After sticking to a "return fire only" policy for most of the day, the IDF resumed full military operations in the Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon.
Shortly after 10pm, the Palestinians reported heavy artillery and tank fire in the northern and eastern Gaza Strip.
IAF jets resumed attacks targeting militants and dangerous infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian reports, IAF strikes were being conducted Monday night across the Strip targeting the homes of terrorists. Ten houses were been bombed.
|IAF hitting hidden rocket launcher|
The airstrikes followed an almost 12-hour pause in the fighting and came as international efforts intensified to end the three-week war between Israel and Hamas. Still, the level of fighting on both sides was down considerably from previous days.
It was not immediately clear whether that reflected the observance of a truce in honor of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, or whether it might be extended further.
Meanwhile, IDF troops were exchanging fire with terrorists east of the Jabalia refugee camp. Terrorists opened fire at the troops with mortars and light weapons, and Armored Corps tanks responded with shell fire and Spike-NLOS (Tammuz) rockets that killed some of the terrosits.
During the firefight, the army received exact intelligence on the location of the commander of the terror cell that was firing at the troops, and the armored troops fired and killed the commander, who the IDF said was a senior Hamas commando commander in Jabalia. The fighting was still ongoing.
Five terrorists were killed so far in fire exchange in several areas in the south and north of the Strip.
The IDF said it struck two rocket launchers and a rocket manufacturing facility in central and northern Gaza after a rocket hit southern Israel earlier in the day.
The IDF also said it dropped leaflets over Gaza City on Monday afternoon, warning Palestinian residents in the coastal strip that Israel "will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians, and the consequences will be severe."
A Paratrooper force found a tunnel that crosses the border into Israel at the southern Gaza Strip on Monday. Another tunnel was destroyed near Kerem Shalom.
Sources in the IDF estimated that it will take at least another week to complete work on locating and destroying the terror tunnels that cross the border into Israel. So far, at least 17 tunnels have been destroyed, and several others will be blown up in the coming days. The IDF found a total of 31 tunnels so far, at least three of them opening in Israeli communities near the Gaza border.
Sources in the Southern Command said the presence of troops inside the Strip helps the political leadership in its negotiations over a ceasefire, and is exacting a steeper price from Hamas.
Despite that, the IDF is preparing for the possibility it would have to speed up the destruction of the tunnels discovered so far if a ceasefire that would end the operation is declared, even if in such a situation some of the tunnels will remain intact.
Gaza medical sources said 18 people were killed in the first day of Eid al-Fitr and at least 70 have been wounded from IDF attacks.
At least five people were killed in IDF attacks in Jabalia. A four-year-old boy died when tank shells hit his family's house in Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, Gaza health officials said. Another person was killed by tank shelling in a separate incident, also in Jabalia.
Gaza media reported two people were killed and at least ten wounded from artillery fire in the northern Gaza Strip and 18 were wounded from artillery fire in central and northern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media also reported heavy artillery fire at Sudaniya beach in western Gaza.
Amid a slowdown in the fighting, rescue teams uncovered five bodies in a village east of Khan Younis, said Saed al-Saoudi, the commander of the Civil Defense in Gaza. Earlier Monday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said it deployed 15 ambulances to the area to search for bodies amid the rubble. So far, at least 12 bodies have been pulled out of the rubble on Monday.
Palestinian medical officials say that at least 1,043 people have been killed and more than 6,000 wounded in Gaza. In Israel, three civilians have been killed by rocket fire and 43 soldiers have died during the military operation.
Earlier in the day, the IDF took a "return fire only" policy. After no rockets were fired on Israel on Sunday night, Gaza militants fired a single rocket towards Ashkelon on Monday morning.
Iron Dome intercepted the projectile and the IDF retaliated with artillery fire towards the original of the rocket fire in Beit Lahia, cementing the new de facto policy of the army – precise strikes in response to Hamas activity.
In a special Ynet broadcast, Major General (res.) Doron Almog, former GOC Southern Command, said that "50 percent of Hamas' rocket inventory, and parts of its command chain and central infrastructure had been hit" during Operation Protective Edge, launched on July 8 in response to ongoing heavy rocket fire on Israeli population centers.
|Doron Almog in the Ynet studio (Hebrew)|
"Gaza has been paralyzed for 20 days and there is a feeling of trauma among the population and the leadership of Hamas. They never imagined they would be hit so hard."
Nonetheless, Almog said "the leadership of Hamas is still on its feet and the organization still has the capability to fire even on Tel Aviv."
Gazaz terrorists have fired some 1,500 rockets at Israel since the start of the Protective Edge, which has seen Gaza pounded by air strikes and the target of an IDF ground operation aimed at wiping out rocket launchers and the tunnels used to plan and execute terror attacks.
Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted many of the rockets fired at the civilian population.