The rumors swirled all day. Something had gone very wrong in Gaza last night. All day long everyone knew that something was wrong. But, no one knew exactly what. Towards evening, the news was released.13 soldiers of the Golani Brigade died last night, the majority in two ambushes when the troops moved into the Shujaiyeh neighborhood, a built up section that is closest to the Israel border. The brigade moved in to find tunnels that were believed to lead back to Israel. When they were ambushed, they responded with intense fire and, as a result, a significant number of civilians were killed. Israel had repeatedly requested that the civilians leave the area. They did not and, according to independent observers, the failure to move was a combination of not knowing where to move and Hamas insisting that they not move. The pictures of civilian deaths coming from the Shujaiyeh area have been terrible and during the day Israel refused to report what had happened, waiting to make sure that all of the loved ones of those killed were notified. Tonight, the story was clarified and it became clear that the deaths were the result of difficult battle.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon found it necessary to address the Israeli nation tonight to wish their public condolences to those who died and to ensure the public that the government was doing all it could to protect the soldiers and make sure that Israel would accomplish its goals. Defense Minister Ya’alon stated tonight that there are a number of hard days of fighting ahead and that this war will not end soon.
At the moment, it is not clear how this war will end. Hamas does not seem willing to enter into a ceasefire on terms that are acceptable to anyone else. Prime Minister Netanyahu was asked at tonight’s press conference if he has been in touch with Abbu Mazen during the confrontation. Netanyahu did not give a direct answer but, instead gave a very interesting answer, saying that “Israel has been in touch with many different people in the Middle East, which includes the Palestinian Authority. He stated that it is clear that we could not reach any sort of agreement with Hamas as it is, and everyone understands that. No one but Iran and Qatar likes Hamas, and Israel now has shared interest with the Palestinian Authority, which opens some interesting new opportunities for diplomatic progress”.
There are some other interesting signs. Observers in Gaza report that people in Gaza are finally beginning to express their displeasure for Hamas, and there is a growing realization that all Hamas is doing is bringing more misery on the people of Gaza. Hamas has managed to kill Israeli soldiers in Gaza but it seems to be running out of long range missiles. In fact, yesterday there were no attacks on Tel Aviv and as of this writing late Sunday evening in Tel Aviv, the sirens have not gone off. It has been 48 hours since the last time the sirens in Tel Aviv have ton off. Tonight, the security cabinet is meeting to decide on the next steps. Opinions are divided and it is not clear what will be required to convince Hamas to agree to a ceasefire. Everything from a unilateral ceasefire to going all the way into Gaza to destroying Hamas seems to be on the table. Ii do not believe, after today’s losses, that Israel will agree to ending the war with just a ceasefire, based on quiet for quiet. Tonight, the White House has announced that Secretary of State Kerry is coming to help negotiate a ceasefire. Some Israeli commentators have responded, based on his previous “successes,” guaranteeing that there will be no ceasefire. There will be one, eventually. It is only a question of how many will die before that happens.