Hamas Rockets Target Israeli Cities - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
On Wednesday night more than 80 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel; 48 toward Beersheba - two which struck the center of the city - Dimona and Ofakim; and 12 toward Ashdod and nearby towns. Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile batteries intercepted about 30 rockets.
The IDF Home Front Command cancelled school Thursday in all communities located up to 40 km. from Gaza and gatherings of more than 100 people. People in communities of up to 7 km. from Gaza were told not to go to work on Thursday, except for those in vital positions.
Home Front officers said people must enter the nearest protected space as soon as an alert is heard and close the door. People in an open area must lie on the ground and protect their head.
See also IDF Civil Defense Instructions (IDF Home Front Command)
IDF Strikes over 100 Gaza Targets - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Since the beginning of Operation "Pillar of Defense" on Wednesday, the Israel Air Force has struck over 100 targets using precise intelligence information.
The IDF said that many of the weapon storage facilities that were targeted were located in civilian buildings.
The air force began airdropping leaflets on Gaza on Thursday warning civilians to stay away from terror hubs.
The IDF stressed that terrorists are the targets of the army's strikes, not civilians.
The IDF further said that all Gaza terror groups have taken part in the latest escalation in rocket fire, with Hamas leading the efforts.
Video: IDF Pinpoint Strike on Ahmed Jabari, Head of Hamas Military Wing (Israel Defense Forces)
Video: Hamas Hides Long-Range Rocket in Underground Launch Site in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
The Fajr-5 rocket has a range of 75 km. and can reach all of greater Tel Aviv from Gaza.
See also Video: IDF Aircraft Target Rocket Warehouse in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
Note the secondary explosions.
Egypt Recalls Ambassador to Israel - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
Egypt has recalled its ambassador in Israel, Yasser Ridha, Egyptian TV reported Wednesday.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr condemned Israel's airstrikes in Gaza, as did the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.
Rockets Fired from Egypt into Israel (Al-Masry Al-Youm-Egypt)
Egyptian military sources confirmed on Wednesday that rockets were launched from the Egyptian border town of Rafah toward Israel.
The two countries are forming a joint military committee at Israel's request to determine the circumstances surrounding the rocket launch.
IDF Soldier Hurt by Stray Syrian Bullet - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
An IDF soldier on Thursday was struck by a stray bullet originating from Syria, but
his bulletproof vest prevented serious injury.
Israel Finally Retaliates Against Hamas Missile Attacks - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
Israel on Wednesday launched retaliatory airstrikes on Hamas commanders and weapons storage sites.
The strikes were in response to the latest rocket fire from Gaza launched willy-nilly into southern Israel.
Hamas has escalated its assaults, and in recent days the number of missile and mortar attacks has run into the dozens.
One of the Israeli strikes killed Ahmed Jabari, the chief of Hamas' military arm who is believed to be responsible for kidnapping Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The Obama Administration needs to give Israel the material and diplomatic support to defend itself.
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- Israeli Airstrike Kills Hamas Commander - Joshua Mitnick and Charles Levinson
Israeli airstrikes in Gaza on Wednesday killed Ahmed Jabari, Hamas' top military commander, in retaliation for a wave of missile attacks on Israeli territory in recent days. Palestinian militants responded by firing dozens of rockets at Israeli cities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address: "We won't accept a situation in which Israeli civilians are threatened by the terror of rocket fire."
President Barack Obama spoke Wednesday with Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The White House said Obama and Morsi "agreed on the importance of working to de-escalate the situation as quickly as possible." (Wall Street Journal)
- U.S. Condemns Hamas Rocket Fire
Deputy State Department Spokesperson Mark C. Toner said Wednesday:
"We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence. There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately. We support Israel's right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties."
"Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self-determination."
(U.S. State Department)
See also State Department Sides with Israel in New Hamas War - Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy)
See also Prime Minister Netanyahu Speaks with President Obama
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with President Barack Obama and expressed his deep appreciation for President Obama's support of Israel's right to defend itself.
(Prime Minister's Office)
See also Canada Condemns Hamas, Stands with Israel
"We fundamentally believe that Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens from terrorist threats," Rick Roth, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said in a statement.
"Far too often, the Jewish people find themselves on the front lines in the struggle against terrorism." (AP-CBC News)
- Israel Strikes Terror Targets in Gaza
There have been incessant rocket attacks from Gaza. More than 700 have struck Israel since the beginning of the year, and more than 120 since Saturday.
In response, the IDF has launched a widespread campaign against terror targets in Gaza. Operation "Pillar of Defense" has two main goals: to protect Israeli civilians and to cripple the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. The IDF targeted Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas' military wing in Gaza, who was directly responsible for executing terror attacks against Israel. In subsequent air strikes, the IDF seriously damaged Hamas' long-range missile capabilities and underground weapons storage facilities.
See also Who Was Ahmed Jabari? (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Three Killed in Israel
by Gaza Rocket Fire
Two women and a man were killed Thursday morning when a rocket fired from Gaza hit a building in the city of Kiryat Malachi. Three children were wounded. Another building in the city was directly hit. A rocket hit a home in Ashdod, and a school in Ofakim was also hit.
See also 70 Israelis Injured in Palestinian Rocket Attacks
70 Israelis have been injured in rocket attacks since the IDF launched its attack in Gaza on Wednesday, Israel Channel 10 TV reported Thursday. 16 rocket victims suffering from bodily injuries were treated in Ashkelon, 12 in Beersheba, and 12 in Rehovot. Additional people were suffering from shock. Several of the injuries occurred while residents were running to shelters.
- IDF Restores Deterrence - Ron Ben-Yishai
The Israeli government and security establishment concluded that the terror groups in Gaza are not deterred and that the threat on the residents of Israel is growing. Therefore, Israel decided to restore its deterrence through a series of painful attacks on top military figures and assets belonging to all the terror organizations in Gaza, with an emphasis on Hamas. Only a drastic operation that would exact a heavy toll from the terror groups would restore the diminished deterrence.
However, Israel does not want to give the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt an excuse to violate the 1979 peace agreement. It also realizes that Hamas' collapse as a result of a broad military operation may lead to the rise to power of groups that are much more extreme, such as Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and other Salafi groups that want to take Hamas' place.
Israel's goal is to achieve a long-term ceasefire with Egyptian mediation, so that all of Gaza's armed groups would be committed to it. The IDF will continue to pound Gaza until such a truce is reached.
See also The Battle to Restore Israel's Deterrence - Yaakov Lappin
The deterrence gained by Israel in the 2009 Cast Lead operation has run out, in great part due to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. With Hamas feeling confident over the ascendancy of its fellow Islamists in the region, and the emergence of a new patron in Cairo, it and Islamic Jihad chipped away at Israeli deterrence, attempting to set new rules. Hamas has overplayed its hand. It mistook Israeli restraint for weakness.
Israel has left Hamas with an exit. Should it decrease the rocket attacks, the IDF will scale back its operation. Operation "Pillar of Defense" is also a message to the wider region, now filling up with Islamist forces: Israel will not be deterred from taking basic steps to defend its civilians.
- Israel's UN Envoy: The World Understands Our Right to Defend Ourselves - Joshua Davidovich and Aaron Kalman
There is "international understanding that Israel has the right to defend itself and that the reality of rockets being fired into Israel couldn't continue," Israel's envoy to the UN Ron Prosor told Israel Radio following a UN Security Council emergency session dealing with Gaza on Wednesday. "I didn't hear Abbas or the Palestinian observer to the UN condemn the rocket fire at Israel," Prosor added. He said it was "the Security Council's duty to fill the role for which it was created and condemn Hamas and the rocket fire at Israel."
He told the council that in Israel, "parents and their children should be sleeping in their beds. Instead, they are huddled in bomb shelters. They won't go to school or to work tomorrow. Their life is paralyzed by Hamas rockets."
"Israel will not play Russian roulette with the lives of our citizens." He pointed out that no country had objected when Palestinians were "raining rockets on Israeli civilians," and that no other nation on earth would tolerate such a situation. (Times of Israel)
- Israel Responds to Gaza Rocket Fire
Over one million Israeli civilians have been under sustained attack from Gaza since Nov. 10. Daily life in southern Israel has been totally disrupted. Israel has demonstrated great restraint, both in the current crisis and in the two previous sustained barrages of the past month. However, the escalation of events over the past few days forced Israel to react to the Hamas attacks.
All of Israel's actions have been taken in self-defense. It is the duty and right of every state to protect its civilian population from attack. No other state would allow a million citizens to be targeted by terrorist organizations without responding.
The targets of Israeli operations are all military. Israeli strikes are conducted in a precise surgical manner in order to reduce to a minimum any effect on the civilian population of Gaza. Israel regrets any injury that may nevertheless be caused to civilians in Gaza.
In sharp contrast, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations hide among the civilian population of Gaza. They also direct their fire at the civilian population of Israel. These actions constitute a double war crime.
Despite Israel's total disengagement from Gaza in 2005, Hamas continues to attack Israel, proof that they are not fighting against Israel's (non-existent) presence in Gaza but against Israel's very existence. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- The International Background to Hamas' Escalation Against Israel - Dore Gold
Hamas, with massive aid from Iran, doubled its rocket arsenal since Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and acquired the Iranian Fajr-5 rocket with a range of 46.6 miles, putting Tel Aviv in striking distance. In addition,
the Arab Spring has led to the greater availability of weapons stocks from collapsed regimes in the international arms market.
Russian SA-7 (Strella) shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles were introduced into the Hamas arsenal after the fall of Gaddafi, and in October 2012, an SA-7 was fired from Gaza for the first time at an Israeli helicopter.
In recent weeks, Hamas' sense of international isolation has changed as well, with visits to Gaza by the Emir of Qatar and the leader of the Tunisian Salafist party. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is the president of the Jerusalem Center.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- In Gaza, Hamas Military Leader Ahmed Jabari Got What He Deserved - Jonathan Kay
Can anyone name a country on the face of the planet that would regard recurrent rocket attacks on its territory as anything but an act of war? And since the obvious answer is no, why should Israel not be expected to fight back when Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups seek to murder Israelis in this fashion?
Gaza has been 100% Judenrein for seven years. Its border with Israel is clear and uncontested. If its Hamas-led government wanted to turn the territory into something resembling a normal, sovereign entity, all it would have to do is renounce terrorism against Israel (and Egypt, for that matter), recognize the Jewish state, and petition for entry into the community of civilized nations.
Instead, Hamas has built a cult of death and martyrdom. As a result, innocent Palestinians suffer an isolated existence under the closure policy that Israel has (justifiably) imposed on the territory in a bid to prevent terrorist attacks.
In 2010, when Israeli-Palestinian negotiations seemed to be entering a hopeful phase, Hamas' head of military operations, Ahmed Jabari, did his best to derail a negotiated peace through violence, telling a Palestinian news agency: "With the power of faith, weapons and missiles, tunnels and commandos, we will achieve victory." (National Post-Canada)
Israel's Operation "Pillar of Defense" in Gaza - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
- Hamas and the terror organizations decided to escalate their attacks on the citizens of Israel over the last few days. We will not accept a situation in which Israeli citizens are threatened by the terror of rockets. No country would accept this, Israel will not accept it.
- Today, we hit Hamas strategic targets precisely. We have significantly debilitated their ability to launch rockets from Gaza to the center of Israel, and we are now working to disable their ability to launch rockets towards the south.
- The terrorist organizations - Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others - are deliberately harming our citizens, while intentionally hiding behind their citizens. On the other hand, we avoid harming civilians as much as possible and that is one fundamental difference between us.
- It also indicates the big difference between our objectives, and not only in our methods. They want to obliterate us from the face of the earth and they have no qualms about hurting civilians and innocents.
- Today, we sent an unequivocal message to Hamas and the other terror organizations, and if need be the IDF is prepared to expand the operation. We will continue to do everything necessary to defend our citizens.
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