For the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, Tel Aviv came under fire today. Israel may have been able to take out a significant number of the new longer range missiles, but clearly they were not able to get them all. Israel suffered its first casualties in this escalating conflict, and continued their assault on depots and missile launch sites with at least 70 such strikes. Israel is also preparing to call up the reserves, which would be among the first steps to getting boots on the ground.
"Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip targeted Tel Aviv on Thursday in the first attack on Israel's commercial capital in 20 years, raising the stakes in a showdown between Israel and the Palestinians that is moving towards all-out war.
Earlier, a Hamas rocket killed three Israelis north of the Gaza Strip, drawing the first blood from Israel as the Palestinian death toll rose to 19, six of them children.
Israeli warplanes bombed targets in and around Gaza city for a second day, shaking tall buildings. In a sign of possible escalation, the armed forces spokesman said the military had received the green light to call in up to 30,000 reserve troops.
In the latest air strikes, three people were killed when a missile hit their car in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli military also said it had carried out aerial attacks and had destroyed 70 unmanned missile launch sites."
Hamas has reportedly fired at least 250 rockets into Israel.
"Five Palestinians were killed by Israeli air strikes on Thursday morning, as militants shot around 250 rockets into Israel, killing three Israelis.
The latest violence raised the total number of Gazans killed by Israeli air strikes since Wednesday to 15. At least 120 other residents of the coastal enclave have been injured, according to medics.
In the same period, Gaza rockets killed three Israelis and injured another five in a direct hit on a residential building in the southern town of Kiryat Malahi, said Israeli police."
Israeli tanks have been seen moving into position, further evidence that they are preparing for a ground war. That does not mean they will necessarily launch one, but they will be ready to go at a moments notice if the order comes from above.
"Tanks were shown on Israeli television yesterday heading south on Israeli highways toward the Palestinian coastal territory.
Army spokesman Mordechai, when asked about a possible ground assault, said “all options are on the table.”"
Watch the Iron Dome system take out a dozen rockets at the same time. As I have said about the system before; complete game changer.
Video embedded below.
This is a scene repeated frequently, with at least 130 such rockets intercepted.
"The Iron Dome has intercepted more than 130 rockets from the Gaza Strip since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, according to the the IDF Spokesman's Office."
The IDF released a photo showing the difficulties they face in destroying Hamas' launch sites a depots. Hamas intentionally places them near Mosques, schools, and other important or volatile civilian infrastructure.
Picture embedded below.
"A missile launch site in the Gaza Strip was set up by Hamas just half a block from a mosque and children’s playground, according to aerial photographs provided to KleinOnline by the Israel Defense Forces today.
Israel yesterday carried out a surgical strike of the site in question – a Fajr-5 missile launch pad established in the heavily populated Zeitoun district of Gaza to fire long range rockets into the Jewish state.
The photograph of the launch site, posted above, shows a children’s playground and a mosque located about a half a block away as well as two civilian factories and a gas station also within a half a block radius."
The Prime Minister of Egypt is preparing to visit Gaza to show his support of Hamas.
"Egypt's prime minister prepared to visit the Gaza Strip on Friday in an unprecedented display of solidarity with Hamas militants embroiled in a new escalation of conflict with Israel that risks spiraling into all-out war.
Egypt's new Islamist President, Mohamed Mursi, viewed by Hamas as a protector, led a chorus of denunciation of the Israeli strikes by allies of the Palestinians.
Mursi's prime minister, Hisham Kandil, is to visit Gaza on Friday with other Egyptian officials in a show of support for the enclave, an Egyptian cabinet official said. Israel promised the delegation would come to no harm.
An Egyptian government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said officials accompanying Kandil would explore the possibility of brokering a ceasefire."
As with any conflict involving Israel, fake injuries have come rolling in customary 'Pallywood' style.
First up, a man so badly injured he needed to be carried away by his buddies, but moments later he can be seen walking around after what must have been a truly miraculous recovery.
Video embedded below.
Next up, recycling photos. Hamas took a picture of a man holding what appears to be his dead son in his arms. A heart wrenching photo no doubt, but one that has nothing to do with this conflict. The photo was taken back in October, and is of a casualty of the Syrian civil war.
"Israel and Hamas are not only trading fire; they're trading tweets. Shortly after the Israel Defense Force (IDF) launched Operation Pillar of Cloud, targeting Hamas terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, the two sides fought a pitched battle on Twitter, as well, with Hamas's military wing, the @Alqassambrigade, taunting the @IDFspokesperson. Just as terrorists have frequently faked civilian casualties to stir global outrage against Israel, Hamas has tweeted fake pictures of dead children--and has been called out by its own sympathizers.
Further confirmation: the photograph appeared on October 16, 2012 on the UK Guardian website in a montage of images from the Syrian conflict. The image was taken at the Dar al Shifa Hospital in Aleppo, Syria:"
Now for some delicious irony. A pro-Hamas rally in Israel was cut short as the participants had to flee for their lives when they were warned Hamas had fired rockets toward their general area.
"Today, a hard left-wing pro-Hamas rally took place in Tel Aviv. Attendees included Elizabeth Tsurkov of the Hotline for Migrant Workers. ...
The rally apparently broke up shortly thereafter, thanks to rocket sirens warning of incoming ordinance … from Hamas-controlled Gaza. The delicious irony of leftist stupidity exists, even in Israel."
Let me use this incident to show the character of the sides fighting here. Israel allows dissent, and even goes so far as to protect those who seem to be actively campaigning for Israel to let itself be annihilated. Do not hold your breath waiting for a similar story coming out of an area controlled by Hamas.
I will end with a couple of clips of the Israeli air force destroying Hamas' rocket launching infrastructure.
Videos embedded below.
"He added that the IDF "believes the rocket fire will intensify." Tank fire also was directed at terror targets, he said.
Since beginning its operation, the IDF has struck nearly 250 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.
Palestinian sources said that 15 people were killed in Gaza as a result of the IAF strikes, with more than a hundred suffering injuries."
Past Posts on Operation Pillar of Defense (from first to last):
Berman Post: Israel Launches Operation "Pillar of Defense" (Pillar of Cloud)