13:00 EDT: Thirteen more Israeli soldiers killed overnight brings Israeli combat deaths to 18.
Ceasefire to evacuate citizens for Gaza City suburb ends.
Israel begins heavy bombing of Gaza City itself.
06:20 EDT: Intense fighting is now ongoing in the Gaza City suburbs. Israeli commanders rejected the Hamas request relayed via the Red Cross Sunday noon for a three hour truce to remove the dead and wounded from the Sejjaya district of Gaza City. Palestinian sources have counted 40 bodies lying in the streets of the city from the battle.
However, in a sudden reversal, Israel agreed to a two-hour humanitarian ceasefire on Sunday afternoon, pledging to stop the airstrikes from 1:30-3:30 pm IST. This will give civilians an opportunity to flee the area which is under intense IDF attack. The IDF has asked all Gazans to evacuate Sheijaya, as well as Saladin near Gaza City, in advance of airstrikes resuming later Sunday.
Over 53 IDF soldiers have reportedly been injured in the Sheijaya attack, Walla! News reports Sunday, after the IDF carried out heavy shelling in the city east of Gaza City. The IDF attack on Gaza City suburbs reportedly involves huge forces in tanks and artillery.
In advance of more city fighting the IDF is setting up a field hospital on the border to treat wounded from Gaza operation.
Over the years leading up to the current IDF ground invasion of Gaza, training, funding and strategic planning has been focused on -preparing the IDF for the two front war they are beginning to wage. In the past year alone, the IDF has spent NIS 1.3 billion in training of thousands of ground, armored, engineering and artillery troops. This does not include billions of shekels allocated for the purchase of advanced weaponry.
The person who was training the troops for Operation Protective Edge until about a year ago will be the one to command them now inside the Gaza Strip – the Southern Command chief, Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman, who previously served as the commander of the GOC Army Headquarters. Training exercises were aimed at a ground offensive in Lebanon, and an invasion of Gaza
Israeli Infantry Pour Into Gaza
This post will be updated as events warrant.
Accompanied by the most intense Israeli bombardment in the conflict, tens of thousands of Israeli infantry poured into Gaza last night. Tanks and special forces destroyed 36 tunnels and over 450 other targets in Gaza since Thursday night, preparing the way for the infantry assault.
The IDF announced on Saturday night that it is expanding its ground operation in Gaza. “We are currently expanding our ground operation against Hamas in Gaza,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit tweeted.
“Our goal remains, to strike a significant blow to Hamas’ terror capabilities so that the citizens of Israel can live in safety and security,” read another tweet.
In a statement, the IDF said that ground forces in large numbers have joined the military activities which are focusing on the militant infrastructure in Gaza.
So far, five Israeli’s have been killed in the invasion and many wounded, and last evening Col. Rosan Aliyan, the Druze commander of the Golani Brigade, sustained a serious head injury in combat with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the IDF announced Sunday. Col. David Zieff has been appointed to lead the unit in his place.
So far ten Israeli tanks have been hit by anti tank missiles. On the Gaza side more than 350 have been killed and more than 800 wounded, most of them civilians.
Events are moving faster than expected as the IDF rolls back the Gaza militants from the rural areas and prepares to invade the cities. Last night the IDF called up another 50,000 reservists [which process takes two or three days]. They will be ready to attack the three main cities in Gaza as soon as the infantry clears the countryside of all remaining resistance.
Meanwhile rocket fire on Israel continues and talks on a potential ceasefire are deadlocked.
Israel wants to complete the total destruction of the Gaza militants, and the militants want to draw Israel into the cities where they believe they can inflict serious damage on the invaders and possibly capture several Israelis.
The joint command centre of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas is preparing for the conflict to shift to the Lebanon Israeli border when over 100,000 Israeli’s are deeply involved in Gaza. This two front war scenario has been forseen and prepared for over the past several years by all sides.