Massive rocket onslaught on Israel

15 seconds to run to shelter in Sderot

15 seconds to run to shelter in Sderot

An unprecedented 80-rocket barrage hit Israel within the space of a few hour this evening, with 30 rockets being shot within 10 minutes:

Hamas fired over 30 rockets in a ten-minute period into Israel on Monday, with hits reported in Sha’ar HaNegev, the Eshkol Region, Netivot, Sderot, and Be’er Sheva between 8:00 – 8:10 pm IST.

The rocket count has escalated to over 80 on Monday evening aloneWalla! News reports close to 10:30 pm Monday; the Iron Dome missile defense system has shot down 12-13 of them over Ashdod and Netivot.

No buildings were reportedly damaged. An Askelon woman and her child are being treated for shrapnel injuries; several Ashdod residents were treated for shock.

“Code red” sirens have reportedly been sounded as of 8:30 pm as far as Tel Aviv and in Gush Etzion; rockets could be seen from as far away as Beit Shemesh, just west of Jerusalem, eyewitnesses told Arutz Sheva.

Magen David Adom (MDA) has raised the alert level as of Monday night throughout central Israel.

In addition, preschools, universities, and summer camps without bomb shelters in Ashkelon, Beit Shemesh, and Kiryat Malachi have been closed until the situation is quieted.

Ben Gurion University (BGU) and Sapir College in Be’er Sheva have both been closed until further notice.

At least 2,400 people were also evacuated from a summer camp near Kiryat Gat, out of security concerns and due to the ongoing rocket fire.

Apparently the Code Red alerts in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were false alarms but not in Gush Etzion (where my daughter lives, and who was home alone terrified when the siren went off) nor in Bet Shemesh (Bet Shemesh! Central Israel!).

I just saw on the TV news that the Premature baby Unit of Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva was being evacuated. And now I just found a short link to the report:

The premature babies in the Beersheba Soroka Medical Center are transferred to a ward that doubles as a bomb shelter ahead of further rocket attacks, Channel 10 reports.

Soroka Preemie Baby Unit evacuated for fear of more rocket attacks

Soroka Preemie Baby Unit evacuated for fear of more rocket attacks

What kind of situation is this, what kind of enemy are we facing, that sees no problem in targeting hospitals?

– It’s OK, don’t answer that question. We all know what kind of enemy this is. An inhuman, barbaric, immoral, blood-thirsty and viciously antisemitic enemy, known by the name of Hamas. Otherwise known as Palestinians.

Israeli tanks mass on the Gaza border

Israeli tanks mass on the Gaza border

The situation has now escalated to such an extent that the IDF are finally preparing for a serious response:

Government officials decided Monday to increase strikes against Hamas in Gaza and call up additional troops, as southern Israel braced for expanded rocket fire following the deaths of several terror operatives in Gaza overnight.

DF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the military had called up 1,500 reserves troops, mostly from the Home Front Command and Iron Dome air defense crews, and deployed two additional conscripted infantry brigades, Paratroops and Givati, to the border with the Palestinian enclave Monday. The army, Lerner said, was still in a defensive position but has shifted its readiness in order to address an escalation in the ongoing conflict with the Gaza Strip.Though ministers did not decide on a ground incursion or large scale operation, they warned one could be in the offing if rocket fire did not cease, Israeli media reported.

What do they mean by “if”? The rocket fire has not ceased – not since this round began, despite repeated Israeli warnings. At what point will they decide that it has reached critical mass?

The decision followed the death of some six Hamas members overnight, in what the military said was a “work accident,” when an explosive-laden tunnel that was hit in an Israeli airstrike several days earlier exploded.

Three other terror operatives were reported killed in other Israeli strikes.

On Monday afternoon, senior ministers in Israel’s security cabinet voted to instruct the IDF to increase air raids against targets in Gaza, following a meeting in Jerusalem.

Ministers warned that the increase in violence could bring rocket fire to the Gush Dan region of central Israel, news site NRG reported. The area, which includes the heavily populated cities of Tel Aviv and Rishon Lezion, last saw rocket fire in 2012 during Operation Pillar of Defense.

Residents in areas within 40 kilometers of Gaza, including Ashdod and Beersheba, were instructed not to hold any large gatherings and to stay near bomb shelters.

Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire have been scaled back, meanwhile, The Times of Israel was told.

Lerner said within the army there is now “a preparedness for escalation,” in contrast to last week when the IDF wished to convey a message of a defensive deployment.

The move to bolster troops outside Gaza and increase Israeli operations against the Strip came after several days of intense Palestinian rocket fire. The military said Monday afternoon that some 50 projectiles had been launched at Israel in the course of the day, adding to dozens shot the day before. The major barrage of 60 rockets, deeper into Israel, came later in the evening.

Most landed in open areas and several were shot down by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. Lerner said Hamas was behind most of the rocket fire in recent days.

Israeli planes have run almost nightly sorties against targets in Gaza and earlier this week forces hit a tunnel in Gaza that was about to be used for an attack against Israel, Lerner said.

Hamas operatives attempted to access that tunnel overnight Sunday, “and they meddled with their own explosives,” causing a detonation that led to their deaths, Lerner said.

“We understand that there is a potential of escalation” on account of the deaths, he said.

Military officials say about 200 rockets have been fired at southern Israel since the start of the operation.

Earlier Monday, a Hamas official said it would not agree to a ceasefire unless detainees arrested in the crackdown were released. The group also released a video calling on “settlers” in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba to “flee before it is too late.”

On Saturday night, Hamas warned it could hit any Israeli city with its missiles.

I wish I understood what the motivations of Hamas are. Why have they chosen this particular moment to escalate tensions with Israel? Why are they provoking us when they know they will be beaten once again? What do they have to gain from this all? Even the Palestinians are fed up with Hamas’s antics.

Despite this intense rocket barrage which has effectively paralysed normal life in southern Israel (and not-so-southern, considering the missiles have reached as far north as Ashdod with regularity and sirens are blaring further north too), don’t expect too much support from the Americans despite their resounding statements of support for “Israel’s right to defend itself”:

The United States issued a message of support for Israel on Monday amid an onslaught of rockets on its South, condemning “the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations” in the Gaza Strip.

“We support Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

But the message, consistent with previous US responses after rocket barrages from either Lebanon or Gaza, was coupled with a strong urge of restraint against escalating the conflict.

The Obama administration fears a wider Israeli military campaign against Hamas in Gaza might destabilize political control in the Palestinian Authority, with riots in the West Bank reminding many of past intifadas.

I have yet to hear an explanation of how the support of Israel’s right to defend itself can be squared with urges of restraint. The two statements are contradictory and cannot both be fulfilled simultaneously.

Perhaps the time has finally come when Israel should demand restraint from the Americans in their drone-bombing campaign against Iraq and Afghanistan.

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14 Responses to Massive rocket onslaught on Israel

  1. Brian Goldfarb says:

    “What do they by ‘if’?” They mean keep the bastards guessing as to what, when and how they are going to be hammered, because hammered they will be. Why else are Hamas bleating about a cease-fire? Or whether they want one.

    There’s supposed to have been a cease-fire since one was agreed at the end of Pillar of Cloud, so why do Hamas need one now? Because they only honour cease-fires when it suits them, of course, and they broke the current one months ago.

    I just hope that the retaliation doesn’t need boots on the ground, or not until the military has been so successfully hammered that it’s only a mopping-up operation.

    • anneinpt says:

      I too hope the response doesn’t require boots on the ground for the selfish reason that a very close relative is down there at the moment with his unit. But I fear that without boots on the ground this will just be another round in a never-ending but ever-escalating series.

      The only way to uproot Hamas is to enter Gaza and pick them off one by one – or in bunches if we get them in a tunnel.

  2. Reality says:

    I love the bit ” to stop escalation”! The escalation will be stopped when rockets no longer fall onto Israel & people can drive freely, live where they want to, & enjoy life to the full. This by the way includes Arabs,Palestinians,druse,Sudanis, Eritreans who live where the rockets are falling too. Eli Moyal ,mayor of Sderot spoke very well last night on the news. He said ” I don’t care what you do -he tells Bibi. If you need to talk to Haniyeh,talk to him,if you need to carpet bomb Gaza do it & yes innocent people will be killed(are there any left in Gaza apart from babies). The newscaster was shocked at his words. He said why are you shocked -can our children carry on living like this? They are scared constantly that they will be killed or their parents. So do what you have to do or leave the government for someone else to do it,even if its a government that I helped elect. We put you in power to protect us the citizens of Israel ,not to listen to outside forces of the world. We know what they will say & it doesn’t interest me. Bring us peace and quiet forever.Then the newscaster stupidly said that they had 1 1/2 years of quiet (as if what are you complaining about!) He repeated his words saying that the 14 & 15 yr old kids had never known another type of life& if it means clearing out the entire south -if thats what the government wants then so be it because life cannot continue like that anymore.

    • anneinpt says:

      Kol hakavod to the mayor. The people living in the Tel Aviv bubble have no idea what it’s like to live under constant fire (I include myself in that bubble), to have life disrupted, psychological problems with children and adults too, the economy going down the drain, the agricultural damage, the traumatised animals even.

      Restraint! If I hear that word again I shall scream. If the Americans can allow themselves to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq to smithereens how dare they call on us to restrain ourselves in the face of murderers right on our doorstep and in our midst!

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Now we know what the israelis mean by “if”: – overnight and continuing hammering of Hamas rocket sights. They can run but they can’r hide,

    • anneinpt says:

      Excellent! But they can run and they do hide. That’s why Khaled Mashaal is still alive.

      • Earl says:

        Fortunately for the Hamas. As Bibi dithered and the terrorists slithered off, the IDF manged to bomb a few dozen empty, abandoned buildings.

        It appears that Reality’s earlier comment was prescient and correct- the IL government’s response to date has been utterly theatrical and… “proportional” (spit). A few “Palestinians” received slight shrapnel wounds, but not a single terrorist killed.

        • anneinpt says:

          That tally can happily be updated to at least 9 terrorists if not more by now. But still, you’re right and so is Reality. It needs to be escalated. On the other hand, if we go in hard right from the start, the international pressure will start immediately too. Escalating slowly might give us more time.

          On the third hand, why the hell do we listen to international pressure and let them dictate to us? Why on earth don’t we ignore them? This is something I am at a loss to understand.

          As for the UN, the world, whoever – they’re all terrified of ISIS and the other jihadis. So here is a tiny brave little country fighting those very people – and they want to restrain us! Incomprehensible.

          Unless of course we consider the J word and the A word. i.e. If it’s Jews getting killed (G-d forbid) then they’re happy that the terrorists will do their dirty work. Which brings us to the A word – antisemitism.

  4. RRW says:

    In a discussion I held recently, this is what someone had to say for the reason of the timing of the latest onslaught:
    Hamas started during the search in Hebron for the missing teenagers – as a way of ‘moral’ support for Hebron terrorists, and slowly as the search went on, they upped the pressure. Hamas is also in dire need of financial support – now that Egypt is hammering down on Hamas, and also other Arab powers are angry at Hamas for supporting the Syrian rebels. All current finances are being tunneled now to Syria and to Iraq/ISIS threat. By pulling in Israel to pummel them – Hamas is bringing back attention to themselves – thereby hopefully getting back financial support (for producing more rockets etc) that they desperately need.
    This would explain Bibi’s dithering. If he doesn’t attack back, Hamas, continues to pound us – but with no response from us – would not get back any financial support. – therefore the restraint. But at the same time 1m citizens in Israel are suffering. If he does respond, (as he is doing now) – then eventually, Hamas gets their ‘prize’ and financial support back.
    Personally, IMHO, as advice to Bibi I would take the following action:
    a) Close all entrances from Israel side to Gaza – nothing in, nothing out.
    b) Turn off all water from Israel
    c) Turn off all electricity supplies from Israel
    d) Turn off all gas supplies from Israel.
    e) Do not allow in any medical supplies from Israel to Gaza ( as part of point ‘a’) above.
    f) Go after Hamas leadership – blow up from the air all Hamas leadership houses and streets.
    The shooting of rockets would continue for a few more days – but eventually – hopefully – due to local population pressure – the shooting will stop.
    If it doesn’t stop – then go to the next steps:
    g) Random Artillery shots after every rocket fired.
    h) Ground Incursion
    Here’s hoping we don’t get to point ‘h’ ….

    • anneinpt says:

      Very interesting analysis RRW and it all makes sense.

      However – why doesn’t Bibi address the nation or give a press conference to explain his restraint? There’s no secret in any of this! It would give him the national support and backing for his restraint and ease the pressure on himself if nothing else.

      His silence is unnerving everyone. And now Liberman has left the gov’t..

  5. DavidinPT says:

    I completely agree with RRW’s analysis. Hamas is in a financial corner, where they can’t pay their salaries or bring in goods thanks to the blockade imposed both by Israel and Egypt. So by hoping to drag us in to a heavy attack they hope (or know from previous experience) that when the guns fall silent the world will insist on streaming so-called humanitarian aid to them in the form of supplies and cash. Secondly, they have no hope of winning an air war. But if they can provoke Israel into a ground war, they believe that the odds will move towards favouring them. So Israel’s best bet is to not let that provocation work (except as a last resort) and keep pounding them from the air while picking off their leaders and “fighters” also from the air, (as we just did 30 minutes ago, killing 4 of them). However, surprisingly, I haven’t heard anything in the media about us cutting off water, electricity, gas etc. A reduction in power and water to the civil (so-called) population in the Gaza Strip might concentrate their minds towards demanding that Hamas cease fire. Not much fun in July to be without air-conditioning, fans and water! One further point: I believe Israel should announce to Gaza and the World that from now on any civilian building from which a rocket is fired will be treated as a military target and flattened immediately, irrespective of an civilians being there. Netanyahu himself should announce he’s taking responsibility for this strategy, thus taking all the “war crime” pressure personally and giving the military legal cover. Israel will never allow him to be prosecuted in The Hague.

    • anneinpt says:

      I’m with you. Now just persuade our leaders and we’ll all be fine.

    • Reality says:

      Bibi is too terrified to take blame/credit for flattening any”civilian house”which had rockets fired from it.(Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?If rockets are fired from a building,then I wouldn’t call it civilian!)He’s terrified he’ll be tried as a war criminal in the Hague whenever he jet sets around the wirld.I just don’t get why we don’t start criminal proceedings too against Abbas,Haniyeh anyone else….

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