Around 11:00 AM this morning, after going over 48 hours of without any rocket attacks, the possible sense of normalcy that had returned was shattered when the sirens began their wail. They seemed to go on for longer than usual. Maybe it was just that we had not heard the warnings for a few days that made them sound longer and louder. It turns out that Hamas had fired 18 missiles simultaneously at points in Israel – two were aimed at Tel Aviv. They were all shot down. Late in the afternoon another cluster of rockets was shot targeting central Israel. All were shot down south of Tel Aviv. This made it unnecessary to set off the sirens in central Tel Aviv. Tonight additional rockets were fired at central Israel
This day began with another Hamas infiltration into Israel proper by tunnel. This tunnel came right up to one of the Kibbutzim in the Gaza area. The Hamas fighters were dressed to look like IDF forces. As a result, they were able to gain a moment of surprise. In that blink of an eye they managed to kill four Israeli soldiers. The entire Hamas squad of ten were then killed by Israeli fire. This successful infiltration (the 5th such attempt since the beginning of the war) underscored how critical the tunnel threat is to Israel.
The four Israeli soldiers killed in the tunnel ambush were joined by three other Israeli soldiers who died today – two apparently from friendly fire. That brings the number of Israeli military deaths to 25 in the fighting over the past four days. These fatalities are significant compared to only ten soldiers lost during the last Israeli ground incursion into Gaza. In the last 24 hours there has been considerable hand-wringing about the way that seven of the casualties died yesterday in an attack on an APC (Armored Personnel Carrier). The APC was nearly 50 years old, and it was the policy of the army not to allow older APCs to enter Gaza.
On the ground, the IDF has found a number of additional tunnels in the last 24 hours- tunnels they were previously unaware existed. It is believed that it will take two to three more days to destroy all of the tunnels they have successfully found. The fear is that not all of the existing tunnels will be found, even during an extended operation. Meanwhile, though the army has faced heavy opposition in a number of points, at most places the opposition has been much lighter. The IDF has concentrated its mission on identifying and dismantling the tunnels, but has expanded its effort to destroy some of the missile launching sites.
On the diplomatic front, U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon is in Cairo, while U.S. Secretary of State Kerry is on his way to the region. Kerry seems a little like an uninvited guest, since the Israelis and the Egyptians have shown no great interest in his mediation, (many silently thinking his time could be better spent dealing with the problems in Eastern Ukraine). However, regardless of local sentiments Kerry has arrived in the neighborhood. There is talk that in two or three days there could be a ceasefire. Any ceasefire is still dependent on Hamas being willing to accept it. Opinions in Israel are divided as to whether Hamas is going to feel it has any reason to end the war it began.