ALGEMEINER LIVE UPDATES DAY 2: 420+ Rockets Fired at Israel Since Start of Operation Pillar of Defense
Below is a continued update on the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Our report on the targeted strike onÂ Hamas terror chief Ahmed al-Jabari that began the operation can be read here. Our report on the operation and its objectives can be read here. A video of the Israeli Air Force strike from The Algemeiner YouTube channel can be viewed here andÂ details on the terror activity of al-Jabari are posted here. For more information please check our homepage.
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WRAP: The Algemeiner is concluding our live updates for tonight and will continue to report on all developments. Please stay tuned for a new live update blog tomorrow. Thank you for joining us.
11:59 pm – Grad hits Ashkelon several people were treated for shock. 120 targets in Gaza were struck during the night. More here.
10:15 pm – Israeli citizens postedÂ incredibleÂ footageÂ today on YouTube of the Iron Dome missile defense system in action. Over the night sky in IsraelÂ multipleÂ rockets are shot downÂ simultaneously. Watch the video below.
9:35 pm – Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier today: “I saw today a picture of a bleeding Israeli baby. This picture says it all.” A video of his full remarks to international media can be viewed below.
9:00 pm – According to the Los Angles Times 15 people have been killed in Gaza over the past two days as a result ofÂ IsraeliÂ strikes, many of them were terror operatives. Three Israelis were killed this morning in Kiryat Malachi.
7:23 pm – Global Post reports thatÂ hackerÂ group Anonymous targeted the IDF blog today in support of Hamas in Gaza. The IDF blog was offline for a number of hours earlier today and appears to be down now, althoughÂ the IDF denied that hacking was suspected when asked by The Algemeiner.
7:15 pm – This afternoon, BritishÂ ForeignÂ Secretary William Hague made these comments, supporting Israel’s right to self defense:
“Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis. I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups. This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza.”
7:11 pm – Earlier today and yesterday a number of countriesÂ condemnedÂ Israel’s actions in Gaza, among them were Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and Russia. More details here.
7:00 pm – AIPAC releases another statement praising today’s Senate vote in support of Israel:
“Today, the United States Senate sent an overwhelming message of solidarity with Israel with the passage by unanimous consent of a resolution introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Mark Kirk. This bipartisan resolution, with 62 Senators as co-sponsors joining Gillibrand and Kirk, expressed firm support for Israel’s “inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism.”Â AIPAC praises the leadership of Senators Gillibrand and Kirk, and the extraordinary show of support by the Senate for Israel’s struggle against terrorist attacks on its citizens.”
5:00 pm – Israeli terror victim Mirah Scharf who was killed in a Gaza rocket attack earlier today was laid to rest this evening. More details here.
3:12 pm – Yaalon continues: we must set realistic goals. Peace is not realistic. Quiet is. We achieved it in the North and in Judea and Samaria by hard fighting, we can do the same in Gaza.
3:10 pm – Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon: Our purpose is not regime change in Gaza but a restoration of clear red lines. I hope the Egyptians understand that encouraging Hamas is against their own interests.
3:06 pm – Israel’s Channel 2 reports: Meeting of Israeli military leaders adjourned; heading to Prime Minister for approval of plans.
2:56 pm – The IDF released theÂ followingÂ statement on its activities over the past hour:
“During the past hour, during a rapid and coordinated military strike, the IDF targeted approximately 70 underground medium range (up to 40 km) rocket launching sites in the Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed.
The sites that have been targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence collected over the course of months.
The aim of targeting these sites is to significantly impair the rocket launching capability of terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into a frontal base for Iran, terrorizing the residents of the State of Israel and forcing them to live under unbearable circumstances.
The IDF will continue to target sites that are used to carry out terror attacks against Israeli citizens.”
2:44 pm – AIPAC issues a statementÂ praising USÂ bi-partisanÂ support forÂ Israel:
“AIPAC praises the solid bi-partisan expressions of solidarity with Israel from the Obama Administration and the United States Congress.Â President Obama has indicated to Prime Minister Netanyahu his strong support for Israel’s right to self-defense, and that message has been echoed by many members of Congress from both parties.Â As a bi-partisan group of five Senators stated yesterday, “we express our solidarity with Israel during this deeply challenging period and denounce the reprehensible and indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad against innocent Israeli citizens.”
These statements demonstrateÂ that America continues to firmly stand with Israel and her right to defend herself.Â No nation can tolerate constant barrages of rockets againstÂ its civilian population. In the past year, America’s strongest ally in the Middle East, Israel, has suffered from over 800 Â rocket attacksÂ originating inÂ Gaza. AIPAC also strongly appreciates President Obama and Congress’s funding support for the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, which has helped minimize civilian casualties.Â Israel is a democracy under attack and that is why the world’s greatest democracy stands by her side.”
2:43 pm – 80 rocket sites in Gaza are being hit simultaneously.
2:41 pm – Israeli Government source to Haaretz: we’ll stop when Hamas begs for a ceasefire.
2:35 pm – Israel’s securityÂ chiefs, Ehud Barak, Benny Gantz and relevant generals as well as heads of secret services are meeting now in Tel Aviv.Â “Hundreds more” Gaza terror sites are said to be listed as targets.
2:20 pm – A Gaza rocket strikes a house in Beersheba – no casualties.
2:10 pm – AirÂ strikesÂ on targets in the southern part of the Gaza Strip areÂ happeningÂ now. Tunis is also sending a “solidarity delegation” to Gaza which will arrive on Sunday.
1:50 pm – Despite the labeling of Egyptian PM’s visit to Gaza tomorrow as an act of “solidarity,”Â the estimate in Israel is that he is going with a message from Morsi to Hamas to end the violence now.
1:40 pm – Ismail Haniyeh speaks: We stood fast during the Cast Lead, we will stand fast now and force Israel to accept the new reality in Gaza.
1:35 pm – Home Front Minister Avi DicherÂ briefed Gush Dan mayors on the possibility of additional rocket attacks tonight.
1:25 pm – Gaza is continuously launching rockets into Israel’s South. The IAF is striking targets in the Nuseirat area of the central Gaza strip.
1:08 pm – An official spokesperson for President Morsi of Egypt confirmed that Egypt’s Prime Minister was on his way to Gaza.
12:50 pm – New York Congressman Jerold Nadler issued the following statement blasting attacks by Hamas on communities in southern Israel:
“I condemn in the strongest terms the current aggression by Hamas against the civilian population in southern Israel.Â These attacks are entirely without justification and amount to murderous provocations by a terrorist regime which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and which refuses to work toward a peaceful coexistence for both sides.Â Israel has every right to defend its borders, to repel such attacks, and to target those responsible.Â I applaud President Obama for his leadership and strong condemnation of these attacks.Â And I am gratified to see that the Iron Dome missile defense system has worked so well to prevent further bloodshed and destruction in Israel.”Â
12:37 pm – Pointed messages from US to Egyptian President Morsi: Keep backing Hamas and US military aid to Egypt Â is in danger, according to Israel’s Channel 2.
12:15 pm – The official Twitter page for the IDF tweeted this statement: “A few minutes ago, sirens in Tel Aviv sent residents running for shelter. We can confirm that no rockets struck in the area.”Â
12:11 pm – Army spokesman: people in Tel Aviv have a minute from when the siren sounds to get to shelter. We do not expect a silent night.
12: 09 pm – Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas PM, is scheduled to speak in an hour.
12:07 pm – An Â Army Spokesman says that no rockets fell on the ground in the Tel Aviv area, they were fired in the direction of South Gush Dan. No new instructions to the civilians in the area have been issued.
11:58 am – Breaking-For the first time since the First Gulf War, air raid sirens have sounded throughout Tel Aviv, Bat Yam and Bnei Brak. More here.
11:44 – Israeli TV reports that sirens were sounded in Tel Aviv. Haaretz tweets:Â “Rocket lands in Holon, just south ofÂ Tel Aviv.“
11:18 am – Amos Gilad, chief of the political office in Israel’s Ministry of Defense, confirms the reports aboutÂ EgyptianÂ officials heading to Gaza to act as human shields.
11:01 am – Israel’s Channel 2 reports that President Morsi of Egypt is sending his Prime Minister with a delegation of ministers to Gaza to serve as human shields for Hamas.
10:30 am – Reports in Israeli media say that a rocket hit Rishon Letzion. The city, Israel’s fourth largest, sits just 7 miles south of Tel Aviv. This would mark the first time in the most recent escalation that aÂ rocket has reached so far north.
9:36 am – According to the IDF over 200 terror activity sites have been targeted in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense.
A statement released by the IDF read in part:
“These sites are being targeted in order to impair the rocket launching capability of terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and hamper their weapon build- up capabilities. Additionally, IAF aircraft targeted several terrorist squads that were involved in firing rockets at Israeli communities.”
The IDF also reports that the Iron Dome Active Missile Defense System has successfully intercepted over 80 rockets launched from Gaza, aimed at Israel.
9:23 am – President Shimon Peres opened the annual assembly of the Council of Religious Leaders in Israel this morning with this statement:
“I salute the IDF and the security services for their accurate operation; surgical and strategically important – We are operating with responsibility and we do not take human life lightly.”
“Religious leaders have an important role in stopping the terror and bloodshed in our region.”
9:21 am – Three IDF soldiers were lightly wounded Thursday by shrapnel from a mortar shell that landed near them in southern Israel. They were taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba and listed in fair condition.
8:58 am – According to Ynet: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will continue to do whatever it takes to defend itself.
Netanyahu added that “Hamas is responsible for the firing of thousands of rocket on our towns and our children, but Israel will continue to do anything it can to avoid fatalities in Gaza.”
8:53 am – IDF says 245 rockets have been fired into Israel since yesterday.
PREAMBLE: 8:50 am – Yesterday Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense. This was its response to a 4-day barrage from terrorists in Gaza that saw over 150 rockets fall on southern Israel. Initial reports that the two sides had brokered a cease-fire via Egypt proved inaccurate when four rockets landed in southern Israel Wednesday morning. Later in the day the IAF killed Ahmed Jabari, commander of Hamas’s military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, and the conflict escalated (for more on Jabari here is a brief overview of his terror activities and video of the operation that killed him).
Our initial live blog from Wednesday can be read here. For more information on Operation Pillar of Defense you can read our piece from yesterday.
To get an idea of what the residents of southern Israel have been facing here is an article from Wednesday detailing the number of rockets that were fired at their region in just one day.
Thursday saw a further escalation of violence against Israelis. Three people were killed and a baby was injured after a rocket struck a four-story building in Kiryat Malachi. According to reports as emergency services arrived on the scene another five missiles were fired at the town but the Iron Dome system intercepted them before they landed.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office reported that seven terrorists were killed in Israeli airstrikes across the Strip overnight. During the nighttime campaign Israel carried out strikes on more than 100 terror targets, successfully hitting five rocket launching squads. The air force also distributed leaflets over Gaza warning residents to stay away from terrorist bases and weapons depots, stressing that civilians were not the targets of the strikes.