Joel Rosenberg has an excellent and timely update:
Israel Scores Enormous Intelligence And Operational Coup, Killing 3 Senior Hamas Commanders In Airstrike
The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Friday, August 21, the 46th day of Operation Protective Edge. As the fate of Hamas military chief Muhammad Deif remained unknown, Israel confirmed Thursday that it killed three top Hamas commanders; Gazan terrorists continued heavy rocket fire into Israel, bringing the total since a truce was breached Tuesday to over 300. The cabinet okayed the call-up of 10,000 reserve soldiers, even as the US and others attempted to get ceasefire efforts back on track.
Haniyeh: Israel to pay ‘heavy price’
“The path is long, and the fighters of the al-Qassam Brigades will cause the enemy to pay a heavy price. The crimes of the enemy only strengthen our adherence to our demands of a stop to aggression, a lifting of the siege and a life of freedom,” Haniyeh wrote, according to a Ynet translation.
European powers discussing ceasefire resolution
UN failing to fight tyranny, Islamic terror — Israeli ambassador
Hamas has suffered a fair number of blows since the start of the conflict with Israel. Hundreds of gunmen from its military wing have been killed, many of its tunnels have been destroyed, and its rocket stores have been depleted. But the overnight strike on a home in the Tel al-Sultan district of Rafah was the harshest blow – militarily and in terms of morale – that it has sustained since the start of Operation Protective Edge.
Three of its most senior commanders in the southern area of the Strip were assassinated in the Israeli airstrike, in an operation that, for the first time, demonstrated that Hamas has been penetrated by Israeli intelligence, enabling the targeting of its most senior command echelons
This was not just another strike, not just another assassination. The killing of the three constituted an indication that something in the intelligence discipline at the very top of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades has cracked.
The Shin Bet, as the intelligence behind the strike, and the IDF, as the operational arm, targeted the trio in a building in a crowded Rafah neighborhood on one of the heaviest days of fighting thus far. Thus this was a very different strike from the one at the start of the Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 when the Hamas military commander, Ahmed Jabari, was assassinated in a surprise attack that marked the beginning of that operation. Given that the fighting had re-escalated since Tuesday, and that Israel was known to be trying to hit the Hamas military leadership, the three had taken every possible precaution to evade Israeli intelligence. Those precautions simply were not good enough.
It can be assumed that whether or not Muhammad Deif is still alive, those members of the Hamas military leadership who have survived are now desperately trying to figure out what went wrong. How could it be that after long weeks in which Israel was unable to get to any of the heads of the military wing, now, within 48 hours, the Shin Bet located one of Deif’s hideouts and killed three other members of the Hamas general staff?
It should be stressed again: Two of the three were not mere senior commanders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Muhammad Abu Shamala, the “head of the southern command” and Raed al-Attar, the commander of the Rafah area, were part of the founding generation of the Hamas military wing — along with Deif and several others who are no longer with us, including Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh and Emad Akel. They were among Deif’s closest brothers-in-arms — long-term veterans with experience and knowledge that cannot be easily replaced.
Abu Shamala and al-Attar are tied to almost every major attack in and from the Rafah area since 2001. These include the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit on a tunnel raid into Israel in which two other soldiers were killed, and even the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers on the Gaza-Sinai-Israel border two years ago. Thus the two had tangled not only with Israel, but also with Egypt, which knew of their ties to terrorist organizations in the Sinai.
UN diplomats said Thursday that Britain, France and Germany were discussing a possible Security Council resolution calling for a sustainable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and an international monitoring mission to ensure its implementation.
One diplomat said both Israeli and Palestinian officials have privately suggested Security Council action would be helpful in persuading their constituents to accept measures to end the conflict.
The diplomats said the resolution would include opening up Gaza’s borders and a return of the Palestinian Authority in the territory. It would also include security assurances for the Israelis, including ways to prevent Hamas from acquiring more arms and building more tunnels.