Apologies for the delay in this update. I ended up being out of town for Shabbat and am still catching up.
I had planned to stay home (home is Petach Tikva, a town about 15 km east of Tel Aviv) for Shabbat, even with my husband away on business, and was invited out for Shabbat meals. On Friday midday my older daughter called inviting me for Shabbat (she lives in a town in the Shomron, aka Samaria aka West Bank). I reassured her that I was fine. “No”, she explained, her husband, a Rabbi and officer in the IDF, was called in to stay on base for Shabbat because of a sudden change of plans, (no surprise there considering the situation) so would I come to keep her (and 5 noisy kids) company. I dithered a bit until I heard another missile hit Tel Aviv – this time I heard the actual explosion although no siren was operated here – and that made up my mind. Off to the Wild and Woolly West Bank I went.
From the above link:
Leehee Goldenberg was having lunch at an outdoor cafe in Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest metropolis, when an air-raid siren wailed. She and other diners knew the drill: They dashed inside the coffee shop and kept away from the windows. Then, from a distance, came the boom. Minutes later, everyone was back outdoors, chatting loudly.
“It’s kind of unbelievable,” said Goldenberg, a 31-year-old lawyer. “In Tel Aviv we always feel like we live in a different world.”
For Israelis, the targeting of Tel Aviv is a direct puncture of the bubble of normalcy they have built around the city. Whenever it occurs, the outrage expressed in the media and on the street is palpable, as if what is acceptable in the southern desert or even in Jerusalem is inconceivable in a place so painstakingly trying to be “normal.”
Tel Avivians were caught by surprise Thursday when sirens wailed in the city for the first time in more than two decades — exhibiting a paradox of moving on despite the outrage that seemed somehow of a peace with the lovingly nurtured image of the city.
In high-rise office buildings, workers froze in silence for a few seconds before quickly and calmly walking down the stairwells to their buildings’ shelters. Some murmured “I don’t believe it” while reaching for their phones to call loved ones. Several mobile networks crashed from overload.
People parked their cars on the side of the Ayalon intercity highway, taking cover against concrete walls. Later, nightlife raged on.
On Friday morning, rockets were fired for a second day, catching Israelis lounging in their favorite cafes and restaurants.
“Everybody just got up and went inside, there was no panic, and when it was over they went back to their plates,” said Rina Kol, a schoolteacher dining near Tel Aviv’s largest open-air market.
The scenes of lively normalcy in Tel Aviv were surprising to foreigners and recent immigrants. On trendy Rothschild Boulevard, home to many of the boxy 1930s Bauhaus-style buildings that earned the city a rare UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site, stores and shops were bustling.
“I come from a quiet country, and yesterday I heard sirens and had to run to a shelter for the first time in my life,” said Vivian Hamui, 21, who moved from Panama five months ago to study here. “I am still in shock at how Israelis take it — look, that guy is just drinking coffee, that one is playing his guitar.”
Turns out that the two quietest places in Israel over Shabbat were Petach Tikva and my daughter’s town in the Shomron.
My newly married daughter, living just outside Jerusalem, was “welcomed” with an air-raid siren and a distant blast just after Shabbat came in. Luckily we had just had a discussion on Thursday about the safest place to take shelter in her apartment in the unlikely event of an attack, so she felt slightly better-prepared.
From the above ToI link:
Residents of Jerusalem and neighboring towns told The Times of Israel that they were shaken, but not stirred, by the air-raid siren that jarred the pre-Sabbath silence that had descended on the city late Friday afternoon.
Merav Ceren said she was at her home in central Jerusalem after taking photos of a silent skyline when the siren went off. She admitted that she was initially confused, because moments before, the traditional siren marking the beginning of the Sabbath had sounded. Within seconds, however, the prolonged and shrill blast of the air-raid warning made her realize things were not as they should be.
Earlier Friday, Hamas had warned that “surprises” were in store for its Israeli enemies. The surprise — or at least one of them — turned out to be a rocket launched toward the capital, the first ever to reach such a distance.
It was later revealed that two rockets had fallen not in Jerusalem itself, but near the settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, 14 kilometers southwest of the capital. Hamas said the two rockets were made in Gaza, a prototype the terrorists call M-75, and have a range of about 80 kilometers (50 miles). They caused no damage or injuries.
Other reactions were more tongue-in-cheek. One Facebook user jokingly gave Hamas directions to the Holyland building complex in southern Jerusalem, considered by many locals to be a blot on the face of the city.
“Dear Hamas, the Holyland complex is located near the Golomb Junction. It is very big and tall and is lit at night. Many thanks, the Jerusalemites,” she wrote.
My older son, in another settlement in the Shomron, also welcomed the Shabbat to the dulcet sounds of an air-raid siren at the same time. We’re still not sure why their siren was triggered since they’re nowhere near Jerusalem. He describes the feeling of utter shock and unreality at hearing the siren when you’re least expecting it. That, and the pressure of finding shelter when you live in a caravan (otherwise known as a trailer). He was already in shul (synagogue) when the siren went off, so after a few minutes when it was clear that no missile was headed their way, he ran home to check on the family. He found them huddled in the corridor of the caravan outside the bedrooms. The younger children thought it was a bit of an adventure, but their older daughter was extremely scared.
A final family note – my 2nd son is slightly insulted that even Hamas consider PT so boring that it is not worth bombing.. Yay for boring is what I say!
Here is a more complete update on the highlights (or should I say lowlights?) of this fourth day of Operation Pillar of Cloud:
From the Times of Israel live-blog on Friday:
02:06 Gaza-based activists report via Twitter that the death toll in the Gaza Strip after three days of Operation Pillar of Defense has reached 30.
Magen David Adom told The Times of Israel that as of 11 p.m. on Friday, rocket attacks killed three Israelis, seriously wounded one, moderately injured two and lightly injured 15 since the beginning of the operation. Another 53 were treated by MDA paramedics for shock.
The IDF Spokesperson tells The Times of Israel that since Pillar of Defense commenced on Wednesday afternoon, the military has conducted more than 640 strikes on the Gaza Strip. It also reports that at least 410 rockets fired from Gaza exploded in Israel, and that the Iron Dome missile system intercepted an additional 206 rockets.
AFP reports multiple IAF strikes on Hamas cabinet headquarters in Gaza City, with eyewitnesses reporting massive damage to the building.
From Saturday’s live-blog:
06:09 AFP reports multiple IAF strikes on Hamas cabinet headquarters in Gaza City, with eyewitnesses reporting massive damage to the building.
06:19 Al Arabiya reports that an IAF strike has targeted the house of Hamas leader Ibrahim Salah in Gaza City.
Multiple injuries reported.
07:23 The Israeli Air Force strikes 186 terror sites in the Gaza Strip overnight, including Hamas cabinet headquarters and numerous rocket launching sites, reports Ynet.
Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday, the IDF has conducted some 830 strikes in Gaza.
07:43 Israelis who live some 40 kilometers or more from Gaza, including residents of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, are advised by Homefront Command to go on with their daily lives this Saturday, but to make sure they have a safe space set up and accessible in case of any further attacks.
Israelis with no public shelter near them are advised to enter the innermost room in their home upon hearing sirens — the room with the fewest windows and exterior walls.
People living above the second floor of a building are advised to move down to the second-floor stairwell, which is the most protected part of any building, according to officials.
After the sirens abate, residents are advised to stay in their safe spaces for 10 minutes.
08:20 Channel 10 reports that 20,000 IDF reservists have already been called up, less than 12 hours after the cabinet approved the increase of reserves mobilization to 75,000 troops.
12:39 IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai says Hamas field operatives are taking cover in hospitals and mosques in light of Israeli airstrikes, according to Channel 2 News.
Tal Russo, head of the IDF’s Southern Command, has declared the area bordering the Gaza Strip to be a closed-military zone. People should not enter, unless they have permits or live in communities within the proximity.
Read the items between 13:12 and 13:59 – it is barely more than a continuous list of sirens and rocket falls, depicting so clearly the reality of life in the south of Israel. How anyone could think that a country should suffer this without reaction is unconscionable.
From the Times of Israel’s second part of Saturday’s live-blog:
16:16 The Israeli Air Force destroyed a rocket launcher that shot at the center of Israel. It was an Iranian rocket, with a range of 60 km, that Islam Jihad assembles in Gaza, according to Channel 10 News’ analyst Alon Ben-David on Twitter.
16:38 Air-raid sirens are going off in the Greater Tel Aviv area for the third consecutive day. Residents are advised to seek cover.
16:39 Israel’s Channel 2 reports successful interception of rocket fired at Tel Aviv by the Iron Dome missile battery. A second rocket landed in an unpopulated area.
The IDF installed the new battery in the Gush Dan region just earlier today, after Hamas targeted the central city twice in the last two days.
In a sign of Israel’s humanity (and some would call insanity):
20:09 Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and Gaza to be opened tomorrow morning to allow the transfer of food and medical supplies into the Hamas controlled enclave. The arrangements for opening the crossing made in coordination with the IDF, representatives of the Palestinian Authority and international mediators.
I can think of no other country who would feed its enemies’ citizens. I don’t wish the innocent civilians of Gaza to starve or suffer, but they elected their Hamas government, and they have a co-religionist neighbouring country, Egypt, who has a border with them and could send them aid. I see no reason why Israelis’ hard-earned tax shekels should be spent on feeding people who would like to see us dead.
The army has hit some 950 targets in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the operation, including symbols of Hamas power, such as the prime minister’s office, in the last day. They have also taken out a number of rocket launchers and missile arsenals.
Speaking to reporters about an hour ago, Southern Command head Tal Russo said the army had wiped out much of Hamas’s arsenal, especially their long range rockets.
Still, 150 rockets were fired at Israel Saturday, four of which hit homes. Ten people were lightly injured in the attacks. The total Israeli death toll is three, with dozens more injured, since the beginning of the operation.
Palestinians report that 40 people in the Strip have been killed, including 17 civilians, and hundreds more injured.
More insanity from our self-hating leftists:
21:42 Hundreds of people are rallying in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square against the conflict with Gaza.
Holding signs reading “No fly zone over Palestine,” and “children in Gaza and Sderot want to live,” the protesters demonstrated against Israel’s Pillar of Defense operation, which is threatening to escalate into a ground war.
Later on this evening, talk turned to the possibility of a ceasefire:
21:58 Channel 2 analyst Ehud Yaari says Arab media outlets are reporting Israel and Hamas may be closing in on a ceasefire. According to the report, which is unconfirmed and based on sources close to Hamas, an Israeli representative is on his way to Cairo to work out the deal.
Included in the agreement would be the opening of Gaza crossings and an end to the blockade on the Strip in exchange for a ceasefire, Yaari said.
Yaari earlier reported that Hamas had rejected an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal, and were demanding an end to the blockade and to Israel’s policy of carrying out targeted killings.
According to Ynet’s report, Egyptian President Morsi claims there are indications of a ceasefire, but Israel responds that there is no “outline for such a lull”:
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said at a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday that “there are indications of an imminent cessation of combat between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Morsi said that countries such as the US, France, Russia and Italy were involved in efforts to reach a ceasefire.
A senior state official told Ynet’s defense analyst Ron Ben-Yishai that Morsi and Erdogan are indeed engaged in efforts to bring about a ceasefire and are in contact with Hamas officials in Cairo. Nevertheless he stressed that there is no outline for a ceasefire anytime soon.
Other state officials said that it will soon become evident whether a lull has been achieved or not. “The objectives have yet to be met, the IDF has more goals,” one Israeli official said.
“The IDF is planning to expand its activity against terror targets in Gaza on Saturday night,” he added. State officials said that the main goal was and remains the cessation of rocket fire on the south.
Much as I hate war and am terrified of the consequences of a ground invasion of Gaza, I sincerely hope Israel does not sign a ceasefire with Hamas and its other terrorist allies until all the rockets have been eliminated and the terrorist leaders killed or arrested. If we stop too soon we will only have to repeat this exercise in a couple of years down the line. We’ve been here to often to think it will be any different this time.
May Hashem protect our soldiers and citizens, and may He give our leaders the sense and the wisdom to make the right decisions for Israel.
A little something to give us hope: my nephew Hanan noted this verse in today’s Haftarah (reading from the Prophets), Malachi ch. 1 v. 5:
ועיניכם תראינה ואתם תאמרו יגדל ה’ מעל לגבול ישראל
“And your eyes will see and you will say “G-d will be exalted over the borders of Israel”.