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July 9, 2014 7:01 pm

OPERATION ‘PROTECTIVE EDGE’ DAY 2: Netanyahu Says Hamas Responsible for Any Gaza Deaths, Accuses Terror Group of ‘Double War Crime’ (LIVE UPDATES)

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Israeli children sheltering from a rocket attack. Photo: IDF.

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 hereFor a report on Israel’s targeting of a top Hamas commander on Tuesday click hereFor details on the rocket attacks that led to Israel’s operation click here. To read yesterday’s live blog (now closed) click here. For more information please check our homepage.

Please refresh this page for live updates.

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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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8:49 pm – World Jewish Congress CEO, Robert Singer and President, Ronald Lauder sent the following letter to all the United Nations ambassadors:

Dear Ambassador,

We are writing on behalf of 100 Jewish communities and affiliated organizations on six continents represented by the World Jewish Congress.  The nations of the world must know that world Jewry stands side-by-side with Israel and we express our absolute support for “Operation Protective Edge” launched by Israel earlier this week.

Hamas, an internationally recognized terror organization, has refused to recognize Israel and has repeatedly vowed to destroy the Jewish State. In recent weeks, Hamas has escalated its attacks – kidnapping and murdering three Israeli teenagers and launching an unrelenting rocket assault on Israel’s cities and civilians.  In the face of this threat, Israel was left with no choice but to respond.

Israel tried to restore the calm without resorting to major military action, but Hamas has only intensified its attacks. As we write, millions of Israelis are in bomb shelters as Hamas artillery pounds southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel cannot tolerate a situation in which the lives of millions of its citizens are threatened.

Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has used the territory as a staging ground for rocket attacks, launching over 9,000 rockets and 5,000 mortar bombs.  Since Israel and the PLO signed the Declaration of Principles in 1993, Hamas has perpetrated more than 80 suicide attacks, murdering some 1,000 Israelis. Today, Hamas possesses over 10,000 rockets that threaten 40% of the country’s population.

If it were your cities under attack, we know you would agree that a sovereign government has a duty to defend its citizens. This is the time to show your solidarity and support to the people of Israel and the State of Israel.

8:43 pm – The IDF posted this video of a strike on a Hamas weapons storage facility earlier today:

8:14 pm – After Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of “genocide” earlier today over its operation in Gaza, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu responded saying that Hamas should be responsible for any deaths in Gaza.

“Hamas is committing a double war crime by intentionally trying to hit Israeli citizens, and using the local Gaza population as human shields,” he said.

6:00 pm – “In the past 24 hours, 82 rockets hit Israel. An additional 21 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system,” the IDF said on Twitter.

5:31 pm – Moments ago two rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by the Iron Dome over Kiryat Malakhi, the IDF said on Twitter.

4:00 pmIsraeli troops Wednesday night killed at least two Palestinian naval commandos attempting to enter Kibbutz Zikim alongside Gaza, in what appears to be a repeat of Tuesday’s near-identical attempted infiltration.”

2:50 pm – Israel’s Prime Minister Netanayhu spoke to world leaders today about the ongoing war against Hamas, according to a statement released by his office:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Wednesday, 9 July 2014), spoke with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said in his conversations that no country in the world agree to suffer relentless missile attacks and infiltration attempts by sea and via tunnels. Hamas is perpetrating a double war crime by deliberately trying to attack Israeli civilians while using the civilian population in Gaza as human shields. Therefore, Hamas is responsible when civilians in Gaza are hit by mistake.

Prime Minister Netanyahu added that Hamas is known throughout the world as a terrorist organization and said that the international community must strongly condemn the continual firing by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations at Israeli cities.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is due to speak with additional world leaders in the coming days.

2:00 pm – Palestinian rocket crews in Gaza fired a barrage of long-range projectiles towards Israel’s nuclear facilities in Dimona, and nearby town Yeruham.

11:53 am – Israel’s Hatzolah volunteer ambulance service reported that the Mayor of Israel’s northern city of Haifa is urging residents across the city to prepare and open public shelters, due to possible rocket attacks from Gaza.

11:44 am – The IDF posted a video of an aborted strike in Gaza that was cancelled after civilians flocked to the roof of a building following a warning shot fired by the IDF.

“IDF fires warning shot at Hamas target. Residents flee house. Others flock to roof as human shields. Strike aborted,” the IDF said on Twitter.

Watch the video below:

11:43 am – “So far today 72 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel,” the IDF reported on Twitter.

11:41 am – Earlier today the IDF published this footage of an aircraft targeting “weapons facilities located within civilian areas in Gaza”:

11:07 am – AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, released the following statement in support of Israel:

After enduring more than 400 rocket attacks from Gaza in the past three weeks, Israel has launched Operation Protective Edge to protect its citizens. Hamas is intent on killing, maiming, and terrorizing innocent Israeli civilians wherever they live or work. Today Hamas rockets ranged as far north as Tel Aviv and its suburbs, putting most of Israel’s population at risk. The United States must continue to stand with Israel as it takes steps to protect its citizens.

11:05 am – The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv has been closed “until further notice,” due to the security situation; employees have been instructed to remain indoors, at home.

11:03 am – Earlier today the IDF published this dramatic footage of Hamas’s attempted assault via sea on Tuesday:

10:53 am – Advocacy group The Israel Project published some interesting facts and figures from an Israeli journalist:

The latest numbers (these are coming from Israel Radio military affairs correspondent Carmella Menashe, so they’re a few hours old, but they’re current as of this morning):

  • At least 280 rockets fired at Israel by Hamas and other groups.
  • At least 40 of those rockets were knocked out of the sky by Iron Dome (there are 7 Iron Dome batteries are on 24-hour alert right now). Remember the system uses a database to determine whether rockets and missiles are actually threats. Those interceptions were of projectiles heading into heavily populated areas.
  • At least 434 strikes by the Israelis targeting border tunnels, rocket launchers, weapons storage locations, etc. at least 280 rockets fired at Israel; more than 40 rockets intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system that were headed to .

Hamas specifically managed to launch a Syrian-made M-302 rocket — range 160 km; it has the largest warhead in their arsenal — which landed outside the city of Hadera. Hadera is about 110km from northern Gaza. This is the rocket that the Iranians had loaded on the Klos-C arms ship that Israel intercepted in March 2014. There were 40 M302’s in that shipment, plus hundereds of thousands of rounds of ammunition.

10:50 am – “The Iron Dome just intercepted a rocket over the Tel Aviv metropolitan area (Gush Dan),” the IDF reported on Twitter.

10: 45 am – Army radio reports that a rocket hit a house in the Eshkol Regional Council; damage, but no reports of injury.

8:55 am – “At least two rockets fell in open areas north of Zikhron Ya’akov, just 37 km south of Haifa, in what was the longest reaching rocket attack since Operation Protective Edge began late Monday,” Israel’s Ynet News reported.

Zikhron Ya’akov is 120 km north of Gaza.

8:44 am – Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced that Israel’s campaign against Hamas will expand in the next few days.

“We are continuing to carry out attacks that are exacting a heavy price from Hamas,” Ya’alon said. “We are destroying [Hamas’] arms, terrorist infrastructure, command and control systems, institutions, government buildings, terrorists’ homes, and we are killing terrorists in the organizational high command.”

8:41 am – Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sounded a defiant tone on Wednesday.”The IDF is prepared for any eventuality,” he said. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for it’s firing at Israeli citizens. The army is strong, the homefront is fortified, and the people are united.”

“That combination is our response to the terrorist groups who want to hurt us.”

8:34 am – The IDF published details of its missions in Gaza last night:

Overnight, as part of the ongoing operation “Protective Edge”, the IDF targeted approximately 160 terror sites throughout the Gaza Strip.

Among the terror targets the IDF struck are: 118 concealed rocket launching sites, consisting of long-range rockets launchers; weapon storage facilities; 10 tunnels, out of which 7 terror tunnels and 3 smuggling tunnels; 6 Hamas official facilities, and 10 terror command positions.

Since operation “Protective Edge” embarked on July 7, the IDF has targeted approximately 440 targets, with both Naval and Aerial capabilities.

Over the course of the night, a joint IDF-ISA operation led to the successful IAF targeting of Hafez Hamid, 77′, a commander in the Islamic Jihad. Hamid was responsible for the recent rocket attacks against Sderot.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesman:  “Overnight, terror organizations in the Gaza Strip suffered a severe blow, as the numerous IDF strikes in Gaza managed to significantly impair terrorist capabilities and prevent possible schemes against Israelis. The targets have been selected specifically following long-term intelligence efforts indicating a direct link between them and terrorist infrastructure. ”

Yesterday evening, terrorist organizations operating in Gaza launched a salvo of 45 rockets at major Israeli cities, reaching as far as Hadera, located 116 km from Gaza. The rocket that hit Hadera is an M-302 type rocket, similar to the ones found onboard the Klos-c, a vessel on which was an Iranian shipment of advanced weaponry intended for terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip the IDF intercepted on March 5. Onboard the Klos-C were forty M-302 rockets reaching up-to the range of 160 kilometers.

Overnight, 4 more rockets were fired at Israel; all hit southern Israel.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesman:  “Last night, the majority of Israel’s population was put under immediate danger as Gaza terrorists fired rockets at major Israeli cities. Despite the turmoil, we will not forget that residents of southern Israel have been suffering from unremitting fire for several years. Since 2014 began, about 500 rockets were fired at Israel. Operation “Protective Edge” will prolong until the fire at Israel ceases, and once we succeed in significantly depleting terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.”

PREAMBLE: 7:52 am: Early on Tuesday 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.

Since the start of the initiative Israel has targeted some 440 terror sites and seen rockets fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Gedera. More than 3 million Israelis are under threat of rocket attacks and many spent the night in bomb shelters.

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