(Photo: IDF Spokesperson)

The IDF is continuing to dismantle the terror tunnels in Gaza while deepening its hold on the Gaza Strip. The number of IDF casualties reached 56 on Wednesday.

For the first time since the launch of Operation Protective Edge, the IDF entered the Jabaliya refugee camp. Israel has reportedly stepped up its military strikes on Hamas targets as well.

House Searches Uncover Hamas Intelligence and Weapons

In one incident, Givati Brigade forces shot and killed a terrorist who had fired an anti-tank missile at troops in the southern Gaza Strip overnight. In the course of house searches in central Gaza, soldiers uncovered sensitive intelligence gathered by Hamas on the IDF, numerous weapons and a large number of tunnels used as bunkers linking a string of houses. A joint IDF task force further uncovered a tunnel entrance on the ground floor of a mosque that had been used by Hamas terrorists to attack Israeli soldiers.

Three Soldiers Killed Wednesday

Three soldiers were killed Wednesday when the structure they entered, a former UNRWA clinic, blew up. They were operating in Gaza in order to uncover offensive tunnels, and indeed uncovered a tunnel opening inside a house in the southern Gaza Strip. Two explosive devices were detonated against the soldiers, one from within the tunnel and a second one that was concealed within the house. The explosion caused the building to collapse and the injury of several other soldiers. The three who died, members of an elite paratrooper unit, are Staff Sgt. Matan Gotlib, 21; Staff Sgt. Omer Hay, 21, and Staff Sgt. Guy Algranati, 20.

Fifty-six soldiers and three civilians have been killed in three weeks of fighting.

IDF Calling Additional 16,000 Reservists

The IDF is set to call up an additional 16,000 reservists Thursday to give the military “some breathing room”, bringing the total of reserve soldiers called up to 86,000.

Israel called for another four-hour humanitarian truce yesterday afternoon, which Hamas did not reciprocate. Indeed, Hamas fired more than 130 rockets into Israel in the course of the day.

Weapons in homes

IDF in Gaza (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)

Endless reports on a possible ceasefire continue. An Israeli delegation reportedly flew to Cairo for ceasefire discussions, and left after just a few hours. The Hamas delegation did not come. Egypt was said to be refusing to host a Palestinian delegation until Hamas ceases fire, which it is refusing to do.

Channel 2 reports that some 300,000 residents of southern Israel have left their homes since the start of Operation Protective Edge due to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and the infiltration threat. Many are reluctant to return, as the tunnel threat is still imminent.

Since last night, the IDF and IAF have targeted approximately 110 terror activity sites across the Gaza Strip. Five of the targets were homes of senior Hamas officials who had used their residences as command and control centers.

Over the past 24 hours, more than 140 rockets were fired at Israel; 81 rockets hit Israel, nine were intercepted and 50 fell short in the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday, 36 percent of rockets fired at Israel fell short in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has fired over 2,670 rockets at Israeli civilians since the beginning of Protective Edge.

Author: Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency

Click below to see video footage of IDF forces finding and destroying a terror tunnel in a Gaza mosque: