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July 18, 2014 6:11 pm

OPERATION ‘PROTECTIVE EDGE’ DAY 11: IDF Says Three Israeli Soldiers Injured by Gunfire in Northern Gaza (LIVE UPDATES)

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Israeli soldiers prepare for battle. Photo: Naftali Bennett.

Follow here for The Algemeiner‘s continued live updates on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Our report on the launch of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge can be found hereFor details on the rocket attacks that led to Israel’s operation click here. To read The Algemeiner‘s live updates from previous days of the conflict click here. For more information please check our homepage.

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WRAP: Algemeiner updates will be temporarily suspended until Saturday evening in observation of Shabbat. For live updates on Operation Protective Edge click here.

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7:20 pm – The Jerusalem Post reports: “An IDF spokesperson confirmed overnight on Friday that three Israeli soldiers were injured by gunfire in northern Gaza. They were evacuated to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment.”

7:14 pm – Israel released the following summary of day 11 of Operation Protective Edge:

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge more than 1,637 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel; 1,228 of the rockets hit Israeli home front and an additional 340 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Staff Sergeant Eitan Barak was killed, 7 IDF soldiers were injured and approximately 53,200 reserve soldiers were recruited so far.

Since the beginning of the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge more than 135 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel; approximately87 of the rockets hit Israel. One of them hit a kindergarten in Gan Yavne and another caused damage to a home in the Sha’ar HaNegev regional council. Additional 40 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome. IDF forces struck some 240 terror activity sites in a combined effort by air, naval and ground forces; uncovering 10 tunnels with 22 exit points across the Gaza Strip.

As a part of the IDF’s extensive efforts to avoid harm to uninvolved civilians, recorded messages were sent to the residents of Shuja’iyya, advising them to evacuate immediately, prior to the IDF’s targeting of terror sites in this area:

“Residents of Shuja’iyya, Al Jadida and Al Turkman: For your own safety you are requested to vacate from these areas immediately and head towards Gaza City.”

Terror organizations take advantage of this fact and have been carrying out attacks on IDF soldiers from within the properties of civilians who evacuated them. This, once again, demonstrates the way Hamas terrorists brutally exploit civilians and their property, thus causing the incurred property damage themselves.

During IDF operations today, 21 terrorists were detained for questioning.  Weapon manufacturing equipment and rocket launching devices were found among the possessions of several Hamas affiliated terrorists who were detained in Khan Yunis.

During the afternoon an anti- tank missile was fired at IDF soldiers and was intercepted by the Trophy active protection system. The incident occurred in the northern Gaza Strip.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesman: Beneath the Gaza Strip lies an underground Gaza. An offensive tunnel network that is almost entirely hidden on the surface and as elaborate as a labyrinth. Today IDF soldiers discovered 10 of these tunnels and over 20 points of access and it is merely the first day of the ground phase of the operation.”

6:02 pm – IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin (Benny) Gantz, spoke to members of the IDF Southern Command on Friday. Gantz said the IDF was in the process of expanding its ground operation:

“We are in the phase of expanding the ground phase of the Operation, a phase which started last night in several areas [within the Gaza Strip], in strength, with much mobilization, and thus far, with greatly successful gains in both, targeting the enemy and exposing their capabilities.  Our intention is to continue expanding and shaping the operation as needed. Our forces will be engaged, and there will be moments of hardship. Hamas and other terror organizations [in Gaza] have been hit hard, painfully, and extensively. After years of building up their manpower, rocket arsenal, terrorist capabilities, and their tunnels. Until now, all have been shattered by the capabilities of Israel and the IDF. The citizens of Israel should be proud of their nation’s military, proud of the soldiers on the front lines, and understand that a strategic national patience is necessary. The [current] state of emergency will continue in the following days, but during this time, the Israeli Home Front is conducting itself accordingly, the IDF is going in, expanding, and intensifying [its operations], doing what needs to be done. I am convinced that despite any difficulties, the upper hand is ours, and it shall continue [to be ours]. We promise to not only return the quiet but also restore the security stability in the south, as well as to all the areas of Israel.”

5:45 pm – AFP reports: “US President Barack Obama telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to voice concerns about the crisis in Gaza amid an Israeli ground offensive.”

“Obama said that while the US supports Israel’s right to defend itself, ‘the United States and our friends and allies are deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life.'”

5:15 pm – Earlier today Israel released an update on its activities in Gaza. The full IDF statement is below:

As part of the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge, soldiers of the IDF Givati Brigade have been operating in the Gaza Strip. They have thus far uncovered 13 tunnels exits that were used to smuggle weaponry and to execute terror attacks. During the activity, soldiers detected three Hamas operatives, who were killed in the fire exchange between them.

Attached here is a quote by Colonel Ofer Winter, commander of the Givati Brigade:

“Last night, Givati soldiers, along with Armored and Engineering Forces, began targeting Hamas terror sites. The forces have since then uncovered tunnel access points and engaged Hamas terrorists. The Givati brigade will continue to operate with decisiveness in order to restore safety to the people of Israel.”

3:01 pm – A delegation of Jewish leaders met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the war in Gaza as well as the Iran nuclear talks.  Members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said they urged Kerry to push world leaders to support Israel’s actions in Gaza:

“A group of leaders of the American Jewish community met with Secretary of State John Kerry and senior members of his team to discuss the Iran nuclear negotiations as the July 20th deadline for the talks approaches, and the ongoing Israeli response to Hamas terrorism from Gaza”, said Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Secretary Kerry noted the Administration’s continuing support for the Egyptian initiative as the way to achieve a return to the 2012 ceasefire. The delegation, many of whom recently visited Israel, expressed appreciation for assistance that made possible the Iron Dome missile defense system that has saved so many lives. They also noted the support of the United States for Israel to take the steps necessary to defend its citizens and end the constant barrage that has seen more than 1,000 missiles hit Israel in recent days. They urged the United States to continue to press the international community to stand by Israel, which has demonstrated remarkable restraint and gone to unprecedented lengths to avoid civilian casualties.

11: 43 am – IDF: “The Iron Dome just intercepted 2 rockets over the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.”

7:45 am – The IDF published this primer on one of its main targets in Gaza: terror tunnels.

Dozens of terror tunnels are spread throughout the Gaza Strip, the majority of them constructed and utilized by Hamas. The Hamas tunnel network is highly developed and continuously preserved interconnecting launch sites, rocket maintenance and command and control positions.

Since beginning of the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge yesterday, July 17, approximately 5 of these terror tunnels have been exposed by IDF soldiers and are now under comprehensive investigation.

Offensive tunnels are complex and advanced, crossing the border from Gaza to Israel, with an agenda to enable terrorists to infiltrate into the Israeli Home Front.

Such tunnels, with openings deep within Israeli territory, are intended to carry out attacks such as abductions of Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers alike; infiltrations into Israeli communities, mass murders and hostage taking scenarios.

In order to disable such capabilities and eliminate the possible threat, the IDF will continue on its course of action, targeting terror infrastructure, including tunnels, rocket launchers and impairing other terrorist capabilities.

3:06 am – The Israeli soldier who was killed was named as Eitan Barak, 20, from Herzliya. Israel’s Ynet reported: “According to the IDF, the event in which he was killed took place at in the northern part of the strip at roughly 3 am Friday, and the possibility he was killed by friendly fire is being examined.”

2:28 am – The IDF published footage of Israeli troops entering Gaza last night. The troops are given instructions and are seen in columns around the Strip.

1:01 am – The IDF released a report on overnight missions in Gaza. One Israeli solder was killed as were 14 terrorists:

Yesterday at approximately 22:00 IDT, the IDF initiated the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. The goal is to establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety without continues indiscriminate terror, while striking a significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure.

Over the course of the night; infantry, armored corps, engineer corps, artillery, and intelligence forces operated on the ground in various locations across the Gaza Strip, along with aerial and naval support.

Initial indication suggests that the results thus far fall in line with IDF expectations, as IDF forces have succeeded in neutralizing some 14 terrorists in several exchanges of fire. Also, IDF forces exposed and destroyed some 20 concealed rocket launchers, carried out approximately 9 strikes on tunnels, and targeting altogether over 103 terror targets. Additionally, IDF ground forces are advancing in their respective missions, including identifying and combating the terror tunnel threat.

Overnight, an IDF soldier was killed in the northern Gaza Strip. The soldier’s family has been notified.

Since the beginning of the of the ground phase of the operation, about 50 rockets were fired at Israel, 25 of which hit Israel and another 20 intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

In addition, overnight, an anti- tank missile hit an IDF heavy bulldozer in the southern Gaza Strip, causing damage. No injuries were reported.

PREAMBLE: 1:00 am – Early on Tuesday July 8th Israel launched Operation Protective Edge aimed at stopping “the constant terror activity that Hamas is aiming at Israeli civilians.” The major Gaza initiative comes in response to a significant increase in rocket attacks from the coastal enclave over the past weeks.

Since the start of the initiative Israel has targeted over 1600 terror sites and has seen over 1200 rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli cities including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Gedera. More than 6 million Israelis are under threat of rocket attacks and many are spending the nights in bomb shelters. Over 200 deaths have been reported in Gaza and one Israeli was killed in a mortar strike.

This Tuesday, while Israel accepted an Egyptian proposed ceasefire, Hamas rejected it and fired volleys of rockets into Israel.

Late on Thursday night the IDF launched an extensive ground offensive in Gaza.

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