ALGEMEINER LIVE UPDATES DAY 3: As Rockets Rain, Israel Readies for Next Phase of Operation Pillar of Defense
Below are The Algemeiner’s continued live updates on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Our report on the call up of 16,ooo IDF troops can be found here. A report on Hamas’s new terror chief can be found here. A report on protests in the West Bank can be found here. For an overview of all that took place Thursday please visit yesterday’s live blog. For more information please check our homepage.
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WRAP: Algemeiner updates will be temporarily suspended until Saturday evening in observation of the Sabbath. For live updates on operation Pillar of Defense click here.
4:10 pm – The official Palestinian news agency reports that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal discussed ways to achieve a ceasefire with Israel. Rocket attacks on Israel’s southern communities continue.
4:00 pm – AIPAC released the following statement applauding the United States Senate’s vote of solidarity with Israel:
“With the House vote today, Congress has sent a unified message of solidarity between the people of the U.S. and the people of Israel in their struggle against terrorist attacks on their citizens. The House unanimously adopted a bipartisan resolution,sponsored by Congressmen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Howard Berman, expressing firm support for Israel’s “inherent right to self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism.” An identical resolution sponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Mark Kirk unanimously passed the Senate last night.
The bipartisan Senate and House unanimous votes of solidarity with Israel are genuinely significant in that both occurred within a 24-hour period immediately after Israel began its efforts to defend herself against Hamas terrorist attacks. AIPAC salutes the resolute stance of the Senate and the House in standing by our democratic ally, Israel.”
3:50 pm – IDF spokesperson: Khaled Shaer, a leading commander of Hamas’s anti-tank division, has been eliminated.
3:45 pm – Channel 10 poll: 41% think Netanyahu is the best leader to deal with the situation. 18% – Barak. 7% – Olmert and 4% – Yachimovitch (Labor leader). Minister Gilad Erdan: I assume the elections will be postponed.
3:40 pm – Channel 10 poll: 91% of Israeli Jews support the operation, 76% support expanding the scope of the mission.
3:35 pm – IDF spokesperson: The Hamas Ministry of Internal Affairs was targeted, 12 000 people in Gaza received text message warnings to stay away from Hamas facilities in their vicinity.
2: 57 pm – Israel’s Channel 10 reports that mortar shells were fired from Sinai into Israel, no casualties were reported.
2:56 pm – Ynet reports:
“US President Barack Obama called Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to discuss the escalating violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
“The two leaders shared their concerns about the dangers to civilian populations on both sides and expressed their common desire to see an end to the violence,” the White House said in a statement. ‘The president and prime Minister agreed that the continued spiral of violence jeopardizes prospects for a durable, lasting peace in the region.'”
2:30 pm – Israeli state radio Reshet Bet reports that the Defense Ministry’s request to draft 75,000 reserve troops has been approved.
1:45 pm – Channel 2 reports that the high-profile Hamas terrorist Ahmad Abu Jalal was killed today.
1:42 pm – Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman: We have two goals – destroy the long-range rockets and restore our deterrent. When we achieve that, the operation will end.
1:39 pm – Haaretz reports that when the IAF bombed the former house of Fatah leader Rashid Abu Shbak (confiscated by Hamas), it exploded massively and damaged 20 nearby homes. The locals believe that Hamas stored munitions there.
1:35 pm – The IDF announced the closure of roads near Gaza, issuing the following statement:
“In accordance to the closed military zone warrant issued by the GOC southern command, Major General Tal Russo, the following roads are closed till further notice:
Road no. 10
Road no. 4, in the direction of Yad Mordechai. (If coming from a northern direction, turning left is possible in the direction of Be’er Sheba only, there is no entry to the part of the road that runs along the Gaza Strip.)”
1:21 pm – Israeli daily Haaretz reports that Israeli government secretary Hauser is conducting a telephone poll of ministers to get the okay for a callup of 75,000 reserve troops. The move would be approved by the Security Cabinet tonight.
In comparison to recent Israeli operations, the number of troops being discussed is quite high. For Operation Cast Lead in 2008 10,000 reserves were called up, and for Israel’s Second Lebanon War in 2006, 60,000 troops were called up.
1:11 pm – Maariv is reporting that Defense Minister Barak is requesting additional funds for new Iron Dome batteries – 750 million shekels in total, partly from American military aid money.
12:56 pm – Israel’s Channel 2 is reporting that elections in Israel may be postponed.
12:44 pm – The IDF released the following summary of today’s events:
“The IDF is gathering forces, continuing with Operation Pillar of Defense according to pre-determined operational plans. The forces have been briefed and trained according to specific guidelines of the plan, and will operate until the mission has been completed.
During the course of the day, the IDF targeted dozens of rocket launching sites, causing severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of Hamas and other terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. In addition, several terrorist squads that were involved in firing rockets toward Israel, as well as a terror tunnel containing explosives in the central Gaza Strip, were targeted. Israeli Navy soldiers targeted terror activity sites in the southern and central Gaza Strip.
The aim of targeting these sites is to impair the rocket launching capability of terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and hamper their continued build up.
Since midnight alone 66 rockets that were fired from the Gaza Strip hit Israel, a further 99 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile Defense System.
Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into a frontal base for Iran, directly targeting Israel civilians.”
12:29 pm – Alon ben David, chief military correspondent for Channel 10 news in Israel: “Military sources advise to be ready for significant expansion of “Pillar of Defense”. The Israeli Security Cabinet is now in session.
12:24 pm – The Iron Dome missile defense system has been 87% successful so far with rocket interceptions.
12:20 pm – Haaretz quotes Gaza columnist Abir Ayub, who writes that “Israeli retaliation was expected, but not at so massive scale” and “the members of armed groups discounted Israeli threats as elections propaganda”.
12:15 pm – Haaretz reports: Israel destroyed a “high-tech” Hamas location which was working on building an unmanned air drone.
11:55 am – Israel’s Home Front Command in message to municipal heads of the area up to 75 km from Gaza: prepare for 7 weeks of fighting.
11:05 am – An Algemeiner diplomatic source in Jerusalem tells us that another, 80,000 IDF reservists have been approved for call-up by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “They will be notified over the weekend and the army will then issue orders to those needed,” said the source.
10:55 am – Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem said: “We have trained for all scenarios, all public shelters are ready to be opened if necessary. I urge the citizens of Jerusalem to continue with their lives.”
10:45 am – The IDF confirmed to The Algemeiner that a rocket “hit an open area outside of Jerusalem.”
10:15 am – More reports from Jerusalem. Details here.
9:49 am – Jerusalemite on Facebook: “Air raid siren in Jerusalem. Heard something like an explosion.”
9:40 am – According to a report in the Lebanese daily The Daily Star, Saudi King Abdullah and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi spoke Thursday night. During the course of their conversation King Abdullah urged “that things must calm down and reason and wisdom must reign over passionate reactions.”
9:25 am – President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Friday to discuss the current conflict with Hamas. Peres told Netanyahu “The operation currently being undertaken by the IDF and the security services is a justified one, we cannot abandon women and children to the madness of Hamas which continues to fire at civilians without reason. Hamas has no reason to fire at Israel’s civilians.”
PM Netanyahu said, “the IDF is continuing to hit Hamas hard and is ready to expand the operation into Gaza. He outlined that the aim is to take out the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza while doing everything possible not to harm civilians.”
8:52 am – The Times of Israel is reporting that quiet has returned to East Jerusalem. Earlier in the day protests broke out in support of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and against Israeli operations there.
PREAMBLE: 8:49 am: Friday marks the third day of Operation Pillar of Defense. Overnight the Israeli Air Force carried out operations that targeted approximately 150 medium range rocket launching sites as well as ammunition storage facilities across the Gaza Strip. More than 60 rockets have been launched at communities in southern Israel so far today. For a second straight day sirens went off in Tel Aviv. Three soldiers were wounded this afternoon in southern Israel when a short-range rocket fired by Gaza terrorists struck nearby. There are reports that 16,000 reservists have been called up to prepare for a possible ground incursion into Gaza, amid reports of growing fears among Israelis of an all-out war.
Friday morning, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil visited Gaza. This followed reports of Egyptian authorities closing the Rafah border crossing. The IDF agreed to suspend all Gaza operations as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly agreed to a short ceasefire after it was requested by Egypt. The IDF is reporting that over 500 rockets have been fired at Israel since Wednesday, 335 of which have struck Israel. Also Friday, in East Jerusalem protests broke out in support of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and against Israel’s operations there.