Operation Protective Edge (I still hate that name!) entered its third day yesterday (10th July), and as in the previous days it started with a bang. Or rather, with several bangs as Hamas began with volleys of rockets towards the south and the Gush Dan (Tel Aviv) region at around 8 a.m., pretty certainly in order to catch civilians on their way to work or delivering their children to summer camps and nurseries. My day started with my parents calling me, telling me they’re taking shelter because the siren had gone off and they heard 4 booms. But I live only 5 minutes away and heard nothing! Not that I’m complaining, but go figure.
The day continued to be punctuated with rocket volleys of varying volume until this evening when once again huge salvoes of rockets were launched in all directions, this time particularly towards the Jerusalem area and, unusually, in its surrounding villages and settlements: Hebron, Kiryat Arba, Gush Etzion, and a bit peculiarly, the Dead Sea. I wonder what they hoped to hit there besides some mud.
Towns all over the south (dubbed the Eshkol region) were targeted by Hamas rocket fire once again. The southern cities of Beer Sheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon and their surrounding communities were hit particularly hard today, with several houses taking direct hits. In each and every case, the families escaped harm, either because they were taking shelter in their “safe room” or because they weren’t at home at all.
Another open miracle occurred when a car in Ashdod took a direct hit and the driver walked away unscathed.
Here are some highlights from the IDF blog:
11:30 PM: Today, 192 rockets were fired towards Israel. 141 of them hit Israel, and an additional 44 were intercepted by Iron Dome. The IDF struck over 210 terror targets.
9:17 PM: A few minutes ago, a rocket hit Ashdod.
Here’s what it looks like when you find yourself caught out in the street during a rocket attack:
9:07 PM: A short time ago, a house in Beer Sheva was hit by a rocket fired from Gaza. In the past hour, 20 rockets were fired at Israel.
Because we’re mad, and too good for our own good:
7:45 PM: The IDF keeps border crossing open all day despite 120 rockets being fired from Israel
6:10 PM: 4 rockets fired at Jerusalem; 2 intercepted and 2 land in an open field.
4:40 PM: The IDF targeted 3 Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza: Mahmoud Walud, Hazm Balusha & Alla’a Abd Al-Nabi. Al-Nabi was a senior PIJ terrorist who was responsible for launching rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv.
Just before 2 p.m.:
During the afternoon a Palestinian was arrested at a checkpoint in Samaria as he was trying to drive a makeshift car-bomb into Israel.
On a personal note, I know that checkpoint very well as I go through it every time I visit our son. That same son witnessed an Iron Dome shoot-down of 2 missiles over central Israel. Simultaneously my other son witnessed a similar Iron Dome take-down of a couple of rockets over the Gush Dan region. They were both fascinated and shaken by the sight. My phone’s whatssup has been working overtime today…
One of the saddest pictures I have seen from this war so far is this (h/t Vered):
The mother who posted the picture to Facebook wrote (translated from Hebrew):
During a Red Alert siren today in Jerusalem my brave son hid under the ladder of the slide in the park.
It’s very sad that children have to be brave heroes instead of just… being children
The thought that these innocent children had to be taught how to take cover is heartbreaking, but kol hakavod to their parents.
The Palestinians also targeted Dimona once again, and again without any success.
Amongst the IDF’s other successes today:
The IDF dramatically escalated its aerial assault in Gaza Thursday, targeting Iman Siam, the head of Hamas’ rocket arsenal in Gaza, as well as hitting hundreds of Hamas targets.
The Arab-language IDF spokesperson reported that the IDF had killad Siam, but later updated their report, saying the army had hit him. Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades denied claims from that Siam had been killed in an attack saying, “He is continuing in his Jihadist actions. We call on the media to be precise and not trust the lies of Israel.”
According to Palestinian reports, as of Thursday morning, a total of 79 Gazans have been killed in attacks by the IDF since Operation Protective Edge began late Monday night.
According to the IDF, it hit some 322 terror targets in Gaza, destroying some 217 rocket launchers and targeting the homes of over 40 Hamas commanders. According to the military, since the operation began it hit some 785 terror targets.
Meanwhile, the IDF reportedly targeted a senior Hamas commander, hitting his northern Gaza home. The man was reportedly jailed in Israel, but was freed as part of the prisoner exchange deal which saw Sgt. Gilad Shalit freed from Hamas captivity.
Other highlights from the Times of Israel live blog (which overlaps the IDF blog):
21:21 Victims in Eshkol moderately, lightly hurt
The two people injured in a mortar attack in the Eshkol region are moderately and lightly injured, respectively, the Soroka Medical Center says.
Earlier, one of the wounded was said to be in serious condition.
The IDF confirms that they are soldiers
Just look at this list of the massive rocket volley shot over from around 7.30 to 9 this evening:
21:00 Rockets intercepted over Ashdod; house hit
A heavy barrage of over 20 rockets is fired at the coastal city of Ashdod.
Iron Dome interceptors down nine of missiles, Channel 2 reports.
A house in Ashdod is hit by a rocket, sustaining serious damage.
Initial, unconfirmed reports say there may be casualties.
Several cars are ablaze in the city, the report says.
…20:31Several injured by mortar fire in Eshkol
Several people are said to be injured by mortar fire in the Eshkol region.
Reports indicate that one of the wounded is in critical condition.
The injured were airlifted to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment.…19:47Sirens in central Israel
Sirens blare in the Dan region, including Bat Yam and Holon, and in the city of Rishon Lezion.
The Iron Dome intercepts at least one rocket.19:38Light injuries in Beersheba missile attack
A rocket fell in Beersheba near a sports center, lightly injuring a number of people, Channel 2 reports.
Another projectile is said to strike a house in the city. The residents of the house barricaded themselves in their fortified room and were not harmed.19:33Large rocket barrage, injured in Beersheba
More than 20 rockets are fired toward Beersheba, Dimona, Arad, Ein Gedi, Kiryat Arba and Mitzpe Ramon. A number of people are reported injured in Beersheba, where a hit was recorded, likely on a house.19:31Sirens in Beersheba, Mitzpe Ramon
The Code Red sirens are triggered in Beersheba and Mitzpe Ramon.
IDF informs Palestinian citizens in towns along the Gaza Strip border with Israel to evacuate their homes quickly, ahead of military action in the area.
The areas include Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun, Abasan al-Kabera, and Abasan al-Saghira in the northern Gaza Strip east of Khan Yunis. Over 100,000 people are said to reside in these cities.
The IDF made similar demands during operations Pillar of Defense and Cast Lead, as well as during the 2006 Lebanon War, generally ahead of an airstrike of a particular area.
And here we can clearly see how Hamas uses its own civilians as human shields:
Hamas asks citizens not to heed the calls to leave the area that many have received during the past few hours.
A military source confirmed that the IDF is preparing for a ground operation – although it must be noted that preparing is not equal to action:
Although the cabinet meeting convened Thursday evening ended without an announcement on a ground offensive in Gaza, a senior IDF official says the military is massing forces on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip in preparation for such an operation.
The U.N. chief said the threat of an Israeli ground offensive and “an all-out escalation” is preventable only if Hamas stops firing rockets and mortars into Israel.
The secretary-general, who is engaged in an intense round of global diplomacy to try to end the conflict, called for “bold thinking and creative ideas” and urged the world to accelerate efforts to immediately end the violence.
“Now is not a time for further incitement or vengeance,” Ban said. “Any further spiral of violence could have alarming unforeseen consequences,” he warned.
Ban again condemned Hamas and Islamic Jihad for launching a barrage of more than 550 rockets and mortars into Israel — but in a clear message to Israel he also said “the excessive use of force and endangering of civilian lives are also intolerable.”
Certainly I would have wished for a stronger condemnation of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and a more robust backing for Israel. Nevertheless Ban Ki-Moon’s words so far are about as good as we are ever going to hear from the UN.
Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow. May we all have a quiet night