A little more than 24 hours in to Operation Protective Edge, the IDF on Tuesday struck 160 terror targets in Gaza, bringing the total number of targets struck to 435. The strikes were carried out by the Israeli Air Force and Israeli Navy.
On Tuesday, Red Alert sirens sent citizens along the coastal and southern region into bomb shelters, as well as residents of Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem. Tuesday evening, for the first time since Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, the Iron Dome Missile Defense system shot down two rockets over the Tel Aviv.
Hamas announced that it dedicated the rocket fire on Tel Aviv to 16 Egyptian soldiers who were killed in an August 2012 attack in which Palestinian terrorists used two Egyptian armored vehicles to infiltrate Israel.
Tuesday evening, four Hamas terrorists attempted to infiltrate Israel via an amphibious landing along the southern coast. The terrorists were intercepted and neutralized by an IAF helicopter. [To watch the real-time footage, click here.]
In one round of salvos late Tuesday evening, rockets hit as far north as Hadera, which is located 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Tel Aviv and south of Haifa. Officials believe that the rockets used are most likely the M302, the same model which was infamously intercepted in March by the IDF in a secret shipment sent from Iran to Gaza. The M302 has a range of 200 kilometers (125 miles).
Wednesday afternoon, Red Alert sirens sounded in Zichron Ya’akov near the Carmel mountain range some 35 km (22 miles) south of Haifa. Zichron Ya’akov lies 120 km (75 miles) north of Gaza. A hit was reported, marking the northernmost point of attack by terrorists in the two day old operation.
Some 120 rockets were shot towards Israel on Tuesday alone. As of Wednesday morning, it is believed that 225 rockets have been shot into Israel by Gaza terrorists since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge.
On Wednesday, explosions could be heard when Iron Dome intercepted an additional five rockets over Tel Aviv Wednesday morning. Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, Iron Dome has intercepted 60 rockets fired by terrorists in the Strip aimed for Israeli civilian centers.
According to the IDF, targeted airstrikes overnight Tuesday took out a “senior commander” of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad terror organization. In a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson Unit, Hafaz Hamad, 37, was neutralized in the strike and was a major player in rocket fire on Israel.
The statement added that of the 160 terror targets hit on Tuesday, 10 were terror tunnels used for smuggling and six were Hamas command centers, including the terror groups internal security offices and national security offices.
The IDF confirmed that the strikes took out 118 concealed rocket launchers, including medium and long-range rockets. Significant damage has been inflicted to the rocket launching infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Rocket attack in the middle of wedding in Israel, July 8, 2014
While Israel has offered Hamas a cease-fire agreement, the terror group has refused to stop its violence against the Jewish state. As a result, the Israeli Cabinet has approved an IDF request to call up as many as 40,000 reserve combat troops in anticipation of a sweeping ground assault on the Strip.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the IDF immediately called up 15,000 reservists to the Gaza border.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that “the gloves are off” when it comes to Hamas.
Raw footage of missiles shot by Hamas militants
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon has called on Israel to “stop the supply of electricity and fuel to the Gaza Strip immediately. It cannot be that on the one hand we fight Hamas, and on the other hand we transfer electricity and fuel for the transport of missiles launched at Israeli cities.”
“In the campaign against Hamas, we need to use all the levers we have in our hands in order to make it ask for a ceasefire,” he added.
Of no surprise, however, is the outpouring of condemnation against Israel. The Arab League has called for an emergency UN Security Council session to discuss the “dangerous Israeli escalation” in Gaza.
Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil al-Arabi told AFP, “The continued attacks on Palestinian civilians by Israel is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, the Geneva Convention and international resolutions on occupied Palestine.”
The European Union’s Foreign Affairs Office issued a condemnation of rocket fire into Israel and the IDF’s retaliation against the ongoing rocket fire.
“We are following with grave concern the rapidly deteriorating situation in the South of Israel and the Gaza Strip,” an EU spokesperson stated. “The EU deplores the growing number of civilian casualties, reportedly among them children, caused by Israeli retaliatory fire.”