Three people were killed when a rocket scored a direct hit on a house in Kiryat Malachi and an eight-month oold baby was seriously injured. The rocket barrage over southern Israel has escalated. Air raid warning sirens sounded in Rishon LeZion and Tel Aviv this evening. A rocket fell on open ground in Rishon LeZion, without causing damage, and there are reports of an explosion in the Dan area. Part of the Dan region telephone system is reported to have crashed.
Meanwhile, Operation Pillar of Defense has entered its second day as the IDF is still limiting attacks on Gaza to air strikes rather than a ground offensive. The IDF is calling up reserves ahead of a possble widening of action.13 fatalities have been reported from the Gaza Strip.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement to teh foreign press today, "In recent days and weeks, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza have made normal life impossible for over one million Israelis. No government would tolerate a situation where nearly a fifth of its people live under a constant barrage of rockets and missile fire, and Israel will not tolerate this situation. This is why my government has instructed the Israeli Defense Forces to conduct surgical strikes against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. And this is why Israel will continue to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people.
'I want to remind you that seven years ago, Israel withdrew from every square inch of Gaza. Now Hamas, they took over the areas we vacated. What did it do? Rather than build a better future for the residents of Gaza, the Hamas leadership, backed by Iran, turned Gaza into a terrorist stronghold. They fired thousand of rockets at our cities, at our towns, at our civilians, at our children. They’ve smuggled thousands of rockets and missiles into Gaza, and they deliberately place these rockets and missiles in civilian areas: in homes, in schools, near hospitals. This year alone, the fired over one thousand rockets and missiles at Israel, included close to 200 rockets in the last 24 hours.
"I’m stressing this because it’s important to understand one simple point. There is no moral symmetry; there is no moral equivalence, between Israel and the terrorist organizations in Gaza. The terrorists are committing a double war crime. They fire at Israeli civilians, and they hide behind Palestinian civilians. And by contrast, Israel takes every measure to avoid civilian casualties. Despite this reality, and it’s a very difficult reality, Israel will continue to do everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties."
Netanyahu thanked US President Barack Obama and other world leaders for the understanding they had shown of Israel's right to defend itself, and continued, "In the past 24 hours Israel has made it clear that it will not tolerate rocket and missile attacks on its civilians. I hope that Hamas and the other terror organizations in Gaza got the message. If not, Israel is prepared to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people."
Since the Israel Air Force killed the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari in an air strike on his car yesterday afternoon, about 150 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel.
The Israel Police reported that 70 rockets were fired at the Negev and 16 were fired at the Lachish region just north of the Negev. About 30 people had to be treated for shock but there were no injuries and there has been other damage to property. The Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted over 50 rockets according to the IDF.
One rocket fell in a Beersheva neighborhood and caused major damage to cars and lightly injured one woman. Another rocket hit a store in Beersheva but nobody was injured. Rockets have also targeted Ashdod and Ashkelon. A rocket fell in a residential neighborhood in Ashdod but there were no injuries.
The IDF Home Front Command has ordered all Israeli citizens within a 40 kilometer radius of the Gaza Strip to remain near shelters. Schools will be closed today and studies have been cancelled at Ben Gurion University.
Meanwhile the IDF has continued bombing strategic targets in Gaza from the air. A statement from the IDF said, "The IDF dispersed leaflets above several locations in the Gaza Strip. These leaflets warn the residents of the Gaza Strip to stay away from Hamas and other terror organizations' operatives and facilities that pose a risk to their safety.The leaflets stress that Hamas is dragging the region toward violence, and that the IDF is prepared to defend the residents of the State of Israel until quiet is restored to the region."
Overnight, the IDF said that it targeted 100 medium and long range rocket launch and infrastructure sites across the Gaza Strip. The IDF said, "This has significantly damaged the rocket launch capabilities and munitions warehouses operated by Hamas and other terror organizations.The aim of targeting these sites is to impair the rocket launching capability of terror organizations in the Gaza strip and damage their further build up. In addition, Israeli Air Force aircraft targeted several rocket launching squads as they prepared to fire rockets towards southern Israel. Furthermore, the IDF, using tank shells, targeted several terror activity sites throughout the Gaza Strip."
The cabinet met in special session last night to hear updates on the latest situation. The UN Security Council met in emergency session last night behind closed doors at the request of Egypt.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 15, 2012
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