Following ten days of Hamas attacks against Israel and after repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation, the IDF started a new phase of Operation Protective Edge. A large IDF force entered Gaza with their mission to target Hamas’ tunnels that cross under the Israel-Gaza border and enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks. The IDF intends to impair Hamas’ capability to attack Israel.
Saturday, August 2
3:43 PM: We have told Beit Lahia residents that they may return to their homes. We advised them to avoid explosives placed by Hamas across the area.
11:00 AM: Over the past 24 hours, the IDF struck 200 terror targets in the Gaza Strip, including tunnels, weapon manufacturing and storage facilities, and command and control centers. Among the targets was a Hamas military wing facility that was used for research and development of weapon manufacturing located within the Islamic University. In addition, weapon caches and Hamas command and training facilities concealed within five mosques were targeted. Earlier today, IAF aircraft targeted the launcher used to fire at Tel Aviv area earlier this morning.
6:21 AM: Moments ago Iron Dome intercepted two rockets over Tel Aviv and one over BeerSheba. 6:17 AM: Rocket sirens in Tel Aviv.
12 examples of Hamas firing rockets from civilian areas:
IDF soldiers find weapons cache and two terror tunnel openings inside mosque:
Inside one of the many terror tunnels:
Friday, August 1
8:51 PM: So far today, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have fired 61 rockets at Israel.
9:30 AM: in violation of the latest ceasefire, Hamas terrorists, including a suicide attacker, fired at our forces in southern Gaza. We suspect that Hamas kidnapped 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin, an IDF officer, during the exchange of fire and dragged him into a tunnel. The IDF is currently conducting extensive searches in order to locate the missing soldier. During the event, 2 IDF soldiers were killed by Hamas fire- Maj. Benaya Sarel, 26 and Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni, 20.
12:45 PM: Eight rockets and mortars were fired at Israel, one was intercepted and seven hit open areas.
10:15 AM: The names of four of the five IDF soldiers killed last night by mortar fire are released: Staff Sgt. Noam Rosenthal, 20, Sgt. 1st Class (Res.) Daniel Marash, 22, Cpt. Omri Tal, 22, Staff Sgt. Shay Kushnir, 20 & Cpt. (res.) Liran Adir (Edry), 31. May their memory be blessed.
7:47 AM: Moments ago, six rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by Iron Dome above southern Israel.
7:14 AM: At 8:00 AM, the IDF will cease fire for 72 hours in accordance with the government’s directive. We will continue to dismantle the tunnels.
5:10 AM: Yesterday, five IDF soldiers were killed by mortar fire during operational activity along the Gaza border.
1:30 AM: Moments ago, three rockets were fired from Gaza. Iron Dome intercepted one above central Israel.
Hamas official thanks Palestinians for sacrificing their blood and body parts while he sits safely in a TV studio:
IDF exposes another tunnel and blows up a booby-trapped building:
IDF detonate several tunnels in Gaza:
Benjamin Netanyahu to US: Don’t second guess me on Hamas. Following the quick collapse of the cease-fire in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the White House not to force a truce with Palestinian militants on Israel.
AP (h/t Frederic F) Sources familiar with conversations between Netanyahu and senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, say the Israeli leader advised the Obama administration “not to ever second guess me again.” The officials also said Netanyahu said he should be “trusted” on the issue and about the unwillingness of Hamas to enter into and follow through on cease-fire talks.
The Obama administration on Friday condemned “outrageous” violations of an internationally brokered Gaza cease-fire by Palestinian militants and called the apparent abduction of an Israeli soldier a “barbaric” action. The strong reaction came as top Israeli officials questioned the effort to forge the truce, accusing the U.S. and the United Nations of being naive in assuming the radical Hamas movement would adhere with its terms. The officials also blamed the Gulf state of Qatar for not forcing the militants to comply.
With the cease-fire in tatters fewer than two hours after it took effect with an attack that killed two Israeli troops and left a third missing, President Barack Obama demanded that those responsible release the soldier. Obama and other U.S. officials did not directly blame Hamas for the abduction. But they made clear they hold Hamas responsible for, or having influence over, the actions of all factions in the Gaza Strip. The language was a distinct change from Thursday when Washington was focused on the deaths of Palestinian civilians.
“If they are serious about trying to resolve this situation, that soldier needs to be unconditionally released as soon as possible,” Obama told reporters. He added that it would be difficult to revive the cease-fire without the captive’s release.
“It’s going to be very hard to put a cease-fire back together again if Israelis and the international community can’t feel confident that Hamas can follow through on a cease-fire commitment,” he said. His comment reflected uncertainty in the U.S. and elsewhere that Hamas was actually responsible for the incident or if some other militant group was to blame. At the same time, Obama called the situation in Gaza “heartbreaking” and repeated calls for Israel to do more to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties.
Despite the collapse of the truce, Obama credited Kerry for his work with the United Nations to forge one. He lamented criticism and “nitpicking” of Kerry’s attempts and said the effort would continue.
Kerry negotiated the truce with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon in a marathon session of phone calls over several days while he was in India on an official visit. Kerry had spent much of the past two weeks in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and France trying to mediate a cease-fire with Qatar and Turkey playing a major role because of their close ties with Hamas.
Those efforts failed with Israel saying it could not trust Hamas and some Israelis and American pro-Israel groups complaining that the U.S. was treating the group – a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the State Department – as a friend.