Friday, July 18, 2014

IDF Hits 260 Targets While Central Israel Remains Under Heavy Fire

IDF Hits 260 Terror Targets In Gaza

Since the ground operation in Gaza began, the IDF has attacked 260 terror targets, according to updated statistics released by the IDF Spokesperson on Friday night.
Among the targets that were hit are leadership and governance infrastructure, weapons production and storage sites, tunnels and homes of senior Hamas officials.

So far, according to the IDF, 22 entrances to terror tunnels have been uncovered. The tunnels are used for both smuggling of weapons as well as for combat purposes.
IDF forces have killed more than 40 terrorists in Gaza and some 21 terrorists have been caught and arrested by the troops.

Mortar shells were fired at troops in southern Gaza on Friday. In retaliation, the Israel Air Force struck and destroyed the launcher from which the shells were fired.

In addition, a terrorist attack was thwarted in central Gaza on Friday afternoon, when a terrorist armed with five grenades told the troops he required medical attention.
As the troops turned to assist him, the terrorist attempted to throw thegrenades at the soldiers, who acted quickly and opened fire at him.

A second, massive volley of rockets was aimed at central Israel from the Gaza Strip just after 9pm Friday evening, even as IDF ground grounds operated in the Gaza Strip in a bid to stem the attacks. At least two rockets were reportedly intercepted in the Tel Aviv area.

Two rockets were also intercepted over Tel Aviv at around 6pm Friday, with sirens sounding in Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Or Yehuda, Kfar Saba, Hod Hasharon, Ganei Tikva, Yehud and Kiryat Ono.

Moments later, sirens also sounded in Ashdod and the surrounding area.

In the afternoon Friday, rockets continued to hit a number of southern communities such as Be'er Sheva, Ofakim and Eshkol, after the morning hours saw a number of salvos fired at Israel.

The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Saturday, the twelfth day of Operation Protective Edge. On Friday, Israel’s ground offensive on Hamas targets in Gaza gathered pace, with the IDF reporting it had found numerous terror tunnels, killed 20 Hamas gunmen and captured 13 more. Palestinian sources put the total Gaza death toll to date at almost 300. IDF Chief Benny Gantz said Hamas’s terror infrastructure was being set back years, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel would restore security and calm for its civilians one way or another; she pointedly did not rule out bringing down Hamas. (Friday’s liveblog is here.) Remember, you can also follow @TOIAlerts on Twitter — we’re live-tweeting all the updates there as well.

Livni’s striking comments

Among the more striking comments we’ve heard in the past few hours were remarks from Justice Minister Livni, who told Channel 2 she did not rule out Israel bringing down Hamas if that was what it took to restore security and calm for the people of Israel.
Livni, the Hatnua party head who is the the most dovish member of Israel’s inner cabinet, was asked to confirm that the goal of Israel’s current ground offensive in Gaza is not to destroy Hamas. “I’m not taking anything off the table,” she replied. “I’m not going to tell them [Hamas] what the limits [of the operation] are. Among other things, it’s up to them.”
She said Hamas, in rejecting Egyptian ceasefire efforts, and attempting to murder Israeli civilians via ongoing rocket fire and a foiled under-border tunnel infiltration near a kibbutz on Thursday morning, had shown that it “lives in a completely different opera.”

The Islamist terror group appeared to think that it could come out of this conflict with political gains, she said. “I hope they understand today that’s not going to happen.” Israel, she stressed “has no quarrel with the people of Gaza. [But] there will be no political benefit for Hamas. It is a terror group that does not accept our existence.”

Earlier, IDF Chief Benny Gantz said the army was setting back the Hamas terror infrastructure by years.
“Hamas and the other terror groups in Gaza are taking heavy, continuing blows. Years they’ve spent building up their force — rockets, missiles, planning terror attacks, tunnels — all of this is being smashed by the capabilities of Israel, of the IDF,” said Gantz.

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