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November 14, 2012 11:42 am

Israel Launches “Pillar of Defense” Operation in Gaza, “Decapitation Wave” Against Hamas Terror Leadership

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Israel Air Force helicopters.

The IDF has launched a major Gaza operation named “Amud Annan (Pillar/Column of Defense)” with the goal of taking “out a large piece of the (Hamas) command structure without toppling the regime,” a knowledgeable source in Jerusalem told The Algemeiner.

IDF Spokesperson Eytan Buchman confirmed to The Algemeiner that “the operation began about an hour ago with a pin-point strike on Hamas terror chief al-Jabari, “Since then” he said,  “we have targeted about 20 different sites in the Gaza strip focusing specifically in long range rocket capabilities that have been developed in Gaza.”

Bachman told The Algemeiner that there is “no focus on other individuals at this point but all the options are on the table.” A ground invasion is also not planned at the moment.

“The point of operation is to cripple terrorist infrastructure that has developed in the Gaza strip and has received significant assistance from Iran, ” he said, “One of the best examples are the Fajr rockets which we have targeted that have a range of over 25 miles.”

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Another IDF spokesperson told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that “we target Hamas and Jihad leaders and Fajr-5 40 km rockets in order to deny Hamas the strategic option of escalating the conflict. A ground invasion is planned for if necessary, and mobilization orders are ready. “The main purpose” he said, is “to end the harassment of the Israeli South.”

Asked how long the operation was expected to go on for, Bachman said there is no specific timetable, “we will go on as long as we need to, we had over a million Israelis in bomb shelters over the last four days, that situation is untenable.”

Regarding a possible escalation in rocket attacks from Gaza Bachman said, “we are prepared for any response that may come, we are confident in our abilities to significantly impair Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations.”

“We have shown enormous restraint and have been gathering very precise intelligence over the last four months on rockets and other terror sites and now we are acting on that intelligence,” he concluded.

“The talk is about a “decapitation wave” against Hamas,” The Algemeiner’s Jerusalem source added, now “that the human shield Gilad Shalit is no more, (the aim is) to kill as many terrorist leaders involved in his capture, holding and exchanging Shalit, to destroy Fajr-5 long-range rockets (that can reach Tel Aviv) and to reassert the deterrent without (so far) land invasion.”

Military sources told The Algemeiner that “A significant number of munitions depot’s are within civilian, residential buildings. This fact is another illustration of Hamas’ modus operandi which uses the civilian population in Gaza as a human shield.”

The operation follows four days of escalated rocket attacks from Gaza during which over 150 projectiles were fired at civilian communities in southern Israel. Israeli leaders have made clear in recent days that the country would not tolerate the continued attacks.

The operation began with the assassination of Hamas terror mastermind Ahmed al-Jabari earlier today. A statement from the Shin Bet about the strike said, “Jabari was responsible for financing and directing military operations and attacks against Israel. His elimination today is a message to Hamas officials in Gaza that if they continue promoting terrorism against Israel, they will be hurt.”

IDF Spokesman Yoav Mordechai told the Jerusalem Post that al-Jabari was a man with “a lot of blood on his hands.”

The naming if the operation is drawn from biblical verses in Exodus, that refer to a column of smoke that led and protected the Israelites during their sojourns in the desert .

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