OPERATION ‘PROTECTIVE EDGE’ DAY 4: Gaza Rocket Attacks and Israel Strikes on Hamas Targets Continue as Shabbat Begins (LIVE UPDATES)
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 details on the rocket attacks that led to Israel’s operation click here. To read Tuesday’s live blog (now closed) click here. To read Wednesday’s live blog (now closed) click here. To read yesterday’s live blog (now closed) click here. 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 Shabbat. For live updates on Operation Protective Edge click here.
5:27 pm – The IDF reported that 140 rockets were fired at Israel on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge. Of them, 107 hit Israel, and 27 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Meanwhile, the Israel Air Force struck 235 terror-related targets in the Gaza Strip.
3:39 pm – Two Israelis were injured in a rocket attack on Beersheba, according to Israeli media reports.
3:07 pm – From the IDF on Twitter: “4 rockets fired from Gaza to Beersheba: 1 hit a house, injuring a woman. 2 were intercepted by the Iron Dome, and 1 hit an open area.”
2:12 pm – As he answered questions from reporters during his press conference earlier today Netanyahu pointed to the current war in Gaza as an indication of the dangers that come with Israeli territorial concessions, The Times of Israel reported.
“He… used the dangers posed by Hamas in Gaza to underline his opposition to security concessions urged by Kerry and the international community in the West Bank,” the paper reported. “Since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, a move he opposed, Hamas had created a terrorist bunker there. ‘So we have to take care of Hamas.'”
2:04 pm – Two rockets were intercepted above the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, the IDF confirmed on Twitter.
12:39 pm – AIPAC, America’s top pro-Israel lobby applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing a forceful resolution affirming Israel’s right to self-defense and holding Hamas responsible for attacks on Israel. The group’s full statement is below:
AIPAC praises the House of Representatives for passing a forceful resolution affirming Israel’s right to self-defense and holding Hamas responsible for the attacks on America’s democratic ally. House resolution (H.Res.657) was spearheaded by Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Tom Cole (R-OK).
In addition to reaffirming its support for Israel’s defense of its citizens, the House condemns the “unprovoked rocket fire at Israel” and calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel. The resolution further indicates that Iran has long provided material support to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to produce long range missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. To combat these threats, the resolution notes that the U.S. and Israel have cooperated on missile defense projects, including Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the Arrow Anti-Missile System.
In the Senate, a resolution defending Israel’s right to defend her citizens against terrorist attacks, (S. Res. 498), has been introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Charles Schumer (D-NY). It is expected to be voted on next week.
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to defend its citizens against hundreds of rockets that Islamist terrorists have launched from Gaza. Prior to this operation, Israel made multiple efforts to defuse the situation with Hamas, but was rebuffed repeatedly. Hamas, moreover, is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state. Hamas has targeted Israelis in numerous cities, including the major population centers of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, putting the majority of Israelis at risk.
12:35 pm – Prime Minister Netanyahu’s full statement made earlier today at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv is posted below:
This is the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge. The IDF, the ISA and the security forces are fighting Hamas with increasing intensity. As of now, we have hit over 1,000 Hamas’, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations’ targets, and we are still busy.
The pace of attacks in this operation is double that of Operation Pillar of Defense and the military strikes will continue until we can be certain that the quiet has returned to Israeli citizens. I would like to make it clear that no terrorist target in the Gaza Strip is immune but it must be pointed out that Hamas’s leaders, commanders and activists are hiding behind the residents of Gaza and they are responsible for any injury to them. The difference between us is simple. We develop defensive systems against missiles in order to protect our civilians and they use their civilians to protect their missiles. And this is the entire difference: They fire indiscriminately at our civilians and our cities in order to attack them. Sometimes they hit soldiers by mistake. We strike at their armed forces and sometimes we hit civilians by mistake.
I made this point – and many others – clear in recent days in the conversations I have held with major world leaders. I had a good conversation last night with US President Barack Obama, also with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I had good talks with all of them, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Prime Minister David Cameron, and of course with French President Francois Hollande. To all of them I said something simple – no country would accept its civilians being fired at without a harsh response. I said that I would not allow Israel’s citizens to live in this reality. No international pressure will prevent us from operating with full force against a terrorist organization that calls for our destruction.
We will continue to strongly hit all those who try to attack us and we will continue to take determined and prudent action to protect our home front, the citizens of the State of Israel. Iron Dome is a great asset to our national security and I think that it is additional proof of the technological superiority of the State of Israel. This is one of the more impressive developments in defensive war materiel in recent decades. In recent years, my governments – this is my second government – have invested billions in home front defense; Iron Dome was a considerable portion of this sum, and we are working to cover the entire country with systems that can intercept missiles from any distance.
And perhaps the most important defense in the end, with certainty, is your strength, citizens of Israel. The strength that you have been showing helps us in conducting this operation in a responsible and sagacious manner. I ask only one thing of you – continue to listen to the instructions of IDF Home Front Command, they both save lives and prevent Hamas from realizing the goals that it has set. We will continue to do whatever we need to guard over you but I also ask you to do what is necessary in order to guard your lives and those of your children. I am proud of the way in which you have been conducting yourselves and I am proud of your support. I am proud to be your Prime Minister.
12:05 pm – Earlier today the IDF posted this video of a targeted strike on Islamic Jihad militants riding in a car in Gaza:
11:30 am – “Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed on Friday that Israel would continue its military offensive in the Gaza Strip until Jerusalem can ensure that all rocket fire on Israeli towns would cease,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
11:27 am – “When I see the great response of our boys and girls, soldiers in reserve and mandatory services, being called to the flag, my heart is moved,” Israel’s President Peres tweeted.
11:25 am – So far today, over 70 rockets were fired from Gaza; 18 of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome, the IDF said on Twitter.
10:22 am – IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said Friday that the military was ready for a possible ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, and was awaiting instructions from the political leadership, Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported.
“Nothing is stopping us from moving forward,” Gantz said during a tour of a Paratroopers training base. “The IDF is not waiting for the last straw to go on a ground offensive, it’s waiting on political instruction.”
9:01 am – A man with disabilities was severely injured and seven more people were lightly injured this morning when a rocket fired from Gaza hit an Ashdod gas station, starting a massive fire. Read more here.
8:49 am – The IDF released the following summary of its overnight missions:
Over the past 24 hours, Hamas terrorism has intensified its continuous targeting of Israeli civilians, by firing nearly 200 rockets from the Gaza Strip. Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, nearly 550 rockets have been fired towards Israel. The rocket attacks have been aimed at Israeli cities and towns, from northern Israel to the southern Negev. Over the past few days, the Hamas terror organization has also deliberately fired rocket barrages at major population centers during morning and evening rush hours, thus challenging the ability of Israeli civilians to safely make it to shelter, a challenge being met by both passive and active defensive measures of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
As part of the ongoing Operation Protective Edge, over the course of the past 24 hours, the IDF has targeted approximately 210 sites in the Gaza Strip that are identified with terror activities and operations.
Among the sites targeted by the IDF are: long-range rocket launchers, Hamas leadership facilities, terror and smuggling tunnels, fuel-smuggling tunnels, compounds and training sites, communications facilities, air defense elements, concealed launchers, and additional sites used for terror activities targeting Israel, including command and control centers.
Since Operation Protective Edge began on July 7, the IDF targeted approximately 1090 sites, doing so from both air and sea.
Furthermore, in cooperation with the Israel Security Agency (ISA), the IDF targeted the residences of senior terror operatives, which were used for the purposes of advancing terror activities and operations, including command and control of the Hamas terror network.
Among those targeted was the residence of Attiya Abu Nakira, a senior terror operative in the Rafah area, responsible for numerous attacks on Israel. Abu Nakira, born in 1976, oversaw all Hamas terror activity in his territory, including the establishment of a terror network in the Rafah area and the training of terror operatives, contributing to the overall strengthening of Hamas. Attacks executed by Abu Nakira included rocket attacks on Israel, rocket firing on IDF forces (including tanks and aircraft), a major tunnel-based explosive attack against an IDF position in 2001, and attacks against Israel during operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense.
Furthermore, a Hamas training facility, which was adjacent to a school, was also targeted. Israeli intelligence services have reported the presence of rockets in the school, as well as the presence of an on-site terror tunnel. The Salah Al-Islamiah Society also carried out functions at this site, evidence of the way in which Hamas carries out terrorism under the presumed-cover of civilian facilities.
The Israel Defense Forces will continue to systematically target Hamas’ network and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, so as to strike a severe blow to the terror organization responsible for nearly 550 rocket attacks on Israeli civilians since the start of Operation Protective Edge, and thousands more rockets and additional attacks over the years. Thus far, the IDF has greatly damaged Hamas capabilities in the Gaza Strip and will continue to target Hamas and all who engage in terrorism against the residents of Israel.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesman: “Whereas Israel safeguards Israeli civilians with its military capabilities, the Hamas safeguards its terror capabilities with Palestinian civilians while carrying out terrorism against the people of Israel, a deplorable and gross violation of the most basic of standards.”
PREAMBLE: 7:46 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 hundreds of terror sites and seen rockets fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Gedera. More than 6 million Israelis are under threat of rocket attacks and many spent the nights in bomb shelters.