Israeli air and naval forces launched heavy assaults in Gaza before dawn Sunday, Nov. 18 – Day 5 of the IDF’s Gaza operation - after daylong bargaining Saturday among Washington, Jerusalem, Cairo and Gaza, failed to produce an Israel-Hamas truce accord. When Egyptian and Turkish middlemen suggested a ceasefire was close, Israel accused them of pushing Hamas’s terms which were fashioned to present the Palestinian radicals as the victor in the contest. The trio leading the Israeli war, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, countered by intensifying the IDF’s Gaza offensive – though not as yet sending ground troops in.
All of Hamas leaders have gone to ground for fear of targeted assassination by Israel. They have switched off their phones and electronic communications to avoid giving away their locations to Israeli surveillance. Haniyeh was even afraid to communicate with Cairo through the Egyptian military mission in Gaza.
Hamas has rejected all of Israel's terms.
The ground operation is meanwhile delayed, in accordance with Netanyahu’s promise to President Obama in their conversation early Saturday, that a full-scale ground invasion would not go forward so long as there was a chance of a ceasefire - unless there was escalation from Hamas or a strike that caused significant casualties.
For the third day in a row, Tel Aviv is the target of Hamas attacks, and Iron Dome carries out successful interceptions. Amid rumors of a halt to fighting, Israeli officials tell The Times of Israel that Jerusalem is not currently interested in a ceasefire. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the IDF’s campaign will be expanded, hinting at a looming ground operation. The IAF, in the meantime, is targeting key Hamas personnel, several of whom were killed on Saturday. Hamas PM Haniyeh has gone underground
Israeli special forces are deployed in Gaza searching for hidden rockets and weapons, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday, amid fears that a desperate Hamas might affix chemical weapons to its remaining long-range Fajr-5 missiles.
According to the report in the London weekly, which was not attributed to any source, the commandos are looking for missiles hidden underground, a favorite tactic of Hamas.
As Gaza terrorists over the weekend targeted Tel Aviv, a concern for Israeli officials is the threat that Hamas may fit chemical warheads on its long-range Fajr-5 missiles, the newspaper said, quoting an unnamed defense source.
As the Israel Defense Forces’s operation to quash Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza entered its fifth day on Sunday, it became increasingly clear that the Hamas military leadership remains high on the list of primary targets.
Operation Pillar of Defense began on Wednesday afternoon by targeting the most senior Hamas military commander, Ahmed Jabari. Over the weekend the air force continued to pound targets that included not just the missile launching infrastructure that menaces Israel’s southern communities, but also the individuals who oversee its operation.
In total 11, Hamas activists were killed on Saturday including Ahmed Abu Jalal, a senior ground forces commander; Khaled Sheir, a top commander in the Hamas anti-tank forces; and Mohammed Kalav, a senior Hamas air defense commander. Aircraft also bombed the Hamas command center in Gaza that housed the bureau of Hamas’s Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. A police station that was home to Hamas Internal Security services offices was also destroyed.
Meanwhile, the reality of the situation:
Extensive damage has been reported by local sources in the city.
Gaza terrorists have continued to target southern Israeli cities despite repeated warnings that Operation Pillar of Defense will be expanded if the attacks continue.
The IDF sent a message to Gaza over Hamas radio after seizing control of the region's radio waves earlier Sunday, announcing that the operation would be moved up if attacks did not cease.
“Hamas is playing with fire, and is putting your lives in danger for no purpose,” the message stated. “The Israel Defense Forces is moving to the next stage,” the IDF warned Gaza's residents and terrorist leaders.
Welcome to The Jerusalem Post's real-time coverage ofOperation Pillar of Defense, the IDF operation to root out terror in Gaza and reestablish deterrence. The minute-to-minute coverage includes breaking updates from our reporters, photographers and experts on the scene, as well as informational briefings, updates on rocket and military attacks, defense establishment and official comments and world reactions.
The site referenced below may be the most important, as it reveals what life is like as an Israeli under constant missile attack... for years:
Outflanked on the media and social-media battlefields in previous campaigns against Hamas, the IDF and the government are proving determined during operation Pillar of Defense to get out their message that Hamas is the aggressor and Israel has been forced to defend itself.
Thus the army has its own blog, and the Foreign Ministry has a page dedicated to the suffering Israeli civilians are facing, called “Israel Under Fire.” There are also official Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts along with channels on Flickr and Instagram.
But the effort to tell Israel’s story goes beyond official channels. The high-tech community is marshaling its considerable technical capabilities to put together videos, web pages, and other information resources to help Israelis stay safe and help the rest of the world understand what is unfolding.
Life Under Fire, meanwhile, is a simple yet extraordinarily effective way to illuminate the situation facing the millions of Israelis in range of the rockets. It’s an on-screen 15-second timer, 15 seconds being the amount of time most southern residents have to get to a safe shelter when the Red Alert system is activated. After 15 seconds, the site broadcasts a boom, followed by sirens.