Army strikes 200 Gaza targets as ground units continue to destroy tunnels

Military fatalities rise to 27; Wounded commander from Golani Brigade returns to battlefield.

An IDF tank manoeuvres outside the northern Gaza Strip July 21, 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS)
An IDF tank manoeuvres outside the northern Gaza Strip July 21, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF struck some 200 terrorist targets over the past 24 hours in the Gaza Strip, including more than 100 in the Shejaia neighborhood in the space of a few hours, the army said on Tuesday, as ground forces continued to destroy tunnels and engage Hamas cells in exchanges of fire.
A terrorist cell opened fire on a Givati Brigade infantry unit in Gaza on Tuesday night. Soldiers returned fire, killing the gunmen.
The Paratroop Brigade’s St.-Sgt. Evyatar Turgeman, 20, from Beit She’an, was killed on Tuesday morning in a firefight with terrorists, the IDF said. He was posthumously promoted from the rank of sergeant.
The IDF named one of two soldiers killed on Monday in Gazan gun battles as the Nahal Brigade’s St.-Sgt. Oded Ben-Sira, 22, from Nir Etzion.
The total number of IDF fatalities stands at 27.
Since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8, the IDF has attacked 3,000 Gazan terrorist targets, having hit 1,715 since the beginning of the ground offensive on Thursday night, according to the army’s figures. The Palestinian death toll rose to 616, including nearly 100 children and many other civilians, Gaza health officials said.
Targets it hit throughout Tuesday included underground rocket launchers, homes of terrorists that were in use as command and control centers, a site used to produce weapons, military structures, tunnels and surface-to-surface missile launchers.
Ground units have uncovered 66 tunnel shafts that are part of 23 underground passages, destroying six of the tunnels. The army has taken 28 terrorists into custody. On Tuesday morning, paratroopers detected an enemy cell and directed an air strike at it, killing 10 terrorists.
Additional members of the cell were seen escaping in an ambulance. The IDF did not bomb the ambulance, so as to avoid harming noncombatants. It did, however, release video footage of the escape.
The video contains a recording of radio communications between IDF intelligence scouts monitoring the situation.
“Two are leaving our home and going into an alley,” says one intelligence scout, adding, “And now they are boarding an ambulance.”
Seconds later, a broadcast over the network says, “Pay attention, we have two suspects who entered an ambulance. And they are now escaping in the ambulance, southbound.”
Also on Tuesday, paratroopers directed tank fire at a cell of three terrorists, successfully striking the cell, the army said.
In the afternoon, the IDF identified a cell that had opened fire on soldiers. They fired at it, killing a terrorist, the military said.
Late on Monday night, a Golani unit killed four terrorists who had opened fire on it. Later, an IAF craft and a paratrooper unit struck seven terrorists, including snipers, who had fired on soldiers. During the exchange of fire, St.-Sgt.
Ohad Shemesh, an NCO from Beit Elazari, was killed, and 13 soldiers were wounded.
Overnight between Monday and Tuesday, the army identified a Hamas control room serving as a command and control center. The air force destroyed it.
Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the IDF allowed the transfer of humanitarian equipment and goods into the southern Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing.
Also on Tuesday, paratroopers uncovered the full route of a tunnel whose exit in Israel had been discovered near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha in 2013.
Meanwhile, Golani Brigade commander Col. Rasan Alian, who was wounded in heavy clashes with Hamas in recent days, rejoined his soldiers on the battlefield.
“I want to go back to Gaza and get to as many terrorists as possible,” Alian said before returning.
The Golani Brigade has lost many soldiers in recent days in battles with Hamas.
At the same time, Alian said, the brigade has “killed a lot of terrorists. We will continue doing that. That’s the most important thing.
I hope to be back with the battalion commanders soon.”
He added, “I’d like to send a big hug to the bereaved families. I did not have a chance to meet them. We stand with them. They are strengthening us.”
Alian was moderately wounded in an exchange of fire in Gaza on Sunday and was hospitalized at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.
Overnight between Monday and Tuesday, three soldiers were seriously wounded and four were moderately hurt during battles in Gaza.
Regarding attacks from the air, a senior military source said Tuesday morning that since the start of the ground offensive last week, the IAF had bombed 23 tunnels and killed some 200 terrorists.
IDF centers that coordinate air strikes against terrorists were behind Israeli attacks that killed 66 terrorists since the start of the ground operation, the source added.
Ground forces “are moving and scanning areas.
They are dynamic and are not standing in place,” the source said. Hamas is trying to defend its tunnel network, often opting for close combat with the army, he added.
Meanwhile, the IDF’s Central Command has been engaged with a series of recent incidents. A terrorist drive-by shooting left an Israeli teenager wounded in Samaria early on Tuesday.
Levels of violence are rising in the Central Command’s sector in Judea and Samaria, the senior military source said.
During a riot on Monday night, security forces shot a Palestinian dead in E-Ram, northeast of Jerusalem.
Additionally, the IDF intercepted a shipment of weapons and narcotics in the Dead Sea, which unknown operatives in Jordan had dispatched to the West Bank.