The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Wednesday, the 23rd day of Operation Protective Edge. After another day of heavy Israeli strikes on Gaza, and Hamas rocket fire aimed at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, among other towns and villages nationwide, Israel and Hamas were both reported to be considering ceasefire moves. But there were no formal confirmations that an end to the conflict was near. The Israeli security cabinet is set to meet Wednesday to discuss whether to expand the ground offensive or halt it, after some in the IDF say most of the Hamas cross-border tunnels have been found and are being demolished.
Fifty-three Israeli soldiers, two civilians and a foreign worker have been confirmed killed in three weeks of fighting, while Gazan health officials put the death toll there at over 1,200. Israel says hundreds of those are Hamas fighters. (Tuesday’s liveblog is here.)
Israel said to strike dozens of Gaza targets
That Obama-Netanyahu phone call. Or not
The Nahal Oz encounter was a tragic microcosm of the current face of Operation Defensive Edge.
The tunnel, from which a band of Hamas infiltrators jumped out – and about whose existence the IDF admits to have known – ran app. 150 meters from Shejaiya in Gaza to the military pillbox guarding Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Between five and seven terrorist nonetheless were allowed to reach their destination armed to the teeth with automatic and anti-tank and explosives.
Israel will never be rid of Hamas’ multi-branched underground empire and its threat of surprise raids for murder and kidnaps, without first physically demolishing the war rooms hidden in the deeply buried branches forking off from the main passages. Even then, some of those passages may remain undiscovered.
A senior IDF officer commented Tuesday: “We were surprised to find an elaborate system which connected the tunnels with Hamas’ chain of command.”
Some officers are saying that too much focus may have been placed by official spokesmen on the tunnel problem, possibly in order to distract attention from the extent to which the heads of government have held the armed forces back from gaining any serious advantages in the war on Hamas – or even terminating its rocket blitz.