The timeline of the terror attack on Israel, Thursday 08/18/2011

Note: The timeline for today, Friday August the 19th, 2011, is still happening and unfortunately will continue to develop. This is the what transpired thus far.

I apologize in advance if I did not translate correctly the names of the casualties from Hebrew to English.

The attack on Route 12

Shortly before 12:00 P.M. (GMT +03:00) three terrorists from the Gaza Strip infiltrated Israel through the border with the Sinai Peninsula. They moved across an Egyptian post that was apparently unguarded, and through the open border crossed towards Route 12. They crossed separately with distances between them. Two more terrorists were left in the Sinai Peninsula as lookouts as well as about 13 others who were waiting to shoot at the Israeli forces that would come to the scene. Each terrorist had an explosive belt around him and carried many weapons. Route 12 is a remote route in south Israel on the way to the vacation spot of Eilat.

The terrorists waited at the side of the road until vehicles came by. The first to appear was a private vehicle carrying a family – two parents and two children, aged 5 and 7. The bullets hit the shield of the car and glass lightly injured the children.

Less than a moment later approached a bus, line 392 to Eilat. The terrorists opened fire at the bus, shattering windows and hitting it as much as possible. Seven people inside the bus were injured. Seven more suffered from shock. Passengers jumped to the floor as soldiers on the bus attended to their wounds and tried to open fire. The driver pressed the gas and fled the scene.

Shortly after another bus drove by with a private vehicle behind him. This time the bus was empty, except for the driver. The terrorists opened fire at the bus. One of them approached the front of the bus and activated his explosive belt. The bus caught on fire and the driver died instantly. He was the first casualty. His name has not yet been released to the public in the time of writing these lines.

The private car driving behind the bus had fire opened at it as well. The four passengers inside were killed. They were two sisters and their husbands on the way back home from a vacation in Eilat. They are Moshe and Flora (aged 52) Raz, and Shula (aged 54) and Dov (aged 58) Karlinski. The brother of one of the casualties was driving with his family a short distance behind. When he saw his brother and wife (along with her sister and husband) murdered, and according to his testamony confirmed dead, he quickly reversed as terrorists shot at him and hit one of the wheels of his car. Escaping, he warned four more private vehicles and saved their lives.

One vehicle he didn’t manage to stop was caught in the fire as well. A wife and husband, Yosef and Ester Levi, driving in the car were shot. The car was completely “sprayed” with bullets. While the husband, aged 57, was fatally wounded and died on the scene, the wife who was more lightly wounded played dead and lied beside him for an hour until rescue could reach her and while gunshots were heard in a battle between Israeli soldiers and the terrorists.

Six civilians died in this terror attack.

Photoraphed by: Ariel Harmoni

The Gun Battles

The first vehicles that were attacked and managed to flee the scene, reported the incident. At around 12:30 P.M. the first squad of soldiers arrived at the scene. They managed to drive over one of the terrorists and a battle of gunshots began with the last terrorist, as well as the remaining terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula. There are reports of mortar shells that were fired at the soldiers (there reports about them being fired and missed at vehicles as well). The battle ended with the death of the terrorists (taking part in this gunshot battle), as well as the death of an Israeli soldier – Staff Sergeant Moshe Naftalie, aged 22.

Since seizing control of the area, Israeli police and military have closed Route 12, and to this moment, 24 hours after the incident, it is still closed, due to the fear of more terrorists on the scene. All terrorists were wearing explosive belts and even after dead, those belts need to be dismantled. The danger is not over yet.

Sometime around 06:00 P.M. fire was opened at a  S.W.A.T. team. During the battle, 49 year old senior non-commissioned officer Pascal Avrahami was killed. It is not known who shot him to this point. The shot came from inside the Egyptian territory.

The total number of fatalities in this terror attack is eight.

Retaliation and Escalation

Israel has responded with airstrikes near the Philadelfi Route, targeting the higher ranks of the Popular Resistance Committee, an extreme Islamic terror group in the Gaza Strip. Since then it has made repeated airstrikes toward various goals in the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian report there are casualties. This is not surprising, since as most of weapon warehouses and headquarters (i.e. where terrorists like to hide) are found mostly within civilian populated areas. This does not absolve them or rewards them with a “getting scot free” card. The goal of this airstrikes is to put a price over terror – when you’re planning a terror attack and signing off on it, you too will be held accountable. You too can be found.

In response to this airstrikes, several extreme terror groups inside the Gaza Strip (yes, it’s a motive – the strip is practically flooded with them) fired rockets at Israeli cities. Overnight, three of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system who is deployed around the cities of Ashkelon and Be’er-Sheva. This morning two Grad Missiles hit the port city of Ashdod. Six people were injured. One of the rockets that did not explode and landed inside a synagogue is still being handled by sappers. The solution at this point is to destroy the synagogue completely in order to dismantle the Grad missile.

Egypt has for the time being closed the Rafah crossing and is working with the Israeli forces to find if there are any more terrorists in the Peninsula and catch them. Jordan itself has forwarded intelligence regarding this attempt a short while before it happened. There are reports of Egyptian soldiers killed in an airstrike committed by Israel, but nothing official as of yet (though the opposition in Egypt is using this to once again incite against Israel). Further reports are talking about another terrorist who did morning activated his explosive belt and blew himself on an Egyptian squad, causing injuries and fatalities. The IDF assessment right now is that during early hours of the morning, while Israeli soldiers patrolled the border on the Israeli side, and Egyptian soldiers patrolled the border on their side, a climgor bomb, one of many set up by the terrorists in case Israeli soldiers would swoop them and cross the border, blew up. As for the incident yesterday which killed Pascal Avarhami, it is yet unkown where the shots orignated. It is known that the terrorists had inflitrated near an Egyptian post and it could be that fire was opened for there and the soldiers responded. Israel and Egypt are working in close ties to get to the bottom of this investigation with the common interest of preserving their peace agreement.

This is still on going and hopefully will end very soon. I will repeat what I have said yesterday when I addressed this issue – Israel has no interest in both an escalation and a conflict. Keeping the borders calm and safe is its’ main goal. No country would allow this kind of breach to its’ sovereignty and the murdering of its’ citizens, as well as the continued endangerment of them. This has nothing to do with so-called occupation of Gaza (which is not occupied for six years this August), but with dealing, answering and fighting terrorism in its’ most heinous form. This is who is being targeted in these airstrikes. The civilian casualties are a direct result of terrorists hiding between them. Though taking measures of precautions (at least more than most countries out there), it is not Israel’s job to ensure the safety of people living in Gaza, especially not if the cost is the safety of its’ own people. It is the responsibility of the acting government in Gaza, legal or not, to ensure that its’ people won’t be put in this life-threatening position. Sadly, more often than most (which is pretty much usually) – that is not the case.

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