IDF to complete destruction of Hamas terror tunnels by Sunday, begins withdrawal
The IDF is to complete the destruction of the terror tunnels by Sunday and has begun to withdraw some troops from Gaza. But not all Israelis are happy about the withdrawal right now. This is from the first link.
Hamas has spent five years preparing this strategic threat; the IDF wrecked 31 tunnels in two weeks. By Sunday, all of the tunnels the IDF knew about, or discovered during the offensive, will be destroyed. A few tunnels that Israel doesn't know about may remain intact.But not everyone is happy that the IDF is leaving Gaza. Hadar Goldin, an IDF officer from Kfar Sava, was kidnapped on Friday, and his father told the media tonight that he feels that the IDF is abandoning his son.
Many of the underground passages were designed to send heavily armed murder squads into Israeli villages for killing sprees, and attack army positions from behind. They were filled with weapons, explosives, and equipment, enabling terrorists dressed in civilian clothing to disappear into a shaft in Gaza, and emerge in Israel, disguised as IDF soldiers and fully equipped to carry out a mass casualty attack. The IDF has discovered motorcycles in some of the tunnels, which were earmarked by Hamas for rapid raids into Israel and subsequent retreats back into Gaza.
Currently, inside the Strip, the army has gained good control of the areas it is maneuvering in. Despite very difficult fighting that has raged on the ground, which included heavy RPG, anti-tank, and automatic fire by Hamas cells, and despite the painful price Israel has paid thus far, the army is very close to achieving this key goal of its offensive.
In the big majority of cases where the IDF clashed with Hamas, the battle ended with the terrorists being killed, wounded, or with their surrender.
Only a ground offensive could provide the military with the needed tools to destroy the tunnels; air power alone could not achieve this goal.
The number of clashes between the IDF and Hamas cells has dropped dramatically in recent hours, an indication of the army's firm control of the areas it holds. Exceptions to this include sporadic mortar and sniper fire.
Meanwhile, Hamas's stockpile of medium-range rockets, of the kind it uses to target greater Tel Aviv, is becoming depleted. As a result, Hamas has lowered the number of of medium-range rockets it fires, to pace itself for a drawn-out conflict. On the weekend, Hamas has focused on firing on short-range rockets attacks on the south.
The IDF is in the process of reorganizing its ground forces. It is preparing for further instructions from the security cabinet. Ground forces remain active in three areas across Gaza, as the last of the tunnels are destroyed. The remainder of the ground units have taken up positions in staging areas, and some will remain in Gaza, to protect Israeli villages from attempts by Hamas to exploit gaps in the border fence to stage further attacks.
Speaking to a throng of reporters in front of their Kfar Sava home, the Goldin family said “the army knows how to bring” their son home.The IDF believes that Goldin was dragged into a tunnel by Hamas terrorists and emerged elsewhere in Gaza.
“I was a battalion commander, and I served as a reservist until the age of 50,” Dr. Simcha Goldin, Hadar’s father, said. “It is inconceivable that the army will withdraw from Gaza while leaving a soldier in the field. That’s my message to the army.”
Ayelet Goldin, Hadar’s older sister, fought back tears as she demanded that the IDF remain in the Gaza Strip until it rescues the captive officer.
“My baby brother embarked to defend the south,” she said. “It is inconceivable that he will stay there [in Gaza]. If we leave Gaza with an IDF soldier staying there, it’s a failure.”
An initial investigation into the attack during which Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was abducted on Friday reveals that terrorists in Rafah launched a concerted attack on a Givati Brigade force yesterday morning before kidnapping the soldier.
The attacked killed two soldiers in Goldin's unit, and included fierce gunfire and at least one suicide bomber, according to investigators. Reinforcements arrived, saw terrorists' bodies at the scene, and realized that the platoon leader was absent from the carnage - and that a terror tunnel was beneath the battle site.
The Deputy Platoon Leader investigated the terror tunnel himself in an effort to locate Goldin, but did not manage to find any sign of the soldier nor of his kidnappers, according to the report.
Afterwards, the rest of the reinforcements managed to piece together a map of the tunnel and established that it leads to a Hamas headquarters and mosque.
The IDF has stormed the area in order to find Goldin and his abductors, and the battle rages even 24 hours later.
Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said "our understanding is that the force was attacked by a suicide bomber, (but it) seems there were several other gunmen who carried out this attack," and that Goldin had been "snatched into a tunnel."Hamas is still denying that it has Goldin. At this point, if they have him, I doubt they will admit it before the IDF withdraws from Gaza.