On Operation Pillar of Defense’s second day, relentless rocket fire is bringing life in southern Israel to a standstill while the IDF inflicts heavy blows on Gaza terror groups. The Times of Israel is live-blogging. Press refresh or click here for latest updates.
The Jerusalem Post continues to provide the best coverage, below is their main link with continuous updates:
Gaza terrorists continued to fire rockets into southern Israel on Thursday morning killing three people and injuring two others in Kiryat Malachi. More than 200 rockets have been fired from Gaza into the South in the 24 hours after the IDFlaunched 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 moderate injuries, including a baby.
A separate IDF spokesman confirmed that all Palestinian terror factions took part in rocket fire overnight Wednesday, with Hamas trying to take the lead.
He added that the IDF "believes the rocket fire will intensify."
Since beginning its operation, the IDF has struck nearly 200 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, including several terrorist cells preparing to fire rockets at Israel and medium-range rocket launchers located across the Strip.
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.
Gaza-border communities were 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.
The cabinet also agreed that the IDF should continue to act against terrorist infrastructure and activity in Gaza. It instructed the Foreign Ministry to begin a diplomatic public relations campaign to explain that Israel was acting in self-defense against military targets, as the continued rocket barrage had become intolerable.
As the rockets kept coming through Wednesday night – and the first three fatalities Thursday morning, Nov. 15 - the cautious lift in Israeli spirits generated by the death of Ahmed Jabari, who fashioned Hamas into a paramilitary machine of terror, and the destruction of dozens of missile sites in Gaza, gave way to resignation for a long haul before southern Israel is free of its decade-long rocket nightmare.
But most of all, the Palestinians and their allies in Tehran and Hizballah suddenly discovered that the old IDF had come roaring back.
In the only former major Israeli operation in Gaza, Cast Lead (late 2008, early 2009), the IDF was slow, unwieldy and unfocused. Its counter-terror offensive was foreshortened by heavy diplomatic pressure before achieving anything, owing to the government’s lack of resolve. In the 2006 Lebanon War, the army was stalled before developing an effective tactical offensive.
The IDF of 2012 is in a different class, recalling its rapid-fire performance in the Six-Day War then fought on multiple fronts.
In just a few hours late Wednesday, Nov. 14, Pillar of Cloud achieved more than Cast Lead managed in weeks: It was driven by clockwork, integrated intelligence by the Shin Bet and Military Intelligence, precise, surgical air force strikes and a command-and-control with fast reflexes which recalled Israel’s military skills of 45 years ago.
The rapid destruction of scores of Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets, whose respective ranges of 45 and 75 kilometers placed Israel’s heartland in line of Palestinian strikes, compared with the destruction of the Egyptian air force on the ground in the early hours of the 1967 war, rather than the bombardment of Hizballah’s long-range missiles in 2006 which failed to draw its sting.In 1967, the Egyptian army had to fight in Sinai without air cover. In 2012, the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip were stripped of their key commander and terror strategist and lost substantial, though not all, its missile arsenal.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak hinted Thursday that Operation Pillar of Defense against Gaza-based terrorists could be a lengthy battle, as rocket fire from the Strip continued to batter communities in the South.
"We're in the middle of a struggle that's not easy and probably won't be short," Barak said during a visit to the site of an Iron Dome battery in Beersheba.
Barak sent his condolences to the families of the three Israelis killed by a rocket attack in Kiryat Malachi on Thursday morning and stated that "we will do everything in our power to keep Kiryat Malachi and all of the other communities in the South protected."
Peres said that he knows of no other country that would have shown so much restraint in the face of continual rocket fire from Gaza, and reiterated that Israel must protect its citizens.
He added that the IDF was doing everything in its power to limit civilian casualties in the Strip.
While this new battle rages on, we cannot forget this important development:
On April 3, 2012, Israel won round one of a crucial legal battle with the Palestinians, slamming the door shut on their attempt to bring Israeli soldiers and leaders before the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.
The Palestinian Authority first filed a declaration attempting to accept the ICC’s jurisdiction, after which it intended to file war crimes cases against Israeli soldiers and leaders relating to Operation Cast Lead, on January 22, 2009.
Israel’s win was on a technicality, though not a small one.
Despite all of these question marks, there is no question that a vote recognizing Palestine as a non-member state in two weeks would start a “Round 2” on the war crimes allegations relating to Operation Cast Lead.
Operation Pillar of Defense is making headlines around the world, with media outlets choosing to highlight different aspects of the conflict. While some papers predictably choose to focus on the Palestinian perspective, relegating information about Israeli victims to the bottom of their articles, certain journalists often suspected of an anti-Israel bias begin their stories with the three Israeli casualties.
One website commented on the name of Israel’s operation, saying it is a reference to the biblical story “about God terrorizing Egyptians.”
On Wednesday night, hours after Israel announced the assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari and the launch of Operation Pillar of Defense, the German Der Spiegel newspaper led its online edition with the words “Palestinians fear a new war.”
Only the third paragraph mentions that well over a hundred rockets have been raining on Israel’s south in recent days.
On Thursday morning, Spiegel Online, the country’s largest news website, led with the headline “Israel again bombards Gaza.”
The New York Times’ website led Thursday morning with news about the scandal surrounding CIA director David Petraeus, banishing the story about Israel to the second place.
“The Israeli fatalities were the first in a spasm of violence that killed the top military commander of Hamas on Wednesday, damaged Israel’s fragile relations with Egypt and escalated the risks of a new war in the Middle East,” the paper writes.
The Times of London was one of the few newspapers that opened its coverage on Thursday with the news that three Israelis were killed, “and four more were injured when a Hamas rocket scored a direct hit on a home near the Gaza strip.”
In English, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is calling its effort – launched Wednesday – to strike a blow to Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure “Pillar of Defense,” but in Hebrew the operation’s name has another, deeper biblical meaning. In Hebrew, the IDF named its operation “Amud Anan,” that is Pillar of Cloud, a clear reference to the flight of the Children of Israel from Egypt and how God protected them.
In the Book of Exodus 13:21, as the Israelites flee Egypt and the oppressive Pharaoh, the scene is described this way:
The Lord went before them in a pillar of cloud by day, to guide them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, that they might travel day and night.
The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire remained with them throughout their journey. Meanwhile, a very angry Pharaoh deployed his chariots, horses and warriors to chase after the departing former slaves. As the Egyptian soldiers began to catch up with the Israelites, this is what happened, according to Exodus 14:19-20:
The angel of God, who had been going ahead of the Israelite army, now moved and followed behind them; and the pillar of cloud shifted from in front of them and took up a place behind them and it came between the army of the Egyptians and the army of Israel. Thus there was a cloud with the darkness, and it cast a spell upon the night, so that the one could not come near the other all through the night.
And now Israel seeks a modern day “Pillar of Cloud” to defend itself against relentless attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.
The biblical passage refers to a specific example in which God was defending the Israelites from a cruel and merciless enemy – one with a hard heart. Thus, in those three words “Pillar of Cloud,” the IDF can convey Israel is on the defense, while Hamas and other terrorists – like the biblical Egyptian warriors – are unjustifiably chasing innocent men, women and children.