ALGEMEINER LIVE UPDATES: Israel Launches Gaza Operation Targeting Terror Infrastructure
The Algemeiner is live blogging the developing Israeli operation against Gaza terror infrastructure. Our report on the targeted strike on Hamas terror chief Ahmed al-Jabari that began the operation can be read here. Our report on the operation itself and its objectives can be read here. A video of the Israeli Air Force strike from The Algemeiner YouTube channel can be viewed here. The Algemeiner’s report on Egypt’s reaction to the operation can be read here, and details on the terror activity of al-Jabari are posted here.
Please refresh this page for live updates.
WRAP: We are concluding our live updates for tonight and will continue to report on all developments. Please stay tuned for a new live update blog tomorrow.
8:15 p.m. – The White House says President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Egypt’s Morsi today. More details here.
6:58 p.m. – New claims on Twitter that Tel Aviv has been hit by a rocket have been categorically denied by both an IDF spokesperson and Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, talking to The Algemeiner.
6:53 p.m. – Earlier today Ynet reported: “Hamas is vowing to avenge the death of commander Ahmed Al-Jabari, who was killed in an airstrike earlier on Wednesday. Hamas official Ismail al-Ashqar said that the “resistance’s possibilities” are now open and include suicide bombings and high profile attacks inside Israeli cities.”
6:45 p.m. – IDF Tweets: Tonight, more than 1 million Israelis are going to sleep in bomb shelters. This operation will bring a better tomorrow.
4:52 p.m. – The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed support for the targeted military action taken today by Israel to protect the civilian population in southern Israel against the renewed barrage of rocket and mortar fire from Hamas-controlled Gaza. Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
“Israel has shown tremendous restraint in the face of the unceasing rocket and mortar fire launched from Gaza. This operation is directly targeting the leadership responsible for these attacks, as well as the warehouses and facilities housing their weapons. No country in the world would stand by and tolerate such attacks on more than a million civilians.
The international community has a clear obligation to condemn these attacks and to support the actions taken by Israel against Hamas and other terror organizations operating in Gaza as Israel carries out its basic duty to defend its civilian population.”
4:43 p.m. – The B’nai B’rith released the following statement: In the wake of the Israel Defense Forces’ “surgical strike” that targeted the commander of Hamas’ military wing, Ahmed Jabari, B’nai B’rith International stands in solidarity with Israel and supports the country’s right to defend itself.
The IDF attack on the well-known terrorist comes days after more than 100 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, damaging homes, factories and injuring Israeli citizens.
The missile fire on Jabari appears to be the first move in a campaign by the IDF called “Operation Pillar of Defense.” The operation’s purpose is to single out operatives and damage military infrastructure in the Gaza Strip that pose a security risk to the Jewish state.
No nation should have to endure and constantly defend itself against terrorist attacks. Because it is a government’s primary responsibility to protect its citizens, disrupting terrorist activities is a responsible and called for measure. For these reasons, B’nai B’rith supports the IDF for commencing military operations that focus on damaging those groups perpetrating violence against Israel.”
4:29 p.m. – 25 successful interceptions by “Iron Dome”.
4:28 p.m. – Egyptian media claims that the Israeli Ambassador was “given an hour and a half to depart Egypt with all his crew”.
4:08 p.m. – The U.S. State Department condemns Hamas attacks against Israel: “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.”
4:02 p.m. – One rocket was fired by terrorists from Sinai into Israel.
4:00 p.m. – All Israeli diplomats ordered to leave Egypt.
3:49 p.m. – American Jewish leaders condemn violence against Israeli civilians. “Between Saturday and Tuesday 160 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israeli territory. No country would tolerate such wonton acts of violence. This year more than 800 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza on Israeli territory. Israel has demonstrated unprecedented restraint only to see the violence increase. This escalation by Palestinian terrorist groups led by Hamas is concurrent with a rise in attacks by Islamist groups in the Sinai. We condemn the renewed violence in the strongest terms. Israel must take the steps necessary to protect its citizens and defend the country,” said Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations leaders, Richard Stone, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman.
3:45 p.m. – The Israeli Security Cabinet approved the operational plans. There is no intention to end Hamas’ rule in Gaza, but to force it to conform to a new set of rules, to restore Israel’s deterrence and stop the rockets.
3:27 p.m. – So far 55 rockets have been fired at the cities and townships of Southern Israel.
3:06 p.m. – Israeli security officials are “still worried about the possibility of Hamas launching rockets towards Tel Aviv during the night”.
3:00 p.m. – The Egyptian military raises the alert level at the Gaza border and in Sinai.
2:57 p.m. – Islamic Jihad takes “credit” for firing rockets at Beer Sheba. Most of the rockets were shot down by Iron Dome, one person was slightly injured and cars were damaged (after more than 20 Grads). Citizens are required to seek shelter as the system is not 100% accurate.
2:50 p.m. – Earlier today former IDF spokesperson Avi Benayahu said about the targeting of al-Jabari, “I would say this operation is the Israeli equivalent, Netanyahu’s equivalent, of America’s strike on Osama Bin Laden.”
2:20 p.m. – The IDF releases footage below, of a Hamas rocket team unloading a Fajr rocket into an underground launch silo.
2:13 p.m. – Rocket attacks on all major Southern cities.
2:08 p.m. – Presidential adviser to Egyptian President Morsi: “this was an attack on Egypt more than it was an attack on Gaza”. On the other hand, Channel 10 in Israel claims that Washington is now involved in an attempt to keep Egypt in line.
2:07 p.m. – President Peres speaks with President Obama and tells him that Israel has no interest in escalation but couldn’t restrain itself anymore.
2:06 p.m. – Israel’s Channel 10 reports that Egypt requested immediate stop to the IDF operations and was rebuked.
2:05 p.m. – Reuters reports threatening language from Qatar with the foreign minister saying that Israel’s action in Gaza “should not pass without punishment.”
2:01 p.m. – A Grad rocket falls in Dimona, no casualties. All Southern communities ordered into shelters.
2:00 p.m. – Israel’s Channel 10 quotes sources who say that there is no apparent heir ready to replace Jabari. There is general confusion in Hamas leadership both in Gaza and abroad.
1:53 p.m. – IDF spokesperson Tweets: Initial reports indicate that the Iron Dome has intercepted a number of rockets above a major Israeli city.
1:48 p.m. – Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak who is also at the briefing says: most of the Fajr rockets have been destroyed together with other ammo dumps. Hamas believed in its own immunity and launched a series of cross-border attacks. Today it knows it was wrong. This is a prolonged operation, but our goals will be fulfilled. We will degrade Hamas’ capabilities and provide quiet for the South and restore out deterrent.
He also calls upon regional leaders to act responsibly.
1:45 p.m. – Says Netanyahu: We couldn’t abide by the situation where our civilians are attacked regularly and deliberately by terrorists who hide behind their own populace. Today we send a clear message – we can strike back and we are ready to continue.
1:30 p.m. – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking now, he congratulates the military and security brass for their success so far, and thanks the people of Israel’s South for their patience.
1:14 p.m. – Training exercises stopped in the regular army brigades, orders received to deploy at Gaza border for possible ground invasion. massive rocket attack on Beersheba.
1:00 p.m. – Al-Arabiya: blast near the home of Hamas “Foreign Minister” Mahmoud al- Zahar.
12:50 p.m. – Palestinian Arab sources are claiming that the Israeli navy is targeting gaza terror sites