IDF activities in the past 24 hours
Hamas terrorist operatives continue to avoid direct contact with IDF soldiers, preferring tactics such as sniper fire, RPG fire, mortar shell fire and IEDs. They wage their fighting from strongholds within the civilian population, exposing it to danger of attack.
The IDF continues gradual, moderated attacks against the terrorist infrastructure in the areas in which it operates: the exposure of weapons caches, the exposure of tunnels inside houses, the discovery of IEDs, attacks on fortifications and the detention of terrorist operatives. All of the above are backed up by the Israeli Air Force, artillery and the Navy in a joint effort (attacks on armed terrorists near IDF forces, on rocket launching areas, etc).
Two events which occurred on January 8 were the following:
An anti-tank missile was fired at an IDF force conducting a search in the central Gaza Strip, killing company commander Roee Rosner ; another soldier sustained minor injuries.
IDF forces operating in the northern Gaza Strip killed three Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist operatives who had fired rockets into Israeli territory both during the lull arrangement and in the past few days. The houses of senior PIJ terrorists were also attacked (IDF Spokesman, January 8).
In the past few days the IDF uncovered scores of IEDs, including booby-trapped mannequins.
Left to right: A large booby-trapped mannequin, a camouflaged IED, and a detonator
(IDF Spokesman, January 7, 2009).
Israeli Air Force attacks continue
The IAF continues attacking targets and providing support for the ground forces. During the past 24 hours it attacked at least 80 targets , including a mosque which served as a weapons storehouse and a meeting place for Hamas terrorist operatives, a Hamas police post and more than 15 tunnels (some of the tunnels were in the Rafah area along the Egyptian border, while others were inside the Gaza Strip and were used by Hamas terrorist operatives in their attacks against IDF forces). More than 15 weapons stores were attacked, some of them in the houses of Hamas operatives. Other targets were at least 15 rocket launching points and bunkers from which IDF soldiers were attacked, a vehicle carrying a rocket launcher, two Hamas posts and five armed squads, some of which had fired at IDF forces.
Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire into Israeli Territory
During the past few days there has been a gradual, marginal decrease in the scope of rocket and mortar shell fire . On January 7, 17 rockets and five mortar shells were fired into Israeli territory. Since Operation Cast Lead began, 389 rocket and 140 mortar shells have been fired . Some of the more prominent events of the past 24 hours were the following:
January 7 : A Grad rocket fell in the yard of a house in the city of Ashqelon . One man sustained minor injuries and eight went into shock. The building and surrounding area were damaged.
January 7 : Less than half an hour after the end of the three-hour lull in the fighting (the humanitarian corridor), two Grad rockets were fired at the city of Beersheba . One fell in an open area in the center of the city and the other in a field beyond the city limits.
January 8 : A rocket barrage was fired at an Israel village in the northwestern Negev . Seven IDF soldiers were wounded, one critically, one seriously, and five sustained minor injuries.
January 8: A rocket fired at the city of Ashqelon hit the gym of one of the city's schools, which was empty at the time.
Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired at Israel during Operation Cast Lead
Humanitarian Aid Delivered into the Gaza Strip
Humanitarian Corridor Reopened
On January 8 the IDF forces again stopped their attacks to allow for another three-hour humanitarian aid corridor to be opened for Gazans to stock up on food and other necessities. The lull lasted from 1300 to 1600 hours.
During the day 65 trucks carrying supplies passed into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Tankers with 315,000 liters (more than 83,000 gallons) of fuel, as well as 95 tons of cooking gas were delivered through the Nahal Oz crossing. The Palestinian and Arab media reporting from the Gaza Strip said that there was brisk movement through the streets of Gaza City . The lull was used to evacuate the wounded and to evacuate and bury the dead.
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid and tankers carrying diesel fuel making deliveries
to the Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman, January 7, 2009).
Responses to Opening the Humanitarian Corridor (January 7)
Hamas, desiring to represent itself as worried about the residents of the Gaza Strip, said it would stop firing while the humanitarian corridor operated on January 7. Musa Abu Marzuq , deputy head of Hamas's political bureau, said that "Hamas will not even fire a rocket at Israeli targets” (Reuters, January 7). However, in actuality, they did not stop firing and in one instance even launched at rocket at the city of Ashqelon during the humanitarian lull in the fighting.
The other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip publicly dissociated themselves from the lull . Popular Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Mujahed said that Israel 's real reason for the three-hour lull was "to trap the resistance.” He said that the resistance would continue [carrying out terrorist attacks] as long as Israel was "encamped on Palestinian land” (Ma'an News Agency, January 7, 2009 ). Khaled al-Batash , senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad figure, said that the lull was designed to blur the traces of the "slaughter” at the school in Jabaliya on January 6 (Ma'an News Agency, January 7).
International humanitarian aid continues
Humanitarian aid came from the following countries:
Iran : An Iranian relief ship carrying 2000 tons of aid for the Gaza Strip is currently in the Red Sea on its way to the Suez Canal . The situation in the Gaza Strip makes it impossible for the ship to dock there and delivering the aid through Egypt is being examined.
France : The French foreign ministry announced a donation of 3 million euros to human rights agencies for humanitarian aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip.
Belgium : Belgium will donate half a million euros for humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
Libya : Three trucks carrying humanitarian aid which arrived on a Libyan ship entered the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing. Another Libyan vessel docked in El-Arish with a cargo of 4,000 tons of supplies.
Syria : On January 7 a convoy of 15 trucks carrying humanitarian aid left Syria .
Saudi Arabia : Saudi Arabia opened two relief centers in the Gaza Strip, one in Jabaliya and the other in the Shati refugee camp.
The organization calling itself Free Gaza said that it was planning to send a ship which would leave from Cyprus and dock in the Gaza Strip, but "would avoid entering Israel territorial waters.” The date of its sailing will be announced in a few days (Free Gaza website, January 8, 2009 ).
Humanitarian Aid through the Rafah Crossing Continues
The Rafah crossing remains open for the passage of wounded Palestinians into Egypt and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. On January 7, 30 wounded Palestinians and their escorts left for medical treatment in Egypt (Middle East News Agency, January 7).
Egypt continues its security measures along its border with the Gaza Strip. On January 7, seven Palestinians who had illegally crossed the border were detained (Al-Yawm Al-Sabaa, January 7).
Contacts to Stop the Fighting
The Egyptian Initiative – Update
On January 8 Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abu al-Gheit told a correspondent from Al-Hayat that the timetable for getting the Egyptian initiative under way was 48 hours, and no more than 72 . He said that Egypt wanted to prompt Israel and the Palestinians organizations to negotiate a simultaneous ceasefire, and that Egypt also wanted to prompt renewed negotiations leading to an internal Palestinian reconciliation.
Abu al-Gheit also noted the following:
The goal of Egypt 's contacts with Israel and the Palestinians is to achieve a ceasefire accepted by both sides with a definite timetable and which will lead to an immediate ceasefire, the opening of the crossings and a return to the lull arrangement.
Egypt holds Hamas responsible for the current escalation: "There is a side that decided not to renew the lull and after that began firing rockets.” Hamas, he said, is also the side that sabotaged the internal Palestinian dialogue, emphasizing at the same time that Hamas is part of the Palestinian people and the fact that it is leading the military "resistance” against Israel must not be forgotten.
Egypt objects to the deployment of international forces on its territory near the border : "There will be [no forces] on Egyptian soil except armed Egyptian forces...That is completely unacceptable and will not happen – not today and not in another thousand years.”
The answer to the Israel claims of weapons and explosives arriving in the Gaza Strip is to position monitors . He (untruthfully) claimed that weapons reach the Gaza Strip by sea or from Israel .
According to French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak invited the Israeli prime minister to Cairo to discuss the issue of the Egyptian-Gaza border (Agence France Presse from the UN, January 7, 2009 ). On January 8, chief of the Political-Security Bureau of the Israel Ministry of Defense, General (Ret.) Amos Gilad is expected to go to Cairo to discuss the details of the Egypt initiative.
Hamas spokesmen in Beirut and Damascus are suspicious of the Egyptian initiative. Usama Hamdan , Hamas representative in Lebanon , said that there were other "ideas and plans,” such as the European suggestions, and that Hamas should not restrict itself to the Egyptian initiative. He added that "a lot of question marks were floating above the [Egyptian] initiative...” (Al-Jazeera TV, January 7, 2009 ). Muhammad Nizal , of Hamas's political bureau, said Hamas resented the fact that Egypt was not a maximum effort to support the Palestinian people. When asked about the Egyptian initiative, he answered that Hamas had not rejected it but wanted to make it clear to Egypt that it was in favor of an initiative which included three [sic] principles: the end of the Israeli operation, the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, the lifting of the blockade and the opening of the Rafah crossing. He said the Egyptian initiative had to be "corrected and improved” to make it "a positive initiative for Palestinian interests” (Al-Aqsa TV, January 7, 2009 ).
Reactions to Operation Cast Lead
The Palestinian Authority
The Palestinian Authority (in complete contrast to Hamas) gave its blessing to the Egyptian initiative. It was reported that on January 9 Mahmoud Abbas would go to Cairo to meet with Hosni Mubarak in order to formulate a plan and mechanism for implementing the initiative (Wafa News Agency, January 7, 2009 ).
Speaking at the Security Council, Mahmoud Abbas recounted the suffering of the Gazans and the IDF's "atrocities,” calling for a complete end to "Israeli aggression” (without mentioning the rocket and mortar shell barrages and Hamas's terrorist attacks). He said that the guarantee for any solution would be the establishment of an international force which would help the Palestinian people rehabilitate its welfare and security, bring an end to the "siege” of the Gaza Strip, and ensure a firm base for a comprehensive and durable ceasefire.
Hamas and the Other Terrorist Organizations Operating in the Gaza Strip
Using Women for Terrorist Purposes
One terrorist organization tactic is using women for offensive purposes against the IDF. On January 8 armed women belonging to the Popular Resistance Committees held a march. The pictures are from Hamas's PALDF Forum, January 8, 2009 ).
Mother of Abu Yussuf al-Qoqa, senior Popular Resistance Committees terrorist who was killed.
Children in the Gaza Strip Write Messages on Rockets Fired into Israel
A surfer on the Fatah forum (January 7) said that "the children of Gaza decided to enter the battle against Israel ...” He said they would send their messages to the children of Israel by writing them on rockets. He attached pictures (which appeared authentic) of a masked boy and girl writing messages on rockets.
Hamas Terrorist Operative Interviewed by British Newspaper
Azmi Kashawi , Times correspondent in Gaza , interviewed a Hamas platoon commander in the middle of the street. The terrorist, nicknamed " Abu Jundal ,” was off-duty, unarmed and wearing civilian clothes. He said ( January 7, 2009 ):
So far, only a small percentage of Hamas capacity (10% of 15,000 operatives) has entered battle.
Hamas is waging a war of attrition against the IDF and it can last for three more months.
Hamas operatives fight in shifts that begin at 2200 hours and end at 0500 hours, to save their strength.
"Abu Jundal's” platoon has not seen combat with the IDF at close quarters. So far his operatives have fired rocket grenades and mortar shells and detonated land mines to stop the enemy.
Hamas has prepared a number of "surprises” for the IDF which he refused to discuss. However, he said that the key priority for him and his comrades was to abduct Israeli soldiers to use as bargaining chips.
Hassan Nasrallah addressed the following issues during the past two days (Al-Manar TV, January 7):
The visits of Kazem Jalili, spokesman for the Iranian parliament's foreign committee, to Damascus and Beirut : Nasrallah attempted to rebuff claims that Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist organizations receive instructions from Iran: "Our Iranian brothers do not come here to dictate to us, saying fight or don't fight, stop and restrain yourselves, which is the impression some people are trying to create.” The Iranians, he said, "come to ask advice, to consult and to ask how they can proffer the necessary help as demanded by their status, responsibility, capability and resources.” Nasrallah "revealed,” with "full responsibility and sincerity,” that "today this resistance, that exists in Lebanon , in Palestine , does not bow before the authority of any country in the world...” ( a bald-faced lie from the head of an organization established, operated and financed by Iran ).
Praise for the firm stance of the Palestinian operatives in the Gaza Strip : "Yesterday, jihad fighters and men of the resistance [i.e., terrorist operatives] demonstrated in the Gaza Strip, in several locations, a wonderful combat function, which expresses the will of jihad and the desire to die the death of a martyr [for the sake of Allah...” Nasrallah provided false information about the number of IDF soldiers killed and about the bravery of the Palestinians (his speech was interrupted with cries of "Death to Israel !”).
A warning to Israel not to invade Lebanon : "We are ready for every [act of] aggression. If [ Israel ] comes to our land, our villages, our people, the Zionists will discover that the second Lebanon war was a picnic compared to what he have prepared for them, for any new aggression...”
On the morning of January 8, four rockets were launched from the western sector of south Lebanon toward the Western Galilee . One hit an old age home in the city of Nahariya , and caused minor injuries to several people. (Further details and assessment will be provided in a separate document.)