UPDATED: As I write this, the Israeli security cabinet is meeting to consider a seven-day ceasefire proposal by Secretary Kerry, even as Palestinians are rioting in the West Bank and Hamas is calling for a “third intifada.”
The big question Israeli leaders are wrestling with is this: Has the IDF destroyed enough of the terrorists’ rockets, missiles, launchers, tunnels, weapons stockpiles and command and control centers to justify stopping now, or do they need more time to accomplish the nation’s objectives of establishing several years or true calm and stability?
- The good news: Israeli defensive measures have kept civilian deaths in Israel low (2 so far), and rocket fire has dropped from 190+ a day near the beginning of the conflict to 63 yesterday.
- The bad news: the terrorist tunnel network is more extensive and dangerous than Israeli intelligence realized.
- The challenge: Iron Dome is working extremely well at neutralizing the rocket threat, but there is no Iron Dome to protect Israel from terrorist tunnels.
Israel is coming under increasing pressure by the world community — and particularly by the Obama administration — to end the fighting quickly. Actually, it’s been Hamas that has turned down multiple ceasefire proposals. But their terrorist forces are getting hammered by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) so they may be ready to quit soon, lest they are completely dismantled by Israel. That said, Israeli leaders don’t want a ceasefire that will simply give Hamas and Islamic Jihad more time to prepare for the next war.
I will do my best to keep you posted via Twitter throughout the day and weekend on the latest diplomatic developments.
UPDATES AT 9:30pm Saturday:
- Israel and US openly at odds over Gaza ceasefire terms — Israeli ministers unanimously reject Kerry proposal, and government sources say it leans heavily toward Hamas, wouldn’t enable Israel to keep tackling Hamas tunnels (Times of Israel)
- Israel, Hamas to observe 12-hour unilateral cease-fire in Gaza (Jerusalem Post)
- Israeli Defense Minister says: Prepare for significant expansion of Gaza op — GOC Southern Command says IDF needs more time to operate against tunnels, Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Gaza Strip, adding that Hamas is exhibiting signs of weakness. (Ynet News)
- Report: Hamas Morale Collapsing, Terrorists Flee IDF (Breitbart/Jerusalem Post)
Here’s the latest on the war, by the numbers:
- At least 31 tunnels under Gaza — many of them leading under Israel — have been found by IDF forces, including about 60 entrances.
- More than 2,300 rockets and missiles have been fired at Israel by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.
- The IDF has hit 3,540 terrorist targets since Operation Protective Edge began.
- At least 33 Israeli soldiers have been killed.
LATEST ON THE ROCKETS
- Day #3 of GazaWar — 192 rockets fired at Israel.
- Day #13 — 139 fired.
- Day #14 — 90 fired.
- Day #15 — 98 fired.
- Day #16 — 63 fired.
- Day #17 — 80 fired (updated)
Is the tide turning?
LATEST ON THE CEASE FIRE DISCUSSIONS
UNDERSTANDING THE TUNNEL THREAT
- Excellent column by reporter and Mideast analyst Jeffrey Goldberg on why Israel would be “insane” to accept a cease fire that doesn’t end the tunnel threat.
- Gaza Underground, the threat Israel chose to ignore — Hamas’s attack tunnels are now recognized as a major danger, but Israel would have to reconquer Gaza to make sure they aren’t rebuilt, and that would cause untenable losses (analysis — Times of Israel)
- Israel surprised by number, sophistication of Gaza tunnels (Fox News)
- Maps, IDF Uniforms Found in Gaza Terror Tunnels — Full ‘terror kits’ include not only weapons, but intelligence and disguises for attacks; IDF eliminates several terror cells. (Arutz Sheva)\
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