Operation Protective Edge – Update No. 21 (As of 1200 hours, August 6, 2014) *

Issued on: 06/08/2014 Type: Article

Overview of the Situation

1.   The ceasefire that went into effect at 0800 hours on August 5 continues. The IDF completed the destruction of 32 tunnels extending under the border into Israeli territory, withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip and redeployed them in a defensive line along the border. Negotiations to reach an arrangement are being held in Cairo, joined by representatives of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other terrorist organizations from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli media reported that a three-man Israeli delegation had also arrived in Egypt and met with Egyptian mediators.

IDF Activity
Ceasefire Declared

2.   At 0800 hours on August 5, 2014, a ceasefire was declared. The IDF withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip and redeployed in a defensive line along the border. So far large numbers of forces are deployed ready for action according to operational necessity. Rocket fire attacking Israel from the Gaza Strip continued until a few minutes before the ceasefire went into effect (IDF Spokesman, August 5, 2014).

3.   Major General Sammy Turgeman, commander of the Southern Command, said that the IDF had located and destroyed all the tunnels leading into Israel. He said Hamas had been constructing the tunnels for years and had invested millions of dollars, and that they had been destroyed in two weeks. He added that the IDF had fought professionally, admirably and with determination against the challenges, with included combat in densely-populated areas, a vast underground tunnel network, anti-tank missiles, mortar shells, sniper fire, and booby-trapped buildings and streets. He said the operation had not ended and that the forces were still prepared to carry out any mission. He warned Hamas that it would make an enormous mistake if it violated the ceasefire. He called on the residents of southern Israel to return to their homes, saying they could feel secure and calm, and that the IDF had the capability and strength to provide them with security (IDF Spokesman, August 5, 2014).

4.   Ismail Haniya, deputy head of the Hamas' political bureau, issued a statement read by a presenter on TV claiming that what Israel had not achieved on the ground during the operation it would not under any circumstances achieve in the political arena. Hamas, he claimed, had dealt with the political maneuvers with a great deal of responsibility while maintaining contact with Qatar and Turkey, and later with Egypt. He also claimed that the Hamas delegation was operating within the overall Palestinian delegation to end the siege of the Gaza Strip (Al-Aqsa TV, August 5, 2014).

5.   The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing, issued a statement claiming that although a ceasefire had been declared, its forces were still on alert and the campaign continued. It would not end, the statement continued, until Israel surrendered to the Palestinians' demands and restored their rights. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades also stated that it regarded the current stage [i.e., the 72-hour ceasefire] as temporary and that Israel's conduct would determine the progress of the campaign and its consequences (Qassam.ps, August 5, 2014).

IDF Activity

6.   During the 29 days of fighting, the IDF forces dealt a significant blow to the terrorist infrastructures of Hamas, the PIJ and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. Thirty-two known tunnels used for terrorist purposes were destroyed. Until the ceasefire went into effect, Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft continued attacking terrorist targets from the air. During the operation 4,762 terrorist targets were attacked from the air (IDF Spokesman, August 6, 2014).

IDF and Civilian Losses

7.   Sixty-four IDF soldiers and three civilians were killed in Operation Protective Edge. One civilian was killed in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. About 450 soldiers and 80 civilians were wounded.

Rocket Fire into Israeli Territory

8.   On the morning of August 5, 2014, a few minutes before the ceasefire began, a barrage of rockets was fired into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. About 20 rockets were fired at the western Negev, Ashdod, Ashqelon, Kiryat Malachi, Gan Yavne, Maale Adumim, Rishon Letzion and Rehovot. Rocket fragments fell in the heart of Jerusalem. The Palestinian media reported that a rocket hit a building in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, causing extensive damage to the building and to the electrical grid (Maannews.net, August 5, 2014). Hamas' military-terrorist wing claimed responsibility for the rocket fire on August 5 during the few minutes before the ceasefire. According to the announcement, the barrage was fired in response to IDF activity in the Shati and Rafah refugee camps (Qassam.ps, August 5, 2014).

9.   During Operation Protective Edge 2,710 rockets hit Israeli territory, 1,525 during the ground operation. The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted more than 580 of them. In ITIC assessment Approximately 20% more can be added to the number of rockets fired to account for rocket launchings that failed (some of which landed inside the Gaza Strip and caused damage). Thus the total number of rockets fired to attack Israel was more than 3,000. More than half the rockets were short-range rockets that targeted the western Negev. In addition, massive mortar shell fire targeted the western Negev.

Daily Distribution of Rocket Hits in Israeli Territory during Operation Protective Edge[2]

Daily Distribution of Rocket Hits in Israeli Territory during Operation Protective Edge

The Gazan Population
Instructions from the Ministry of the Interior in the Gaza Strip

10.   On the night of August 5, 2014, the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip posted a notice on its Facebook page warning Palestinians not to divulge information about terrorist operatives ("resistance" casualties) who were killed during Operation Protective Edge. That was because, claimed the announcement, the "occupation" [i.e., Israel] was collecting all the information and reports [about casualties] and would use them as evidence to "justify its crimes against [Palestinian] civilians." The objectives of the instructions were, on the one hand, to preserve the image of "victory" Hamas is trying to establish, and on the other, to significantly inflate the number of civilian casualties to smear Israel and exert media, political and legal pressure on it.[3]

The notice posted by the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip (Facebook page of the ministry of the interior, August 5, 2014).
The notice posted by the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip (Facebook page of the ministry of the interior, August 5, 2014).

The Humanitarian Situation in the Gaza Strip

11.   The Palestinian media reported that with the withdrawal of the IDF and the beginning of the ceasefire, Gazans living near the Israeli border had begun returning to their houses. According to the reports, the Gazans were stunned by the extent of the destruction and rescue forces were still working to find bodies under the rubble. The civil defense apparatus asked all owners of heavy vehicles to help clear the rubble (Paltoday.ps, August 5, 2014).

12.   UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness reported that the number of Gazans sheltered in UNRWA installations had declined, and that 50,000 had left the shelters and returned to their houses. According to the report there are currently 216,082 civilians in 90 UNRWA installations. Gunness said that the level of destruction in the Gaza Strip was without precedent and that changes had to be made in the aid policy to make it possible to rebuild. He said that the import of building materials into the Gaza Strip had to be permitted (Twitter account of Chris Gunness, August 5, 2014).

13.   The president of the International Red Crossis currently visiting the Gaza Strip to assess damages. He said it would take days and weeks to provide a response to the humanitarian issues in the Gaza Strip, and that it would be necessary to hold talks with Israel regarding the delivery of as much aid as possible (CNN.com, August 5, 2014).

14.   Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the Palestinian national consensus government, hosted Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA commissioner-general, in his office in Ramallah and updated him on the situation in the Gaza Strip. He said the Palestinian government was committed to providing all the necessary aid. Krähenbühl said that UNRWA was willing to collaborate with the Palestinian government, adding that it was time to discuss who would sit on the committee examining the situation in the Gaza Strip and the possibilities for rebuilding it (Alhayat-j.com, August 5, 2014).

15.   Ms. Pernille Ironside, head of UNICEF'S field office in the Gaza Strip, said that reconstruction would require hundreds of millions of dollars. She said that 142 schools, 89 of them run by the United Nations, had been damaged. She also asked for increased international support, saying that "The international community cannot accept the rebuilding of Gaza on the same terms as before" (Nytimes.com, August 5, 2014).[4]

The Crossings – Update
The Kerem Shalom Crossing

16.   Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge 1,904 trucks have entered the Gaza Strip through the crossingcarrying food, medical equipment, diesel fuel for the power plant, gasoline for transportation and cooking gas. On August 4, 2014, 167 trucks entered the Gaza Strip carrying 3,361 tons of supplies including food, medicine, humanitarian equipment and agricultural supplies (Cogat.idf.il, August 5, 2014). In view of the ceasefire, the number of trucks can be expected to increase. During the operation drivers on both sides of the crossing encountered difficulties in reaching it to deliver and receive merchandise because of the fighting.

Judea and Samaria
Stabbing Attack near Maale Adumim

17.   At around noon on August 5, 2014, a security guard at the entrance to Maale Adumim (east of Jerusalem) was stabbed, apparently by a Palestinian, who fled in a vehicle. The Palestinian approached the roadblock holding a bag that aroused the suspicions of the security guards stationed there. When one of the guards asked to examine the bag, the Palestinian took out a knife, stabbed him and fled. The guard, 55 years old, was seriously wounded and evacuated to a hospital. Israeli security forces found a taxi similar to the description of the vehicle in which the stabber fled, and detained three suspects, one of whom answered the description of the attacker (Ynetnews.co.il, August 5, 2014).

Boycott of Israel-Made Products

18.   The Palestinian society for consumer protection initiated a campaign to remove Israeli-made products from the shelves of stores in Palestinian cities and to encourage the sales of Palestinian-made and imported merchandise. The society claimed that the money Palestinians paid for Israeli products eventually reached the IDF and purchased weapons used against the Palestinian people. The campaign has already begun in Bitunia, Hebron and Tulkarm (PNN TV, August 5, and Wafa.ps, August 6, 2014).

Information Revealed about the Perpetrators of the Abduction and Murder of the Three Israeli Youths in Gush Etzion

19.   The Israeli media reported that the Israel Security Agency (ISA) had detained Husam al-Qawasmeh, a Hamas terrorist operative involved in the abduction and murder of the three Israeli youths in Gush Etzion in June. According to the report he handled the abductors and helped them bury the bodies of the victims. During interrogation Husam al-Qawasmeh admitted that he had received money from Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip to fund the attack (Israel Channel 10 TV, August 5, 2014).

20.   Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri issued a press release claiming that the news item reported by Israeli Channel 10 TV, that Husam al-Qawasmeh had received money from Hamas in the Gaza Strip, was false. He claimed Hamas did not know anyone named Husam al-Qawasmeh and that the news had been broadcast to "confuse the media" and draw attention away from what was being done in the Gaza Strip (Aa.com.tr, August 5, 2014).

Contacts for a Ceasefire

21.   A 72-hour ceasefire went into effect at 0800 hours on August 5, 2014. So far it was not been violated. The Israel media reported that a three-man Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo and had met with Egyptian mediators (Haaretz.co.il, August 6, 2014).

22.   On the night of August 5, 2014, an eight-man Palestinian delegation of representatives of Hamas, the PIJ and other terrorist organizations left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing (Alquds.com, Al-Watan.com, August 5, 2014). Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas' political bureau, one of the representatives from the Gaza Strip, claimed they were going to negotiations that would end the siege once and for all. He also said that they were going to the negotiations "with their fingers on the trigger" (Al-Jazeera, August 5, 2014).

23.   Osama Hamdan, in charge of Hamas' international relations, claimed comprehensive negotiations would begin as soon as the Israeli delegation arrived. He said that the Palestinians were united in their demands, and claimed that all the demands had been put on the agenda, including the issue of air and sea ports. He admitted that the Palestinian organizations were facing a difficult political campaign with Israel, no less difficult than the military battle (Alaraby.co.uk, August 5, 2014).

24.   Ziyad al-Nakhaleh, PIJ deputy secretary general, claimed he expected good results would come from the talks in Cairo in view of the Egyptian position. He claimed the Palestinians had transmitted their demands to the Egyptians so they could transmit them to the Israelis. He claimed Israel had lost its deterrent capability during the operation because of the improvements in the capabilities of the "resistance" [i.e., terrorist organizations] (Maannews.net, August 6, 2014).

The Propaganda and Legal Campaign
Promoting Legal Procedures against Israel

25.   Riyadh al-Maliki, foreign minister in the national consensus government, arrived in Holland, where he met with Fatou Bensouda, the attorney general of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He said he had been sent by Mahmoud Abbas to examine and study the bureaucratic procedures the PA would have to follow to join the Rome Convention (Wafa.ps, August 5, 2014).

26.   After meeting the attorney general Riyadh al-Maliki held a press conference where he claimed the PA's situation allowed it to sign the Rome Convention, and that the decision to do so would be made soon. However, he also said he did not mean "tomorrow or the day after." He claimed the "slaughter" [allegedly] carried out by Israel during the operation had forced the PA to approach the ICC. He also claimed that the Palestinians were prepared to bear the results of an investigation into the actions of the Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip because "they cannot be compared to the actions taken by Israel" (Al-Jazeera, August 5, 2014).

27.   Muhammad Ashtiya, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, claimed that the PA had prepared a "sheet of accusations" against Israel, and that the Palestinian leadership was in the last stages of preparing to appeal to the ICC. He claimed all the Palestinian organizations would sign the accusations and that Hamas, which had not yet signed, was currently deliberating the issue (Aa.com.tr, August 5, 2014).

28.   Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights in Geneva, condemned Israel's alleged attacks on schools, hospitals, places of worship and the infrastructure, including the Gaza Strip's only power plant. She said that in view of the great evidence of war crimes allegedly committed by Israel, and the large number of civilian casualties, an investigation had to be conducted to determine if international humanitarian law had been violated or even if war crimes had been committed (Ohchr.org, August 5, 2014).

29.   Ms. Pillay also condemned the rocket fire into Israel by "armed groups in the Gaza Strip" (without mentioning Hamas and other terrorist organizations by name). She said it was forbidden to situate weapons and carry out attacks from densely-populated civilian areas. She also said that any violation of the laws of war by one side did not release the other side from its obligation to protect civilians. She said the international community had joint responsibility not to exempt such acts from punishment, and the events that occurred during the operation had to be presented in court. She added that it was unlikely that justice would be served by only domestic proceedings (Ohchr.org, August 5, 2014).

"Images of Victory" (Cold Comfort...)

30.   On August 5, 2014, various Palestinian Facebook pages posted pictures of civilian, mostly children from east Khan Yunis, with IDF equipment soldiers apparently left behind (Facebook pages of the Palestine Network, August 5, and Paltoday.tv, August 6, 2014).


(From the Facebook pages of the Palestine Network, August 5, and Paltoday.tv, August 6, 2014)
(From the Facebook pages of the Palestine Network, August 5, and Paltoday.tv, August 6, 2014)

Foreign Correspondents in the Gaza Strip Report on Rocket Fire from Populated Areas

31.   During Operation Protective Edge several Gaza-based correspondents reported rocket fire from the densely-populated areas in which they stayed. The areas included the Al-Shifa'a Hospital and the hotel in which foreign media personnel were lodged. Two current examples follow:

1)  On August 5, 2014, Gallagher Fenwick, a correspondent for France 24 TV, reported on rocket fire. He said the rockets were launched about 50 meters (about 55 yards) from the hotel where he and most of the foreign media correspondents in the Gaza Strip were stationed and about 100 meters (about 110 yards) from a UN building, which was flying the UN flag at the time (See picture). He reported that Israel had repeated noted that the Palestinians were locating the rocket launchers in a densely-populated civilian area. The video included a clip of a previous rocket previous launched when he was standing nearby (France 24, August 5, 2014).

Left: The UN flag on a building close to the rocket launching site. Right: Gallagher Fenwick at the site of the rocket launch. Below: Children play near the rocket launcher.
Left: The UN flag on a building close to the rocket launching site. Right: Gallagher Fenwick at the site of the rocket launch. Below: Children play near the rocket launcher.
Click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMiG9JD2OxM for the video.

2)  After he left the Gaza Strip, a correspondent for the Indian TV channel NDTV released a video he had photographed from his hotel room on at 0630 hours on August 4, 2014. The video shows a group of military operatives in an abandoned plot of land near the hotel. The operatives can be seen moving under a blue tent erected to hide their actions [possibly because blue would be associated with the UN by anyone who saw it]. After positioning the rocket launcher under the sand, laying cables and preparing it for firing, they removed the tent, covered the location with branches, changed their clothing and left. The following day the correspondent documented rocket fire from the same location, and when he tried to reach the launching site he asked not to approach.

Left: The blue tent erected to hide the operatives. Right: The correspondent next to the window in his hotel room. Bottom: He tries to approach to launch site.
Left: The blue tent erected to hide the operatives. Right: The correspondent next to the window in his hotel room. Bottom: He tries to approach to launch site.
Click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_ihf2omMX4 for the video.

[*]In view of the ceasefire and the beginning of the talks in Cairo, the ITIC will no longer issue daily updates for Operation Protective Edge. Relevant updates will appear in the weekly News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict bulletin posted every Tuesday or in ad hoc bulletins according to developments.
[2]The graph indicates rocket hits in Israeli territory and does to include the massive mortar shell fire into the western Negev or rocket launches that failed.
[3]For further information see the August 6, 2014 bulletin "'War of the Casualties:' the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip issued a warning not to divulge information about terrorist operatives killed in Operation Protective Edge."

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