You say “cease-fire,” the barbarians of Hamas hear “reload.” Just 90 minutes into the planned three-day break in the fighting, a suicide bomber popped out of those terror tunnels Hamas has been squandering the Palestinian treasury on building, a firefight erupted, and an Israeli soldier was reportedly taken prisoner. Eight rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilian targets promptly flew out of the Gaza, with the most seriously threatening rocket intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.
The Jerusalem Post has the details:
Second Lt. Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old Givati officer from Kfar Saba, was named as the IDF soldier presumed to be abducted by Hamas. His family has been notified.
Terrorists emerged from a tunnel shaft, and a suicide bomber detonated himself in the vicinity of soldiers. Heavy exchanges of fire ensued, before one of the IDF soldiers was kidnapped, a senior army source said.
The IDF said the incident occurred at 9:30 a.m., but a spokesman for Hamas’s military wing claimed the terrorists came out of the tunnel and took part in the ensuing gunfight at 7:00 a.m.
“The incident is ongoing, and the IDF is in the midst of operational and intelligence efforts to track down the soldier,” the army added.
The statement came after Palestinians reported heavy exchanges of fire in southern Gaza, in which several Hamas attackers were reportedly killed in IDF return fire.
Around 10 a.m. rocket and artillery fire resumed, bringing an end to the 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire brokered by the UN and the US that went into effect just two hours prior.
Subsequent reports indicate that two of the IDF soldiers fighting alongside Lt. Goldin were killed in the attack. Naturally, Hamas claims it was the Israelis who broke the cease-fire. They might be sweating a bit as they look around and see that nobody’s even pretending to believe them this time. Israel has no reason to violate a cease-fire agreement – no tactical advantage to gain, and much to lose strategically, given how much of the world community is already inclined to blame them for everything. What happened here is that IDF forces remained in place when the cease-fire went into effect, and they were getting close to discovering something else interesting in the tunnels, so the local terrorist goons freaked out and attacked.
Israeli Defense Force officials confirmed that the cease-fire was officially over, and they would get back to work. They had a busy night on Thursday:
The IDF attacked 50 Hamas targets across Gaza overnight between Thursday and Friday, including rocket launch zones, and targets that were hit by the navy and infantry in a combined attack.
Two terrorists seen near a tunnel were killed by Paratroopers. The Israel Air Force struck an Islamic Jihad control room, killing two terrorists. Meanwhile, Givati infantry units uncovered two tunnel shafts and destroyed them. Secondary explosions were seen in the blast.
On Thursday, five IDF soldiers were killed in a mortar attack in Eshkol Regional Council on the Israeli side of the Gaza border.
They were named as Sergeant First Class (res.) Daniel Marash, 22, of Rishon Lezion, Capt. Omri Tal, 22, from Yehud, St.-Sgt. Shay Kushnir, 20, of Kiryat Motzkin, St.-Sgt. Noam Rosenthal, 20, from Meitar, and Capt. (res.) Liran Adir (Edry), 31, of Ezuz.
The cease-fire was supposed to provide humanitarian relief to Gaza – I’d like to say “civilians in Gaza,” but we all know the terrorists would have gotten plenty of the relief supplies, just like their leaders are the only ones protected by bomb shelters during the fighting – and to give both sides a chance to negotiate a sustained end to hostilities. Following the Hamas sneak attack, Egypt has reportedly canceled the talks it was planning to host. CNN tells the tale of woe from the Gaza Strip:
Many Gaza residents have seen their neighborhoods hit hard and loved ones killed or wounded since Israel began Operation Protective Edge against Hamas on July 8.
Around a quarter of a million people in the small, impoverished territory have been displaced by the conflict, according to the United Nations. That’s about 14% of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million.
The cease-fire allows food and medical supplies to come and in, better care for the injured and burial of the dead.
But Hamas decided it was more important to protect their tunnel network, which is what this is really all about. The terrorists are also very keen to get the naval blockade of Gaza lifted, so they can take delivery on new weapons purchased from North Korea. An end to the blockade would also give the terrorists a propaganda victory. But those terror tunnels are the asset they can’t afford to lose, and the Israelis were clearly rattled enough by what they found under the ground in Gaza to make bringing the tunnel network down into a vital strategic objective.
Mordechai Ben-Menachem, who has written about conditions in Gaza during the war for HUMAN EVENTS, appeared on John Gibson’s Fox News Radio show Thursday to talk about the extent of the tunnel network, noting that at least sixty of those tunnels have been found so far… and both Hamas and IDF spokespeople agree that’s only a portion of the total. Many of the tunnels are booby-trapped or contain ammo dumps, which explains the “secondary explosions” you hear about when they’re destroyed. Several of them have entrances camouflaged by United Nations structures. The Washington Times reports on what those peace-loving Hamas operatives were planning to do with their underground maze:
Information that Israel Defense Forces reportedly obtained from captured Hamas fighters revealed that the group was planning to use several Gaza tunnels that extend under Israeli territory for a major attack timed with the beginning of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, on Sept. 24.
The plan called for Hamas fighters to surface from the tunnels in Israel and kill as many people as possible. The plot was first reported by the Israeli newspaper Maariv.
Israel???s military operation against Hamas in Gaza has gone on longer than expected because of the discovery of the extensive tunnel network, which is estimated to have cost as much as $2 billion to construct.
Israel and Egypt (which joined in the blockade) have actually been criticized in the past for a shortage of concrete allowed into Gaza. Now we know where all the concrete was going. In fact, Bloomberg Businessweek frets that reconstruction efforts after the current war may be hampered by Israel’s reluctance to allow building supplies into Gaza, suspecting that Hamas will just use it to create more underground horrors like this:
A Bloomberg News reporter who entered one seized tunnel that was dug 40 feet below the surface in sandy soil found the walls and ceiling made of prefabricated concrete slabs and a floor of poured concrete. Metal rails for carts ran along the floor and a communications cable rack was on one side. The main entrance was hidden more than a mile inside Gaza under a greenhouse in Khan Yunis, a refugee camp. Its other end was nearly a mile inside the Negev region of southern Israel, near Kibbutz Nir Am. ???What is surprising is the sheer scope of their entire tunnel-building operation, its sophistication, and how much of it we found in built-up populated areas,??? says the chief combat engineer of Israel???s Gaza division, who asked to be identified only as Lieutenant Colonel Max out of security concerns.
The IDF might be able to prevent reconstruction of the tunnels by keeping boots on the ground in Gaza, but that would expose soldiers to danger and anger Gazans. Instead, the IDF could be forced to rely on high-tech detection gear. But while electromagnetic and thermal imaging can map underground terrain, ???doing so operationally in military combat conditions??? is difficult, Dan Blumberg, a geography professor at Ben-Gurion University, told Israel Radio. The visible scars from this war in Gaza are likely to last a long time.
A true cease-fire will come when Hamas has been decisively defeated. Not even Barack Obama and John Kerry can save them now. Charles Krauthammer excoriated Kerry yesterday for “legitimizing Hamas’s war criminality,” damaging our relationship with both Israel and Arab allies in a last-minute bid to give Hamas a victory by over-riding Egypt’s cease-fire proposals with a package of goodies – not just lifting the Gaza blockade, but even showering Hamas with cash! – that would have made terrorists the undisputed winners of the Gaza conflict:
Forget about Israeli interests. Forget about Arab interests. The American interest is to endorse and solidify this emerging axis of moderate pro-American partners (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states, and the Palestinian Authority) intent on seeing Islamist radicalism blunted and ultimately defanged.
Yet America???s own secretary of state doesn???t see it. Speaking of Hamas-run Gaza, Kerry actually said in Paris: ???The Palestinians can???t have a ceasefire in which they think the status quo is going to stay.??? What must change? Gazans need ???goods that can come in and out . . . a life that is free from the current restraints.???
But the only reason for those ???restraints,??? for goods unable to come in and out, is that for a decade Hamas has used this commerce to import and develop weapons for making war on Israel.
What can explain such lunacy? John Kerry is an imbecile, to be sure, and both his and Barack Obama’s animosity toward Israel is easy enough to see, but I think it’s more than that. It’s Obama’s desperate need to score a win, to be seen as playing an important role in a foreign-policy success story… to do something that will goose his poll numbers, currently buried deeper than those Hamas tunnels. And he knows leaning on the terrorists is pointless. They can’t be shamed, they’re not interested in humanitarian appeals, and their deliberate strategy involves inflicting civilian casualties. Just as Obama’s domestic policies dump the heavy burden of law on those most likely to obey, while ignoring or rewarding scofflaws, so his foreign policy is not about right and wrong, or even American interests – it’s about getting photographed while holding a phone and looking deeply concerned, and that only works when the person on the other end of the line is willing to take your calls.
Well, now Obama and Kerry get to reap what they have sown, and watch their friends in Hamas shatter a cease-fire with suicide bombing, kidnapping, and rocket attacks only ninety minutes in.