Operation Protective Edge Day 6: Ashkelon under fire, massive rocket fire continues over all Israel

Beer Sheva house suffers direct hit

A July 12 picture of the house in the Nahal Beka neighborhood in Beersheba that was directly hit by a rocket on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge, on the night of July 11. (Photo credit: Flash90)

Operation Protective Edge has moved into its 6th day with continuing rocket fire over almost the whole country, reaching as far north as Haifa, and as far as Ariel to the east.  Earlier today a teenage boy was seriously hurt in Ashkelon when he was caught outdoors during an attack:

Condition of injured teen deteriorates

The Ashkelon teenager seriously wounded earlier today took a turn for the worse this afternoon, with doctors saying his condition is critical and unstable, Channel 10 reports.

The 16-year-old, who was outside when the sirens sounded, hid behind a wall after he failed to reach a fortified room in time.

Yesterday, Day 5, 129 rockets were fired from Gaza, only 9 of which were shot down by Iron Dome. The day was also marked by the first ground operation by IDF troops.

Trucks transport IDF tanks on a road leading to southern Israel

Trucks transport IDF tanks on a road leading to southern Israel

A unit of naval commandos entered Gaza to strike a rocket-launching site, but 3 of the troops were lightly injured.

According to the IDF, a force of IDF naval commandos set out to destroy a long-range rocket cache and launch site near Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip.

The force encountered Hamas fighters belonging to the group’s armed wing on Sudaniya Beach. Hamas claimed early Sunday that the encounter was not accidental; the fighters had ambushed the IDF soldiers.

According to unconfirmed reports from Hamas sources, three Hamas fighters died in the ensuing firefight.

The IDF said Sunday that four soldiers were lightly wounded and were evacuated to hospitals in Israel, but not before the rocket-launching site was destroyed by the army.

“The mission was accomplished,” the army’s spokesperson’s unit said in a tweet.

IDF naval and air units bombarded the rocket site during the fighting, according to reports.

A soldier injured last Thursday is still in a serious condition and needs our prayers. Please pray for Mordechai Chai ben Bracha Yehudit.

Meanwhile I should apologize for being late with this post. I’ve been trying to blog about today’s events as I have done on previous days but I’m having trouble concentrating.  Since the siren last night in Petach Tikva (which I missed since I was in the nice safe Shomron with our daughter) I am a bit on edge.  I have one ear open to the radio, which is being interrupted every minute, every few seconds even, with an announcer saying calmly “Siren in Ashdod. Siren in Bnei Ayish. Siren in Modi’in, Maccabim-Reut…” with a long, long list of towns and communities. The broadcast is more siren announcements than the news discussions it was supposed to be.  There appears to be a massive rocket attack right at this moment on the south of Israel, but also in the Shomron for the first time, in the region of Ariel.

The Times of Israel are very quick off the mark:

Some 20 rockets were shot at Israel from Gaza over the last few minutes, Channel 2 reports, the largest salvo since Hamas tried to overwhelm Iron Dome near Tel Aviv Saturday night.

The Gazan terror groups seem to have a habit of sending large salvos at around 8 pm, to ensure the attacks get primetime coverage.

Channel 2 reports that three or four rockets were shot down by Iron Dome.

Rocket reported shot down over Ariel

Following a massive rocket barrage sent from Gaza at the Jerusalem and Ashdod areas, several rockets are shot down by Iron Dome.

One rocket is reported shot down near the West Bank city of Ariel, the first time a rocket has targeted the Samaria region of the northern West Bank.

Two rockets are also reported shot down over Gan Yavne.

It is not yet clear how many rockets were fired during the large salvo, which set off several consecutive sirens in Ashdod.

No damage or injuries are reported.

I’ve just come off my family Whatssup group where we’ve all checked in with each other. My daughter is in the shelter in her Jerusalem college; I’m not sure where son #1 is (he works in Jerusalem) but his wife and kids, not far from Ariel, are OK.  Son #2 just walked in.  PT is quiet for the moment. My brother in Modi’in is probably in his shelter or is just emerging … and this is simply a crazy situation, yet us Israelis just take it all in, absorb the blows and get on with the everyday business of living.

Earlier this afternoon Petach Tikva had its second alert. I was watching the TV news when a sign flashed across the screen: “Siren in Gush Dan, area no. xyz”. These area numbers are a new initiative from the Home Front and I had no idea what area we are. I simply assumed the rocket was aimed at greater Tel Aviv. So I took my time and ambled over to the computer to the Home Front website to find out what our area code is. I was still muddling my way around the site when the siren started up.  I admit that I got quite a fright.  I froze for a moment while I considered my options: corridor outside the bathroom or down one flight of stairs to the shelter. The shelter won and  I made a mad dash for it, stopping only for my phone. As I got downstairs I noticed a mother with her 3 small children crouching down just outside our building’s front door. I yanked it open and dragged them inside and yelled “get into the shelter”.  At that moment there was a boom which we felt more than heard.  The whole building shook. It turns out that the missile fell where I do my shopping. Now that is what I call chutzpah!

Seriously it was a little bit surreal and a bit scary but I had a nice yack with the neighbours. But it was a minor event in the scheme of things, and my admiration for the stoicism and strength of character of the residents of Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon and all the Eshkol region has only grown as we realise that this is the reality in which they live 24/7, and not only in time of war. We hardly hear about the odd missile or kassam that flies their way any time Hamas or a lone bored terrorist feels like heating things up, yet this has been carrying on for years.

All the supposed cease-fires with Hamas are not worth the paper they are written on.  How anyone anywhere in the world can object to Israel’s actions in combatting this outrageous breach of human rights and laws of war is – well, it’s not a mystery at all. What is permitted to every other nation is not permitted to Israel.

Israelis sit and pray during Code Red in Nitzan

Israeli mothers and children sit and pray together inside a street shelter (in fact a sewer pipe), during a Code Red siren alerting of incoming rockets, in the Southern Israeli town of Nitzan, on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge, July 11, 2014 (photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A sickening display of antisemitic propaganda disguised as

A sickening display of antisemitic propaganda disguised as “anti-Israel activism” (Richard Millett)

At the same time, around the world there are virulent anti-Israel demonstrations taking place in which Israel is compared to the Nazis and is accused of committing genocide, ethnic cleansing and assorted other human rights crimes. The courageous Richard Millett took himself to one particularly nasty demo in London and should count himself lucky that he got out unscathed.

Note the juxtaposition of the 2 above photos. In the first, Israeli residents are taking shelter in what was originally a sewer pipe. It was placed in Nitzan especially to take shelter during a rocket attack. It brings back strong memories of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto who escaped via the sewer pipes. And now contrast this to the revolting shirt worn by that disgusting specimen of humanity at the London demonstration. It is positively nauseating.

There were other demonstrations in Paris and South Africa too, and if history is anything to go by, these demonstrations will only get worse and more vicious as the war drags on.

Dr. Denis MacEoin has written a wonderful rebuttal to all those who accuse Israel of war-mongering and worse in “Why Israel had to go to war“. But I fear his words fall on deaf ears, and those who will hear him are those who agree with him (and us) anyway.

Some further “highlights” (if that’s the right term) of Day 6 so far:

Playing his usual double-game, Mahmoud Abbas has asked the UN for protection for Gaza:

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he had appealed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for “international protection” for the Palestinian people.

“The situation has become unbearable — hundreds of martyrs and thousands of wounded and huge destruction,” Abbas said.

Despite forming a government with Hamas’ backing last month, Abbas’s influence in Gaza is minimal.

It’s obviously a sign that Israel is winning. When we have the upper hand the Arabs start crying for a ceasefire. We should not give in until every rocket launcher has been destroyed.

The IDF has been dropping thousands of leaflets on Gaza, warning north Gaza residents to leave or suffer the consequences of an aerial bombing. Hamas warned the residents against leaving, after all, there’s nothing better for their public relations than having a load of “martyrs” killed by those nasty Israelis. Luckily for them (and probably us as well) Gaza’s residents have more sense and took the IDF’s warning to heart,  and at least 10,000 residents have left Beit Lahiya so far.

Since we’re talking of Hamas’s method of victimhood-as-victory, a Hamas rocket fired from Gaza to Israel has cut off the electricity that Israel supplies to Gaza. (Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are out of our tiny minds).

9:23 A rocket fired from Gaza strikes infrastructure in Israel that provides electricity to the coastal strip, cutting power to 70,000 Palestinians.

Israel has not shut off power to Gaza, says Channel 2, but will not risk the safety of Israel Electric Corporation personnel to repair the damage caused by this shell. Still, overall electricity supply to Gaza will not be significantly affected by the strike.

I’m glad and relieved that we have at least that much sense, though we still should have shut off the electricity to Gaza at the first rocket.

The following is not really news for Israelis, but the cowardly Hamas leadership are hiding out underneath Shifa Hospital in Gaza City:

Some of the Hamas leadership is hiding out at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, says Channel 2′s Ehud Ya’ari, because they know Israel won’t attack it.

Ya’ari also says that Hamas wants a ceasefire but doesn’t want to acknowledge it.

The veteran commentator also says that Hamas fears an Israeli ground offensive, though publicly it is saying the opposite.

They’re not very decisive are they? Or are they?

Iron Dome

Iron Dome (archive photo)

Bringing us a slightly different angle to the war, and enlightening us about the IDF’s greatest “hero”, an IDF officer explains the Iron Dome Code Red dilemma:

Every one of the 896 rockets launched at Israel during Operation Protective Edge has been spotted by an air force soldier, and they’ve nearly all resulted in a warning siren, sending Israelis scrambling for shelter.

A mix of radars and electro-optic devices detect the launch, classify its size and the threat it represents, and pinpoint, in a splotch on a map, the areas that are in danger.

This process takes seconds. But for the soldiers who receive the air force’s warning, serving under the command of Lt. Col. Levi Itach, the head of the army’s early warning branch, the procedure is filled with operational dilemmas.

Itach suggested, as an example, a Grad rocket with a 40-kilometer range. His soldiers, seated beside air force personnel in a joint command center in central Israel, receive notice of a launch after five seconds. By then they have verified that the object is neither a flock of birds nor a crop-duster tracing the ballistic path of a rocket.

Then the air force’s electro-optic systems analyze the heat signature of the rocket and the trajectory of the take-off and provide, based on the projected kill capacity of the projectile, the Home Front Command with an initial target area.

Five seconds later, additional radars, tracking the behavior of the projectile, narrow the target area significantly.

This continues throughout the rise of the rocket, Itach said, with the stain on the map diminishing throughout, but with the response time dwindling, too.

“Operationally speaking, where do you cut it off?” he asked. “How much time do you leave the citizen? What’s enough time? A 70-80-90-year old; a five-year-old: realistically speaking, how much time do they need?”

The Grad with the 40-kilometer-range, he said, flies for two minutes. The more exact the warning, the fewer people exposed to the siren, the lesser the impact on the national psyche, the lesser the toll on the economy. In the example he gave, he said, the citizens are given 45 seconds to scurry to shelter.

Contrails from Iron Dome intercepting a rocket near Tel Aviv

Contrails from Iron Dome intercepting a rocket near Tel Aviv on live TV on Sunday, July 13, 2014. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

The notion of sparing undue civilian fright, though, and the capacity to do so, is relatively new. On January 17, 1991, when Saddam Hussein fired missiles from Iraq at Israel, the entire populace was instructed to take cover.

In 2006, during the Second Lebanon War, Israel was split into only 25 different sectors. During Operation Pillar of Defense, in November 2012, there were 127 sectors. Today, as of this month, there are 235.

And yet Itach, who noted the long history of early warning among the Israelites, quoting Ezekiel 33 — “when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people.” — is far from satisfied. In the future, he said, the country will be partitioned into 36,000 cubes.

Up until Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel lost an average of one person per 100 rockets and, during the Second Lebanon War, 200 million shekels per day of warfare. The future demands, he said, are one fatality per 10,000 rockets and only 12 million shekels loss per day of warfare.

Those are incredibly lofty goals. In a larger scale war they may be unattainable. But for now, looking back at the past six days of warfare, he said his soldiers were working very hard but that he, personally, on the cusp of retirement, “is melting” with pride.

There are, of course, the horrors of war, he added, “but the whole business [of early warning] is in tune.”

I can only add my heartfelt thanks to the inventors, investors and heroic operators of the Iron Dome system. Thanks to Iron Dome, I can walk about in the streets, hear a boom or two in the sky, look up, see a swirl of white smoke and say to myself “Ho hum, another rocket bites teh dust” and carry on as before.

I know that in the south the picture is rather different, and yet even there, despite the hundreds and hundreds of rockets that have fallen, and the damage that has been caused to property, there has not been one casualty (bli ayin hara) caused directly by the Palestinian terrorists’ rocket fire.

That fact should give us cause to stop and think and say a huge thank you to all of those involved.

More than that, we need to thank הקב”ה (G-d) who has been watching over us and protecting us and performing open miracles for all the world to see during this war.  Even the Gazans need to thank G-d and the IDF, for despite their wailing and complaining to the UN, considering the huge bombing campaign still being carried out by the IAF against the terrorists, less than 200 have been killed. I would like to see any other army in the world take as much care to avoid “collateral damage” and killing of civilians as the IDF.

May Hashem continue to protect all of us, the civilians, the soldiers, the foreigners amongst us, and bring peace to this beautiful country.

Meanwhile stay tuned to any of Israel’s live blogs at Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post, or the IDF blog for updates.

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11 Responses to Operation Protective Edge Day 6: Ashkelon under fire, massive rocket fire continues over all Israel

  1. Brian Goldfarb says:

    A comment posted by me on the article after “Good News…” and Anne’s response”

    Gatestone Institute just posted the following article by Khaled Abu Toameh (http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4401/egypt-israel-hamas) entitled Egypt hopes Israel will smash Hamas – or words to that effect. So no problems from the Egyptian army on that front! Plus news here (in the UK) that the IDF has gone into Gaza.
    anneinpt says:
    13 July 2014 at 23:16 pm
    Yes, Egypt is at least tacitly backing Israel though I wish it didn’t always have to be so, well, tacit. Why not an overt message of support?

    I don’t think the IDF have gone properly into Gaza yet. They are preparing, and perhaps doing the odd sortie, but not more than that (as far as I know).

  2. Fay says:

    Once again my Prime Minister unequivocally supports Israel. Bravo Stephen Harper, I am so proud of him.

    “Ottawa, Ontario13 July 2014 Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement in response to the situation in Israel: “The indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel are terrorist acts, for which there is no justification. It is evident that Hamas is deliberately using human shields to further terror in the region. “Failure by the international community to condemn these reprehensible actions would encourage these terrorists to continue their appalling actions. Canada calls on its allies and partners to recognize that these terrorist acts are unacceptable and that solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict. “Canada is unequivocally behind Israel. We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. “Canada reiterates its call for the Palestinian government to disarm Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups operating in Gaza, including the Iranian proxy, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” “

    • anneinpt says:

      I would vote for Stephen Harper for President of the world if I could. What an amazing principled man, especially in a climate in which it it so politically incorrect to support Israel so openly.

      He is an example to all politicians how to stick by his principles and how to act morally.

      Thank you Canada!

  3. Earl says:

    Stay strong, stay well, annie. You Izzies are a tough, resilient bunch, and Iron Dome has certainly proven effective (PT remaining The World’s Dullest Town (TM), however 😉 ). It appears Bibi is going through with what has to be done, and Bennett has been outstanding. Canadian PM Harper speaks for me.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you Earl (though your comment about PT might earn you some angry glares next time you visit – even though it’s true. 😀 )

      I hope all our leaders have the intestinal fortitude to see this thing through to the end once and for all.

  4. Adam says:

    Stay safe Anne – may Israel prevail!

  5. DavidinPT says:

    If the Hamas leadership is hiding out under the Shifa Hospital, can anyone explain to me why Israel doesn’t use bunker busting bombs on the 4 streets bordering the hospital, of course after giving the “usual” notice. The hospital will remain standing but the bunkers will be exposed. Then napalm the open bunkers. Let physics do the rest.

    • anneinpt says:

      That’s a very good question David. You should send it to the IDF command or to the gov’t who make the final decisions.

      Perhaps one day a “work accident” will occur in the Shifa bunkers and solve all our problems in one go.

    • Earl says:

      I have been pondering exactly that issue- we know the IAF has GBUs, and precision drops could incinerate the subterranean rats’ nests whilst leaving the “hospital” building intact. Odd that this tactic has not been effected…

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