OPERATION ‘PROTECTIVE EDGE’ DAY 16: U.S. Lifts Travel Ban to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport (LIVE UPDATES)
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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.
11:59 pm – The FAA ban on U.S. carrier flights to Israel has been lifted. The move comes following a security review together with U.S. officials. The agency did, however, leave the door open to the possibility of reinstating the ban.
“Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation,” the FAA said. “The agency will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions, as necessary.”
The embargo was originally placed due to the fear of rocket attacks from Gaza.
7:32 pm – The IDF released the following summary of Wednesday’s events:
Since midnight, approximately 98 rockets were fired at Israel, out of which 70 hit Israeli territory and 25 were intercepted. Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, Gaza terrorists fired approximately 2270 rockets at Israeli civilians. 448 of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome, while another 1777 hit Israeli territory. So far, three Israeli civilians have been killed by such rockets.
Over the course of the day (July 23, 2014), the IDF targeted over 100 terror sites across the Gaza Strip, including concealed rocket launchers, terror tunnels, militant compounds, and terror activity posts located within the premises of Al-Wafa hospital, from which multiple attacks were executed against IDF forces. In addition, IDF forces detained 150 Palestinians suspected of involvement in terror activity and transferred them for security questioning.
Since Operation Protective Edge began, the IDF targeted some 3,333 terror targets. The IDF targeted over 200 terrorists.
Early yesterday (July 23, 2014), a dozen terrorists were identified driving a vehicle in the guise of an ambulance to a site in the southern Gaza Strip. An IAF aircraft targeted three of the terrorists and a short while later, the site itself.
In addition, a special force apprehended a terrorist disguised in an IDF uniform in the Gaza Strip.
Since the ground phase of the operation commenced, the IDF enabled access to more than 864 trucks carrying fuels, food, medical and general supplies into Gaza. This, in addition to the recent establishment of a field hospital for wounded Palestinian civilian. Earlier this evening, roughly ten mortars were fired from Gaza at the hospital, endangering both the Israeli staff and the Palestinian patients.
In combined IDF-ISA activities, over the last few days several prominent field commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. All terrorists targeted were involved in many attacks against IDF soldiers in Gaza and in the firing of rockets at Israeli communities. They’ve also been central figures during Operation Protective Edge.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad Commanders who have been targeted:
Acram Salah Mahmmar Sh’ar – A senior PIJ militant. In charge of PIJ’s militant activity in the area of Khan Yunis. Was in charge of executing attacks against IDF forces on the Gaza border and of rockets fired from the area of Khan Yunis at Israeli communities.
Mahmoud Awwad Ali Ziada – a resident of Jabaliya. A prominent PIJ terrorist and head of PIJ activity in the northern Gaza Strip.
Shaben Haled Sha’aben Dahduh- a resident of Gaza City. A prominent PIJ operative and head of PIJ activity in Gaza City region.
Sa’yeed Mahamed Nasser Au Mamer- a resident of Rafah. A senior PIJ operative, and head of PIJ activity in Rafah.
4:00 pm – Top pro-Israel lobby AIPAC announced its opposition to the FAA flight ban. The group’s statement is below:
We understand the need and the responsibility to protect the safety of airline travelers, but we are concerned by the FAA decision to ban all commercial flights by US airliners to Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. For the past two weeks, Israel has endured hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas terrorists from Gaza. Yet, air travel to Israel has been safe and unhindered. Safety is an important consideration, but this decision appears overly harsh and excessive. Moreover, we are concerned that it could have the unintended effect of encouraging terrorists to become even more committed to make civil aviation a target.
Hamas terrorists are seeking to inflict human, physical and economic damage on our ally. That is why we are concerned the ban could have the effect of isolating Israel at a time when we should be demonstrating our strong solidarity. America should be strengthening our connection with Israel through additional assistance to its self-defense efforts, enhanced economic cooperation and increased numbers of Americans traveling to the Jewish state.
The American people have shown in this difficult moment that they stand strongly with our democratic ally. Now is not the time to send the entirely wrong message with a ban on flights to Israel. We urge a review of the policy immediately.
12:19 pm – Major Jewish umbrella group, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, announced that it will hold a National Leadership Assembly in Washington D.C. on Monday “to demonstrate solidarity with the people and State of Israel.” In a statement the group said:
“Hundreds of leaders from American Jewish organizations and communities are expected to gather in Washington, DC on Monday, July 28th to demonstrate solidarity with the people and State of Israel. The National Leadership Assembly, convened by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, will be an important opportunity to let the people of Israel know that they are not alone as they face the continuing onslaught of terrorist attacks, with missiles launched at civilian populations by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Leaders of Congress and the Administration have been invited to join in this bipartisan expression of support and unity”, said Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “We expect a broad representation from across the country, representing scores of national organizations, the synagogal bodies, Federations, JCRCs, as well as prominent non-Jews. We are most appreciative of the strong response to the announcement of the Assembly, reflecting the strong feelings of identification with Israel at this critical time,” said Sugarman and Hoenlein.
12:05 pm – The IDF announced that 3 Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza in Wednesday. The soldiers were killed by an “explosive device activated against forces in the Gaza Strip.”
The names of the deceased soldiers are: Lieutenant Paz Elyahu, an infantry officer, 22 years old from Evron, Staff Sergeant Li Mat, an infantry soldier, 19 years old from Eilat, and Staff Sergeant Shahar Dauber, an infantry soldier, 20 years old from Ginegar.
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge 32 soldiers have been killed.
In addition, 2 IDF soldiers were severely injured, 10 soldiers were moderately injured, and 16 soldiers were lightly injured in several incidents as part of the ongoing ground operation in the Gaza Strip, the IDF said.
10:05 am – Overnight, Gaza’s Wafa hospital was targeted by the IDF. Details on the operation were released by the IDF:
The IDF has targeted specific sites and terrorists located within the premises of Al-Wafa hospital in Gaza City. This in light of several occasions in which fire was opened at IDF forces from within the hospital grounds, and despite repeated warnings against such activities, and notifications to civilians to vacate the premises. Recently, terror activities executed against IDF forces were enhanced and in several attacks gunman opened fire and launched anti-tank missiles. This gunfire continued this morning.
The hospital grounds and its immediate surroundings have been repeatedly utilized by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a command center, rocket launching site, and a post enabling terrorists to open fire at soldiers.
The IDF has raised its concerns with International Organizations on numerous occasions. Also, warnings have been conveyed directly to the hospital administration and other Palestinian officials.
Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesman: “Hamas terrorists have been intentionally abusing the hospital and other international protected symbols to indiscriminately attack Israel and its civilians. The IDF is determined in preventing the ongoing aggression by Hamas that is directed by a strategy of exploitation and abuse of the civilian population and its wellbeing”.
Attached is yet another example of Hamas’ exploitation of civilian infrastructures and disregard for human life, demonstrated in footage of terrorists fleeing in an ambulance after being engaged by IDF paratroopers.
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 3200 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 600 deaths have been reported in Gaza and 32 Israeli soldiers have been killed and well as three civilians.
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.