Newsletter : 14fx0709.txt
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More Than 50% of Israel under Hamas Rocket Attack - From Be'er Sheva to Greater Tel
Aviv to Jerusalem
By DEBKAfile & IsraelNationalNews.com
Three rockets landed in Jerusalem for the first time Tuesday night, one hitting a house
southwest of the city. A concert was interrupted at the Sultan Pool near the Old City and
the audience of several thousands dispersed. Shows in Tel Aviv were also cancelled.
A video has emerged showing hundreds of Arabs flooding the plaza of the Al Aqsa mosque
on the Temple Mount to celebrate the sounding of air raid sirens in Jerusalem. The crowds
can be heard whistling and chanting in celebration of the fact that Hamas rockets reached
as far as the capital city Tuesday evening.
Some 120 rockets from Gaza were fired at Israel on Tuesday, the first day of the IDF's
Operation Protective Edge. IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner told the AFP news agency that 23
of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, with most of the
rest exploding on open ground causing no damage or casualties.
Hamas upped the ante on Tuesday and extended the range of the rockets. The latest salvo
of rockets on Tuesday evening hit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and as far as Hadera, which is
located 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Tel Aviv and south of Haifa. Hadera is the
furthest point to date that a Gaza rocket has reached.
An Iron Dome battery intercepted a Palestinian rocket over Tel Aviv in central Israel.
Public shelters have been opened in Tel Aviv, the beaches along the Mediterranean coast
have been cleared of bathers from the south up to Netanya, north of Tel Aviv. Sde Dov
airport has been closed. Arrivals and departures of flights at Ben Gurion international
and Eilat airports have been thrown off schedule by Israeli Air Force sorties against
Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Strong explosions boomed over Modi'in and Rehovot in the early
evening. Witnesses reported mid-air interceptions.
"Color Red" rocket warning sirens were sounded in the coastal region on Tuesday night
in Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Kfar Shmaryahu, Rishon Letzion, Nes Tziona, Beit Shemesh and its
environs, Rehovot, Gedera, as well as southern communities of the coastal region, the
Gezer Regional Council area, Yavne and additional communities. Sirens reportedly sounded
as far north as Binyamina.
According to reports in the area, several rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome
anti-missile defense system, and no damage has yet been reported by the missiles. The
rockets apparently are of the M75 model, a domestic creation produced by Hamas in Gaza
which features a long range.
The barrage of rockets towards Tel Aviv apparently was launched from Beit Hanoun in
Gaza; at least one of those rockets was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense
system. In the latest escalation, over 170 rockets were reportedly fired at Israel as of
Tuesday morning in the preceding 24 hour period.
IDF was surprised by a Hamas rocket covering the distance of 110 km from the Gaza Strip
reaching to a point between Hadera and Binyamina, midway between Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Tuesday night, 10-12 of these rockets were fired from Gaza, some exploding in the Sharon
district north of Tel Aviv, including Kfar Saba and Raanana
A Hamas naval commando team which tried to land on Ashkelon's Zikkim Beach Tuesday
evening was tackled by IDF forces defending the coast. In the clash, all four of the
would-be invaders were killed
The terrorists entered Israel by sea and were on their way to Kibbutz Zikim, located
roughly a kilometer and a half (around one mile) north of Gaza along the coast, when they
encountered IDF forces from the Givati infantry brigade at a military base near the
kibbutz. A gunfight broke out, with all four terrorists being eliminated in the exchange
"A number of terrorists came out of the ocean and attacked the base with Kalashnikov
rifles and hand grenades," said army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. He said soldiers on
the base near kibbutz Zikim, just north of the Gaza Strip, shot two of the terrorists,
aircraft killed a third and the navy killed the fourth. One IDF soldier was lightly
injured in the exchange. On the bodies of the four terrorists large quantities of weapons
and ammunition were found, including RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), explosives and hand
On the Gaza side, emergency services told AFP, 27 people were killed and more than 100
wounded in Israeli airstrikes. Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told the news
agency two teenagers were among the dead and that at least another 25 people were wounded
in one of the airstrikes.
It was the most serious flare-up in and around the Islamist-controlled territory since
November 2012, and came as Israel's cabinet reportedly authorized the army to call up
40,000 reservists for a possible ground assault on Gaza.
Some of the civilian casualties were a result of terrorists using civilians as human
shields, a fact which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu emphasized in a statement on
Tuesday evening. "The IDF aims its actions against Hamas terrorists and not against
innocent civilians," Netanyahu stressed. "But Hamas purposely hides behind Palestinian
civilians, and therefore bears responsibility when they are inadvertently hit."
DEBKAfile reported earlier Tuesday: Israeli finally launched its military operation
Solid Rock against Hamas Monday night after the Palestinians directed a steady stream of
100 rockets from Gaza to expanded targets as far as Rehovot, 50 km away. Most of the 50
IDF strikes were conducted from the air and two from the sea.
he government and the IDF have billed the operation as a long-term, staged offensive to
destroy Hamas' logistical and strategic infrastructure, to be escalated stage by stage as
needed, up to a limited ground incursion, which would require additional reserve call-ups,
as well targeted assassinations. This progression will be adjusted to the enemy's response
and how quickly "quiet is restored to the South."
Israel's security cabinet and the IDF command are counting on the prospect of losing
its infrastructure deterring Hamas and persuading it to halt its rocket war on Israel. But
Hamas has its own game book and is unlikely to play by the rules dictated by Israel. Both
sides have therefore entered a dark corridor in which the two adversaries will try and
outdo each other in damage. Israel began by limiting itself to air strikes.
The rules of Operation Solid Rock now require Israel to scale its response up to the
next stage, in response to which Hamas will no doubt go for Tel Aviv. No one seems to know
how this tit-for-tat duel will end.
On the diplomatic front, Israel suffered another letdown when Egyptian President
Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi disappointed the hopes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had vested
in him to intercede powerfully with Hamas for a ceasefire. El-Sisi decided that the
Israeli-Hamas conflict was a minor episode in regional terms and no real threat to Egypt's
national interests and dropped his role as peace broker.
This was a bitter disappointment to Jerusalem. It left Israel facing the Palestinian
aggressor alone, but for the Europeans. They are willing to assume this role, but they are
seeking the restoration of the short-lived Palestinian reconciliation and a unity
government, which is the direct opposite of Netanyahu's most fervent objective.
In the heaviest fighting in the Gaza Strip in nearly two years, Israel launched dozens
of air raids Tuesday as it edged closer to a ground invasion to halt incoming Palestinian
Israel is prepared for a campaign against Hamas terrorists in Gaza that "will not end
within days," its defense chief, Moshe Ya'alon, said in a statement. Its security cabinet
also authorized the military to call up 40,000 reservists in addition to the 1,500 already
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest condemned the Hamas rocket attacks and
defended Israel's right to defend itself. "We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire
into Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza,"
Earnest said. "No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and we support
Israel's right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.''
The European Union condemned the "indiscriminate" rocket firing into Israel and the
Jewish state's retaliatory firing, saying in a statement that "the safety and security of
all civilians must be of paramount importance." It called for an immediate cease-fire.
In an article published Tuesday in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, President Barack
Hussein Obama said the two sides must protect the innocent and not use "vengeance and
retribution." He said he still believes it is possible for Israel and the Palestinians to
achieve peace, calling that the only path to security in Israel.
Life Under Fire: How Ordinary Israelis Live with the Rockets
The Home Front Command has issued fresh guidelines to Israelis in the wake of the
extensive rocket barrage at southern communities.. For the first time since the IDF's
Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, there is a ban on gatherings of more than 300 people
within a 40km radius of the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, there will be no activities at summer
camps, kindergartens and special education facilities within this range - except for the
heavily defended towns close to the Gaza Strip.
Towns and cities affected by the new guidelines include Ashkelon, Ashdod, Be'er Sheva,
Netivot, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat, Gedera, Yavne, Gan Yavne, Lakiya and Rahat.
Shopping centers and workplaces, however, are not required to follow the new
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva announced Tuesday that exams have
been postponed and will be rescheduled. Sapir College on the outskirts of Sderot has also
delayed its exams, while the Shamoon College of Engineering has suspended classes and
exams at its Be'er Sheva and Ashdod campuses, and Ahva College, east of Ashdod, has taken
similar steps .
In addition, the local authorities bordering Gaza, as well as Ashkelon, Ashdod and
Be'er Sheva , have opened their public shelters. And southern communities aside, the Iron
Dome missile defense system has in recent days been deployed in other locations across the
In Be'er Sheva, Soroka Hospital has decided to transfer its neonatal ward
holding 23 premature babies, five of whom are on respirators - to a protected area.
Hospital director Dr. Ehud Davidson said that the medical center had begun preparing based
on the assumption that a difficult period lay ahead.
"The neonatal ward at Soroka is not reinforced, and out of concern for the premature
babies, we decided it was time to transfer them temporarily to a protected area. The NICU
staff has experience in this type of transfer from Operation Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense
and other escalations."
Israel Railways also been affected by the barrage of rockets. Since the start of the
heavy rocket fire, moving trains have slowed their speed, in accordance with Home Front
Command guidelines. Following the heavy bombardment, there have been some train delays in
parts of the country. According to Home Front Command instructions, trains that are at the
station when the rocket alert sounds must remain there for seven minutes, after which they
must continue at a reduced speed until leaving the area. Trains between stations during a
rocket alert must slow down until they reach the boundaries of the sector.
Some 2,400 scouts were evacuated during a camping trip on Monday in the Haruvit forest,
east of Ashdod. Dozens of buses evacuated the scouts, and took them home. The mother of
two girls taking part in the trip told Ynet that they were very disappointed by the
decision. "They called and said that they were taking them home. I do not see why they had
to be split up right now. There were children crying hysterically and I'm sure there were
parents who had taken time off who could go pick them up."
Making Aliyah Under Fire
Making Aliyah is never an easy task, and leaving family, friends and memories behind is
enough of a challenge for any new oleh. But imagine making Aliyah under fire.
That is precisely what 26-year-old Becky Kupchan - one of the 64 new olim who arrived
Tuesday from the USA - is doing. She is moving from Chicago straight to the southern
Israeli city of Be'er Sheva, despite the fact that the city, like other Negev communities,
is currently being rocked by waves of rocket-fire from Gaza.
Kupchan was part of a flight chartered by Nefesh B'Nefesh, in partnership with the
Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, KKL and
Israel's newest citizens are a typically diverse bunch; they range in age from 8 months
to 91 years, and hail from Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey,
New York, Ohio and Virginia. Their choices of new communities are also varied, including
Beit Shemesh, Givat Shmuel, Hadera, Jerusalem, Karmiel, Modi'in, Nes Tziona, Ra'anana,
Ramat Beit Shemesh, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv and - for Becky - Be'er Sheva.
"Although the security situation in Israel is very tense right now, and in Be'er Sheva
where I'm about to move rockets are falling, I am not afraid and I trust the Israeli
government and the IDF," Kupchan said upon arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport. "I'm a Jew and
I've always dreamed about making Aliyah to Israel, my home - and at home you always feel
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