Update from Israel – Wednesday, 21st November
21 November 2012
An explosion was heard this morning, Wednesday 21st November, on a bus in Tel Aviv close to the IDF headquarters. Initial reports from MDA and the police state that 15-20 passengers were wounded on the bombed bus in Tel Aviv. 5 sustained moderate or serious wounds. Another unexploded bomb found was found on the bombed bus in Tel Aviv. Police are currently combing the area for the terrorist who planted it.
More than 1,300 rockets have been fired at Israel since Saturday 10th November of which over 1,100 were fired since the start of Operation Pillar of Defence (14 Nov.) landing mostly in the South. The Iron Dome anti-missile defence system has intercepted over 400 rockets, preventing them from striking populated areas in Israel. 4½ million Israelis are within rocket range. In the last decade, over 12,800 missiles were fired from Gaza.
Tuesday 20th November: IDF soldier, Cpl. Yosef Fartuk, 18, of Emmanuel was killed in a rocket and mortar salvo in the Eshkol Regional Council on Tuesday afternoon. Alayaan Salem al-Nabari, 33, from the Bedouin village of Rejwan in the Negev was killed by a second mortar salvo in the same region.
In total, five Israeli civilians killed (4 civilians and 1 soldier): Mirah Scharf, 25, Aharon Smadja, 49, and Itzik Amsalem, 24, 7 in critical condition, 7 in a moderate condition and 204 lightly injured (including 8 soldiers).
A fajr rocket struck an 8-story apartment building in Rishon Lezion, causing extensive damage.
On Sunday 18th November, at least 7 people were seriously injured in direct hits on a home in Ashkelon and a car in Ofakim. Yesterday, Monday 19th November, a Grad rocket exploded outside an elementary school in Ashkelon. No one was hurt as all schools within a 4o km radius of Gaza are currently closed. Ben Gurion University of the Negev, with 15,000 students, also remains closed.
Operation Pillar of Defence has obtained significant achievements and the terrorist organisations of Gaza have been hit hard.
The IAF (Israel Air Force) has significantly deteriorated the long-range Iran-made Fajr missile stores.
The Kerem Shalom crossings opened on Tuesday morning (20th November) to allow the transfer of 120 trucks of humanitarian aid. However, when it was targeted by rocket fire from Gaza, the IDF was forced to close the crossing to ensure the safety of all those working at the crossing and passing through it. Only 24 trucks of humanitarian aid managed to make it through the crossings prior to the rocket strikes.
Overnight, the IDF targeted approximately 100 terror sites, including underground rocket launchers, terror tunnels and ammunition storage facilities. The IDF targeted several buildings that were used by terror operatives as command and control centres, as well as approximately ten terror tunnels used as hideouts by Hamas terrorists.
The IDF targeted terrorist squads involved in promoting terrorist activity including the planting of explosive devices and the firing of rockets towards Southern Israel. In addition, the IDF targeted 30 underground rocket launchers, as well as senior terror operative’s hiding place which was used to store weapons and ammunition.
Muhammed Shamalah, commander of Hamas forces in the southern Gaza Strip and head of the Hamas militant training programmes, was targetted by an Israel air strike while driving a car clearly labeled ‘TV’, indicating it to be a press vehicle, abusing the protection afforded to journalists.
Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 20th November), tha IAF dropped leaflets over Gaza. They read as follows:
The first leaflet:
To the residents of Sheikh Ajlin, Tel Al-Hwa, Rimal South, Zeitoun, Sjaiya, Turkeman and Sajiya Jadida: For your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move towards the central Gaza city, via Al-Khara, Jma’at Al Dul Al Arabia, Al Aqsa Al Qudsiya, Um Alaimoun, Salah A-din, Al-Maqsurra, Hal’s Mjdad. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the areas of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south.
Israel Defence Forces.
The second leaflet:
To the residents of of the outskirts of Shati, Al-Atatra, Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun: for your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move towards central Gaza city via Al-Falujah, Al-Udda and Salah A-din. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the roads of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south.
Over the course of the morning of Tuesday 20th November, the IDF targeted eleven terrorist squads who were involved in promoting terrorist activity including the planting of explosive devices and the firing of rockets towards southern Israel. In addition, the IDF targeted 30 underground rocket launchers, as well as a senior terror operative’s hiding place which was used to store weapons and ammunition. As a result severe damage was inflicted upon the rocket launching capabilities and weapon storage facilities owned by terror organisations operating in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, tank shells and artillery fire were used.
The Gaza Strip has been turned into a front line base for Iran, forcing Israeli citizens to live under unbearable circumstances. The sites that were targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of several months. The IDF is determined to continue targeting sites that are used to carry out terror attacks against the State of Israel and its citizens.
Monday 19th November, in a joint IDF- ISA operation, the IDF targeted a hideout used by senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives, who were a part of the terror organisation’s rocket launching operations, in the northern Gaza Strip. A direct hit was identified.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives, who were involved in firing rockets at Israel, were inside the building when it was targeted.
This is a further example of how terror organisations cynically use those inside civilian populated institutions as human shields.
Baha Abu al-Ata, a member of the Higher Military Council, is the commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Gaza City Brigade and is involved in orchestrating rocket launching and terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Al-Ata is also involved in the manufacturing of arms and firing long-range rockets at Israel.
Tissir Mahmoud Mahmedd Jabari was born in 1972 and is a resident of Sajaiya Turkman, Gaza City. Jabari is a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative, a member of the Higher Military Council and Head of the organization’s operation branch. Previously, Jabari was the Gaza City Regional Commander for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He was involved in carrying out various terror attacks against Israel, including massive rocket fire and attacks against IDF soldiers. Jabari holds responsibility for training within the organization and gives approval for the carrying out of terror attacks.
Halil Batini is amongst the senior operatives of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He is a key figure within the long-range rocket launching operations and responsible for internal security.
Ramaz Harab, born in 1976, resident of Shujaiyya Jadida, responsible for the propaganda in the Gaza City brigade, an aide to Tissir Jabari, formerly head of the Sheikh Rajuan Division.
Last week, Israel accurately targeted Ahmed Jabari, chief of Hamas’ military forces, who was responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis. It has successfully targeted many other terrorists, including the commander of Hamas’ anti-tank unit, regional Hamas commanders and rocket launching squads.
The IDF has targeted the headquarters buildings of Hamas in Gaza, including the offices of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, the Ministry of Interior, a police compound and training camps. To date, 800 objectives have been struck.
On Friday (Nov. 9), Hamas fired two rockets at Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Hamas’ imprecise rocket fire threatened the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Gaza’s military machine is connected to Iran, which has supplied it with enormous quantities of weapons.
The situation is operationally asymmetrical: Israel uses surgical strikes while Hamas fires indiscriminately. The conflict is also asymmetrical in its targeting. Israel directs its actions against the military targets of the terrorist organisations. The terrorists exclusively target civilians.
Earlier today, Sunday 18th November, the IAF directly targeted Hamas’ communication infrastructure:
Israel is exercising its legitimate and recognised right of self-defence. Israel’s actions are aimed at protecting the citizens of southern Israel. Israel – like all other countries – has the right of self-defence. When its citizens are under attack, it has to defend them. No country in the world would accept with equanimity an ongoing deadly threat that disrupts the daily lives of its citizens.
Israel would welcome an arrangement that ensures the security of its citizens. Until an arrangement is reached, the IDF will continue operations to protect the civilian population of Israel.
There is behind-the-scenes activity occurring now. Israel’s goals remain the same: protecting its citizens and ensuring that Hamas will no longer fire rockets at Israel.
Israel appreciates the support of the international community for its actions taken in self-defence against the terrorism emanating from Gaza. For the UK Foreign Secretary’s statement on the situation, please see this link. Many other democratic states have issued statements of support for Israel’s self-defensive actions, including the USA, Canada, Australia, France and the EU (High Commissioner Ashton).
Israel directs its actions against the military targets of Hamas and other terrorist organisations. It goes to great lengths to minimise harm to civilians. Israel regrets any injury to civilians and places responsibility squarely on Hamas, which uses the residents of Gaza as human shields. Israel does everything possible to prevent harm to Palestinian civilians. Hamas does everything possible to put Palestinian civilians in harm’s way.
It should be noted that the IDF made tens of thousands of phone calls to Gaza residents to warn them about the military operation. The IAF dropped flyers throughout the Gaza Strip calling for people to distance themselves from known terrorists, weapons stores and launching sites.
The leaflet reads as follows:
“Important announcement for the residents of the Gaza Strip:
For your own safety, take responsibility for yourselves and avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives and facilities and those of other terror organisations that pose a risk to your safety.
Hamas is once again dragging the region to violence and bloodshed. The IDF is determined to defend the residents of the State of Israel. This announcement is valid until quiet is restored to the region. Israel Defence Forces Command.”
Hamas has denied requests by foreigners, in particular journalists, to exit Gaza for Israel. These attempts to manipulate and coerce the foreign press should be stopped immediately.
Israel calls on the international community to support efforts to eradicate terrorism and to put a complete and permanent stop to the shooting of rockets at civilians.
Israel believes that the peace treaty with Egypt is a strategic interest of both states and will continue to uphold it.
Israel is acting to protect its citizens. Israel has begun a call-up of reserve troops so that it will be prepared to broaden the operation, but only if the need should arise.
Israeli citizens support the operation and stand with the civilians living in the south. Their resilience in the face of terrible hardship is admirable.
Israeli woman injured after missile attack
Medical update from Gaza (COGAT)
Gaza hospitals are reported to be at 80% capacity, only slightly higher than intake then during routine periods. On November 17th, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories updated Hassin el Alshich that, despite the problematic security situation and the ongoing rocket fire, it would be possible to transfer medical supplies into Gaza. This morning, 18 November 2012, 10 Red Cross trucks with medical supplies and one UNRWA truck entered Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing. Two trucks were designated as being of particular importance as they carried much needed anesthetics and bandages.
Since the start of the operation there have been two reported incidents of light damage to medical facilities due to shocks from Israeli air strikes on terrorist infrastructure in the vicinity.
1. Light damage to windows and doors of the Al-Quds hospital and the nearby Palestinian Red Crescent station in the Gaza district. Two Al Quds workers also sustained light injuries.
2. Light damage to windows in the Al-Karma hospital in the Jabaliya District.
On Thursday 15 November, 14 Gazans entered Israel for medical treatment. (IDF source)