During a tour of the Southern Command on Thursday, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz discussed Operation Pillar of Defense and the ceasefire.
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz toured the Southern Command today (Thursday, November 22), following the conclusion of Operation Pillar of Defense and the implementation of a ceasefire last night.
The Chief of Staff expressed appreciation for the Israeli public's steadfastness during the operation, saying, "I really appreciate the resiliency of the public. I think that it gave the political leadership the ability to carry out its responsibilities. It gave us, the military leadership, the ability to operate with discretion."
He also discussed the IDF's achievements during Operation Pillar of Defense. "This operation accomplished its purposes and goals as set by the political leadership," he said. "We hit Hamas hard through the targeting of [senior Hamas terrorist Ahmed] Jabri himself and a number of other senior officials. We inflicted much damage on all of the [rocket] launching capabilities."
Additionally, Lt. Gen. Gantz explained the importance of the IDF's mobilization of reserve forces during the operation. "The mobilization of the enlistment system enabled us to be strong in the different arenas and to prepare the next stage," he said. "One cannot carry out an action when the subsequent action is not prepared. The IDF can perform any mission that the political leadership sets for it."
The Chief of Staff clarified that despite the ceasefire, the IDF will continue to track attempts to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip from Iran or Libya, and will operate so as to thwart such attempts.
NEWS REPORTS OF NOTE
New York Times: For Israel, Gaza Conflict Is Test for an Iran Confrontation - David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker
There was a second, strategic agenda unfolding in the conflict that ended, for now, in a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, according to American and Israeli officials. The exchange was something of a practice run for any future armed confrontation with Iran, featuring improved rockets that can reach Jerusalem and new anti-missile systems to counter them.
It is Iran, of course, that most preoccupies Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama. While disagreeing on tactics, both have made it clear that time is short, probably measured in months, to resolve the standoff over Iran's nuclear program.
One key to their war-gaming has been cutting off Iran's ability to slip next-generation missiles into Gaza or Lebanon, where they could be launched by Iran's surrogates, Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, during any crisis.
Michael B. Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and a military historian, noted Wednesday: "In the Cuban missile crisis, the U.S. was not confronting Cuba, but rather the Soviet Union." In the Gaza operation, "Israel was not confronting Gaza, but Iran." (New York Times)
> Read the full story
Bloomberg: Closing Arms Tunnels Crucial to Ending Israel-Hamas War - Nicole Gaouette
The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is unlikely to end their conflict unless smuggling routes the militant group uses to re-arm itself are closed. So long as militants can restock their arsenals with goods from Sudan, Libya and Iran smuggled through Gaza's tunnels, any Israeli success against Hamas will be short-term, said Adam Hug, policy director at the Foreign Policy Centre in London.
Egypt's new government is "too stressed out on other issues" to deal effectively with the tunnels, said Paul Sullivan, a professor at the National Defense University in Washington. "The fact that the Egyptian military could not stop the murder of their own in North Sinai in July says a lot."
> Read the full story
Times of Israel: Hamas "Victory" Sparks Fighting Spirit in the West Bank - Elhanan Miller
The IDF reported a steep rise in violent activities in the West Bank during the week of fighting in Gaza. Rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at civilian cars and a bus was shot at from a passing car near Gush Etzion junction, south of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem's Old City, a young woman stabbed a soldier on Thursday.
The Palestinian street is quickly slipping into combat mode, inspired by the fighting words emanating from Gaza. Yet as demonstrators flocked to the main squares of Ramallah and Hebron to celebrate Hamas' victory Thursday, Fatah official Bassam Zakarneh wrote on his Facebook page: "My brothers, if the death of 163 martyrs including the leader Ahmad Jabari, with thousands of wounded and all [government] institutions destroyed is considered a victory, then by God what is defeat?" (Times of Israel)
> Read the full story
Huff Post: Israel did everything it could to avoid civilian casualties
Col. Richard Kemp CBE, is a former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan and one of the most highly decorated and respected officers in the British Army. He has spent 30 years of his career fighting terrorism in the UK and around the world.
That makes him more qualified than most to comment on the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas, which entered into a fragile cease-fire overnight.
> Read the full story
Wall Street Journal Editorial: Hamas’s Gaza Victory
Regarding America's war in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger once noted that "the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win." Regarding Israel's latest war against Hamas in Gaza, the same considerations apply.
The leaders of Hamas understand that they have emerged politically intact and strategically stronger after eight days of inconclusive fighting. The terrorist group fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israel - forcing millions of Israelis into bunkers and bomb shelters - but suffered no decisive military defeat.
The Egyptian government has been accorded a special role in maintaining the cease-fire, but that will mean little unless it halts the flood of arms coming from Iran into Gaza from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Israel received a similar guarantee after its last cease-fire with Hamas in 2009, but the rockets multiplied and with longer ranges.
Israel lives in a bad neighborhood that has become more dangerous since the Arab Spring. Israel has at least degraded Hamas' ability to attack if there is a war with Iran next year
A short while ago, a ceasefire agreement regarding the fighting in the south, came into effect. Following eight days of operations, the IDF has accomplished its pre-determined objectives for Operation Pillar of Defense, and has inflicted severe damage to Hamas and its military capabilities.
As a result of IDF operations, the command and control apparatus of Hamas was significantly struck, beginning with the targeting of the commander of the military wing of Hamas, Ahmed Jabri, continuing with the targeting of broad terrorist infrastructure, facilities and military bases, as well as the destruction of dozens of smuggling and explosive tunnels.
During the operation, the IDF damaged and destroyed significant elements of Hamas' strategic capabilities, among them. Amongst those capabilities were long-range (over 40 km) and hundreds of short- and medium-range rocket launchers. These actions have severely impaired Hamas' launching capabilities, resulting in a decreasing number of rockets being fired from the Gaza Strip. The 'Iron Dome' defense system has accomplished high rate of successful interceptions (84%) and Hamas' accuracy with regards to hitting populated areas within Israel remained below 7%.
IDF soldiers, in regular and reserve military service, gathered in assembly areas and prepared for the ground operation. Their time was used for training and improving their operational capabilities.
These operational achievements provided the underlying framework for this evening's ceasefire agreement.
At this time, Israeli residents are requested to continue to pay attention to Home Front Command's instructions.
Over the course of Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF targeted over 1,500 terror sites including 19 senior command centers, operational control centers and Hamas' senior-rank headquarters, 30 senior operatives, damaging Hamas' command and control, hundreds of underground rocket launchers, 140 smuggling tunnels, 66 terror tunnels, dozens of Hamas operation rooms and bases, 26 weapon manufacturing and storage facilities and dozens of long-range rocket launchers and launch sites.Senior Operatives Targeted:
14.11 – Ahmed Sai'd Halil Jabri, head of Hamas' military wing.
15.11 – Hab's Hassan Us Msamch, senior operative in Hamas' police.
16.11 – Ahmed Abu Jalal, Commander of the military wing in Al-Muazi
16.11 – Khaled Shayer, senior operative in the anti-tank operations.
17.11 – Osama Kadi, senior operative in the smuggling operations in the southern Gaza Strip.
17.11 – Muhammad Kalb, senior operative in the aerial defense operations.
19.11 – Ramz Harb, Islamic Jihad senior operative in propaganda in Gaza city.Number of Rocket Launches Toward Israel During the Operation:
14.11 – 75
15.11 – 316
16.11 – 228
17.11 – 237
18.11 – 156
19.11 – 143
20.11 – 221
21.11 (Until 21:00) - 130Rocket Launched Towards Israel:
Total number of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip – 1,506
Open areas – 875
Urban areas – 58
'Iron Dome' Interceptions – 421
Failed launching attempts – 152
Fatalities - 5
Injuries - 240 MEDIAB'nai B'rith sent the following letter to The Washington Post
“Attacks intensify along Gaza border” by Karin Brulliard leaves a vital part of the story untold.
You note: “…among more than 300 rockets and mortar rounds fired from Gaza since the Israeli operation began Wednesday…”
While that is true—the Israeli operation did begin Wednesday—what you leave out and what is crucial to conveying the full situation—is that Israel was responding to hundreds of Hamas rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. Israel’s operation is a reaction to relentless terror attacks.
Your story leaves the impression that Israel started this situation. Israel showed remarkable and commendable restraint for days as its citizens hid in bomb shelters trying to escape from Hamas rockets.
To fairly report the situation, each story in the Post needs to include the fact that Israel was responding to attacks against its people.
**NOTE: The Post ombudsman responded that he would be investigating this issue in an upcoming column.NEWS REPORTS OF NOTEWashington Post: Egypt Brokers Gaza Ceasefire - Ernesto Londono and Michael Birnbaum
On Wednesday an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire halted the most serious clash since 2009 between Israel and Hamas, but leaves the crux of the conflict unresolved. The agreement restricts Israel from deploying ground troops or targeting militant leaders in Gaza, while Palestinian factions there are commanded to cease rocket attacks on Israel. After seven days in which hundreds of Palestinian rockets were fired into Israel and hundreds of Israeli airstrikes targeted Gaza, the U.S. and Egypt played key mediating roles in the accord, which was announced in Cairo after a meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president.
> Read the full story
. Haaretz: Israel's Gaza Operation Achieved Its Goals - Aluf Benn
Israel's Gaza operation had two strategic goals: to reinstate the Gaza ceasefire with Hamas and to stabilize the peace with Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Israel expects Hamas to stop the firing and enforce quiet on other armed organizations. This agreement is not based on love, but on joint interests backed by a balance of fear - the IDF's air firepower and threat of a ground invasion.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared on Wednesday: "Hamas is responsible for enforcing the ceasefire." This means Israel expects Ahmed Jabari's successor to ensure quiet on the border. If he is sloppy or refuses, he may expect the same fate that befell the Hamas chief of staff who was assassinated last week. This is what Israeli leaders mean when they use the term "renewing the deterrence."
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi proved that he too prefers interests to ideology. Morsi has made it clear the peace with Israel is an Egyptian interest and even serves Egypt's desire to resume a leadership position in the region.
Netanyahu showed it was possible to bomb Gaza and kill Hamas' chief of staff without harming the peace with Cairo. In the new strategic environment generated by the "Arab Spring," this is no mean feat.
> Read the story
.Boston Globe: A Vast Moral Difference - Jeff Jacoby
Media coverage of the hostilities in Gaza tends to focus on rockets and casualties and diplomatic maneuvering. Not emphasized nearly enough is the vast moral distance that separates Israel from its terrorist enemy. On one side is a Jewish state that seeks peace with its neighbors and has repeatedly offered deep concessions to achieve it; on the other, a fanatic regime of jihadists who glorify death, abominate Jews, and are obsessed with eradicating that solitary Jewish state.
By now it should be obvious even to the congenitally naive that so long as Hamas rules Gaza - a de facto Palestinian state, no matter what anyone calls it - it will never end its quest for Israel's annihilation and peace will remain but a dream.
> Read the story
. Guardian-UK: Hamas Leaves Israel No Choice - Danny Ayalon
Hamas' charter includes the aspiration that "The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews)." It is this aspiration for genocide that is at the root of Hamas activities. The charter begins with the ominous warning that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." Death and destruction is seen as a win-win calculation, as any Israeli death is considered a glorious achievement and every Palestinian death that of a "holy martyr."
Israel has been left with little choice but to root out this nest of hate and destruction. No nation on earth would allow a third of its population to live in constant fear of incessant fire emanating from a neighboring territory. We gave the international community time to act. However, there was a deafening silence, demonstrating to Israelis that we had to take action to protect our citizens. Those who refused to condemn the attacks on Israeli citizens have no right to condemn Israel's response to establish peace and quiet for its citizens. The writer is Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
> Read the story
.From the White House: Obama: U.S. to Intensify Efforts to Halt Weapons Smuggling to Gaza
President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday. The White House said: "The president made clear that no country can be expected to tolerate rocket attacks against civilians. The president commended the prime minister for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal - which the president recommended the prime minister do - while reiterating that Israel maintains the right to defend itself."
"The president said that the U.S. would use the opportunity offered by a ceasefire to intensify efforts to help Israel address its security needs, especially the issue of the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza. The president said he was committed to seeking additional funding for Iron Dome and other U.S.-Israel missile defense programs."
Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin’s latest analysis of the situation
IDF Summary of Activity in Gaza for Nov. 21
Follow the IDF on Twitter @IDFSpokesperson3:00 PM:
A short while ago in Gaza, the IDF targeted an underground rocket launcher as well as 5 terror operatives preparing to launch rockets. 12:20 PM:
A city bus exploded in Tel Aviv. Ambulances were heard in the area. Reports out of Gaza indicated that Hamas was celebrating the fact that Israeli civilians were targeted. Stay tuned for updates. 9:00 AM:
This morning, the IDF targeted Hamas operatives in their hiding place in Gaza where they were building rockets. A direct hit was confirmed. 7:10 AM:
Overnight, the IDF targeted dozens of terror infrastructure sites throughout the Gaza Strip. The targets included the Ministry of Internal Security – which served as one of the main command and control centers for the Hamas terror organization – as well as an important police compound and a military hideout used as a meeting place for senior operatives and a communications center. Additionally, Israeli Navy targeted a rocket launching site, a Hamas post and a structure used for Hamas’ terror activity.
In a joint IDF-ISA activity, the IDF targeted, in a pinpoint strike, a Hamas intelligence operations center, which was deliberately located in a media building in the Gaza Strip. In addition, IAF aircraft targeted a senior Hamas operative in the aerial defense operations, several terrorist squads, and a terrorist who was identified at the launching site from which a rocket was fired yesterday towards Jerusalem. Furthermore, the IDF targeted approximately 50 underground rocket launchers, terror tunnels, three weapons storage facilities, and a weapons manufacturing site. The IDF also targeted a system of tunnels used to transport fuel to Hamas. 12:30 AM:
Minutes ago, the IDF surgically targeted a Hamas intelligence operations center on the seventh floor of the “Neema” media building in the Gaza Strip. A direct hit was confirmed.
> Visit here for the IDF updated video gallery.
B’nai B’rith reached out to the Financial Times on the publication’s to cover both sides of the story while reporting on the Gaza situation. You can read the letter here.NEWS REPORTS OF NOTEThe Washington Post: Gaza fighting rages as Clinton pursues durable cease-fire
TEL AVIV — A bus bombing Wednesday morning brought the Gaza conflict to central Tel Aviv, as intensified fighting between Hamas militants and the Israeli military raised doubts about the prospects of a durable cease-fire being sought by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and others in hectic rounds of shuttle diplomacy.
After flickers of hope on Tuesday that a cease-fire was imminent, the Israeli assault on Gaza early Wednesday instead appeared to have escalated. Israeli airstrikes targeted ministerial buildings of Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules Gaza, as well as dozens of other sites. Ten rockets were fired into Israel, according to an Israeli Defense Forces spokesman.
In Tel Aviv, an explosion on a bus wounded 22 people, Israeli authorities said. At least three were immediately taken to a hospital with critical injuries, according to a medical official at the site of the blast across from an entrance to Israel’s military headquarters.
> Read the full story here.Reuters: U.S. blocks U.N. Security Council action Israel, Gaza conflict
The United States blocked on Tuesday a U.N. Security Council statement condemning the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, setting the scene for a possible showdown between Washington and Russia on the issue.
The United States opposed the statement - which had to be approved by consensus - because it "failed to address the root cause" - missile attacks by Hamas - of the escalation in fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations.
Israel said it was these Hamas rocket attacks that prompted its major offensive against the militants in Gaza on Wednesday.
"We made clear that we would measure any action by the Security Council based on whether it supported the ongoing diplomacy toward de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities," Pelton said.
> Read the full story here.The New York Times: Hamas Left Israel No Choice but to Strike
By Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the United States
CRITICS of Israel’s campaign to defend millions of its citizens from deadly Hamas rocket fire claim that it lacks a clear objective. Israel has bombed Gaza in the past, they argue, and received only rockets in return. Is there any logic, much less an end, to the cycle of violence? Can it lead to negotiations and peace?
Such questions can be answered only by going back to the origin of the campaign that we Israelis now call Operation Pillar of Defense. It did not begin last week, after Hamas fired more than 700 rockets at southern Israel this year; nor did it start four years ago, as Israel acted to stop thousands of terrorist rockets striking its south. It did not even begin in 2005, when Israel uprooted 21 of its Gaza settlements, together with their 9,000 Israeli residents, to advance peace, and received only Hamas terrorism in return. Rather, the operation began on May 14, 1948, the day Arab forces moved to destroy the newly declared state of Israel.
There were no settlements back then, and the West Bank and East Jerusalem were in Jordanian hands. Yet the very notion of a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East was abhorrent to the Arabs, many of whom were inflamed by religious extremism. They rebuffed repeated Israeli offers of peace, and instead launched a war of national annihilation. Israel had no choice but to defend itself, losing 1 percent of its population — the equivalent of 3.1 million Americans today — before achieving an armistice.
> Read the full story here. Melanie Phillips: More (real) news
Here’s some more information about the war between Hamas and Israel that unaccountably you may not have come across in today’s UK mainstream media.
- The civilian: combatant ratio
Despite the increasing number of Palestinian casualties in Gaza, the apocalyptic statements made in the UK media that the numbers are now ‘spiralling’ upwards are deeply misleading. At time of writing, Israel has carried out 1350 or so bombing raids, and there have been 100 Palestinian deaths. This is a very small number of deaths after so many raids.
In Afghanistan, the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths is 3:1 – three civilians killed for every one combatant. In Iraq and Kosovo, it was 4:1 – four civilians killed for every one combatant. In Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2006, despite the screams of ‘Israeli war crimes’ it was an astounding 1:1 – only one civilian
killed for every one combatant. Current figures for Operation Pillar of Defence are obviously highly provisional; but according to Ha’aretz, of the earlier total of 95 Palestinians killed about half were civilians, and according to the Israel Defence Forces, about one third were civilians. So the civilian: combatant death ratio is currently either one civilian killed for every one combatant, or – even more astoundingly -- two combatants killed for every one civilian.
> Read the full post here.
IDF Summary of Overnight Events
> Follow the IDF on Twitter @IDFSpokesperson
Overnight, the IDF targeted approximately 100 terror sites, including underground rocket launchers, terror tunnels and ammunition storage facilities.
The IDF has targeted several buildings that were used by terror operatives as command and control centers, as well as approximately ten terror tunnels that were used as hideouts by Hamas operatives.
A financial institution used by Hamas to fuel its terror activity was targeted in the northern Gaza Strip.
The Israeli Navy targeted terror sites on the central Gaza shore line. Direct hits were identified. Additionally, IDF soldiers carried out artillery fire towards suspicious areas within the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Strip has been turned into a forward 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.
> Read the IDF’s minute by minute breakdown
> Check out the IDF video gallery for videos of an aborted air strike and an attack on a weapons cache
> Watch an IDF spokesperson explain the attack on a media center in Gaza
.NEWS REPORTS OF NOTE
The Jerusalem Post: Live blog: Operation Pillar of Defense, Day 7
Welcome to The Jerusalem Post's real-time coverage of Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF operation to root out terror in Gaza and reestablish deterrence. The minute-to-minute coverage includes breaking updates from our reporters, photographers and experts around the country, as well as informational briefings, updates on rocket and military attacks, defense establishment and official comments and world reactions.
> Read the full blog
.The New York Times: Clinton to Visit Middle East in Move to Defuse Gaza Conflict
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — President Obama sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Middle East on Tuesday to try to defuse the conflict in Gaza, the White House announced.
Mrs. Clinton, who accompanied Mr. Obama on his three-country Asia trip, left on her own plane immediately for the region, where she will stop first in Jerusalem to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, then head to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders and finally to Cairo to consult with Egyptian officials.
The decision to dispatch Mrs. Clinton dramatically deepens the American involvement in the crisis. Mr. Obama made a number of late-night phone calls from his Asian tour to the Middle East on Monday night that contributed to his conclusion that he had to become more engaged and that Mrs. Clinton might be able to accomplish something.
> Read the full story
.The Times of Israel: Rockets fired at Jerusalem, south, but ceasefire reportedly near
Sirens sounded for the second time since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense in Jerusalem Tuesday, hours after the government said it would hold off on a ground operation for 24 hours to give diplomacy a chance. Among the big names visiting the region to try to push through talks are US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Tuesday morning saw the south pummeled with over 60 rockets, including several direct hits on homes and cars, and a soldier moderately injured.
> Read the full story
. CNN: CNN Poll: 57% of Americans say Israeli attacks in Gaza are justified
Washington (CNN) – A majority of Americans say that Israel's current military strikes against Gaza are justified, according to a new national survey.
A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday indicates that 57% of the public says Israel is justified in taking military action in Gaza against Hamas, with one in four saying the attacks are unjustified.
> Read the full story
IDF Summary of Overnight Events
> Follow the IDF on Twitter @IDFSpokesperson
Overnight, the IDF targeted approximately 80 terror sites throughout the Gaza Strip, including under-ground rocket launching sites, terror tunnels and training bases, inflicting severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of terror organizations operating out of the Gaza Strip. Since the start of operation Pillar of Defense the IDF has targeted 1350 terror sites throughout the Gaza Strip.
Furthermore, the IDF has targeted buildings owned by senior terrorist operatives, used as command posts and weapon storage facilities. IAF aircraft with the support of Israeli Navy soldiers targeted several Hamas' police headquarters throughout the Gaza Strip. The IDF also targeted several Hamas-affiliated terrorist squads as they prepared to fire rockets towards Israel, including the squad responsible for firing rockets towards the community of Nahal Oz earlier this morning.
Hamas has turned the Gaza strip into a front line base for Iran, carrying out terror attacks and firing rockets at Israeli citizens, forcing them to live in unbearable circumstances.
The sites that were targeted have been positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of months.
The IDF is determined to continue targeting terror activity sites that are used to carry out attacks against the citizens of Israel.
> Read the complete hour by hour breakdown here
> Watch an IDF video on rockets from Gaza being fired from populated civilian areas
> Visit the IDF updated video gallery
. NEWS REPORTS OF NOTEThe Times of Israel: Mashaal nixes possibility of truce; heavy rocket fire on south (Live Blog, Day 5, Part 2, of Operation Pillar of Defense)
Israel’s air strikes have intensified in the past few hours, and Hamas rocket attacks into southern Israel have continued unabated. Prospects for an early ceasefire faded, with Hamas and Israel far apart. International efforts are continuing to push the two sides toward a truce before Israel launches a wider ground offensive to try to wipe out Gaza’s terror infrastructure.
The Times of Israel is live blogging developments.> Read the full blog here
.The Jerusalem Post: 'Israel halted Gaza invasion to give talks more time'
Israel agreed to briefly hold off on sending ground forces into Gaza to allow time for cease-fire efforts to continue, an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference in Cairo Monday, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said although Hamas is aware that Israel is "capable" of an invasion, it would not "be a picnic, but a political disaster" for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Mashaal stated that if Israel wants a truce, it must initiate the cease-fire as they started the war, adding that Hamas caught Israel "off-guard" with their weapons.
However, officials in the prime minister's office denied Mashaal's statement that Netanyahu had asked for a cease fire.
"We have been hitting Hamas very hard," the official said.
He explained that Israel had from the air attacked its weapons arsenal, its leadership, its buildings and communication apparatus.
"Hamas is under a lot of pressure and as a result they are saying many things, that are in no way connected to reality," he said.> Read the full story here
. The Washington Post: Death toll rises as Israeli military assaults Gaza Strip
TEL AVIV — The death toll of Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip rose to 91 Monday, the local Health Ministry said, as shelling and airstrikes continued overnight and into the morning.
Hoping to avert an Israeli ground invasion, foreign leaders stepped up efforts to broker a cease-fire. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was en route to Cairo, where he intended to “appeal personally for ending the violence,” a statement from his office said.
Meanwhile, Egypt dispatched Saad al-Katany, the chief of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, to lead a delegation to the Gaza Strip on Monday in a show of solidarity for Palestinians living in the besieged enclave.
The Israeli military said in a statement Monday that it struck 80 “terror sites” overnight throughout Gaza, “inflicting severe damage to the rocket-launching capabilities” of militant groups in the Palestinian territory.
> Read full story here
.The New York Times: An Outgunned Hamas Tries to Tap Islamists’ Growing Clout
CAIRO — Emboldened by the rising power of Islamists around the region, the Palestinian militant group Hamas demanded new Israeli concessions to its security and autonomy before it halts its rocket attacks on Israel, even as the conflict took an increasing toll on Sunday.
After five days of punishing Israeli airstrikes on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and no letup in the rocket fire in return, representatives of Israel and Hamas met separately with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Sunday for indirect talks about a truce.
The talks came as an Israeli bomb struck a house in Gaza on Sunday afternoon, killing 11 people, in the deadliest single strike since the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated on Wednesday. The strike, along with several others that killed civilians across the Gaza Strip, signaled that Israel was broadening its range of targets on the fifth day of the campaign.
> Read the full story here
Listen to Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin’s latest analysis of the situation:
IDF Summary of Activity in Gaza
Over the course of the day, IAF aircraft continued to target dozens of terror sites throughout the Gaza Strip, including terror tunnels, rocket launching sites and several squads that were involved in launching rockets at Israel.
A short while ago in a joint IDF-ISA activity, a senior Hamas operative in charge of the terror organization's smuggling operations, and who was actively involved in its armament build-up was targeted in the southern Gaza Strip. Additionally, this morning, the senior member of Hamas' Air Defense Unit, Mohammed Kaleb, was targeted in the southern Gaza Strip.
In addition, a major Hamas base in the southern Gaza Strip was targeted.
Hamas, that controls the Gaza Strip, has turned it into a front line base for Iran, carrying out terror attacks and firing rockets at Israeli citizens, forcing them to live in unbearable circumstances.
Since the beginning of the operation more than 400 rockets have hit Israeli territory. Today, 5 civilians and 4 IDF soldiers were injured by rocket fire.
The "Iron Dome" Active Missile Defense System has intercepted a long-range rocket above the greater Tel- Aviv area, adding to more than 240 interceptions since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense.
The sites that were targeted have been positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of several months.
The IDF is determined to continue targeting terror activity sites that are used to carry out attacks against the citizens of Israel.
Overnight, the IDF targeted two Hamas operational communication sites that were identified by precise intelligence.
The first site was targeted at approximately 01:40 a.m. and was a part of Hamas' operational communications infrastructure, located inside a civilian building. As a result, and in order to minimize the damage to non involved persons, the IDF only targeted the communication devices which were located on the roof of the building, and not the operations room of Hamas that is located on one of the floors.
The second site was targeted at approximately 06:50 a.m. and was also part of Hamas' operational communications that was deliberately located on the roof of the building, in which several international media bureaus reside.
The IDF calls on international journalists and correspondents who operate in the Gaza Strip carrying out their duties, to stay clear of Hamas' bases and facilities- which serve them in their activity against the citizens of Israel. 11:35 a.m.:
Hamas and terror organizations in the Gaza Strip have continued to launch an endless stream rockets towards Israel. However, not all the rockets launched reach Israeli airspace. Since the beginning of the operation, 98 rockets launched from the Gaza Strip have exploded within Gaza. 11:05 a.m.:
Today, despite continued rocket fire over Israel, the Kerem Shalom crossing reopened to allow the transfer of humanitarian aid into gaza. 124 trucks of goods entered the Gaza Strip carrying medical supplies, food, milk, and gas. 10:40 a.m.:
Confirmed, Iron Dome intercepted the rocket fired at Tel Aviv a few minutes ago. 10:35 a.m.:
Moments ago, rocket alarms sounded in Tel Aviv, details forthcoming. 7:08 a.m.:
Overnight, IAF aircraft targeted dozens of underground rocket launchers, causing severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of Hamas and other terror organizations.
A short while ago, two sites in the northern Gaza Strip were targeted: Saraya – a Hamas primary training base and command center – and a communications antenna used by Hamas to carry out terror activity against the State of Israel. A number of training bases owned by Hamas were also targeted throughout the Gaza Strip. Additionally, Israeli Navy soldiers targeted terror sites on the northern Gaza shoreline.
The sites that were targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of months.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has turned it into a front line base for Iran, carrying out terror attacks and firing rockets at Israeli citizens, forcing them to live in unbearable circumstances. The IDF is determined to continue targeting terror activity sites that are used to carry out attacks against the citizens of Israel. 6:19 a.m.:
Correction: Since Operation Pillar of Defense began on Wednesday (November 14), nearly 500 rockets fired from Gaza have landed in Israel.
In addition, the Iron Dome Active Defense System has intercepted 267 rockets. The IDF has targeted over 1,000 terror sites in the Gaza Strip during the operation. 3:10 a.m.:
A short while ago, Israeli Navy forces targeted several Hamas terror activity sites in the Gaza Strip. 2:16 a.m.:
A short while ago, the IDF targeted two smuggling tunnels belonging to terror groups in Gaza. 12:45 a.m.:
Since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense, over 500 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have struck Israel. In addition, the Iron Dome Active Missile Defense System has intercepted 257 rockets, preventing them from striking populated areas.
Since the operation began on Wednesday (October 14), the IDF has targeted approximately 950 terror sites in the Gaza Strip.
> Visit here for the IDF updated video gallery: http://www.idf.il/1283-17594-en/Dover.aspx NEWS REPORTS OF NOTEJerusalem Post: Live Blog, Day 5 of Operation Pillar of Defense
Welcome to The Jerusalem Post's real-time coverage of Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF operation to root out terror in Gaza and reestablish deterrence. The minute-to-minute coverage includes breaking updates from our reporters, photographers and experts on the scene, as well as informational briefings, updates on rocket and military attacks, defense establishment and official comments and world reactions.
> Read full blog here: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=291794
Wall Street Journal: Arab Leaders Scramble to Contain Conflict
The Middle East's emerging political forces mobilized in Cairo and in Gaza on Saturday to press for an end to the escalating conflict between Hamas and Israel.
In Gaza, hostilities continued, with Israeli airstrikes pounding the coastal strip for a fourth straight day and Palestinian militants firing dozens of rockets at Israel, including another two aimed at Tel Aviv. The toll reached 40 Palestinians dead and 345 wounded, and three Israelis dead.
There were hints that the pace of combat operations could be slowing, perhaps as a result of the Cairo-led efforts to mediate a cease-fire. In Gaza, the ferocity and number of airstrikes seemed to dip. Hamas said government institutions in Gaza would resume regular work hours on Sunday, a surprising decision given that Israel has targeted some government offices in the past 24 hours.
It was unclear whether the lull was a sign that hostilities could be winding down, or merely a periodic operational pause. Israeli ground forces, including 16,000 reservists called up in the past 48 hours, remained massed on Gaza's borders awaiting orders from Israel's political leadership.
> Read full story here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323551004578125163379949642.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStoriesWashington Post: Israel strikes media buildings in Gaza, expanding its range of targets.
TEL AVIV — The Israeli military struck two buildings used by journalists in Gaza early Sunday during the fifth day of a campaign against militants in the Palestinian enclave. Hours later, artillery rounds landed in southern Israeli cities and the country’s missile defense system intercepted a powerful long-range rocket over Tel Aviv, the second such incident in as many days.
Sunday’s strikes in Gaza suggested Israel is continuing to expand its range of targets after hitting almost exclusively military sites during the first few days of the operation, dubbed Pillar of Defense. On Saturday, an Israeli bomb demolished the office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The crossfire dimmed hopes for a ceasefire as Arab leaders led by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi were set to convene in Cairo on Sunday to discuss a negotiated end to the conflict.
> Read full story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/as-hamas-rockets-fly-israel-moves-toward-ground-invasion-of-gaza-strip/2012/11/17/a90a66d4-307f-11e2-a30e-5ca76eeec857_story.html?hpid=z1The New York Times: Arms with a Long Reach Help Hamas
TEL AVIV — When Israel assassinated the top Hamas military commander in Gaza on Wednesday, setting off the current round of fierce fighting, it was aiming not just at a Palestinian leader but at a supply line of rockets from Iran that have for the first time given Hamas the ability to strike as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
> Read full story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/world/middleeast/arms-with-long-reach-bolster-hamas.html?hp&_r=0The Times of Israel: Israel special forces on the ground in Gaza seeking out hidden rocket sites, British paper claims
The Sunday Times also reports fears that Hamas might resort to chemical weapons, and offers details on how Israel targeted Hamas commander Jabari.
> Read full story here: http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-special-forces-on-the-ground-in-gaza-seeking-out-hidden-rocket-sites-british-paper-claims/
Hamas Recycles Pictures of Syrian Dead; And claims them as Palestinian dead
Details here: http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/116907/hamas-recycles-pictures-of-syrian-dead
Listen to Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin’s analysis of the situation:http://www.bnaibrith.org/radio.html B’nai B’rith notes media bias in reporting on Gaza situationhttp://www.bnaibrith.org/4/post/2012/11/bnai-brith-international-describes-media-bias-in-reporting-on-gaza-situation.html IDF Summary of Activity in Gaza
Overnight, the IDF targeted approximately 100 medium- and long-range rocket launch and infrastructure sites across the Gaza Strip. 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.
Hamas has turned the Gaza strip into a frontal base for Iran, terrorizing the residents of the State of Israel with continuous rocket fire.
The IDF will continue to target sites that are used to carry out terror attacks against Israeli citizens. News Reports of Note AP (via Detroit Free Press): Hamas Rockets Target Tel Aviv
Palestinian militants targeted densely populated Tel Aviv in Israel's heartland with rockets Thursday, part of an unprecedented barrage. Air raid sirens wailed and residents ran for cover in Israel's commercial and cultural capital. Hamas acknowledged it has Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets capable of hitting targets some 47 miles (75 km.) away. Tel Aviv is 40 miles (70 km.) from Gaza. By nightfall Thursday, Hamas said it had fired more than 350 rockets into Israel. In the southern Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion, a Hamas rocket landed in an empty field.
Full story at: http://www.freep.com/article/20121115/NEWS07/121115073/Palestine-Tel-Aviv-Israel-rockets JTA: Senate resolution backs Israel’s actions in Gaza
The U.S. Senate passed a resolution expressing support for Israel's "inherent right to act in self-defense."
The non-binding resolution passed Thursday by unanimous consent.
Originally drafted by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), it "expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism."
By Thursday evening, it had garnered 64 cosponsors.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a statement praised "the leadership of Senators Gillibrand and Kirk, and the extraordinary show of support by the Senate for Israel’s struggle against terrorist attacks on its citizens."
The resolution is the first such proposed legislation in the wake of Israeli airstrikes launched Wednesday in retaliation for rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip
Unlike statements of support for Israel's actions from the Obama administration, the Senate resolution does not call on both sides to exercise restraint or express regret at casualties on both sides.
"We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence," Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, told reporters on Thursday. "There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately in order to allow the situation to de-escalate."
Full story at: http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/11/15/3112036/senate-resolution-backs-israel-actions-in-gazaBBC News: Britain: Hamas to Blame for Gaza Crisis with Israel
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas "bears principal responsibility" for escalating tension in Gaza and Israel, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said. "I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups." Rocket attacks from Gaza create "an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack." "Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza should cease attacks against Israel immediately. I call on those in the region with influence over Hamas to use that influence to bring about an end to the attacks."
Full story at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20338088