, quoting the IDF, says those Hamas tunnelers died as a result of a “work accident,” when an explosive-laden tunnel that was hit in an Israeli airstrike several days earlier exploded.
  • About the same time, an incoming Gazan Grad rocket explodes in open terrain in Be'er Sheva. It's the second rocket fired on the city in 48 hours. The first was intercepted by Iron Dome.
  • Haaretz says three of six the suspects in the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir have confessed and reenacted the crime.
  • Around noon, there's a report that the speaker of the Knesset asks members of the Israeli parliament to "refrain from statements which could spark violence and legitimize the actions of one side or the other". We think it's worth pausing for a moment to ask when the speaker of any Arab parliament (there are some, not many) did something similar.
AP photo today shows IDF forces
massing on border with Gaza
Noon to 3:00 pm, Monday
  • Just before 1:00 pm, two more rockets crash and explode in open areas in the Sdot Negev region of southern Israel. Another explodes in the beleagured Sha'ar Hanegev region. A few minutes later, mortars come crashing in to the Eshkol region, close to the fence with Gaza. And they keep coming.
  • By 2:30 pm, Haaretz can report 9 rockets and mortar shells in Eshkol during the past hour alone.
  • At about the same time, the government's so-called "Security cabinet" convenes in Jerusalem to decide on a response to the relentless rocket fire from Gaza. Let it be clear that every Israeli, whether politician or ordinary citizen, understands that at any given moment, Israel's massively superior firepower can be turned on the Gaza Strip and the problem will stop. This has always been about the price in moral and political terms that Israel is willing to pay.
  • Two more rockets hit the Eshkol region around 3:30 pm.
  • A few minutes later, there's mortar fire in Eshkol with resultant damage to unspecified properties (deliberately suppressed).
  • A quarter hour later, the Israel Air Force launches strikes on the Gaza Strip.
3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Monday
  • Ynet says Tzeva Adom sirens are heard in the Sha'ar HaNegev region. 
  • It's reported that the Security cabinet meeting results in the IDF being instructed to increase strikes against the Gaza Strip "in efforts to halt the rocket fire emanating from the coastal enclave".
  • Also reported that some 1,500 IDF reserve soldiers, primarily from the Home Front Command including those trained to operate the Iron Dome anti-missile batteries, are issued urgent call-up papers for service on the southern border. Haaretz quotes an IDF official: “Quiet was not met with quiet, and therefore we are preparing for an escalation.” 
  • Times of Israel quotes IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner who says the IDF is "still in a defensive position but has shifted its readiness in order to address an escalation in the ongoing conflict with the Gaza Strip." We're wondering, along with most concerned Israelis, how many warnings there are going to be.
  • Around 6, there are (Ynet) four more incoming rockets from Gaza that crash and explode in open areas near or in (we'll keep it vague) Sderot and the Sha'ar Hanegev region. No injuries or damage reported at this stage.
  • In all it's been a hot Monday, and it's not ended yet. The IDF says the tally of mortars, Qassam rockets and GRADs, all of them indiscriminately seeking Israeli victims, has reached about 50 today. There were dozens yesterday. (Remember when you last heard of a Hamas rocket hitting a military target? If not, you're closer to understanding their strategy.)
6.00 pm onwards, Monday
  • A Times of Israel report says residents of the front-line desert communities of the Shaar HaNegev, Eshkol, and Hof Ashkelon regions being instructed to stay within 15 seconds of shelters, as Tzeva Adom incoming rocket sirens are being continuously heard.
  • A directive from the IDF's Home Front Command to residents within 40 kilometers (24 miles) of the Gaza Strip: gatherings of over 500 people are now officially "strongly discouraged". It's bad news for people celebrating weddings at this peak-season time of year. That 40 km radius includes Ashdod, Israel's fifth-largest city with a population of about 210,000 and home to Israel's major sea port, and Be'er Sheva (pop.: 200,000).
  • Proving the point, a heavy barrage of rockets from Gaza around dusk Monday night (according to Ynet) rained down on communities across the south. One or more are reported to have been brought down in mid-flight by Iron Dome counter-fire. Tzeva Adom warnings were heard moments before in Netivot, Ofakim, and the Bnei Shimon and Sdot Negev regions.
  • Reporting from inside the Gaza Strip, the GANSO website says that last barrage was especially heavy: "07 JUL, 1830: Pal. ops. fired 30 rockets from Gaza toward the Green Line over the last minutes." Hint: that expression "toward the Green Line" is how they refer to Israeli civilians.
Needless to say, this is an ongoing war. Updates to come.

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