ALGEMEINER LIVE UPDATES DAY 6: Rocket Barrages Continue to Fall as Ceasefire Reports Circulate
Below are The Algemeiner’s continued live updates on Operation Pillar of Defense, entering day six. For a recap of Sunday’s events please check our blog. A report on preparations for a possible ground operation can be read here. Check here to hear what U.S. President Barack Obama had to say Sunday on the continuing conflict. A report on how the IDF has hijacked Hamas’s TV station in Gaza can be read 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 and check back to the Algemeiner home page for breaking news. Thank you for joining us.
9:00 pm – IAF strikes on Gaza targets reported. Sirens heard in southern Israeli towns.
7:00 pm – The IDF released a video about reservists who have been called up to serve in “Operation Pillar of Defense.” We have posted it below.
5:45 pm – Haaretz citing high-placed government source: There are equal chances for either possibility of a ceasefire, or a ground operation.
4:51 pm – IDF summary of today’s events:
“Over the course of the day, the IDF caused severe damage to dozens of targets, including underground rocket launchers, a training facility, ammunition storage facilities, Hamas police stations and several terrorist squads that were responsible for firing rockets at Israel.
Also, a vehicle that was used for transporting rockets that belong to Hamas was targeted in the northern Gaza Strip. A direct hit was identified.
In the southern Gaza Strip, over 50 smuggling tunnels were targeted.
Hamas has turned the Gaza strip into a front line base for Iran, carrying out terror attacks and firing rockets at Israeli citizens, forcing them to live in unbearable circumstances.
The sites that were targeted have been positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of several months.
The IDF is determined to continue targeting terror activity sites that are used to carry out attacks against the citizens of Israel.”
4:40 pm – Israeli website rotter.net: Army reservists have been informed that they might return home “very soon”.
3:40 pm – According to Iranian Hebrew radio, President Morsi has instructed his Minister of Defense to prepare the Egyptian Army for general mobilization. According to the report, Egyptians call the order “a precaution”, but if true, it could be seen as a pressure step against Israel.
3:12 pm – Terrorist attack in the Halhul area near Hebron. An Arab male tried to grab a soldier’s gun and was shot and killed, Palestinian websites erroneously claimed a soldier was abducted.
3:02 pm – The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee will meet tomorrow to discuss Defense Minister Barak’s request to mobilize even more reservists.
2:57 pm – Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman to German Foreign Minister: Israel will continue squeezing terrorist groups in Gaza until we see peace and security for our citizens.
2:20 pm – Israel’s Security Cabinet is now in session, discussing ceasefire possibility. Israel requires Hamas to stop firing first to prove that it is serious. Hamas demands that Israel completely open the Gaza border.
1:51 pm – More than 10 Gaza terrorists have been targeted while attempting to launch rockets into Israel. Terror groups have stopped firing from open spaces and have retired to urban areas. Gaza stadium was turned into a rocket launch pad and was subsequently attacked and destroyed.
1:49 pm – IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai: “the terrorists established a command post in a high rise which housed journalists. We hit it with all due consideration for innocent lives.
1:40 pm – Today’s rocket count from Gaza is indeed about half of previous days, which is either evidence of attrition or a Hamas attempt to de-escalate.
1:35 pm – Estimate: Hamas’ rocket capacity has been reduced by 50%.
1:30 pm – 200 Ukrainian citizens are trying to leave Gaza, and are being prevented by Hamas.
1:05 pm – Israel’s ambulance service Magen David Adom updates on today’s casualties: 16 lightly wounded and suffering from shock.
1:00 pm – Israel’s BatSheva dance troop was targeted by an anti-Israel mob in London, security is on high alert.
12:55 pm – Israeli sources on ceasefire possibility: The ball is in the Egyptian’s court, if they don’t succeed – a ground operation is fully prepared.
12:50 pm – Funny moment on Israel’s Channel 2 TV: While interviewing security expert, former MK Itzhak Ben Israel, on Hamas rocket capacity, they suddenly notice that Hamas TV in Gaza is broadcasting their live show with simultaneous translation.
12:45 pm – CNN reports on American attitudes towards Israel’s actions in Gaza:
“A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday indicates that 57% of the public says Israel is justified in taking military action in Gaza against Hamas, with one in four saying the attacks are unjustified.”
12:40 pm – Al Arabiya channel claims that a ceasefire will be enacted in 24 hours.
12:28 pm – Prime Minister Netanyahu held a video conference with Israel’s Public Diplomacy Centers around the world. Here are details emailed by the Government Press Office to reporters:
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this afternoon (Monday, 19 November 2012), held a video conference with volunteers who are working to assist in the national public diplomacy effort.
Participating in the video conference were personnel from the Prime Minister’s Office National Information Directorate, the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, the Foreign Ministry (from Dublin), the IDF Spokesperson’s Office New Media Division, and students and public diplomacy activists.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said, ‘It is good to see you. I want to thank you. You are doing very important work; I follow your activities. We are [operating] on four fronts: The military front, the home front, the diplomatic front and the public diplomacy front. What you are doing greatly strengthens us on the public diplomacy front. We must fight for the truth, for the facts, and your help is worth more than gold. The fact that you are focusing on refuting the industry of lies and that you are reaching so many sectors is a significant addition for the State of Israel. I want to thank you. Continue your important work and I tell you that we will yet face great efforts and responsibilities in the coming days; therefore, thank you very much. I wish you all success. Thank you.'”
11:41 am – The Lebanese army discovered two Grad rockets in Marj Ayun not far from the Israeli border, prepared to fire at Israel.
10:59 am – Stray Syrian fire on Israeli tanks is reported from the Golan Heights, no casualties.
10:30 am – Three top Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders were targeted by Hamas, one was confirmed killed by Islamic Jihad. A more detailed report can be found here.
10:06 am – The Israeli Government Press Office released the following information on President Shimon Peres’ meeting with Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair:
“President Shimon Peres today (Monday, 19 November 2012), held a working meeting with Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair. The two delivered joint statements and held a private meeting. At the start of the meeting President Peres said, “I wish to thank you for the clear support the international community is giving Israel to defend herself against the missiles, against the targeting of our civilians. I want to thank the Quartet and you personally.”
President Peres stressed that the aim of the operation was the cessation of rocket fire against the south, “We have no interest and no ambition in conquering land but we have to stop the firing at our citizens. You clearly understand what it means when mothers can’t sleep at night.” On Egypt’s involvement President Peres said, “The attempt by President Morsi is appreciated. Egypt is a significant player in the Middle East, strangely it is Hamas that doesn’t listen to the Egyptian President.”
President Peres addressed the Iranian issue and said, “Iran is putting tremendous pressure on them, supplying them with arms, training them and sending them money. There is a confrontation between the Iranians who want to continue Hamas’ belligerence and many of the Arab countries that want to put an end to it.”
Mr. Tony Blair thanked President Peres and said that he hoped that in the coming days a ceasefire will be achieved which will stop the rocket fire from Gaza to the citizens of Israel and will help the people of Gaza who are also suffering. Blair added that Egypt, Qatar, America and the UN were all working for a ceasefire and said that he hoped that there could be constructive steps towards peace in the region. Blair added that another crisis, on top of the Iranian issue and the Syrian crisis, should be avoided.
This week President Peres will also hold meetings with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and German Foreign Minister Guide Westerwelle, who are visiting the region.”
10:02 am – Unconfirmed reports of infantry units crossing into Gaza on scouting missions.
9:00 am – Top Hamas man Khaled Meshal says in Cairo press conference that morale in Gaza is high.
PREAMBLE: 8:58 am – As Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense aimed at crippling Gaza’s terror infrastructure, enters its sixth day, rockets still rain down incessantly onto southern Israel. Reports of a potential cease fire mediated by Egypt continue to seep out, but thus far no agreement has been reached between the two sides.
Schools in the south remain closed Monday. Gaza sources say 11 were killed overnight in IDF strikes on Hamas targets. Earlier in the day President Shimon Peres met with Middle East Quartet envoy and former British prime minister Tony Blair in Jerusalem to discuss the conflict in Gaza.