The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Monday, the 14th day of Operation Protective Edge. The UN Security Council called for an immediate truce in Gaza Monday morning after an emergency meeting held at the request of Jordan. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Israel’s actions in the Hamas stronghold of Shejaiya were “atrocious.” The IDF announced Sunday evening that 13 Golani Brigade soldiers died overnight in fighting in Gaza, raising the Israeli army death toll to 18. The soldiers were killed in heavy combat in Shejaiya, which also left over 70 Palestinians dead, Gaza Health Ministry officials said. Israel said the neighborhood is a Hamas stronghold, and that the army had warned residents to evacuate it.(Sunday’s liveblog is here.)
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The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two missiles over central Israel a little before noon on Monday, as sirens sounded in Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion, Beit Shemesh and elsewhere in the region. A third fell in an open area.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks a short time later, saying it had fired M-75 missiles at Tel Aviv.
Iron Dome also intercepted two rockets fired at Ashdod at around noon on Monday, after sirens sounded in the city, as well as in Kiryat Malachi and Hevel Yavne Regional Council.
The strikes came after a morning of heavy fire on the south of Israel, with sirens regularly wailing in various communities in the region.
Hardest hit in the south was Sderot, which was targeted every few minutes. The yard of a home was hit in the town, causing a fire to break out. No one was injured.
The IDF’s Shejaiya operation in the Gaza Strip continues apace, carried forward by five task forces now heading for the center of Gaza City amid casualties on both sides. Sunday, July 20, Israel’s crack Golani Brigades lost 18 fighters, without slowing down, compared with 170 Palestinian fatalities.
The buildup of the last 24 hours has expanded Israel's fighting strength in the Gaza Strip to a total of 75,000 men, the largest ever fielded in this territory. Because of its scale, Israeli leaders are referring to Defensive Edge as a war rather than an operation.
The battle for Shejaiya waged Sunday burst into public prominence because of the heavy losses suffered by the Golani Brigades, but it is not the largest engagement underway at present.
The other ongoing IDF battles, their progress, the units involved and their locations, are kept secret. We can only point to their general locations as being around Beit Hanoun in the north; Zeitun, south of Gaza City and the Shati refugee camp to the north.
Rather than causing despondency, the high IDF casualty toll Sunday – the highest in a single engagement since the 2006 Lebanon War – has invigorated the fighting forces in the field, making them more determined than ever to get the better of Hamas with all possible speed.
More arenas are scheduled to be added to the list of battle zones Monday
Whereas their orders on Sunday were to advance warily and slowly, meanwhile testing the strength of Hamas resistance and observing their tactics, the tempo went into high gear at dawn Monday, when the troops were told to speed their advance from the outer fringes of Gaza City into its center.
Their performance in Shejaiya and other engagements Sunday deeply impressed Israel’s war leaders and made them confident enough to step up the rate of advance.
Israel, for its part, is fighting for the first time in its history with solid Arab backing from the Egyptian-Saudi-United Arab Emirates bloc. So determined are its members to obliterate the Muslim Brotherhood that they have virtually blacklisted Qatar for supporting the Brothers and for patronizing the Palestinian Hamas, regarded as the MB’s paramilitary arm.
A bid to make Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas the bridge between the Egyptian-Saudi-UAE grouping and Qatar has likewise foundered. And there isn’t much Secretary Kerry can do if and when he comes over to try his hand.
US President Barack Obama’s suggestion, when he called Netanyahu Sunday, to build a new Gaza ceasefire around the 2012 formula concocted by the US, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey - and accepted by Israel and Hamas - for ending Operation Pillar of Defense, shows him to be cut off from the fundamentally altered diplomatic and military realities of the current Gaza conflict.
He declines to recognize the emergence of a powerful new Arab bloc. It will be necessary to twist the arms of each of its members, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE, to gain their consent for a bid to cut the Israeli offensive short to rescue Hamas from defeat. And even then, they will stall.
World to end two weeks of deadly violence in and around Gaza stepped up a gear on Monday as the US top diplomat and the UN chief both headed to Cairo.
US Secretary of State John Kerry was flying to the region after President Barack Obama urged an "immediate ceasefire", echoing by the UN Security Council.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon was already in the region on a whistlestop tour to build support for a truce and was to meet the ruler of Kuwait, current chair of the Arab League, before heading to the Egyptian capital.
The new momentum for a ceasefire came as the Palestinian Arab in Gaza topped 500, many of them civilians, and the Israeli army said 18 of its soldiers had been killed, its heaviest losses in eight years.
Egypt has been a mediator in past Israel-Palestinian conflicts and has taken the lead in trying to broker a truce between Israel and its Islamist foe Hamas which dominates the Gaza Strip.
A first proposal Egypt made early last week was accepted by Israel but snubbed by Hamas, which said it was not consulted and demanded a raft of changes.
Israel launched a ground operation in Gaza Thursday, and immediately the Obama administration called on Israel to restrict its actions to finding and destroying Hamas' terror tunnels. Protests against Israel are increasing, as is media outrage – but as always, it is clear who's the civilized man and who's the savage.
Israel agreed Thursday to a U.N. request, driven by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, for a ceasefire so that water and humanitarian aid could be brought into Gaza (after Hamas bombed the power plant).
Israel said yes. Hamas planned major terror attack. Breitbart reported Thursday that "jihadi militants fired rockets into the Ehkol area in Israel at approximately 12:20 p.m. local time, seemingly violating the five-hour ceasefire Hamas had agreed upon between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. so humanitarian workers could deliver aid to Gaza. The IDF blames Hamas for the incident."
The war on Israel is not only in the hundreds of rockets raining down on the tiny Jewish state but in the information battle-space, where Israel is eviscerated daily. The propaganda is ugly, evil and, because it goes categorically unchallenged, rampant. So brazen and confident are these genocidal haters, they thought nothing of trying to pass off a film still from a horror movie as another Israeli "atrocity" against innocent civilians. A pathetic Al Dura-inspired hoax.
Hamas doesn't even have to resort to these lies: The mainstream media already carry water for the jihadis. Anti-Semitic bias has long been documented at the BBC. This is nothing new. But apparently it's not vicious enough. On Tuesday, frenzied Muslims protested against the BBC's supposedly pro-Israel coverage. Meanwhile, Muslims are attacking Jews in San Francisco, Los Angeles (where the Department of Homeland Security officer had to fire his weapon to stop the Muslim mob), Boston, the U.K., Melbourne, Berlin, New York, Chicago, Seattle, The Hague, Morocco, London, Paris (and more in France) and Malmo.
Meanwhile, reports of Jews being brutalized by enraged Muslim protesters are daily now. Walking down a street Jewish in any major European city is dicey, risky. In Belgium, shop owners have stopped selling to Jews. Europe is reverting to its dark, monstrous impulses. It seems that Europe has decided once again to embrace madness and evil as its central unifying characteristic – only this time it's under "Palestinianism," not Nazism.
Instead of reporting on the increasing victimization of Jews, the latest wicked complaint from the international media is the lack of Jewish dead in Hamas' rocket jihad against the Jewish state. Every story about the conflict shows the number of Palestinian dead as much greater than the number of Israeli dead, as if that proves that the Israelis are in the wrong. Yet where are the international wails of concern over the 170,000 dead in the Syrian jihad or the mass executions by the Islamic State, or ISIS? Where is the chorus of condemnation over Meriam Ibrahim, Asia Bibi and all the other Christians and apostates persecuted under the boot of Shariah?