A Bibi-Obama Transcript, and No End in Sight
Day 23 of Operation Protective Edge
Diplomacy had yet to make a dent in the fighting on Wednesday, as the death toll continued to climb in the Gaza Strip and Israel on the 23rd day of Operation Protective Edge.
On Wednesday afternoon, three soldiers were killed in a blast in a booby-trapped building near Khan Younis, bringing the number of soldiers killed in the operation to 56. 15 more were hurt by the collapse of a wall of the building after the explosion.
Estimates of Palestinians killed Wednesday were around 100 as Israel carried out a number of strikes across the Strip. One of these strikes was an alleged attack on a market in the Gaza neighborhood of Shejaiya and another incident in which 15 died after Israel reportedly shelled a UN school in the Strip. The Palestinian death toll has now climbed to over 1,100, with thousands wounded, according to officials in Gaza.
The Israeli Security Cabinet on Wednesday held a five hour meeting on Wednesday during which they decided that the fighting would continue to neutralize the tunnel threat. This follows the release on Tuesday night of a first-person video shot by Hamas gunmen during their infiltration on Monday, in which they killed 5 IDF soldiers at a post near Nahal Oz. The video was played widely on Israeli media, shocking the public.
Despite the Security Cabinet ruling, head of the IDF Southern Command Major-Gen. Sami Turgeman said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 on Wednesday evening that the mission to destroy Hamas’s attack tunnels would be completed in a number of days.
Former President Shimon Peres, for his part, told reporters on Wednesday that the war had already reached its culmination and that Israel must now try to find the most favorable ceasefire.
On the diplomatic front, relations between the U.S. and Israel took another blow on Tuesday night, as Channel 1 aired what it said was the transcript of a conversation between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama, during which the president tells the prime minister that he has no choice but to accept Hamas-backers Qatar and Turkey as mediators of a ceasefire. The report was immediately blasted as false by both the White House and Jerusalem on Tuesday night, but spoke to a widening suspicion in Israel towards the Obama administration.