Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hamas Defiant As Israel Prepares For Ground Operation. Life Comes To A Halt In Israel

This first article is a must read. It is easy to read about the number of missiles launched and the physical damage done, but it is another thing to see it in living color. The first link below reveals the human toll that is created by such a massive number of incoming missiles on a daily basis - and the photos are often dramatic. It is definitely worthwhile to take a look at these pictures and the life that must be lived as an Israeli under constant attack:

Most of the Israeli population is currently living under the threat of rocket fire. Life between sirens, in and out of bomb shelters, has become the daily reality for millions of Israelis. Hamas terrorists have fired more than 540 rockets at Israel since Operation Protective Edge began on Monday, July 7 – and over 830 rockets since the beginning of 2014.

This is an intolerable and dangerous reality for Israelis under fire, especially in the south of Israel where thousands of people have less than 15 seconds to run to a bomb shelter when an alarm goes off.
Life under constant rocket fire has disrupted the daily routines of millions of Israelis. Summer camps for children have been canceled. Children are advised to be with their parents, in close proximity to bomb shelters. In many places, children remain in bomb shelters for the entire day in order to avoid being in open areas when the rocket siren sounds.
Transportation networks have been disrupted as train service in southern Israel has been canceled. Israelis are hesitant to drive in their cars because they do not want to be caught in the open when the rocket siren sounds. Public gatherings, such as concerts or festivals, have been canceled.

Businesses around the country, especially in the south, have suffered due to ongoing rocket fire. Many restaurants and shops have closed, as people prefer to be at home with their families near shelters.

Israelis are well informed and prepared to cope with the constant rocket fire. When the rocket sirens go off, civilians must immediately run to the nearest protected area. Many Israelis have bomb shelters in their homes. Otherwise, staircases in the center of buildings are usually safe, as are rooms with concrete walls and minimum openings.
When outdoors, those who cannot run to a closed space should lie on the ground with their hands covering their heads. This method and others minimize the chances of getting hit by shrapnel during an attack.

Thursday afternoon, July 10, the IDF advised 100,000 Palestinian civilians to leave their homes in the northern Gaza villages of Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, Greater Ibsen and Smaller Ibsen and head west to the coast or south to remove themselves from danger. This order, issued shortly after a special Israeli cabinet meeting, suggested that an Israel military incursion is impending. During the day, Hamas kept up its barrage. By firing 100 rockets, the Islamists demonstrated that their rocket capability had not been impaired by three days of massive Israeli air strikes.

Early Thursday, July 10, two more rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Tel Aviv. Iron Dome intercepted one. By 9 am, 10 more landed in Negev sites. Between Wednesday midnight and Thursday morning, the Israeli Air Force and Navy had carried out 108 strikes in the Gaza Strip - 322 in 24 hours. Targeted were a weapons store, 5 arms manufacturing plants, 5 military compounds, 58 tunnels, 2 surveillance posts, 217 buried rocket launching pads, one command and control base and 46 homes of Hamas and Jihad Islami commanders.
In this time span, the Palestinians fired 234 rockets.
On Wednesday July 9, the second day of Operation Protective Edge, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he had ordered its expansion “until the [Palestinian] shooting stopped.

After day of intensive rocket fire on Israel, and heavy Israeli air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, Netanyahu tells Israelis to brace for continued conflict amid speculation that a ground offensive is imminent

Operation Protective Edge entered its fourth day on Friday. By nightfall Thursday, over 350 rockets had been fired at Israel, about 90 of them intercepted by Iron Dome, and the Israeli Air Force had carried out almost 900 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip; Palestinian reports said at least 90 Palestinians had been killed. Late Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israelis to brace for a lengthy conflict, and Israel was massing increased forces on the Gaza border for a possible ground offensive. The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold. (Wednesday’s liveblog is here.)

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the IDF will launch a crushing ground operation in Gaza “within hours,” according to Channel 2.
The Security and Diplomacy Cabinet met Thursday evening to discuss the next stages of Operation Protective Edge.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly intends to give astatement later in the evening.
The IDF on Thursday afternoon contacted by phone Arab residents of Gaza living near the security border, warning them to evacuate their homes immediately. The phone calls were made to a total of roughly 100,000 Arab residents of the Hamas stronghold.
The phone warnings indicate that the operation may be moving into a new stage and entering a ground offensive.

As Hamas desperately seeks what Israeli media termed a “quality” terror attack, it escalated rocket fire from Gaza on Wednesday and Thursday by targeting Israel’s nuclear reactor in the southern town of Dimona and firing barrage after barrage at the densely-populated Tel Aviv area.
Hamas and its allies have fired around 300 missiles and rockets from Gaza over the past week.
Israeli commentators believe Hamas and its allies are going for something of a “Hail Mary” by trying to hit either the reactor in Dimona or score a multi-casualty impact in Greater Tel Aviv.
Still, the threat remains, and a hit on Dimona or a successful strike on Tel Aviv would provide a major morale boost to Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups, and would likely mean an even more intense and prolonged conflict necessitating an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ own Fatah faction has proudly joined the war on the side of Hamas, announcing that small groups of its fighters that remain in Gaza (including some Palestinian Authority police officers) have also started firing rockets at Israel.

Operation Protective Edge entered its third day on Thursday. At least 80 rockets were fired into Israel on Wednesday, hitting as far north as Zichron Ya’akov, bringing the total since Monday night to over 200. In the Israeli Air Force’s hundreds of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, at least 53 Palestinians have been killed and around 500 injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Follow the Times of Israel’s live coverage of the ongoing crisis on our liveblog. (You can find Tuesday’s liveblog here, and Wednesday’s here.)

IDF awaits ‘approval’ for new actions against Hamas

As Operation Protective Edge enters its third day, military sources are predicting “various scenarios” for Israel military action against Hamas in Gaza that are just “awaiting final approval,” according to Channel 2.
The aim of these scenarios? “To bring Hamas to the point where it says it will stop firing,” according  to the TV report. “The aim is not to have this conflict drag on too long.”
In the studio, the station’s Palestinian affairs reporter says he greatly doubts that Hamas “will raise the white flag.”

As of Thursday afternoon, on the third day of Operation Protective Edge, the end of this conflict was nowhere in sight. Hamas had fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, reaching into distant and unexpected areas such as Dimona, Mitzpe Ramon, and Zichron Yaakov. The attacks, however, had not brought any loss of Israeli life.
The Israeli Air Force, for its part, had bombed hundreds of targets in the Gaza Strip, without causing substantial damage to Hamas’s rocket stockpiles or command structure.

Jerusalem was emphasizing that we are at the beginning of a long campaign, while Hamas was reiterating the same conditions for a ceasefire that it set on Tuesday. It is demanding that Israel free 56 prisoners who had been released under the Gilad Shalit exchange deal in 2011 and who were re-apprehended in IDF raids on West Bank cities following the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers on June 12.
The release of these prisoners has become the central issue for Hamas — the escape route from the corner it has painted itself into — as is evident in the hints to this effect by its political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, statements by its military wing (Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades),and the comments of a senior Hamas official who spoke with The Times of Israel earlier Thursday.
This may point to an interesting phenomenon. The demand to free the prisoners was formally announced for the first time at a press conference Tuesday by Hamas military wing spokesman Abu Ubaidah, and not by the Hamas political leadership. Imagine if the IDF Spokesperson’s Office organized a press conference and set its own terms for an Israeli ceasefire. In other words, the tail is wagging the dog in Gaza.
Hamas is being run right now not by the Gaza political leaders such as Ismail Haniyeh or Mahmoud al-Zahar, but by the commanders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades — men like Marwan Issa, Mohammed Def, Raed al-Attar, and Yahya Snawar. They largely initiated the escalation, and they are the ones now determining how it plays out.

Thus far, Hamas’s military wing has managed to control and direct the rocket fire with remarkable efficiency. It is evident that much thought has gone into planning a system that would enable protracted, long-range shooting, even under heavy Israeli air fire. Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades have simultaneously attempted infiltrations from the sea — what it would consider “quality” acts of terrorism — against Israeli targets at Zikim; thus far, they have failed to produce the desired result.

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