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July 22, 2014 10:01 pm
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OPERATION ‘PROTECTIVE EDGE’ DAY 15: IDF Soldier Killed Overnight, Army Death Toll Reaches 29 (LIVE UPDATES)

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Deceased Israeli soldier Dmitri Levitas. Photo: IDF.

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: The Algemeiner has concluded our live updates for tonight and will continue to report on all developments. Please stay tuned for a new live update blog tomorrow.

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11:05 pm – The IDF announced that another soldier was killed in Gaza fighting overnight. “Captain Dmitri Levitas, an officer from Armored Corps, 26 years old from Jerusalem and Geshur was killed in combat last night by sniper fire in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said. “His funeral date will be announced later on.”

“Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge 29 soldiers have been killed,” the IDF said.

7:00 pm – The commander of the IDF’s Golani Brigade, Raslan Alian, who was injured on Saturday night, returned to his men in Gaza on Tuesday. “Our commanders lead from the front,” the IDF said on Twitter.

A video published by the IDF shows Alian, bearing battle scars on his face, greeting his troops as he returns to duty:

5:45 pm – The Times of Israel reports: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, asking him to act in order to restore American air travel to and from Israel, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office say.”

3:22 pm – The IDF released the following summary of Tuesday’s events:

Since the beginning of the ground phase of the operation, the IDF has targeted over 1,800 terror sites. Over the course of the day the IDF has targeted approximately 260 terror activity sites in Gaza. Among the targets were military posts, concealed rocket launchers, weapon manufacturing facilities and military command centers. IDF soldiers uncovered thus far approximately 30 offensive tunnels and 66 access points.

2,160 rockets have been fired at Israel since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, 420 of them were intercepted and some 1,700 hit Israel. Today, 87 rockets were fired at Israel, 18 of them intercepted and 67 hit Israel.
This morning, militants fired anti-tank missiles from within a mosque at IDF soldiers in Khan-Yunis. In response, IAF aircraft targeted the mosque, identifying a hit. Staff Sergeant Avitar Moshe Torjamin was killed and several soldiers were wounded in this incident.

In a separate incident, terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at IDF soldiers in Khan-Yunis. The soldiers responded with fire and killed 4 terrorists.

Around noon, IDF soldiers uncovered 3 tunnel access points in the northern Gaza Strip.

Later today, elite unit soldiers uncovered a cache of ammunition in the central Gaza Strip. The ammunition included anti-tank missiles, heavy machine guns and AK- 47 assault rifles.

Recently, 2 terrorists opened fire at IDF soldiers who responded to the threat and killed them.

3:15 pm –  Earlier Tuesday, Israel’s Netanyahu showed visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon documentation of some of Hamas’s dirty fighting tactics. According to a statement:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this afternoon (Tuesday, 22 July 2014), at the start of his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, showed to the latter the remains of rockets that were recently launched at Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip including a 122mm Grad rocket with a range of up to 20 kilometers and a second rocket with a range of up to 40 kilometers. Also shown were the motor of a locally-manufactured M-75 with a range of up to 80 kilometers and the warhead of a rocket that contains approximately 20 kilograms of explosives.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also showed the UN Secretary General incriminating aerial photographs which attest to the fact that Hamas is using the population as human shields, flyers that were distributed to Gaza residents requesting that they evacuate the place where they are so as to avoid injury, and a video clip in which IDF soldiers locate ready-for-use Grad rocket launchers on the grounds of an agricultural school in Beit Hanun.

2:21 pm – Israeli radio reports massive rocket barrages over central and southern Israel.

11:58 am – In a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is visiting Israel to push for a ceasefire, Prime Minister Netanayhu vigorously defended Israel’s right to take action in Gaza and highlighted the steps it has taken to avoid civilian casualties:

Mr. Secretary, I appreciate the fact that you came here and that you took time to see what we’ve just shown you. I think it’s clear that Israel is doing what any country would do if terrorists rained down rockets on its cities and towns – hundreds of rockets, day after day, week after week. In addition, as I’ve shown you, Hamas has dug terrorist tunnels under hospitals, mosques, schools, homes, to penetrate our territory, to kidnap and kill Israelis.

Now, in the face of such wanton terrorism, no country could sit idly by. It would exercise its right, inherent and legitimate right of self-defense as we are doing, and act decisively to end the threat to its citizens. This is what Israel is doing. We did not seek this escalation, Mr. Secretary. We accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. I don’t need to remind you it was a proposal that was supported by the UN, by the Arab League, by the United States, by Europe. Hamas rejected it. We accepted the humanitarian ceasefire proposal that the UN proposed afterward. Hamas rejected that. We accepted the ceasefire proposal of the Red Cross in Shejaia. Hamas rejected that, twice. I think the international community must take a clear stand; it must hold Hamas accountable for consistently rejecting the ceasefire proposals and for starting and prolonging this conflict. The international community must hold Hamas accountable for its increasing and indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians. And the international community must hold Hamas accountable for using Palestinian civilians as human shields deliberately putting them in harm’s way, deliberately keeping them in harm’s way.

Mr. Secretary, we have made every effort and will continue to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. We are targeting Hamas terrorist targets. We’ve just shown you these targets, embedded in civilian areas, embedded in mosques, embedded in hospitals, embedded in agricultural schools. Hamas is embedded in there in order to sustain civilian casualties, because they know that we will have to protect our citizens; that we have to act against their targets. So they are committing a double war crime: both targeting our civilians and hiding behind their civilians. And they want, I repeat: They want more civilian casualties, whereas we want no civilian casualties at all, and we’re taking the utmost pain to minimize that. I think the people of Gaza, and that’s become absolutely clear to the world, are the victims of the brutal Hamas regime. They are holding them hostage and they are hiding behind them.

You know, Mr. Secretary, the international community has pressed us to give cement to Gaza to build schools, hospitals, homes. And now we see what has happened to those deliveries of cement. They have been used to dig tunnels next to a kindergarten, not to build a kindergarten but to build a tunnel that penetrates our territory so that Hamas can blow up our kindergartens and murder our children. They’ve used for a long time our willingness to try to keep civilians at a minimum. They’ve been using them to keep on firing at us. We have even opened up a field hospital, Mr. Secretary, to help Hamas civilians, and Hamas is preventing civilians of Gaza from going to our hospital. I believe that you understand this. I believe that you understand that it is the right of every state to defend itself. And Israel will continue to do what it needs to do to defend its people.

Mr. Secretary, this is not only our right; this is our duty.

9:28 am – Israel announced that an IDF soldier was killed in a fire exchange in the southern Gaza Strip earlier this morning.

“His name was Staff Sergeant Avitar Moshe Torjamin, 20 years old from Beit She’an,” the IDF said. “Staff Sergeant Torjamin was promoted posthumously from the rank of Sergeant.”

The Israeli Army death toll now stands at 28.

8:40 am – The IDF announced that one Israeli soldier is yet unaccounted for following heavy clashes in Gaza.

“Sergeant Oron Shaul, a combat soldier of the Golani brigade, 21 years old from Poria is the soldier whose identification process is yet to be completed,” the IDF said on Tuesday.

The announcement comes two days after Hamas claimed that it had captured Shaul in Gaza.

Israeli officials told The Times of Israel that gunmen may have simply retrieved some identifying items from the scene after the attack.

PREAMBLE: 8:05 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 2300 terror sites and has seen over 2000 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 500 deaths have been reported in Gaza and 27 Israeli soldiers have been killed and well as one civilian.

Last 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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