The day began positively. My son woke me to tell me that the FAA had changed its mind and, late last night, gave the green light to airlines to resume flights to Israel. Israelis breathed a collective sigh of relief that the FAA was denying Hamas one of their few victories that partially closing our skies. With minutes of the FAA announcement, US Air and United announced a resumption of their services and, by the afternoon, the Europeans had made the same decision. By this evening, the first flights of European airlines started landing and the first of thousands of stranded Isrealis began returning home. Also, early this morning, the Israeli TV began showing pictures of a group of 150 Hamas members who were said to have surrendered in mass.
For a few minutes, it was starting to feel like maybe we had turned a corner and this might end at a reasonable point for Israel. Just as I was reflecting on that possibility, I saw on the television screen that rockets had been fired at various points near to us, but not in our exact location. Rather, over a city next door. Since I did not have to go to a sheltered place, I had the unique opportunity to watch out of my living room window and catch an intercept taking place in the sky over a neighboring suburb. I was even able to get a picture of the cloud of smoke that resulted from the intercept. I did not have much time to enjoy the picture, however, since within a minute the sirens in Tel Aviv went off. Another round of rockets were aimed at us. Within a minute of going into our secure area, we could hear four booms - two loud ones directly overhead (the intercepts) and two not as loud (the extra missile self destructing). So maybe it was not going to be over so quickly.
As the day preceded, it became clear that there was a real change. As of 10PM Israeli time, Hamas had only fired 46 rockets at Israel, which is a significant decrease in their average of 120 missiles per day. Israeli army sources report that Hamas has decided to be more judicious in their use of missiles, believing that the current conflict could go on for another two weeks and they want to make sure that they do not run out of missiles. Another two weeks? What am I supposed to tell my son? This is what his whole summer is going to look like, never knowing when the sirens might go off? As I was writing, this terrorist from the Sinai desert(Egyptian territory) fired missiles on the city of Eilat. But, it is going to be Egypt’s problem to find them.
Meanwhile, in Gaza itself, the hard work of destroying the tunnels continues. So far, 11 of the 31 tunnels that have been found have been destroyed. The army believes it will take another 4 or 5 days, at minimum, to destroy all of the tunnels that they have found. This assumes that they do not find any more. Israeli troops, other then looking for more tunnels, have been more or less static in Gaza today, with small additional raids taking place to keep Hamas off balance. This afternoon, a tragedy took place at a UN school that was being used as a refugee center. A mortar shell landed in a courtyard and killed15 people. As of this hour, it is still unknown as to who fired the shell.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Kerry is still in Cairo trying to obtain a ceasefire. Despite the very clear ‘no’ of Hamas yesterday, Kerry continues to try. The Israeli security cabinet met last night to discuss the situation, but did not vote on any ceasefire proposal. The Israeli government’s position at the moment is that it is willing to have a ceasefire as long as it can continue to destroy the tunnels. Israel has also made it clear that it will not discuss a ceasefire proposal until Hamas accepts it. After accepting ceasefire proposals twice, and having Hamas reject them, Israel is not willing to be the first to accept a ceasefire yet again.
Tonight in East Jerusalem and and at the Qalandia check point that separates the West Bank and the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Jerusalem large scale demonstrations and rioting are taking place. There are reports of deaths and injuries among the rioters who were throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. The demonstrations are at the behest of Hamas who has called on the Arabs of the West Bank and Israel proper to demonstrate in support of Hamas and the people of Gaza. A disturbing development indeed.