ALGEMEINER LIVE UPDATES DAY 5: Five Wounded Including Baby as Rocket Strikes Ofakim Car
Below are The Algemeiner’s continued live updates on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Our report on the call up of 75,000 IDF reserve troops can be found here. Interviews with the wives of Israeli soldiers who have been drafted can be read here. Raw footage of Israelis Iron Dome missile defense system in action can be viewed here. A report on Israel’s action this morning to take control of radio airwaves in Gaza can be read here. For an overview of all that took place Friday please visit our previous live blog. 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.
9:57 pm – Prime Minister Netanyahu’s and Home Front Defense Minister Dichter’s remarks at the Start of the meeting of the Supreme Emergency Economy Committee that took place earlier today:
“First of all, I would like to thank you for your important work. Coordinating all Government ministries and Home Front Command systems in order to defend the home front is a basic component of our ability to operate against the terrorist elements. I want to thank you, [Home Front Defense] Minister [Avi] Dichter and all those present for your systematic, very orderly work, which has one goal – providing Israeli citizens with the directives and means to reduce the damage to them. This is our chief mission. I am pleased to see you doing this work continuously, systematically and thoroughly. It is yet required of us. You are doing excellent work. Continue to see to the home front. You are helping save lives. Your work and the discipline of the people gives us the ability to make the right, considered and responsible decisions in order to defend the State of Israel.”
Committee Chairman Minister Dichter said, “We are in the midst of an unprecedented assault on the Israeli home front: 1,000 missiles in four days against 3.5 million residents. This has no parallel in any country. The State of Israel has invested billions in order to prepare the home front just for such difficult times. The committee is meeting here today with the full representation of Government ministries in order to ensure the continual functioning of the state. We must understand that in the end, the great national pyramid rests on the citizen who is called upon to carry out the instructions of the IDF Home Front Command as soon as sirens are heard and enter a protected space or lay on the ground. Not everyone has acted this way in recent days and we have paid a heavy price for this.”
8:42 pm – Times of Israel reports: “For the last couple of hours, quiet in southern Israel.”
7:12 pm – Reported meetings in Cairo between Hamas and an Israeli representative regarding possible ceasefire terms appear to be yielding little.
7:00 pm – Times of Israel cites Israel’s Walla News reporting that Prime Minister Netanyahu and top Israeli ministers have approved, “expansion of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip and preparations for a ground incursion.”
6:20 pm – The Jerusalem Post released this video report of day 5 of Operation Pillar of Defense:
5:41 pm – Earlier today, both President Obama and British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed reservations over a ground invasion of Gaza. Fox News reports:
“The U.S. and Britain on Sunday warned about the risks of Israel expanding its air assault on the Gaza Strip into a ground war, while vigorously defending the Jewish state’s right to protect itself against rocket attacks.
The remarks by President Barack Obama and Britain Foreign Secretary William Hague were part of a diplomatic balancing act by the West as it desperately seeks an end to the escalating violence without alienating its closest ally in the region.
“Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory,” President Barack Obama said at a news conference in Bangkok at the start of a three-nation visit to Asia.
“If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that’s preferable,” Obama said. ‘It’s not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It’s also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they’re much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.'”
5:40 pm – Hamas claims 11 civilians in Gaza, were killed in an airstrike.
5:36 pm – The IDF releases a short video recapping today’s developments in Operation Pillar of Defense:
5:15 pm – Times of Israel reports: “After a three hour lull Sunday night, Gaza fired a barrage of rockets at 11 p.m., hitting a home near Be’er Tuvia. Several more rockets were shot down in Ashdod, though an Iron Dome misfire was caught on live TV.”
5:00 pm – IDF tweets: “Update: Iron Dome just intercepted 3 more rockets fired from #Gaza aimed at major Israeli population centers.”
4:32 pm – A rocket exploded in the mountains near Eilat.
4:oo pm – Two explosions hear near Eilat, not clear what the cause is.
2:42 pm – Senior member of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzouk: Hamas refused to commit itself to maintaining a “security zone” along the Gaza border and to stop weapons smuggling, demands Israel drops naval blockade.
2:10 pm – The IAF bombed the house of Marwan Issa, Ahmad Jaabari’s replacement (he probably wasn’t at home). Hamas claims they’ve fired a rocket at an Israeli helicopter.
2:00 pm – Israel’s Channel 2: Ghazi Hamed, “Deputy Foreign Minister of Hamas” says 90 percent of ceasefire arrangement already agreed upon. Hamas demands international peacekeepers on Israel-Gaza border.
12:28 pm – Defense Minister Ehud Barak released the following statement praising the performance of the newly deployed 5th Iron Dome battery:
“We are here at the site of the fifth ‘Iron Dome’ battery. It was deployed just a few days ago and immediately after its deployment, it intercepted a rocket launched towards Tel Aviv. We are proud of our air defense personnel who are carrying out the operation. We are proud of the leaders of our defense industry… You can turn on your TV and see some of them here; these leaders from “Israel Aerospace Industries”, from “Rafael” and other industries, who produced it and developed it in record time. It is probably the most technologically impressive achievement in recent years in Israel, and it was deployed to protect our citizens.
The performance is almost perfect; out of 300 attempted interceptions, about 90% succeeded. That is unprecedented. I believe that no country on earth, no citizenry on earth, and no nation on earth has such a successful missile defense system. And within several years we plan to cover the whole country, all around, against a much wider range of threats, based on the ‘Iron Dome’ system and later on the ‘David’s Sling’ and the other layers of our multilayer interception system.
This effort could not have been completed without the generous and consistent support of the American administration, led by President Obama, and earlier Secretary of Defense Gates, and now current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
I am proud to try to convey through your ambassador Dan Shapiro our thanks, as a defense establishment and as a people, for your continued backing of the system that amounts now to more than a billion Israeli shekels. This enables us to move onto the seventh and eighth batteries, and later onto the twelfth and thirteenth batteries that will enable us finally to cover all of Israel.
We are still in the middle of the conflict with Hamas in Gaza, and I can tell you once again that we are determined to do whatever it takes, and I repeat, whatever it takes, to make sure the deterrence is strengthened. The infrastructure, the launching pads, the missiles and rockets, and the installations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be severely damaged; so that calm will be restored on the southern border. We are still in the fight. Up until now it has been going very well, it has been very successful. We are of course sorry for the loss of three civilian lives in Kiryat Malachi, but [the operation] is going very well right now.
Hamas and the other terrorist organizations are suffering from major blows. There is no full proof protection through ‘Iron dome’; there is in fact no full proof military operation, and indeed we still have to be ready for incidents that will be far from comfortable. We hope it will not happen, but we are in case it comes our way.”
12:18 pm – IDF tweets: “Breaking: A few minutes ago, the Iron Dome intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv. City residents ran for shelter after siren.”
12:15 pm – AP reports: “Egyptian security officials say a senior Israeli official has arrived in Cairo for talks on reaching a cease-fire to end an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. The officials said the official arrived at Cairo’s airport and was immediately rushed away from the tarmac into talks. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity under security guidelines, did not identify the Israeli. Israeli officials declined comment.”
11:52 am – In a statement at a press conference in Thailand today President Obama voiced support for Israel saying, “Let’s understand what the precipitating event here that’s causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”
11:42 am – Right now there’s rocket firing non stop. Just now sirens in Gush Dan.
11:35 am – IDF spokesperson tweets: “Fact: 99 rockets fired from #Gaza have crashed back into Gaza in the last 4 days. Hamas fires from civilian areas…and hits its own people.” Read The Algemeiner’s report on an incident where a Gaza child was likely killed by a Hamas rocket here.
11:24 am – The IDF released a video showing a rocket launching site in close proximity to a mosque. The IAF is able to target the site without destroying the mosque. Watch the video below.
10:45 am – The Times of Israel reports: “IDF says target of building bombed in Gaza City was Yihya Abiya, who, as commander of Hamas’s rocket brigades, was directly responsible for the missile attacks on southern Israel this morning. Reports say Abiya was injured although his condition is not known.”
10:30 am – Ynet reports: “Five people were injured when a Grad shrapnel hit a vehicle at the entrance to the city of Ofakim on Sunday. The wounded include a couple and their 2-year-old daughter who were in the car, a man in his 50s and a young man. Two sustained moderate wounds and the rest were lightly injured.”
10:00 am – The IDF released the following statement on last night’s events:
“Over the course of the day, the IDF has targeted over 50 terror sites throughout the Gaza Strip, including under-ground rocket launching sites and terror tunnels, inflicting severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.
Furthermore, the IDF targeted Hamas’ operational communication infrastructures in the northern Gaza Strip, which are used for issuing orders to operatives as well as the spreading of propaganda.
In addition, the IDF targeted a launching site, from which a rocket was fired towards the city of Tel Aviv, as well as several Hamas-affiliated terrorist squads.
This morning, Erez crossing and Kerem-Shalom crossing were opened for the passage of diplomatic personnel and supplies in order to preserve a daily routine for the residents of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas, that controls the Gaza Strip, has turned it 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 months.
The IDF is determined to continue targeting terror activity sites that are used to carry out attacks against the citizens of Israel.”
PREAMBLE: 9:00 am – As Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense aimed at crippling Gaza’s terror infrastructure, enters its fifth day, rockets still rain down incessantly onto southern Israel. Sporadically longer range missiles are launched towards bigger cities that are further to the north and east of Gaza, these have included Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Rumors persist over the possibility of a ceasefire being enacted, but Israel has strongly denied that a one is in the making, and has pledged to widen its operation, targeting a number of new terror sites today and continuing to call up reserve troops.