Israel cabinet weighing next step in Gaza operation
Israel’s security cabinet met late yesterday evening to discuss both the direction of military action in Gaza and diplomatic efforts to bring the violence to an end.
Prior to the meeting, Finance Minister Yair Lapid told Channel Two that the government was telling the IDF to “go, achieve your objectives” in parallel with continuing efforts to move towards a ceasefire. Another security cabinet member, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, said that military action remains focused on destroying the tunnels used to launch attacks on Israel, but could be expanded if rocket fire continues.
The deliberations followed another day of fierce fighting in Gaza, especially in the areas of Khuzaa and the Shejaiya neighbourhood in Gaza City. Israeli forces also battled against Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters who fired automatic and anti-tank weapons from the al-Wafa Hospital, which was also being used as a command and control centre. The IDF had ensured that the hospital’s patients and staff had been already evacuated. On Tuesday, a United Nations agency said that it had found rockets stored in one of its Gaza schools for the second time in a week.
Three Israeli soldiers were killed yesterday after entering a booby-trapped house in Khan Younis. The IDF reported that it had struck 30 strategic targets overnight and that so far since the ground incursion commenced last Thursday, more than 200 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists had been killed. At least 30 tunnels, many storing weapons, have also been uncovered in that time. Meanwhile, 95 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza yesterday, one killing a foreign agricultural worker in southern Israel.
The Gaza Health Ministry reported yesterday that 47 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, with a further 18 killed overnight. In total, more than 700 Palestinians are thought to have been killed during Operation Defensive Edge.
This morning, the American aviation authority lifted its temporary ban on flights to Ben Gurion International Airport, introduced after a rocket landed near the airport on Tuesday.