I was living in hope and praying that there would be no Israeli casualties in Operation Amud Annan but sadly this was not to be.
And events overtook me before I managed to publish this post. The death toll in Kiryat Malachi is now four.
UPDATE: The number has thankfully been revised back to three, which is still terrible enough. Thank you to commenter Phillip Pasmanick who brought this to my attention.
A direct hit on a house in Kiryat Malachi has killed 3 Israeli civilians and wounded a baby and a 4 year old:
Gaza terrorists continued to fire rockets into southern Israel on Thursday morning killing three people and injuring two others in Kiryat Malachi.
In total, some 132 rockets have been fired from Gaza into the South in the last 24 hours after the IDF launched a campaign Wednesday to root out the terror infrastructure in the coastal territory, beginning with the targeted killing of Ahmed Jabari, the chief of Hamas’s military wing.
MDA paramedics treated five wounded people at the site of the Kiryat Malachi attack, in which a rocket hit a four-story building. Three people were pronounced dead on the scene and two others were suffering from moderate injuries, including a baby.
A house in Ashdod and a school in Ofakim near Beersheba also sustained damage from rockets on Thursday morning. Rockets also landed in the Eshkol Regional Council area, Gan Yavne and Ashkelon.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office stated Thursday morning that the Iron Dome rocket defense system successfully intercepted 13 rockets since midnight. The system had intercepted a further 30 rockets on Wednesday night.
The IAF continued to strike in Gaza overnight Wednesday, striking over 100 terror targets. The strikes targeted Hamas rocket arsenals throughout the territory.
Palestinian sources said that 13 people were killed in Gaza as a result of the IAF strikes, with more than a hundred suffering injuries.
Schools within 40 km. of the Gaza Strip were declared closed Thursday, and residents were urged to follow directives from the IDF Home Front Command. Magen David Adom paramedics treated 13 Israelis for injuries suffered overnight prior to the fatal strike in Kiryat Malachi, the organization said. Of the injured, four suffered light wounds while nine more suffered shock symptoms.
Gaza-border communities are in lockdown, with residents ordered to remain in their homes if they live within 7 km. of Gaza.
Explosions have been reported as far away as Dimona, some 75 km. from the Gaza Strip.
Click the map below or drag it to show where missiles have been landing over the last few days and overnight.
Arutz Sheva explains that the victims in Kiryat Malachi “were among a large group that had taken refuge in an old building that suffered a direct hit from a Grad rocket”. It should be noted that only newer buildings have a “safe room”. Furthermore houses in areas not considered within rocket range (or rather, which have only very recently come within rocket range) have also not had safe rooms incorporated until very recently. My own house for example, though far from the missile fire, only has a communal shelter on the ground floor. If we had 15-30 seconds to run for shelter, there is no way any of us would make it to the shelter in time.
The Arutz Sheva also reports on the diplomatic fallout from this operation. Happily, the US is standing strongly by Israel:
The UN Security Council, at an emergency closed session, discussed the situation in Gaza without coming to any decisions. But during the meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the UN strongly defended Israel, saying that said there was no justification for the violence that “Hamas and other terrorist organizations” are aiming at Israel.
“We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately,” Rice said, adding that the rocket attacks were harming efforts to end the Middle East conflict and create a PA state. “Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that does nothing but set back the Palestinian cause,” said the US ambassador, who is considered a frontrunner to become the next US secretary of state. “Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza nor to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination and independence,” Rice said.
The Times of Israel also reports that Washington has said that it stands behind Israel’s right to defend itself:
“The prime minister expressed his deep appreciation for US President Obama’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a release.
Obama and Netanyahu agreed that Hamas needs to stop its attacks on Israel to allow tensions to ease, the White House said. The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch in the coming days.
Obama spoke separately to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, given Egypt’s central role in preserving regional security, the White House said. The two men agreed on the need to de-escalate the conflict as quickly as possible.
I don’t see how Egypt can possibly be considered an honest broker since it has recalled its amabassador to Israel in protest at Israel’s strikes against the terrorists. Plus, it never issued one word of condemnation of the hundreds of missiles shot at Israel over the past few days. De-escalation indeed.
“President Mohamed Morsi has followed the Israeli brutal assault in which a number of martyrs and sons of the Palestinian people were killed,” Ali said in a statement on television and his Facebook page.
“On this basis he has recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Israel, has ordered the Egyptian representative at the United Nations to call for an emergency meeting at the Security Council… and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Egypt in protest over the assault,” the statement added.
Later on Wednesday night, a spokesman for Morsi said the president had paid his condolences to the Palestinians killed in the air strikes.
Earlier on Wednesday, Morsi’s political adviser, Mohammad Seif el-Dawla, said the “Israeli aggression on Gaza” was also a blow against Egypt.
As I am writing this post I am hearing constant updates on Israel Radio about people suffering from shock after missile explosions in Kiryat Gat and other places.
Read the Muqata’s live-blog of Day 2 of Operation Pillar of Cloud (or Pillar of Defense) for constant updates. I will try and update (from work) if I hear any major breaking news.
Since today is Rosh Chodesh (1st of the month of) Kislev, the month in which Hannukah falls, may we have a similar victory to that which the Maccabees had over the Greeks. May the rest of the day go safely and quietly in the south of Israel, and may Hashem protect our soldiers and citizens.