While missiles continue raining down on Israel, the IDF remains intent on destroying Hamas terror tunnels, despite US and UN efforts to broker a ceasefire.
The IDF has reportedly stabilized its lines and is now focusing on mapping out and destroying the terror tunnels they have uncovered.
Terror Tunnels Contain Maps, IDF Uniforms and Weapons
As of Thursday morning, 31 tunnels have been uncovered and nine were destroyed. Fighting in Gaza remains intense, as Hamas is still trying to carry out attacks in Israel through tunnels.
A major tunnel was uncovered Wednesday, which contained maps, IDF uniforms and weaponry for an imminent attack.
In one incident, a Combat Engineers unit spotted terrorists emerging from a tunnel. They called in air support and the cell was hit.
Over the past 24 hours IDF ground forces have arrested 150 terrorists in the Gaza Strip, including one dressed in an IDF uniform. More than 200 terrorists were killed since the beginning of the ground operation. Overnight, the IDF attacked 35 terror targets, bringing the total to some 3,400 terror objective targeted by the IDF.
Lt. Paz Elyahu, 22, Staff Sgt. Li Mat, 19, and Staff Sgt. Shahar Dauber, 20, all paratroopers, were killed Thursday on the battlefield by an explosive device; in total, 32 soldiers have fallen during Operation Protective Edge.
Netanyahu to UN Chief: Hamas Shows No Interest in Relenting
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry are continuing their shuttle diplomacy, but apparently to no avail. Reports indicate they have been unable to contact Hamas, neither through Egypt nor through Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas. The IDF is interested in continuing to destroy as much as Hamas’s terror infrastructure as possible, and, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out to Ban on Wednesday:
“We accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. I don’t need to remind you it was a proposal that was supported by the UN, by the Arab League, by the United States, by Europe. Hamas rejected it. We accepted the humanitarian ceasefire proposal that the UN proposed afterward. Hamas rejected that. We accepted the ceasefire proposal of the Red Cross in Shuja’iya. Hamas rejected that, twice.” Hamas, however, seems to be bent on total destruction of the Gaza Strip. Presenting ridiculous demands as a prerequisite to a ceasefire, such as Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s rejection of a ceasefire unless the blockade of Gaza is lifted, Hamas shows no interest in relenting. With the realization that their rockets have been rendered ineffective because of the Iron Dome systems, and that they have lost their strategic weapon, the terror tunnels, it seems they have adopted an ‘I’ve-got-nothing-to-lose’ approach to the fighting.”
On Wednesday, 98 rockets were fired at Israel; 25 were intercepted by Iron Dome. A foreign worker was killed by a rocket while working in a field.
Also on Wednesday, the IDF announced that it destroyed 30-40 percent of Hamas’s rockets since the start of the operation. In total, some 2,270 rockets have been launched from Gaza at Israel, 448 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome; 1,777 struck Israeli territory.
Firing on Tel Aviv Continues
Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at the greater Tel Aviv area on Thursday. According to The Jerusalem Post, “sirens and explosions were heard throughout the major population centers of central Israel. Channel 10 is reporting that at least five Palestinian rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome system over Rishon Letzion. No injuries or damage was reported.
“Thirty minutes after the initial salvo, more sirens were sounded in Tel Aviv,” JPost continues. “Channel 10 reported that six rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome anti-missile system over Israel’s economic and cultural hub. Passersby in central Tel Aviv reported seeing remnants of the rockets.”
Author: Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency
(With files from The Jerusalem Post)