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Day 15 – Deif Targeted, Rockets at UNRWA Again, The Threat of Tunnels

The fifteenth day of Operation Protective Edge is over as is the fourth day of ground operations inside Gaza.

Two more soldiers were killed bringing the death to 27.

Israel today struck at the home of Mohammed Deif a long time terrorist chief and bomb maker. The Times of Israel reported:

Muhammad Deif’s oversight of a series of terrorist attacks — including suicide bombings and kidnappings — saw him rise to the head of Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and become a prime Israeli target over the past two decades. His injuries marginalized him, but some members of the Israeli security establishment believe he regained command of the Brigades following the assassination of Ahmad Jabari in November 2012, a targeted killing that marked the start of Operation Pillar of Defense.

On Tuesday night, the Israel Air Force bombed his home in Khan Younis. Military chiefs would not have thought it likely he was there; they were sending a message.

Although Deif lost his arms and legs in 2006 an in IDF strike, he maintains an ability to get around.

In the mid-1990’s he was a prime target of Israel and Yasser Arafat protected him as Dror Eydar wrote last year:

Arafat had a symbiotic relationship with the planners of the suicide attacks. The advocates of the Oslo Accords used to say that Arafat had no control over the terrorism and that his people were deceiving him. On January 24, 1996, during a meeting between Peres and Arafat, the name of the most wanted terrorist at the time, Mohammed Deif, came up in conversation: The Israelis asked that he be arrested. Playing innocent, Arafat asked Mohammed Dahlan in Arabic: “Mohammed who?” That was a significant moment for Ya’alon since the Israelis were aware that Arafat and Deif knew each other. Arafat’s deception was laid bare for all to see.

Some accounts mention that Ya’alon knew that Arafat had met with Deif a few days earlier.

Once again a cache of rockets has been found at a UNRWA school.

Today The Tower covered yesterday’s The Washington Post report on the resources Hamas devotes to building tunnels, at the expense of the people of Gaza. This prompted Post editor Jackson Diehl to tweet, “Hamas spent $1 million and 2 years on just one of the 36 tunnels into Israel, while #Gaza starved.”

Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon traveled to the Middle East to oversee ceasefire efforts. Surprisingly he traveled on an airplane owned by the government of Qatar. Moon’s travel arrangement potentially raises questions about his impartiality as Qatar is the major backer of Hamas in the Arab world.

Israel today acknowledged that one of its soldiers, Oron Shaul, – presumed dead – is unaccounted for. Hamas had claimed the other day that it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier. So far only six of the soldiers who were in an armored personnel carrier when it was attacked Sunday have been identified. It is possible that Hamas has the body of the soldier.

Israel is continuing to transfer humanitarian aid to Gaza despite the rocket fire. Sunday night Israel set up a field hospital outside of Gaza to treat residents who are injured in the fighting.

In response to the increasing vitriolic anti-Israel riots spreading throughout Europe the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement today, “[a]nti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies.”

Col. Ghassan Alian, the highest ranking Druze in the IDF and commander of the Golani Brigade, returned to duty today after suffering shrapnel wounds on Saturday. In refusing further treatment, he was quoted, “I have a lot of soldiers there and I have to get back to them.”

A group of American firefighters have volunteered to help Israel deal with fires started as the result of rocket fire. One of the volunteers said, “We cannot ignore this reality, when Israeli firefighters work hour after hour to save human life.”

[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / Flickr ]