US-UN plan for 72-hour ceasefire and talks falls apart, as Hamas breaches truce with Rafah attack and kidnapping; after five soldiers killed Thursday, IDF death toll rises to 61
The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Friday, the 25th day of Operation Protective Edge. The US and UN announced a 72-hour truce from Friday morning to be followed by negotiations, but the truce quickly collapsed as Hamas carried out an attack in Rafah in which a soldier was kidnapped. Thursday saw 90 rockets fired at Israel, several Israelis hurt by mortar fire, ongoing IDF strikes at Hamas targets in Gaza and tunnel demolitions, and US criticism of an Israeli strike that killed a reported 15 people at a UN school in Gaza on Wednesday
Five IDF soldiers were killed late Thursday in a mortar attack inside the Israeli border; 61 soldiers and three civilians have been killed on the Israeli side in the 25 days of fighting, while Gazan health officials put the death toll there at over 1,400. Israel says hundreds of those are Hamas fighters.
As civilian casualties mount in the ongoing Gaza conflict, the IDF is set to open a field hospital on the border with the Strip on Sunday evening, with the intention of providing humanitarian services to Palestinians injured in the fighting taking place in the coastal enclave.
Gaza sources have said the number of wounded in the coastal enclave has exceeded 3,000, with many more injured Sunday morning in a large clash between IDF troops and Hamas gunmen in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood. Israeli military officials said Sunday that they had told civilians to leave the Shejaiya area days ago, ahead of IDF military action in a neighborhood that is a Hamas stronghold.
The facility, which was approved by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, will open its doors at 8 p.m. on Sunday, the army said in a statement.
“The hospital will include an emergency clinic, pediatrician and gynecology services, a delivery room and hospitalization when needed. The staff will include doctors, nurses, x-ray technicians and lab technicians,” the statement read.
“The hospital will treat sick and wounded Palestinians in coordination with the liaison department of the Erez crossing and will open its gates tonight,” the statement continued.
In Gaza City Sunday, the Shifa hospital was struggling to reach those in need of case, with many of the wounded walking for hours to receive treatment. Casualties were being brought in by the minute, some in ambulances, others in cars and trucks. Among them were children screaming in agony, many peppered with shrapnel wounds.
From today’s papers in Israel:
For the first time in the history of the Golani Brigade, an officer with the Druze community is to serve as the brigade’s chief. Colonel Ghassan Alian, currently deputy commander of the Golan Division, is a resident of the northern town of Shfaram and has been serving in many senior posts in Golani.
As deputy commander of the Golan Division, Alian was in charge of upgrading the border fence in the Israel-Syria border, including fortifying the fence, deploying intelligence measures and bolstering security posts along the fence.
Col. Alian’s promotion comes at a particularly sensitive time, with the civil war in Syria occasionally spilling over onto the Israeli side of the armistice line in the Golan Heights. That the IDF’s command has the confidence to place the brigade’s command in his hands at this time speaks volumes about his individual character and qualifications and the vacuity of the libelous apartheid smear.
For any who might not be familiar with the Golani Brigade, it is one of Israel’s storied military units, often being given some of its toughest assignments. The following links to a 2009 article in Ha’aretz with a bit of information about the unit: Your text to link…
Avital Leibovich’s business card contains all the usual information: name, rank (lieutenant colonel), position. She is head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Interactive Media Branch, and in addition to listing her phone numbers and email address, the card also includes some less traditional data: her Twitter address and Facebook page.
Working out of a modest office building in Tel Aviv, Leibovich and her team of 30 soldiers are responsible not only for the social network presence of Israel’s armed forces — the IDF — but also for making sure that it makes a good impression.
“We are the only army in the world that puts this much effort into an Internet media offensive,” she says with pride. Several hundred postings in six languages are made to nearly all social networks and a blog every month.
The endeavor began small during the Gaza War in late December 2008 when a conscript had the idea of making some filmed content available to the media on YouTube. It was a great success, and not just with journalists.
Today, everything from aerial shots of targeted killings to a short introduction in English to Krav Maga (a self-defense system developed in Israeli based on martial arts) can be found on YouTube. When an Israeli F-16 jet fighter with a technical defect crashed, it was only a matter of hours before video of the dramatic IDF rescue of the pilot and navigator was posted.
Viewer figures for some videos are out there for all to see. The short clip showing how militant Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari was killed in an Israeli air attack on his car was viewed nearly five million times. But even unspectacular videos, like one sending messages of goodwill to those in the Arab world observing Ramadan, can appeal to large numbers of viewers, says Leibovich.
So far, there are pages and channels in Hebrew, English, French, Russian, Spanish and Arabic, she explains. And postings on each one are different. New immigrants to Israel are usually in charge of these not only because they speak the language of the target group but because of their intuitive understanding of their native culture and therefore the approach to take when presenting content.
But these postings don’t come at the expense of news and political coverage. When rockets from Gaza hit the southern part of the country, the news was on Twitter in nearly real time. The number of relief trucks admitted to the Gaza strip every month is presented as an infographic, and just recently a new webpage with information about the history, ideology and terrorist activities of Hezbollah were posted.
Using the example of a village in southern Lebanon, they show how Hezbollah deliberately stockpiles weapons near schools and medical facilities. Programmers and layout designers spent over six months on the project.
The Osprey is finally spreading its wings for the rest of the world.
Pentagon sources say the U.S. has negotiated a deal with the Israelis to sell the first ever V-22 Osprey transports to a foreign country. The tilt-rotor aircraft - marketed for its ability to take off and land like a helicopter and fly fast like an airplane - generated negative attention during its initial testing and development as what critics called an unsafe and unreliable vehicle.
But improvements to the Ospreys impressed the Marine Corps, which will soon use it as the primary medium-lift helicopter for all it’s troop transport missions. And the V-22 has proven itself on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The purchasing agreement between the U.S. and Israel will be a key component of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s upcoming tour of the Middle East. “It’s a significant achievement, and the timing of this trip is appropriate,” a senior defense official says. “Secretary Hagel wanted to make sure to travel to Israel very early to finalize parts of this agreement and talk through it.”
This agreement, the official added, is one of the most “significant and complex and comprehensive which we’ve seen.”
In conversations with a psychologist after his return to Israel from five years in captivity, Gilad Schalit expressed fears over the IDF investigation he would undergo. Schalit knew exactly what he was worried about - he knew all too well the circumstances that led to his captivity. He knew that there was no military glory in what had happened there, on that night. He knew that he did not do his duty as an IDF combat soldier and did not even do the minimum to prevent his own capture.
Schalit knew that he had effectively given himself up on June 25, 2006, been taken captive without firing even one bullet, despite the fact that he could have prevented the entire situation with relative ease. He was very concerned indeed over his meeting with the military investigators.
But in contrast to other cases of soldiers being taken prisoner or abducted, the IDF was handling Schalit with kid gloves.
The soldier had become “the child of us all,” whose years of absence were etched on the national consciousness - and it was a sentiment that had infected the IDF as well.
Hamas and other Palestinian groups have made 18 attempts in the past four months to kidnap Israeli soldiers to use as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian security prisoners, an Israeli general said Saturday.
Avi Mizrahi, outgoing commander of the IDF’s Central Command, said Hamas was behind most of the attempts.
The general, interviewed on Channel 2′s Meet the Press, was speaking amid a dramatic upsurge in violence surrounding Palestinian security prisoners, several of whom are hunger-striking.
Hamas leaders have repeatedly urged their followers to try to replicate the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier who was grabbed in a raid into Israel from Gaza in 2006, held hostage by Hamas in the Strip for five years, and released in October 2006 in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners, including arch-terrorists.
I believe the kidnapping terrorist bandits of Gaza would probably refer to this as Hamas Pride.
Ultra-Orthodox troops use civilian tractor to pull Palestinians trapped in car; 669 unit helicopter boards family trapped on roof surrounded by water, power lines
Lifesaving cooperation occurred Tuesday between haredi IDF troops and Palestinians who were trapped in a stream growing violent due to the stormy weather.
Soldiers of the IDF’s haredi battalion Netzah Yehuda managed to rescue three Palestinian men before the fierce currents washed over them. Ynet obtained a documentation of the rescue.
The IDF troops were called to an area near the Nablus River, where, they were told, cars were stranded with their drivers trapped in a constantly intensifying current.
The storm was too severe for helicopters to arrive at the scene, and the battalion commander resorted to utilizing a Palestinian’s tractor that was passing by.
The commander mounted the tractor, as he and the owner drove toward the trapped cars, rescuing three men. A fourth man is known to have also been trapped in the river, but he was not found and was reported missing.
The tractor exited the flooded area just before the asphalt started collapsing. The soldiers gave the rescued men initial medical care at the scene.
Throughout Wednesday, Netzah Yehuda rescued some 33 people, of whom 30 who were trapped in a bus. In many of the rescues, the troops worked in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority’s rescue forces.
Unit 669’s intricate rescue
The Air Force’s special search and rescue division, Unit 669, involved in Tuesday’s rescues resulting from the stormy weather, also faced a challenging rescue mission on Wednesday, when it was called in to help a family trapped on the roof of a Tayibe house, surrounded by water.
Jerusalem - Sixteen IDF soldiers could face court-martial proceedings after posing in uniform for a photograph where their arranged bodies spelled out the phrase “Bibi Loser” in Hebrew letters. Their act is an expression of defiance against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to accept a cease-fire with Hamas instead of sending ground troops into Gaza.
The Times of Israel reports (bit.ly) that the photograph has gone viral, and has received over 3,000 “Likes” and 400 “shares” in one Facebook group alone within just three hours of being posted. Comments on the photo ranged from those calling for the soldiers to be court-martialed to sympathy for the soldiers’ frustration.
Other comments refer to Netanyahu as a coward for keeping the IDF from “giving it to Hamas” and “getting the job done.”
Bibi is totally a loser, but not in the way they think.