|Smoke caused by explosions from Israeli forces’ operations rises from buildings on the outskirts of Gaza City yesterday. (Hatem Moussa/Associated Press)
Yesterday, no schools in communities and towns at a distance of 30 miles Gaza were functioning.
Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks against communities in southern Israel continue. A 3-month-old girl sustained light injuries from glass shards when a rocket landed in Gedera, Israel. Five other people suffered from shock.
Earlier yesterday, four Qassam rockets were fired in the Eshkol Regional Council region and in Netivot. Two rockets fell north of Ashkelon and in Ashdod without causing injury. Five attacks occurred in Sderot.
Combat in Gaza continued yesterday, with Israeli infantry, tank, engineering, artillery and intelligence forces operating in large numbers throughout Gaza, with support from the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and the Israel Navy.
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Israeli naval forces operated in central Gaza last night, near Dir al-Balah. Several Hamas fighters were killed during the operation.
Meanwhile, a large building in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) refugee camp of Jabaliya was attacked, where Iman Siam, head Hamas’ rocket launching program was known to be present in the house.
Mr. Siam is one of the senior Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip and founded the organization’s rocket launchingprogram, and is also the head of Hamas’ artillery program throughout the Gaza Strip.
The IAF struck approximately 50 targets in Gaza, including:
• Approximately 10 Hamas weapons-storage facilities, some of which were located in the homes of senior members of the organization: Mahmad Shatiwi, a Hamas battalion commander; Osama Tabesh, a Hamas company commander; Bassel Abu Wadi, a Hamas company commander; and Ashraff Jouda, a senior Hamas commander.
• Three Hamas weapons-storage facilities that also served as meeting places for senior members of the organization were also hit by the IDF: Two weapons-production facilities, one of which was located in the home of Iman Jallalah, a Hamas company commander.
• Also hit were five Hamas headquarters and two Hamas police structures along with two weapons-smuggling tunnels and a booby-trapped house, covering tunnel entrances.
Three IDF Soldiers Killed By Friendly Fire From Tank
Three IDF soldiers were killed, one was critically injured and three sustained serious injuries when an Israeli tank shell, mistakenly fired by an IDF tank, on operational duty in the northern Gaza Strip, struck aâ€¨building where the soldiers were on duty. Another 20 soldiers sustained injuries in the incident as well.
The incident occurred while IDF troops from the Golani Brigade were engaged in fighting in Gaza City’s Sajaiya neighborhood.
IDF troops reported that approximately 100 Hamas guerrillas had been killed in battle. Hamas activists began clashing with the Israeli troops, as opposed to the first two days of the ground operation, in which the Hamas guerrillas fled to their bunkers and barely fought IDF troops.
Dozens of Hamas operatives were arrested and taken to Israel after being subjected to an initial interrogation in Gaza. Some of them were taken for further questioning by security officials.â€¨ â€¨
IDF officials said they were pleased with the results of the first two days of the ground operations in the Gaza Strip, noting its soldiers had achieved their set objectives within the allotted time. They also said Hamas had been preventing injured people from being evacuated to Egypt for medical treatment to worsen the pictures of suffering in the Gaza Strip, as part of its propaganda campaign.
IDF Intelligence Branch: Hamas Has Enough Rockets To Last Another Month
“Hamas’ rocket array has been damaged, but they’re recovering,” said yesterday IDF Intelligence Research Department Director Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz in a review given to the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “They have rockets and mortar shells for continued fire deep into the Israeli home front for a period of weeks,” he said.
Mr. Baidatz said that the decline in the volume of rocket-fire since the beginning of the operation stemmed from tactical reasons only, noting that Hamas has reserved the possibility of increasing the volume of its rocket-fire. He said that Hamas was still far from a breaking point.
“Hamas isn’t in a ‘white flag’ situation. It wants to stay in power,” heâ€¨said.
Hamas Wants To Get Another ‘Lull’ In Cairo
A Hamas-Damascus delegation arrived in Cairo yesterday, headed by Syrian-based Hamas leader, Imad Alami. Hamas leaders in Gaza are now unable to communicate and hold meetings. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, for example, has not been seen in public for several weeks. The Egyptians’ task is two-fold: they will try to mediate between Hamas and Israel to stop the fire, and in tandem, they will try and get Fatah and Hamas to sit down together for reconciliation talks.â€¨
Large Numbers Of Israeli Female Soldiers Play Role In Gaza Offensive
Commanders involved in the current Israeli military operation say that many female soldiers have been playing unprecedented roles in the activity, including a doctor and two paramedics who accompanied IDF infantry troops deep into Palestinian territory.
“The contribution made by the doctor and the two paramedics (theâ€¨Hebrew signifies that the three are women) has already manifested itselfâ€¨in treating the injured,” said an officer in the Gaza Division lastâ€¨night. “There are quite a few threats of kidnapping soldiers, sniper fire, and there’s the fear of hitting a mine while you’re evacuating wounded under fire, but they’re there just like all the combat troops.”
The Gaza Division of the Israeli army takes pride not only in those three women soldiers, but also in the other women soldiers who serve in combat auxiliary positions in the artillery batteries and take an active role in firing the shells that are aimed at a variety of targets across the Gaza Strip.
“Theâ€¨Armored Corps’ 401st brigade has a woman munitions officer who is nearâ€¨the troops,” explained the officer. “When you see her perform, youâ€¨realize why she’s there. There are also other women adjutants who moveâ€¨about in the field from one place to another in order to meet theâ€¨soldiers’ needs. â€¨An officer in the Israel Air Force, The IAF, notes that women played a role in the front lines in the air force.
“The IAF’s combat helicopters have taken part in a major part of the attacks on targets across the Gaza Strip and inâ€¨defensive activity for IDF soldiers with the goal of locating terrorists,” he said. “And among the dozens of pilots who operate in the air are two women pilots of the helicopter gunships.”â€¨
Investigation Into Attack On United Nations UNRWA School
Following the incident yesterday afternoon in which an Israeli tank fired at a U.N. school, killing 30 or 40 people, the Israel Defense Forces issued a statement that “In response to the incoming enemy fire, the forces returned mortar fire to the source. This is not the first time that Hamas has fired mortars and rockets from schools, in such a way deliberately using civilians as human shields in their acts of terror against Israel. This was already proven several months ago by footage from an unmanned plane depicting rockets and mortars being fired from the yard of an UNRWA school.”
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org