Monday, August 15th | 18 Av 5782

July 8, 2014 4:39 pm

OPERATION ‘PROTECTIVE EDGE’ DAY 1: Israel Targets Hamas Leaders in Gaza After Rockets Strike Deep in Israel (LIVE UPDATES)

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A Gaza rocket strike hits a Negev field. Credit: Noga Benoudiz / Tazpit News Agency.

Follow here for The Algemeiner‘s continued live updates on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Our report on the launch of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge can be found here. For a report on Israel’s targeting of a top Hamas commander on Tuesday click here. For details on the rocket attacks that led to Israel’s operation click here. For more information please check our homepage.

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WRAP: The Algemeiner has concluded our live updates for tonight and will continue to report on all developments. Please stay tuned for a new live update blog tomorrow.

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7:52 pm – The IDF posted a video on Twitter of an Ashdod wedding interrupted by a Gaza rocket attack:

7:51 pm – Israel Radio reports that the IDF struck the house of senior Hamas commander Raed Attar in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, The Times of Israel said. Additional Israeli airstrikes are reported across the southern Gaza Strip in the cities of Khan Younis, Rafah and Nussirat, the newspaper said.

5:20 pm – “117 rockets struck Israel in the past 24 hours & an additional 29 were intercepted by the Iron Dome,” says the IDF Spokesperson.

5: 15 pm – “Israel came under a heavy barrage of rocket fire on Tuesday night, with code red sirens sounding off in central Israel, the Jerusalem area and as far North as Binyamina,” The Jerusalem Post reported. “More than 40 rockets were fired into Israel in the biggest ever salvo of long-range fire from Gaza.”

3:44 pm – A 6,000-person rock concert outside of Jerusalem’s old City by performer Barry Saharov, has been halted, due to the rocket fire threat, according to Israel Radio. Over 30 percent of Jerusalem’s 750,000 residents are Arabs.

3:33 pm – Israel’s Hatzolah volunteer ambulance service posted this picture of a long range rocket fired towards Jerusalem, which exploded in Givat Zev:

A rocket fired from Gaza at Jerusalem. Photo: Hatzolah.

3:20 pm – A building in Jerusalem, possibly a home, was hit in the latest barrage of Gaza rockets, Israel Radio reported Tuesday night. There are no reports of casualties.

3:13 pm – Some 20 rockets were fired into numerous areas of Israel during the last 10 minutes. There have been no reports of injuries.

2:58 pm – Sirens have been sounded in Jerusalem, Mevasseret Tzion, Beit Shemesh, Beitar Elit, and other areas south of Jerusalem.

1:27 pm – Over 40 percent of Israel’s nearly eight million citizens live in the greater Gush Dan area, which surrounds Tel Aviv.

An emergency cabinet meeting is convening at 22:00 IST.

12:34 pm – Israeli army forces intercepted a Palestinian terror squad trying to infiltrate the Zikim area just north of Gaza, Tuesday evening, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.

Initial reports suggest there was an exchange of fire with the three-man-squad, which was shot and possibly killed in the bid to carry out a terror attack under cover of a heavy rocket barrage, according to Army radio.

Soldiers may have been wounded in the exchange of fire, according to unconfirmed sources. The terrorists came ashore from the sea, apparently from nearby Gaza.

12:15 pm – Israeli film maker Oren Rosenfeld posted this picture on Twitter of what he said is an Iron Dome rocket interception over Tel Aviv:

A Gaza rocket shot down over Tel Aviv. Photo: Oren Rosenfeld.

12:10 pm – An Iron Dome battery downed a long-range rocket in the vicinity of Ben-Gurion International airport, according to Israel’s Ynet news site.

12:06 pm – Air raid sirens wailed in Tel Aviv early Tuesday evening, Army radio reported in a breaking alert.

11:50 am – The IDF confirmed downing a rocket over Gedera, 25km south of Tel Aviv. The projectile was part of a large volley of rockets fired by Hamas towards the southern edge of central Israel, according to The Times of Israel. Sirens are sounding across the south.

11:33 am – “Due to (Israel Air Force) activity, Israel’s civilian air traffic corridors have been narrowed which could result in delays for takeoffs and landings,” Israel’s Airports Authority told The Algemeiner in a statement.

11:22 am – Israel’s Defense Minister Ya’alon says: “Our aim – zero rockets. The situation on the ground has proven that Hamas does not want a truce.”

“I told mayors in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area to take into account possible fire on their cities,” he added.

10:42 am –  The Times of Israel reports: Speaking at a conference on peace talks organized by Haaretz, the European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, says that “indiscriminate shooting of rockets against civilians can never be a legitimate response, no matter what your grievances.”

10:35 am – The Israel Project has compiled a good synopsis of Hamas’s outrageous demands over the past 48 hours as part of a possible ceasefire agreement:

In addition to demanding all sorts of concessions from Israel – prisoner releases, lifting restrictions on Gaza, etc – Hamas has also in the last 48 hours demanded a bunch of non-starters from Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. Just in the last 48 hours, they’ve demanded, as part of a ceasefire:

(1) That Palestinian Authority transfers money to pay for Hamas government employees, which wasn’t happening when the Fatah/Hamas unity govt was stable, and definitely won’t happen now.
(2) That Egypt ease movement through the Egyptian-Gaza border, which is a non-starter because the Egyptians fear that jihadists will use the transit in and out of the Sinai Peninsula.
(3) That Israel fully lift security-based import/export restrictions on the Gaza Strip, which is a non-starter as long as Iran continues trying to deliver advanced missiles to Hamas.
(4) That Israel release a bunch of prisoners arrested after the murder of the three Israeli teens, which the Israelis won’t do because they’re seeking to deter future kidnappings/murders.

Just to be clear and explicit about how insane this is: Hamas has declared they’ll keep firing on Israeli civilians until Cairo and Ramallah make a bunch of concessions to them, which Israel has no power over.

Even if those demands weren’t non-starters – and they are – how could Netanyahu going to convince Sisi to let jihadists into the Sinai, or convince Abbas to release precious PA funds to his rivals in Hamas?

1o:19 am – Israeli Economy Minister, Naftali Bennett, was shoved and punched by attendees as he exited the Haaretz “Peace Conference” on Tuesday. The minister had verbally sparred with hecklers at several points in his address.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Bennett “yelled ‘who hit me?’ but was pushed out of the room by his bodyguards.”

10:17 am – A senior Israeli army (IDF) source told Army radio on Tuesday that Hamas will likely try to hit Tel Aviv overnight with 80-km range Grad rockets, like in 2012’s Operation Defensive Shield.

Municipal officials in Tel Aviv and neighboring Givatiyim in Israel’s Gush Dan region instructed residents in homes and apartment buildings to clear out and prepare private and public bomb shelters and protected spaces.

10:13 am – Hamas has fired over 130 rockets at Israeli civilians since last night. In response, the IDF has targeted approximately 150 terror sites in Gaza, the IDF says.

10:09 am – Moments ago Hamas fired a rocket at Ashkelon. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted the rocket, saving the lives of Israeli civilians, according to the IDF on Twitter.

10:06 am – Israel released another video of IDF troops mobilizing on the Gaza border:

9:52 am – The IDF published a video of the Israeli Navy targeting a Hamas training facility in Gaza:

9:29 am – “Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be destroyed,” a senior IDF source told the 0404 breaking news website. “We have a green light to act without restraint… The terror organizations will learn in the coming days just what the IDF is made of and what its strength is,” the source said.

9:20 am – According to Israeli radio, the major Ashdod port is not operating due to the rocket threat, and officials halted a passenger rail line to Sderot, alongside northern Gaza.

College and school final exams were canceled, over 2,000 children were sent home from summer camps across the south, and public events with more than 500 participants were cancelled.

The Tel Aviv Municipality has ordered custodians to open bomb shelters, according to the city, in preparation for possible rockets strike like those in 2012’s Operation Defense Shield.

9:16 am – Instructing the Israeli army to “take the gloves off,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the cabinet approved a call-up of up to 40,000 soldiers, if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is instructed to enter the Gaza Strip in a ground operation, Army radio said.

8:24 am – In a pinpoint airstrike, the Israel Air Force assassinated the head of Hamas’ naval commando unit Mohammed Shaaban and two other individuals travelling in a vehicle, according to Israel’s Channel 2 News.

8:15 am – Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issued a statement declaring a ‘special situation’ for cities located close to Gaza:

Defense Minister Yaalon, today (Tuesday, 8 July 2014), concluded discussions on recent developments with GOC Homefront Command Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg and Defense Ministry Director General Dan Harel.  At the conclusion of the discussion, the Defense Minister declared a ‘special situation’ for the homefront in cities and communities situated between 0-40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.

During the discussion the Defense Minister said:

“We are preparing for action against Hamas, which will not end within a few days.  Hamas has led this round of violence so it can target and damage our home front.  There is a need for breathing room.  The proper behavior and actions of the civilian population, including following Homefront Command instructions and proximity to shelters, is a crucial component in our ability to prevent civilian casualties.  In the last few hours we have launched powerful strikes and hit tens of Hamas targets; the IDF is continuing its strikes to exact a heavy price from Hamas.  We will not tolerate rocket fire on Israel cities, and we are preparing to expand the operation with everything at our disposal to strike Hamas.”

“I would like to express my support of southern Israel’s residents and heads of the regional councils, who have demonstrated leadership and responsibility.”

8:05 am – Israel’s Tazpit News Agency reports that nine Israeli civilians were wounded this morning by rockets fired from Gaza. Ambulance teams treated one individual for a shrapnel injury, another was treated after falling while running during a siren, and seven were treated for shock. Some 50 rockets have been fired from Gaza since the morning hours.

7:25 am – Overnight Israeli planes targeted 50 terror related targets in Gaza in the first salvo of the operation. The IDF said in a statement:

In combined efforts of both aerial and naval forces, the IDF targeted overnight approximately 50 terror sites and targets across the Gaza Strip, commencing operation ‘Protective Edge’ – aimed to retrieve stability to the residents of southern Israel, eliminate Hamas’ capabilities and destroy terror infrastructure operating against the State of Israel and its civilians.

Among the targets are 4 activity sites utilized by Hamas operatives who are responsible for numerous rocket attacks and were involved in various terror activities against the State of Israel.

The activity sites that were targeted were utilized by the following operatives:

  • Ei’ad Sakik, a Hamas terrorists in Gaza, involved in rocket terrorism against the State of Israel.
  • Abdullah Hshash, a Hamas terrorist in Rafah, involved in rocket terrorism against the State of Israel during the past few weeks and in the past as well.
  • Samer Abu Daka, a Hamas terrorist in Khan Yunis, involved in terrorist activity against the State of Israel.
  • Hassan Abdullah, a Hamas terrorist in Khan Yunis, involved in rocket terrorism against the State of Israel during the past few weeks.

The IDF targeted dozens of terror sites across the Gaza Strip, including concealed rocket launchers, launching infrastructures, a weapon storage facility,training bases, terror tunnels’ shafts and further targets.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesman: “In the past weeks, residents of southern Israel were forced into an unbearable reality – a situation they haven’t encountered in these scales since November 2012. In light of these circumstances, the IDF commenced operation ‘Protective Edge’. We are determined to lay a significant blow on Hamas’ terror capabilities and infrastructure, eliminate any threat on Israeli sovereignty emanating from the Gaza Strip and restore stability to the southern region. Terrorists perpetrating the aggression against Israel have a personal price to pay and will bear the consequences of their actions.”

PREAMBLE: 6:52 am: Early in the morning Israel launched Operation Protective Edge aimed at stopping “the constant terror activity that Hamas is aiming at Israeli civilians.” The major Gaza initiative comes in response to a significant increase in rocket attacks against Israeli civilians over the past weeks.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, more than 30 rockets were fired in a major escalation on Monday evening which struck major cities Ashdod and Ashkelon. Four rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome  missile defense system and 16 landed in open areas near Beersheba. According to Israeli media reports, more that 7o projectiles were fired at Israel.

“Since the beginning of the year, #Gaza terrorists have fired more then 450 rockets at#Israeli civilians #ItMustStop,” the IDF tweeted.

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