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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Three IDF soldiers killed in Gaza

Three IDF soldiers were killed in fighting in Gaza on Monday as the battle has moved into close quarters in urban areas. The soldiers were from the elite Golani Brigade. Another 20 were wounded in the same incident.
According to reports, a force from Golani's 13th Battalion came under heavy mortar fire in Saja'iya and entered a nearby home for cover. The home was booby-trapped and the ensuing explosion caused the casualties. Col. Avi Peled, commander of the brigade, and Lt.-Col. Oren Cohen, commander of the battalion, were wounded and evacuated.

The fighting lasted several hours as IDF artillery pounded the area and helicopters evacuated the wounded. The clashes marked the first time the IDF extended its ground operation into a densely populated area.

Meanwhile, another 12 IDF soldiers were wounded throughout the day in exchanges of fire with Hamas gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip. They were evacuated for medical treatment.


Throughout the day the IDF encountered significant resistance in the northern Gaza Strip, killing close to 100 Palestinians in a series of close-range gun battles. Another 80 were captured and sent for interrogation. One Palestinian was taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba under heavy security.

Despite the fierce fighting, and with diplomatic activity beginning to gain steam, defense officials predicted Monday that Operation Cast Lead would be over by the end of the week.

"If everything goes as planned the operation could be over in the next 72 hours," a senior officer said.

While the fighting continued, a top officer said that the forces in Gaza were prepared, if necessary, to enter urban and built-up areas. "This is what the troops have trained for and are designated to do - to fight in densely-populated areas," the officer said.

Over the past year, all of the units that have been deployed in Gaza have undergone training at the Ground Forces Command's Urban Training Center near Tze'elim, which has a mock Palestinian city used to train forces to fight in populated areas.

"We built models for them of places inside Gaza," the officer said. "There are places that replicate city outskirts, the casbah marketplaces and overpopulated refugee camps."

After reaching their targets early Monday morning, the units began taking up positions inside homes and throughout nearby fields across the northern Gaza Strip. Before moving to another home or target, the IDF operated various surveillance systems, as well as heavy firepower to ensure that it was safe to move in the open.

Forty weapons-smuggling tunnels in the Philadelphi Corridor were bombed on Monday and defense officials said that Hamas was too scared to use the tunnels to smuggle further weaponry. Overnight Sunday, the IAF attacked more than 30 Gaza targets, including an underground Hamas bunker, weapons caches and sites from which Grad rockets were fired at Ashkelon.
It's Hamas that chooses where to do battle and it's Hamas that chooses to make private homes a battle ground. Israel has no choice.

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Israel Radio and the JPost are both now reporting that this was the result of an errant shell shot by an Israel tank.


At 4:18 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - Mahmoud Zahar and the Hamas leadership seem to think Jewish children are a suitable target for them. But taking on the IDF is too much for chicken Islamist "warriors" to handle. Whatever happened to the love of death and martyrdom for Allah?


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