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In First Gaza Ground Battle, Israeli Commandos Repelled

In what was the first ground engagement between the IDF and Hamas forces during Operation Protective Edge earlier today, Shayetet 13 naval commandos landed on a northern Gaza beach, where their target was a rocket launcher firing long-range missiles toward Israel.  According to a well-placed Israeli source, the commandos were ambushed and repelled by Hamas fighters.  There was a huge firefight involving heavy weapons and the special forces were forced to withdraw with four wounded.  None were killed on the Israeli side.  The IDF says it killed three Hamas fighters, though this is unconfirmed on the Palestinian side.

According to my source, the battle did not go well for the Israeli forces who had hoped for stealth to reach and neutralize their target.  With the ambush they lost the element of surprise and were forced to call in F-16s and helicopter gunships to hold off the attacking Palestinians.  Certainly such air support wasn’t anticipated unless the operation ran into trouble, which it clearly did.

gaza mosque destroyed

Damaged copies of the Quran lie in the rubble of Gaza mosque destroyed in an air assault earlier today

The commandos were repelled and never destroyed the rocket launcher.  Though certainly later battles between the IDF and Hamas forces will not necessarily go as well for the Palestinians, the fact that they gave the IDF a bloody nose, is a major victory.  Especially considering the drubbing that Gaza has been taking from Israeli forces.

This is the same commando unit which massacred 10 Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara.  Also, the same unit which commandeered a ship off the shore of Sudan and pirated it to an Israeli port claiming it contained weapons destined for Gaza.  The only problem?  A UN report said the weapons on the ship were bound for…Sudan.  Surprise!  But when it comes to sabotaging the ships activists use to break the Gaza blockade, Shayetet 13 does a terrific job of sinking them in acts of terror in foreign countries against civilian targets.  In fact, this may’ve been the last “successful” Shayetet 13 raid!

If you want to watch a truly bizarre IDF video, you can see this Shayetet 13 ceremony at which the new commander was given his post.  You’ll notice that no one seems to have a head in the video.  That’s because they think they’ll be exposing the identity of commandos to international war crimes tribunals, I presume.  The name of the new commander is supposed to be secret, but no longer.

The death count has now risen to 152, with still no Israeli fatalities. The air force bombed a rehabilitation center where two disabled women died.  It also destroyed the home of Gaza’s police chief and the next door mosque during evening prayers.  Eighteen worshippers  and family members were killed during services, four of them children.  50 more were injured.  The army claimed the mosque was used by Hamas to store weapons.  What’s historically interesting about this claim is that the Irgun and Palmach both stored their weapons in synagogues, believing the British would neither suspect nor search for weapons in a house of worship.  They too took advantage of their religion to further their military goals.  But imagine if, in 1947, the British had bombed one of those synagogues?  What a geshrei the Israelis would’ve let loose.

This doesn’t even prove there were weapons in the mosque.  As is almost always the case, when the IDF makes a disastrous error like this one, they try to brazen it out with the best lie they can think of.  I also ask you to imagine what would happen if a Gaza rocket landed on an Israeli synagogue and killed 20 people.  Israel would go before the Security Council and demand Hamas be tried for war crimes.  What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander, no?

A troubling new development (Hebrew) reminiscent of IDF promises during the last Lebanon War to turn the country “back to the Stone Age,” involves an Israeli threat to turn the Gaza neighborhood of Saja’iya into Dahiyeh.  That is the neighborhood that is the heart of Hezbollah power in Beirut, and where Hassan Nasrallah took shelter during Israel’s bombing campaign.  The IDF complains that Saja’iya is the center of Hamas’ rocket launching campaign.  If Hamas doesn’t cease and desist, the army is promising to raze it to the ground. It has the “catchy” title translated from Hebrew: turn Saja’iya into Dahiyeh.

Destroying this civilian neighborhood wholesale would be a blatant war crime.  Thousands of people live here who have no connection to rocket firing.  To deprive them of their homes and livelihood is beyond cruel.  Israel may not use the excuse that the neighborhood serves as a “human shield” for Hamas.  That is not a legitimate argument under the laws of war.  Guerillas fight using asymmetrical warfare.  They don’t fight in conventional terms on a battle field where you can separate civilians from combatants.   The fact that Gaza is an unconventional battle ground does not justify abrogating international law.

The report on which this was based on an article by Ben Caspit, who is one of Israel’s far-right reporters.  It’s hard to tell whether it’s typical bluff, bluster and braggadocio or whether it’s in earnest.  My guess is that it’s a little of both, but I would not discount the possibility that the neighborhood will be levelled by a Dresden-style bombing campaign.

Earlier today, I posted an Israel radio news report that an IDF source confirmed there would be a “significant military operation” in the coming hours which would follow the expulsion of 100,000 Gazans from their homes on the border.  I interpreted this as a veiled announcement of the impending ground invasion.  Mako also confirms (Hebrew) that a ground invasion is imminent:

Land Invasion? IDF Calls for Expulsion of Gaza Population

The IDF is expected to call on the residents of northern Gaza to abandon their homes in order to widen Operation Tzuk Eytan (“Solid Rock” aka Protective Edge).  Reports believe this refers to a step preceding a land operation [invasion]…This move testifies to a series of preparatory steps preceding a land invasion of Gaza.

I’m amused that when I tweeted my earlier post about an imminent ground invasion, Mona Eltawahy retweeted it.  But when she heard the lie from a pro-Israel social media operation that there was no such report on Israel Radio, Eltawahy deleted her tweet and called my report “unconfirmed” in that typically imperious way of hers. I love it when people bet against my sources.  An invasion of Gaza is not something to boast about.  But the invasion is coming and the deniers anger me.

{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Daniel Rocha July 13, 2014, 3:03 AM

    What do you mean pushing people out? Straight out of Gaza or out their homes, but still in Gaza?

  • Citizen of the World July 13, 2014, 4:38 AM

    You’re full of it.. Your well ranked source must be Hamas’ spokesman. Unless you can prove it, don’t write it (these are you words).
    AFAIK the mission was completed, although it didn’t go smooth..

    As for the rest of your text, you speak almost the exact words of Hamas… For someone who named his blog with promising title, you sure forget to promote it..

    • sanych July 13, 2014, 10:02 AM

      [Comment deleted. You have completely mischatacterized my views. Therefore this will not be published]

  • KKND July 13, 2014, 4:48 AM

    The S13 operation was succesful, but on their way back to the sea thay faced an ambush. Nothing serious though.

  • frank s July 13, 2014, 7:26 AM

    the british actually did destroy synagogues in tel aviv 1947-1948.

  • R. Ward July 13, 2014, 10:02 AM

    Thank you for your clear and timely reporting – it is so appreciated in this period of non-stop propaganda. my own Canadian government is among the worse offenders currently so your work is a genuine relief from this drivel. Please keep us all posted as we fight back against this brutal assault.

  • Al Moenee July 13, 2014, 8:15 PM

    “What’s historically interesting about this claim is that the Irgun and Palmach both stored their weapons in synagogues, believing the British would neither suspect nor search for weapons in a house of worship. They too took advantage of their religion to further their military goals.”

    Indeed Richard. In 1946 Menachem Begin while hiding from the Brits in a small hotel room in Tel-Aviv would get around undetected dressed as an ultra religious Jew – long beard and all. And it was from that same room that he planned and oversaw the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem with the Brits in it…….

  • Arie Brand July 13, 2014, 9:52 PM

    Amid the deafening silence of Australian newspapers it comes as a welcome surprise to find in the most prominent quality paper in the place where I am right now, the Philippines, an editorial that shows little sympathy for the “Israeli cause”.Yet this is a country that is probably the U.S’s most loyal ally in Asia; a country where, according to a recent international attitude survey, the U.S. is more popular than anywhere else (including the U.S.itself); a country, moreover, that has had a decades old problem of Muslim separatism in the South.

    The paper reminds its readers of the Philippines’ long history of support for the Israeli state project. In 1947 it was the only Asian country, and one out of only 33 in the world, to recognise Israel. But it then goes on: “ .. Israel’s policy of overwhelming response as applied to Palestine has undermined its own standing in the international community; worse, it weakens its own democratic project. How can Israel countenance the killing of innocent civilians, when the security threat it faces cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered existential … A terrible tragedy: that the victimisation of the Jews during the Holocaust would prevent Israel from viewing their weaker neighbours as victims too.” ( Philippine Daily Inquirer – 7/14/14

  • sam July 13, 2014, 10:27 PM

    [Comment deleted. Comments consisting solely of a link violate comment rules. If you have something to say, say it. If you have nothing to say, don’t comment. If you have a comment and wish to support it with a link, you may do so.]

    • Citizen of the World July 13, 2014, 11:18 PM

      A very good article which sums it all.. It’s not anti-Palestinian and not anti-Israeli. It just talks about choises being made… Like!

      • Richard Silverstein July 14, 2014, 1:01 AM

        @ Citizen of the World: Your nickname should be “Citizen of Hasbara.” Note how one hasbarist puts up a Jeffrey Goldberg link, then 50 minutes later another hasbarists talks up how great the article is. It stinks. But we know how these people work & it doesn’t work on us.

        • sam July 14, 2014, 1:10 AM

          [Comment deleted. Comments must contain substance. Cheerleading is not substance. You will be moderated. You may only publish 3 comments per day. ]

        • Citizen of the World July 14, 2014, 1:42 AM

          [comment deleted–this comment too contains no substance & is not directly related to the post. BTW, I did insert the Goldberg link in Arie Brand’s comment which critiqued the original Bloomberg article. So you didn’t need to do that.]

          • Sam July 14, 2014, 1:56 AM

            [Comment deleted. Again, if your comment has no substance, & telling us about “Jewish traits” is NOT substantial, it will not be published.]

          • Daniel Rocha July 14, 2014, 4:49 AM

            @Citizen of the World, There are very good wildlife veterinary at your closest zoo. Go there, they know how to cure your crocodile tears.

          • Richard Silverstein July 14, 2014, 11:40 AM

            I have absolutely no interest in Jeffrey Goldberg. Former Kahanists are not worth addressing. If you admire anything he writes it tells us all we need to know about you. And read my post at Tikun Magazine about his sordid Kahanist past.

      • SimoHurtta July 14, 2014, 2:54 AM

        Well Citizen of the “World” how objective are Bloomberg’s media, Jeffrey Goldberg and Zara Kessler (editor responsible of the article)? I would see those three as objective and matter-of-fact based as a propaganda piece in a Hamas owned media company and written and edited by two extreme Palestinian Hamas members. Surely you as a educated and broad-minded citizen of the world do understand the backgrounds and bindings of Bloomberg (Michael), Goldberg and Kessler. Needless to say to what religion, ideology and to what country.

        These desperate attempts by your “side” to choose nicknames, which attempt to show larger international support to the “Israel project”, are simply amusing. Most of the citizens of the world despise more and more what Israel represents and what it is doing. Israel is already one of the most least liked countries in the world (number four in BBC’s poll), despite the massive and well oiled world wide propaganda machine trying to change the image. Well even if you would choose as you alias name Master of the Universe you are still that simple, small group’s propagandist trying to downplay land theft, mass murders, war crimes, racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing etc.

        • leeor July 14, 2014, 4:56 AM

          “Surely you as a educated and broad-minded citizen of the world do understand the backgrounds and bindings of Bloomberg (Michael), Goldberg and Kessler. Needless to say to what religion, ideology and to what country”

          @SimoHurtta, wow, are you suggesting that people with obvious Jewish names are incapable of being objective? Or are automatically represent a single ideology? What does that say about the owner of this blog?
          For someone accusing others of racism (not to mention worse things) you sure seem to cut yourself some slack here. Can you please talk to the point instead of attacking others based on their names, nicks, or origins?

          • Daniel Rocha July 14, 2014, 5:56 AM

            No, he is not suggest that. He is suggesting that someone doing Hasbara, and who has typical Jewish surnames, are very likely to be Zionist Jews.

            Richard is not doing Hasbara.

          • SimoHurtta July 14, 2014, 2:15 PM

            Well, well? Who are the people behind Zionism? What is the ideology and what are the aims of Zionism? For whom is the Jewish state for? Who have the right to move there and begin to treat gentiles like sh..? Etc. Well who?

            The one who says, that Goldberg’s article is a neutral, balanced analysis/view of the situation doesn’t understand what neutrality and balance do mean. It is not my fault that M. Bloomberg lets his media be used to publish this kind of one sided propaganda/views. Also the background of this media and persons in question are well known. They are sure not “Muslims and Arabs” and not neutral in describing what happens around Israel. They are biased, which this article reveals to its reader. Why doesn’t BloombergView publish for example professor Juan Cole’s excellent satire The Court Trial of Bibi Netanyahu in order to give reader a different viewpoint to the background and morality. It could, but it will not. Why? Hmmmmm …

            Of course without doubt there are many Jews in Israel and abroad, who fiercely and honorably resist what Israel is doing and what it has become. And how their religion is used in ethnic cleansing, land robbery, mass murders and constant wars. One of them is Richard Silverstein. But the reality is most Jews are silent and power in Israel is in the hands nationalistic (religious openly or more or less “undercover”) extremists (lets call them politely as racists not the with the term which best describes their attitudes and political/religious views). So lets not play that Judaism and Jews do not have a dominant role in this tragedy. It is not antisemitic in pointing out this fact.

            Without doubt you people have no problems in linking in your comments al the time Islam and religious extremism to Palestinians’ struggle and resistance. Even it is clear even to you, that Palestinians do not resist what Israeli Jews are doing to them because Islam. They would resist in equal means even they would be Hindus. But the sad reality is that religion on the Jewish side is “dominant force” simply because only it defines Jews. If POLITICAL ISLAM is not tabu in commenting why should bringing out the role of “POLITICAL JUDAISM” be?

        • Citizen of the World July 14, 2014, 8:15 AM

          [comment deleted–comments must be substantive, directly related to the post]

          • Daniel Rocha July 14, 2014, 8:22 AM

            It’s interesting that whenever Israel assaults Palestinians, a bunch of drones comes to defend it online. I was surprised, in Al-Arabiya, when I saw a huge up vote for Israel for a pro Palestinian post and a great down vote for pro-Israel post.

            These Harabara people are like a cloud of locusts or a damning weed infestation.

          • Daniel Rocha July 14, 2014, 8:31 AM

            Correction: I was surprised, in Al-Arabiya, when I saw a huge up vote for a pro Israel (Hasbara) post, a great down vote for pro-Palestinian post.

  • Arie Brand July 14, 2014, 12:13 AM

    Goldberg, in this article, is either badly informed or being very parsimonious with the truth.. He wrote in the article linked by Sam:
    .“In 2005, the Palestinians of Gaza, free from their Israeli occupiers, could have … created the necessary infrastructure for eventual freedom. Gaza is centrally located between two large economies, those of Israel and Egypt. Europe is just across the Mediterranean. Gaza could have easily attracted untold billions in economic aid.
    The Israelis did not impose a blockade on Gaza right away. That came later, when it became clear that Palestinian groups were considering using their newly liberated territory as a launching pad for attacks. In the days after withdrawal, the Israelis encouraged Gaza’s development. A group of American Jewish donors paid $14 million for 3,000 greenhouses left behind by expelled Jewish settlers and donated them to the Palestinian Authority. The greenhouses were soon looted and destroyed, serving, until today, as a perfect metaphor for Gaza’s wasted opportunity.”

Peres in his notorious conversation with Erdogan was also raving on about those greenhouses, making it appear that a generous gift from Israel had been wilfully destroyed by the Palestinians.

The truth is quite different.
First of all this was no gift from Israel. The former Jewish settler-farmers were reimbursed from a fund with mainly private international capital. One person who invested in this, apparently to the tune of half a million dollars, was a very well respected Australian Jew, Sir James Wolfensohn, the former President of the World Bank and then special envoy on behalf of the Quartet to Gaza.I will come to Wolfensohn in a moment.
The greenhouse culture came to nothing. In the first place because Israel turned off the water that had to feed the sprinkler systems. And, secondly, because the arrangements on the border terminals was not lived up to.
Wolfensohn has made bitter comments on this in an interview that was published in Haaretz on 7/21/07.

Here are a few excerpts:

‘All the dreams we had are now gone’
By Shahar Smooha
.”Wolfensohn landed in the Middle East in May 2005 in order to monitor the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and to help heal the badly ailing Palestinian economy. In the beginning he was full of hope: He was able to raise $9 billion ($3 billion a year for three years) to bolster the Palestinian economy, and in November 2005, three months after the disengagement, he served as the mediator between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in negotiations on transit routes and on access to and from the Gaza Strip. He also donated money of his own to help the Palestinians buy Israeli-owned greenhouses in Gaza ”

Wolfensohn referred to the

.”agreement that Condi [Condoleezza] Rice announced in my presence and in the presence of the European representative Javier Solana,” Wolfensohn continues. “But in the months following, every aspect of the agreement was abrogated. In fact, the sadness of it is that the last remaining aspect – the opening to Egypt [via the border crossing] – has seen the international observers reducing their representation because of non-usage [of the terminal]. So all the dreams that we had then have now gone, ”
Before all that happened
“He toured the Gaza Strip with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) immediately after the PA asserted its authority there, and recalls a euphoric atmosphere that dissipated very quickly
“.I remember seeing the greenhouses with the chairman and looking at the fruits and everything, and there was a joyous atmosphere: ‘Boy, we’re about to get this going and we’re going to have hotels by the beaches and we’re going to have tourism and it’s going to be fantastic, and the Palestinians really know how to be hosts.’ But in the months afterward, first of all Arik [Sharon] became ill and the current prime minister came in, and there was a clear change of view”
“.At that time, Wolfensohn recalls, powerful forces in the U.S. administration worked behind his back: They did not believe in the border terminals agreement and wanted to undermine his status as the Quartet’s emissary. The official behind this development, he says, was Elliot Abrams, the neoconservative who was appointed deputy national security adviser in charge of disseminating democracy in the Middle East – “and every aspect of that agreement was abrogated
.The non-implementation of the agreement naturally had serious economic consequences. According to Wolfensohn, the shattering of the great hope of normality, which the Palestinians experienced so deeply when the Israel Defense Forces and the settlers left the Gaza Strip, brought about the rise of Hamas. “Instead of hope, the Palestinians saw that they were put back in prison. And with 50 percent unemployment, you would have conflict. This is not just a Palestinian issue. If you have 50 percent of your people with no work, chances are they will become annoyed. So it’s not, in my opinion, that Palestinians are so terrible; it is that they were in a situation where a modulation of views between one and the other became impossible.
“.The issue of the greenhouses is especially painful to Wolfensohn because of his personal contribution to them. “Everything was rotting because you couldn’t get the fruit. And if you went to the border, as I did many times, and saw tomatoes and fruit just being dumped on the side of the road, you would have to say that if you were a Palestinian farmer you’d be pretty upset. So my view is to try and not demonize the Palestinians…”

The Israelis, however, first sabotage them and then demonize them for the results that Israeli sabotage has brought about.

    • leeor July 14, 2014, 5:49 AM

      @Arie Brand, thank you for pointing to this interesting interview. Unfortunately you did not provide a link, so I bothered to look it up, here: link to haaretz.com

      Interestingly, you managed to somehow drop some interesting sections (although you did have the decency to mark some with “…”) – these parts mostly mention how Hamas came to power, some are about the rocket firing, others mention corruption in the ranks of PA. Non of these is a game changer, the overall point is still the lack of hope which is indeed to root cause of this entire story, but somehow you managed to shift the blame to lay only on the Israeli side.
      Your last sentence in particular stands in a complete contrast to the story you just (mis)quoted – if anything, he blames the US (Elliot Abrams) for sabotaging what they saw as an EU brokered solution, perhaps to prevent them from gaining too much influence in the region, but definitely due to political reasons. Aside from that he expressed frustration, but did not blame any side in particular.
      In my opinion, this is the hard truth behind the story here – as human beings we always look for someone to blame, someone to hate, it fuels our feelings and dedication for struggle. We want to believe there’s some evil in this world as it makes it easier to understand. In truth however, the worst enemy is only the “boring” human traits of inadequacy, greed, and even stupidity, that are common everywhere. What killed these greenhouses was not an intentional act of sabotage, it was a set of events and people on both sides doing the wrong things, because they didn’t care enough to do the right thing.
      As much as I hate the Hamas leadership for fighting at all cost for the sake of the fight, and as much as I hate Bibi for playing into their hands for his own political reasons – I don’t think any of the sides is driven by pure malevolence. There’s no evil masterplan out there, just hatred and fear, that are completely understandable given the history of both sides. Fighting these with more hate mongering and blame exchange on “who started” or “who’s worse” is only going to fuel this infinitely. Please give it a though for a few seconds before you go back to your usual Israel-bashing agenda.

      • Richard Silverstein July 14, 2014, 9:45 PM

        @ leeor: Ah yes, the usual platitudes about the tragedy being sad and blame falling on both sides. And there’s no real fault because we’re all just fallible human beings. You’re light on the ‘shooting,’ but heavy on the ‘crying.’

        • leeor July 15, 2014, 4:53 AM

          @Richard, I wasn’t the one who came up with this article, I only added the full text. The general theme (which I happen to agree with) came from the Jewish Australian philanthropist, one who had done more for peace and Palestinian welfare than any of us, and deserves praises, not distortion or mockery.

          • Richard Silverstein July 15, 2014, 9:28 PM

            @ Leeor: James Wolfensohn is repelled by Israeli policy toward Gaza. Why would you dream of using him as evidence to prop up Israel or prove the perfidy of Hamas or Palestinians?

  • Adriana July 14, 2014, 7:59 AM

    Trolling is part of IDF’ work as we see here. they are pro who pass all day long posting Zionist proaganda everywhere
    We should not answer. They should not be allowed to post.

    • Citizen of the World July 14, 2014, 8:21 AM

      @Adrana, I see you’re really into democracy…

      • Daniel Rocha July 14, 2014, 8:25 AM

        Just in case you haven’t noticed, this blog is not a public property.

        • Citizen of the World July 14, 2014, 10:39 AM

          [comment deleted–I do not appreciate lots of back & forth chatter between commenters. State the substance of your comment. You don’t need to explain who you were speaking to and you don’t need to give anyone advice, wanted or unwanted.]

          • Citizen of the World July 14, 2014, 10:40 AM

            [comment deleted: comment contained no substance]

          • Daniel Rocha July 14, 2014, 10:52 AM

            She said that Zionist propaganda, which is pretty much trolling, should not be allowed. You complained about democracy and this blog is certainly not a democracy, it has rules concerning trolls.

    • Citizen of the World July 14, 2014, 9:22 PM

      @Richard, I see you gladly delete comments for various reasons. But those rules and reasons do not apply for all commenters, only for those who are not pro-Hamas.
      As for thr article, now you see that Israel wants to stop this operation in order to get some rocket-free time for its citizens, while Hamas tends to cintinue Israel’s operation..

  • Adriana July 14, 2014, 11:01 AM

    You know the general law of blogs:
    Don’t feed trolls. :)

  • Adriana July 14, 2014, 11:02 AM

    Hi Daniel,
    Nice to meet you. :)

  • Adriana July 14, 2014, 11:24 AM

    What Kerry said behind closed doors about Israel “democracy”:
    John Kerry admits Israeli Apartheid; and 5 Ways he is Understating It
    link to juancole.com
    “Former South African deputy president Baleka Mbete and African National Congress leader has said that Israel-Palestine is actually “far worse than Apartheid South Africa.””

  • Arie Brand July 14, 2014, 6:09 PM

    Leeor, my main bone of contention was Goldberg’s mischievous remark that “The Israelis did not impose a blockade on Gaza right away. That came later, when it became clear that Palestinian groups were considering using their newly liberated territory as a launching pad for attacks.”

    It is clear that the agreement regarding border terminals was sabotaged and there is nothing in Wolfensohn’s remarks that supports Goldberg’s insinuation. And even though Wolfensohn points to an American official as the main culprit behind this intrigue it is inconceivable that the man concerned was acting on a personal whim without consulting the Israeli government. Wolfensohn alludes to this by remarking that Sharon falling ill and the new bloke in charge having different views had a lot to do with the whole thing.

    The whole story of these glass houses and those terrible, destructive Palestinians who were acting against their own good and the benevolent intentions of the Israeli government has apparently become a stock item in the hasbara arsenal. As I said
    Peres had the gal to bring it up in his altercation with Erdogan.

    Adriana I don’t mind trolls especially when they offer such easy targets as the hasbara spreaders usually do.

    In fact I am much more concerned about this blog’s comment section turning a poisonous dark green as soon as you attempt to type in it.

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