IDF soldiers in Gaza
Photo: AP
Tanks in Strip
Photo: AP

Ahead of truce: Gaza op continues in full force

Less than 24 hours before cabinet meets to decide whether to accept ceasefire draft, IDF continues to strike in Strip. Dozens of Palestinians killed Friday, some of them civilians. Commanders, soldiers not ordered to slow down activity

Talks on upcoming truce are yet to be translated to actions on the ground: The Israel Defense Forces continues to operate in the Gaza Strip in full force, even after the understanding reached between Israel and Egypt and ahead of the cabinet meeting expected to accept the ceasefire draft.


Military sources note that in the meantime the army is not dealing with the day after, but only with its activity on the ground which is continuing as usual.


The commanders and soldiers have not been ordered to slow down their activity, and the pressure on Hamas has even increased in the past few days.


The large forces deployed between northern Gaza and the outskirts of Gaza City will continue operating against gunmen and terror infrastructures until they receive different instructions.


The IDF is waiting to receive the details of the ceasefire agreement. At the moment it is still unclear whether the forces will leave the Gaza Strip once the truce takes effect or stay inside for some time while holding fire and waiting for developments on the ground.


The army is also meant to form up-to-date procedures for opening fire and for dealing with weapons smuggling on the Philadelphi route.


The ceasefire draft formed in Cairo rules that the ceasefire will first be implemented for several days. At this stage, Israel will be able to leave its forces in the Gaza Strip. At the end of this stage, the sides are expected to hold a detailed discussion on the accompanying arrangements, which include the opening of the crossings between Israel and Gaza.


Israel has received satisfying clarifications from Cairo on ways to block the smuggling. Egypt will boost its enforcement with technological measures it will receive soon. An effort will also be made to find alternative sources of income for the smugglers.


In addition, Israel has received a promise for international help in stopping the smuggling into Gaza from the point of departure in Iran. These promises have been included in an agreement signed between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


Targets attacked, civilians injured

On the ground, in the meantime, there are no signs of a ceasefire. Paratroopers uncovered a booby-trapped house in the northern Strip, which was detonated in a controlled manner with the help of the Combat Engineering Corps.


A paratroopers' force also spotted a cell of gunmen armed with antitank missiles and directed an Air Force het to attack the cell. The forces spotted another cell armed with mortar shells in the southern Gaza Strip and fired at it.


Three IDF soldiers were lightly injured during Friday's military activity.


IDF forces in Gaza. Continuing as planned? (Photo: AP)


The efforts to prevent the firing of rockets into Israel's southern communities continue as well. An Air Force het attacked two rocket launchers used to fire rockets at the cities of Ashdod and Kiryat Gat shortly after the launch.


More than 25 targets have been attacked by the Air Force since Friday afternoon, including three bunkers with weapons and missiles, about seven terrorist cells and shed containing weapons. Additional strikes were carried out at the guidance of the ground forces.


Alongside the operational successes, innocent civilians are still getting hurt. A shell fired by a tank in the Jabalya area killed three of Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish's children and seriously injured two of his daughters, who were evacuated to the Barzilai and Sheba medical centers in Israel. The doctor's brother and two children were also killed in the strike.


The army is looking into the circumstances of the incident. An initial inquiry revealed that the tank struck an area from which gunmen were firing at IDF forces, but the investigation continues.


At least 41 Palestinians have been killed in less than 24 hours. The Palestinians reported that 10 people were killed as a mourners' tent was attacked in the Sajaiyeh neighborhood. Many other people have been injured.


A mother and her five children were killed in a strike at the al-Bureij refugee camp, and a man and his son were killed in the Khan Younis area.


The Palestinians also reported that a 27-year-old man was killed as a missile struck the motorcycle he was riding on. Six other people who were around him were also killed. Four residents, including three members of one family, were killed in a strike in Rafah.


A six-year-old girl was killed by a tank shell in Jabalya. Fifteen bodies of civilians killed in IDF strikes on Thursday were found under the rubble of buildings in the neighborhood of Tal al-Hawa.


פרסום ראשון: 01.17.09, 08:16
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