Sherwin Pomerantz

The Incursion Into Rafah Continues

The IDF has confirmed that Israel downed a cruise missile that approached the country from the east early on Thursday. Alerts were activated in the Golan Heights due to the hostile aircraft intrusion, now confirmed to be a cruise missile.  Israeli media reports have suggested the missile was launched from Iraq.  The IDF also announced that the Iron Dome system intercepted a suspicious aerial target from the direction of Lebanon on Thursday.  There have been rocket barrages from Lebanon most of Thursday as well.

The IDF on Tuesday announced that a fire which killed dozens of Gaza civilians over the weekend was likely not directly caused by an IDF airstrike on a nearby Hamas command center, but was probably the result of a secondary explosion involving hidden terrorist munitions.  IDF chief spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters Tuesday that a preliminary Israeli investigation into Sunday night’s airstrike in the Tel Sultan area west of Rafah indicated that the deadly blaze appears to have been caused by the detonation of munitions in or around the Hamas facility hit by the Israeli strike.

“On Sunday, we eliminated senior Hamas terrorists in a targeted strike, on a compound used by Hamas in Rafah,” Hagari said.  “The strike was based on precise intelligence that indicated that these terrorists, who were responsible for orchestrating and executing terror attacks against Israelis, were meeting inside this structure we targeted.”

“Sadly, following the strike, due to unforeseen circumstances, a fire ignited, taking the lives of Gazan civilians nearby. Despite our efforts to minimize civilian casualties during the strike, the fire that broke out was unexpected and unintended.”  Hagari emphasized that the airstrike was not carried out in the protected civilian zone established by Israel to shield Gaza civilians, and that the airstrike had utilized small, precision munitions which were not capable of causing the deadly conflagration.

“Contrary to reports, we conducted the strike outside the area that we designated as a humanitarian area and called civilians to evacuate to. Our strike was over a kilometer and a half away from the al-Mawasi humanitarian area, what we call the safer zone.”

Regarding the medical platform in Gaza, Hamas has exploited hospitals, and many Gazans do not support the terrorist group, according to Dr. Baxtiyar Baram, a Kurdish physician who recently volunteered in northern Gaza. An interview with Baram, published this week on the Kurdish website Rudaw and on YouTube, provided unique insights into what has been happening in northern Gaza in recent weeks. Baram revealed that not only does Hamas continue to exploit hospitals, but it also has a “VIP” section in one hospital, where it only allows certain patients – apparently those with connections – to receive treatment.

Baram went to northern Gaza after entering the Gaza Strip through Rafah in April, prior to the IDF’s operations in the Rafah area and its reentering Jabalya.

According to the report, he received permission to go from Rafah to northern Gaza as part of a small team that included four doctors and a nurse. It apparently was one of the first teams of foreign medical aid workers to enter northern Gaza in months, the report said.

 In the south, Israeli troops have now taken “operational control” of the Philadelphi Corridor, the 8.7-mile-long border area between Gaza and Egypt, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Wednesday evening.  Israeli forces have so far uncovered 20 tunnels underneath it, he added.

 zing them,” said Hagari.  During the operation, led by the IDF’s 162nd Division, forces also found dozens of ready-to-fire rocket launchers and launch pits from which Hamas fired rockets and mortars shells into Israel. “Hamas exploited the Philadelphi Corridor, using it to build this infrastructure just dozens of meters from the border with Egypt so that we would not strike them,” said Hagari.

Hagari described the corridor as Hamas’s “lifeline,” through which the terror group smuggled weapons and supplies into the Gaza Strip. The IDF spokesperson also revealed that in recent weeks, troops had uncovered a tunnel under eastern Rafah that was 1.5 kilometers in length (nearly one mile).

“The entrance shaft to the infrastructure was located about 100 meters from the Rafah Crossing [with Egypt],” said Hagari. “The route branched into several sub-routes and was used by Hamas terrorists for movement, transferring weapons and initiating terrorist attacks. Inside the route, we found large quantities of weapons, including anti-tank missiles, AK-47s, explosives and grenades.”

I repeat once more, as I did last week, that all of this could end tomorrow if Hamas would lay down their arms, return the hostages, both those alive and those who are on longer with us and give up their commitment to eliminate Israel and rid the world of Jews.  It remains, no doubt, unrealistic of me to expect that but it would end the bloodshed if that’s what the demonstrators world wide are demanding…..or is it something else altogether?

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.