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Hamas Declares Victory, Gaza Celebrates


Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal announced in a press conference Wednesday evening that Israel "has failed in all its goals" in Operation Defensive Pillar, following the cease fire announcement. "After eight days, God stayed their hand from the people of Gaza, and they were compelled to submit to the conditions of the resistance," Mashaal said. "Israel has failed in all its goals," he told reporters in a Cairo hotel. Hel also thanked ceasefire mediator Egypt, as well as Iran, which he said "had a role in arming" Hamas during the conflict.

Arabs in Gaza took to the streets to celebrate the start of the truce deal, firing into the air and chanting victory slogans, AFP reported. The celebrations began shortly after the 2 p.m.(EST) deadline for the ceasefire to begin, agreed in a deal between Israel and Hamas that was announced in Egypt.

Heavy celebratory gunfire could be heard throughout Gaza, and residents also released fireworks into the night sky, where Israeli drones could still be buzzing heard overhead. "The resistance has triumphed," some shouted, alongside chants of "God is greatest."

However. Gaza's terrorist rulers marked the ceasefire that went into effect on Wednesday evening by continuing to fire rockets at southern Israel. According to Kol Yisrael radio's midnight newscast, 20 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel since the ceasefire went into effect at 9 p.m. Wednesday evening. There were no reports of physical injuries or damages.

Before the ceasefire went into effect, terrorists fired a barrage of 40 rockets at the area, targeting Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Be'er Sheva among other cities. In Be'er Sheva, a rocket directly hit a home, causing no physical injuries. Four rockets fired at Ashdod on Wednesday evening were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. Since Wednesday morning, Gaza-based terrorists fired more than 116 rockets into Israel. Iron Dome intercepted 20 rockets during the day.

Earlier on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman held a joint news conference announcing the ceasefire.

Netanyahu said, "Eight days ago, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense, after attacks from Gaza that were carried out at a growing rate the last few months. The terror organizations assumed that we would abstain from an aggressive action, but they were wrong. We hit senior leaders. We destroyed thousands of rockets that were aimed at the South, and most of the rockets that were aimed at the center of Israel. We hit Hamas's control mechanisms. He said that Israel and the U.S. agreed to work together against smuggling of weapons that originate in Iran into Gaza.

IDF forces remain on high alert on the border for the time being, and it appears that the army fears that is it just a matter of time before the next round of violence breaks out. The security establishment hopes the severe blows the Air Force dealt Hamas and Islamic Jihad during the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense will result in a period of calm, but security officials have no doubt that the rocket and mortar fire on south Israel will continue in the coming days.

The army fears that armed Palestinian groups competing with Hamas for supremacy in Gaza – particularly Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and Salafi terrorists – will seek to ignite the region by launching rockets. The IDF destroyed most of Hamas' long-range rockets, but it still possesses thousands of short and mid-range rockets. Hamas had some 10,000 rockets before the operation and it launched some 1,500 of them. The IDF destroyed some 1,000 rocket launchers.

Israeli politicians also expect that the fighting with Hamas will resume at some point. "There will be more rounds of violence," one official said. "The question is whether we succeeded in delaying the next round. The conflict is not over. Another question is how we detach Gaza's dependence on Israel. We provide them with electricity and water – this responsibility should be handed over to the Egyptians," he added. "This should be Israel's goal."

Day 8: Terrorists Bomb Tel Aviv Bus

By DEBKAfile

A bombing attack on a bus in central Tel Aviv Wednesday, left at least 28 people injured, five seriously. A missile siren earlier alerted the towns and kibbutzim just west of Jerusalem – up to Beit Shemesh – Wednesday morning, Day 8 of the Gaza operation – the day after two Palestinian rockets missed the Israeli capital and landed at a West Bank Palestinian village. Two houses in Beir Tuvia took direct hits, injuring a woman and causing shock.

Iron Dome saved Ashkelon and Be'er Sheba from missile barrages. Rocket fire was also directed at Kiryat Malachi, Yad Mordecai, Netiv Haasara, Yavne and Sdot Hanegev. Four shells exploded in the Eshkol district where a soldier was killed Tuesday. In days, the Palestinians have launched 1,400 rockets against Israeli civilian locations. Iron Dome intercepted 400, most of the rockets threatening built-up areas.

Four people were injured by a rocket from Gaza hitting an apartment building in Rishon Lezion southeast of Tel Aviv. Fifteen people went into shock. Dozens of people were saved by sheltering in bomb-proof rooms when the 90-kilo Iran-made Fajr rocket hit the roof and destroyed apartments on the three top floors of the eight-floor building. Other buildings and vehicles on the street were also damaged by the blast. Some Rishon schools were closed Wednesday and others arranged to send the children home early – the first time the Gaza missile offensive has affected schools in a town of central Israel.

In Ashkelon, a civilian was seriously hurt in the street when another rocket hit the town. Be'er Sheba took two 16-rocket salvoes. Two long-range missiles fired from Gaza at Jerusalem exploded in a Palestinian village on the West Bank near Gush Etzion. There were no casualties. Hamas claimed the shooting of a "M75" rocket. Extensive damage was caused to property in the towns attacked and economic losses are mounting as the lockdown of southern Israel goes into its second week.

Police were conducting a massive manhunt in Tel Aviv after an explosive device was detonated inside a bus on Tel Aviv's Shaul Hamelech Street at noon on Wednesday in what police said was a terror attack.

Magen David Adom medical services said 28 people were wounded in the attack. The bomb blew out the windows on the vehicle, a 76 line bus belonging to the Dan company, causing extensive damage but no fatalities.

Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center officials said one person was seriously wounded, one person moderately wounded, and one person was listed in light-to-moderate condition. The official said that the three people were being operated on for blast, burn and shrapnel injuries, mostly from nuts and bolts lodged in their bodies. All the others were lightly hurt and some were being treated for shock.

The attack, in central Tel Aviv, took place near the IDF Kirya military headquarters, Sourasky Medical Center, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The military headquarters was placed on high alert after the attack.

IDF Summarizes Operation: 1,500 Gaza Targets Hit


The IDF hit more than 1,500 targets in Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defense, according to a statement released Wednesday night. The statement was a summary of the counterterrorist operation, which came to an end after a ceasefire was announced on Wednesday evening.

The IDF said it achieved the goals that were set prior to the operation and dealt a severe blow to Hamas and its military capabilities. As a result of the IDF's strikes, said the statement, there was significant damage to Hamas's command array, including the targeted killing of arch-terrorist Ahmed Jaabari, extensive damage to infrastructure, facilities and Hamas military bases, as well as the bombing of dozens of smuggling tunnels.

The IDF said that its airstrikes destroyed and damaged Hamas's strategic capabilities, including long-range rockets and hundreds of medium-range and short-range rockets. Consequently, Hamas's launching capabilities were significantly disrupted.

Over the course of Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF targeted 19 senior command centers, operational control centers and Hamas' senior-rank headquarters, 30 senior operatives, 140 smuggling tunnels, 66 terror tunnels, dozens of Hamas operation rooms and bases, and 26 weapon manufacturing and storage facilities.

In total, 1,506 rockets were fired at Israel during Pillar of Defense, of which 875 exploded in open spaces and 58 exploded in populated areas. The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted 421 rockets, with a success rate of 84%.

Five Israelis, including four civilians and one soldier, were killed during the days of the operation and 240 people were wounded.

The Vatican on Gaza: Israel is a `Baby-Killer'


Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Vatican Council for Culture, commenting on the war between Israel and Hamas, delivered a severe attack on the Jewish people: "I think of the `massacre of the innocents'. Children are dying in Gaza, their mothers' shouts is a perennial cry, a universal cry".

The Catholic Church high official equated Israel's operation in Gaza against terror groups with the New Testament story of Herod's slaughter of Jewish babies in his effort to kill Jesus.

Ravasi, who is one of the most popular Catholic cardinals and the director of the Church's policy on culture, called Israelis baby-killers in a shameless form of anti-Semitism which subtly accuses the Jewish State of trying to murder the new Jesus, symbolized by the Palestinian people.

The Vatican official's modern blood libel against Israel was delivered during the presentation of Pope Benedict's new book about the life of Jesus. However, Ravasi's theme – the Jews as Herod, who killed all the innocent babies because his heart was set on killing Jesus – was much beloved by medieval organizers of pogroms.

The vicar-general of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, William Shomali, said on Vatican Radio that "what is happening in Gaza now is a vicious circle of violence". The auxiliary bishop then declared that "it's difficult to know who started it". How difficult?

A few weeks ago, in an interview with the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, Shomali claimed that "hatred of Christians" is the Talmud itself. "The Talmud, the holy book studied by the ultra-orthodox, more highly venerated than the Bible itself, invites religious hatred, speaks badly of Jesus, and even worse of Mary and, in general, of Christians," the bishop said, adding that "in Israeli schools, love for the other is not taught, but rather the destruction of the other".

Talking to the Vatican News Agency, Michel Sabbah, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, said that the Gaza Strip for many years "has been living under the weight of an absurd embargo, which makes the daily lives of a million and a half of people inhumane".

Sabbah signed the recent appeal by more than 100 Christian leaders who have asked the international community to support the recognition of the Palestinian State as a full member of the United Nations. Among the signers is the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna, a self professed anti-Semite who blessed the suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.

As yet, no condemnation has come from the Pope of the barrages of rockets fired by terror groups on southern Israeli cities before Operation Pillar of Defense. The Church authorities, and Benedict XVI himself, raised their voices in condemnation of the violence that has broken out in the Gaza Strip only after Israel began bombing the installations of the terrorist movements in that territory. Not a word was heard before that.

During the Cast Lead operation in 2009, the Vatican officials called Gaza "a concentration camp". After the Nazi comparison did its work, the Jesus-killer motif has now returned to the Catholic Church.

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