The IDF called up an additional 16,000 reservists on Wednesday night, bringing the total number of reservists marshaled since the start of Operation Protective Edge to 86,000.
They will be part of force rotations and deployed not only to swap out soldiers already deployed to Gaza, but also to the West Bank and the northern border, allowing soldiers there to join the front lines in the south.
Fighting continued in Gaza on the 24th day of the operation, as Israeli infantrymen shot and killed a Hamas gunman as he emerged from an attack tunnel. Elsewhere in the Strip, five other Hamas fighters were spotted in an open area by IDF paratroopers, who called in an airstrike. The IDF also said Thursday that they had found and destroyed several tunnels in the past 24 hours and that altogether they hit 110 targets in Gaza in the last day, out of a total of 4,200 since the start of the operation.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Israeli death toll stood at 59, including 3 civilians, while in Gaza over 1,300 people had been killed since the fighting started, according to Gaza officials. Those killed include hundreds of Hamas fighters, according to Israel.
Wednesday night was unusually quiet in Israel, as not a single rocket was fired overnight into the country. Later on Thursday however, three people were hurt by rocket shrapnel in Sderot, and several at the scene were treated for shock.
At a cabinet meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said that Israel will not accept any ceasefire that does not allow them to finish demolishing the Hamas attack tunnels. He also praised what he said was the success of the operation so far, saying that thousands of “terror targets” and command centers had been hit in Gaza, and that hundreds of Hamas terrorists had been eliminated.
Netanyahu’s comments somewhat echo ones made on Thursday by Ehud Ya’ari, veteran Arab affairs analyst for Israel’s Channel 2. Ya’ari spoke of how Hamas has felt serious pressure from the Egyptians and is increasingly isolated. Most of their tunnels have been destroyed, and they are down to only a fraction of the rocket stockpile that they started the campaign with.
The IDF said Thursday that beginning that morning there were 49 rockets and mortars fired into Israel by 5pm, and that 6 of these were shot down by the Iron Dome and 5 landed in populated areas. This is significantly lower than the daily average for the operation, during which around 2,830 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel.