Live blog: Operation Pillar of Defense, Day 3, Part 2

Rocket fire slows after day of clashes that saw Hamas target Jerusalem, Tel Aviv

Netanyahu and Obama talk de-escalation as ministers approve call up of 75,000 reservists in advance of possible ground invasion

Soldiers examine a damaged wall of a house in the Be'er Tuvia region that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Friday, Nov. 16 (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
Soldiers examine a damaged wall of a house in the Be'er Tuvia region that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Friday, Nov. 16 (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

Hamas continued to fire into Israel, extending its attack still further — toward Jerusalem. The IDF attacked hundreds of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. The IDF spokesperson reported that over 640 strikes have been carried out by the military since Operation Pillar of Defense commenced on Wednesday afternoon. Hamas and terrorist organizations in Gaza launched more than 115 rockets on Friday alone. The Times of Israel ilive-blogged developments from Friday here. Saturday’s live blog is here, and click here for our previous live blog detailing events as they unfolded on Friday morning.

Ynet reports that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, warns that in a short while there will be “surprises.”

Air raid sirens blare across Jerusalem and the surrounding area shortly after sundown as a rocket fired by Hamas, described as an “upgraded Qassam” was launched at the capital.

This is the first time rocket warnings have gone off in Jerusalem.

Residents in south Jerusalem say they heard the siren, waited a couple of minutes and then heard two booms — one a few seconds after the other.

Israeli TV says Hamas is saying it fired M-75 missiles on Jerusalem.

Earlier the armed wing of Hamas was quoted saying that “surprises” were in store shortly, but it’s not clear whether the incident was related.

Channel 2 reports a rocket hit an open space north of Jerusalem, no one was hurt.

The sound of gunshots and police sirens can be heard in downtown Jerusalem shortly after air raid sirens went off in capital and surrounding towns.

Channel 10 reports that two rockets landed near the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion south of Jerusalem. Emergency services en route.

Rockets reportedly landed in open areas.

Business as usual in Tel Aviv: shoppers hit the city’s Carmel Market in droves, despite the air raid siren which sounded in the city earlier on Friday. One shop owner tells Channel 2 that when the siren sounded, panicked shoppers started running in all directions. “We invited them into our shop for shelter,” she says.

Air raid siren in Sha’ar Hanegev region. No damage or casualties reported.

Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, says it’s launched “two M75 homemade missiles towards Jerusalem”.


Alqassam Brigades

Al Qassam Brigades launch two M75 homemade missiles towards occupied Jerusalem#gaza #GuzaUnderattack #ShaleStones #Hamas #Resistance

The IDF Spokesperson confirms a rocket hit outside Jerusalem.

IDF Spokesperson confirms that two rockets launched from the Gaza Strip by Hamas landed approximately 14 kilometers (8 miles) south of downtown Jerusalem, near the settlement bloc of Gush Etzion.

Air raid siren heard in Beersheba.

Rockets fired from Gaza are landing throughout southern Israel. Air raid sirens are going off in towns surrounding the Gaza Strip and Beersheba. A rocket has hit and damaged factory in the Sha’ar Hanegev border region, another landed in the Eshkol region and damaged a house. Two explosions are being reported near the coastal city of Ashkelon.

Israel Police confirms rocket hit open space outisde Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks at length over the phone with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday, according to Channel 2 News. He reportedly thanks Clinton for her support and stresses that Hamas must unconditionally stop firing on Israel.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman meets with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, on Monday July 16 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The M-75 missiles that Hamas claims to have fired at Jerusalem traveled an estimated 70 or more kilometers (45 miles) before exploding south of the capital.

There is no known missile type known as the M-75.

Video footage taken by a resident of Hebron claimed to show the missile strikes south of Jerusalem. People standing beside the cameraman cheer when the blasts are seen.

Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades also claims to have downed an IAF aircraft operating over the Gaza Strip. There has been no confirmation of this report. Hamas claims the IAF is bombing the area around the crash site to prevent Hamas operatives from gathering wreckage.

The IDF Spokesperson denies the accuracy of Hamas’s claims that it shot down an IAF aircraft operating over the Gaza Strip.

Air raid sirens are sounding across southern Israel. Three rockets have exploded in open areas in the Eshkol border region causing no damage or injuries. One rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile system over the town of Beer Tuvia. Another rocket has exploded outside Beersheba, no injuries reported.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat calls on the capital’s residents to keep calm, adding that they can go about their business as usual as long as they pay attention to updates and instructions from the Home Front Command.

Hamas confirms the group fired a long-range rocket at Jerusalem, located roughly 75 kilometers away from the Gaza border and previously thought to be beyond the range of Gaza rocket squads.

“We are sending a short and simple message: There is no security for any Zionist on any single inch of Palestine and we plan more surprises,” AP quotes Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Hamas militant wing, as saying.

Hamas officials say the rocket was a homemade “M-75″ rocket, a weapon that has never been fired before.

Air raid sirens heard in Gedera, Ashkelon and Ashdod.

Hamas releases a video purporting to show a Fajr 5 missile being shot toward the Israeli parliament building in Jerusalem, the Knesset.

Barkat tells Jerusalem residents, following the air raid siren that sounded across the city two hours ago, that the capital is ready for anything that Hamas can throw at it:

“I would like to reassure the residents of Jerusalem, continue routine life in the city and abide by Home Front Command advisories. The Municipality has drilled all the scenarios and is prepared for them. Public shelters are ready in case we need to open them.”

The two missiles fired from the Gaza Strip by Hamas landed in open areas south of Jerusalem, causing no damage or injuries.

A direct hit has been confirmed on a house near Kiryat Malachi, in southern Israel, Channel 2 reports.

Rescue forces are on their way to the scene, though no casualties have been reported as of now.

On Thursday, three people were killed in Kiryat Malachi when a residential building in the city was hit by a rocket.

Air raid sirens are going off in Ashdod, Gan Yavne, and Gedera as Hamas continues to fire rockets at southern Israeli cities and towns.

Ynet reports that two rockets were shot down over Ashdod and the nearby town of Beer Tuvia.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak approves call-up of additional reservists out of a quota of 30,000 that was approved Thursday.

The IDF Spokesperson announced on Thursday evening that 30,000 reservists were being called up as Israel prepared for a possible extended ground incursion into Gaza as part of Operation Pillar of Defense.

Gaza emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya says that the casualty toll in the Gaza Strip has risen to 24 killed — of whom 11 are civilians — and over 250 have been injured in IDF strikes on terrorist targets in Gaza.

Three Israelis died on Thursday when a rocket struck their home in Kiryat Malachi, and dozens have been wounded or suffered shock from rocket attacks. Earlier on Friday, three soldiers suffered shrapnel wounds when a mortar fired from the Gaza Strip exploded near their position in the Eshkol border region.

The International Committee of the Red Cross reports that despite the circumstances “the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Magen David Adom in Israel are working round the clock to treat casualties and evacuate them to hospitals.”

Juan-Pedro Schaerer, the ICRC delegation chief in Israel and the occupied territories, says that his organization “is helping the Gazan ministry of health and our partners in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement take care of the wounded.”

Since Operation Pillar of Defense began on Wednesday, the ICRC says it has provided the Gaza Health Ministry with “medicines, disposables, infusions and dressing materials” and “has been facilitating the entry of 10 lorry loads of medicines and disposables” from Israel “which will be available for distribution in the next few days.”

Ynet reports that one of the rockets fired at Jerusalem has been located in a valley next to a Palestinian village in the West Bank.

“I heard the rockets being launched,” Gaza City resident tells Channel 2, confirming suspicions that launching sites were located within concentrations of urban population.

Nine-person inner cabinet convenes to discuss the situations in Israel and Gaza, as well as the continuation of Operation Pillar of Defense.

Channel 10 reporter says that Tel Aviv’s streets are relatively bare, with a vacant street parking spot for three consecutive hours as evidence of the severely diminished traffic. Many people are reportedly leaving the city for places out of maximum rocket range following Friday’s air raid siren, the second in as many days.

Barney Breen-Portnoy, a 27-year-old resident of central Tel Aviv, tells The Times of Israel that the city is not dead, but much quieter than usual for a Friday night, when residents typically go out. “There’s a little bit of edge in the air, but normal life is continuing.”

Air raid sirens heard in Netivot.

Rocket fire reported south of Beit Shemesh, in the Lachish region, as the Israeli Air Force targets launching sites in the Gaza Strip.

Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser is preparing a telephone referendum for ministerial approval for increasing the reservist call-up from 30,000 troops to 75,000. The vote will take place during the meeting of the 9-person inner cabinet that is currently convened.

Residents of Jerusalem and neighboring towns tell The Times of Israel that they were shaken, but not stirred, by the air raid siren that jarred the pre-Sabbath silence that had already descended on the city.

Merav Ceren says she was at home in central Jerusalem after taking photos of a silent skyline when the siren went off. She admits that she was initially confused, because moments before, the traditional siren marking the beginning of the Sabbath had sounded. Within seconds, however, the prolonged and shrill blast of the air raid warning made her realize it was not an ordinary incident.

Alon Diamant-Cohen, a resident of Jerusalem’s Armon Hanetziv neighborhood, says that the siren’s wail caught him off-guard and that he and his roommates’ “immediate reaction… was to go into the stairwell,” as his apartment does not have a safe room.

“What was special, however, was that we got a chance to meet all of the neighbors and bond with each other,” he says.

Moshe Levine, a resident of Har Adar, a town located a few miles west of the capital, says he was shocked by the sudden wail of the siren so far from the Gaza Strip.

He tells The Times of Israel that although he wasn’t sure what was going on, or what to do, “when I heard the alarm, I went into the safe room and started looking online to see if I could find out what’s going on.”

The IDF says it has struck over 600 terror targets in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday afternoon.

Israelis take cover in a staircase as an air raid siren sounds in Tel Aviv, Friday. (photo credit:Gidon Markowicz/Flash90)

Rocket intercepted en route to Netivot.

Will Ouda, a resident of the Gaza Strip, tweets that four Palestinians were reportedly killed in the latest IAF airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

Turkish daily Sabah reports that “Israel stages massacre as world watches on” in coverage of Operation Pillar of Defense.

Gaza residents report deserted streets across the Strip and power outages that have lasted hours over the course of Friday.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai says that the military will be calling up reservists in the coming hours, regardless of whether or not the cabinet approves a measure to draft up to 75,000 soldiers.

Thousands of reservists have already been called up and mobilized to the border of the Gaza Strip in anticipation of a possible ground invasion of the Hamas-controlled Strip.

Mordechai adds that Operation Pillar of Defense’s objectives are clear “every barrel that fires will be destroyed.”

“Find places to hide,” Mordechai warns Hamas members high and low, adding that the IDF strikes will continue through the night.

The IDF closes three main roads to and near the Gaza Strip to civilian traffic, declaring the areas a closed military zone, Reuters reports.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office reports that one of the targets it hit in the early stages of Operation Pillar of Defense was a Hamas warehouses containing rudimentary drones.

The IDF captured video footage of Hamas operatives experimenting with one of the UAVs in an abandoned Israeli landing-field in Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip.

Channel 2 news is reporting on a barrage of mortar shells fired towards Kerem Shalom, near the Israeli border with Egypt. Initial reports are saying the mortars were fired from the Sinai Peninsula, an indication that terrorist groups there may be joining the hostilities.

Three rockets fired from Gaza towards Beersheba. Iron Dome intercepts two, the third falls in unpopulated area. No injuries or damage reported.

Additional rocket lands in an open area in the Eshkol region causing no Injuries or damage.

A volley of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system near the city of Beersheba, November 15 (photo credit: Uri Lenzl/Flash90)

The Cabinet approves calling up 75,000 reservists to take part in Operation Pillar of Defense. The decision was reached in a phone survey of the ministers, while the inner security cabinet met to discuss the recent escalation in the conflict, after Hamas fired rockets towards Jerusalem earlier this evening.

The security cabinet is expected to approve introducing ground troops into the Gaza Strip. Channel 10 news is reporting that two of the ministers have recommended a long-term stay in Gaza, arguing that the quick exit after Operation Cast Lead did not bring about favorable results.

Palestinian sources report that Israel killed senior Hamas field commander Ahmed Abu-Jalal and three of his brothers in an airstrike on central Gaza.

Initial reports said the men were killed when the vehicle they were driving suffered a direct hit from the air. The IDF says the men were killed while preparing to fire rockets on southern Israel.



Obama and Erdogan discuss the situations in Israel and the Gaza Strip and “share their concerns about the dangers to civilian populations on both sides,” AFP reports.

The two leaders reportedly share hopes that the fighting will end soon and raise worries that the fighting will diminish prospects for a “durable, lasting” peace in the Middle East.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) with US President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting (photo credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Channel 10 poll shows 91% of Israelis support Operation Pillar of Defense, while 76% believe it should continue. Twenty-two percent say they believe Israel should work toward defusing the situation, and 41% say they believe Netanyahu is the man for the job.

As the IDF continues to target launching sites and other strategic locations in the Gaza Strip, Hamas reports Interior Ministry in Gaza almost completely demolished by Israeli attacks.

The report also claims the IDF has attacked a terrorist cell near a mosque in the Shaj’ia neighborhood, located in the eastern part of the city.

IDF confirms death of Hamas Central Command chief Ahmad Abu Jalal in an aerial attack.

A rocket explodes in an open space in the Shaar Hanegev region.

The explosion follows an aerial raid siren.

No damage or injuries reported.

IDF Spokesperson says 97 rockets landed in Israel today — 388 since Wednesday.

Iron Dome has intercepted 99 rockets since this morning.

Abbas is responsible for “political terrorism” while Hamas sticks to “traditional terrorism,” Liberman says in an interview with Channel 2 News amid intense fighting between the IDF and Hamas forces.

Reacting to the recent rocket attacks against the cities of the South, the foreign minister says it’s “no coincidence” that the heaviest barrages of rockets are launched around eight am, when children make their way to school. He adds that while Israel is looking to fulfill certain military objectives, Jerusalem is not looking to further damage relations with Egypt.

“We really meant only to protect Israeli citizens,” he says.

But Hamas is not the only political entity responsible for the impasse in the Middle East peace process, according to Liberman. “Abbas is currently running away from his failures in the internal arena,” he tells the news channel, adding that the talked-about interview in which Abbas said he didn’t want the right to return to his birth city, Safed, was nothing but an “attempt to interfere in the internal political system in Israel.”

Liberman says the interview with Abbas, which portrayed him as a “good grandfather,” was planned by MK Ahmad Tibi to strengthen the left-leaning and Arab-affiliated political parties. He adds that the Palestinian leader went back on his word “a day later.”

Nine-person inner cabinet brings Tel Aviv meeting to a close, having decided to expand the scope of Operation Pillar of Defense.

Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for 3 rockets fired at Beersheba, Walla News reports.

Four rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have been intercepted over Ashdod.

A rocket has exploded in the Be’er Tuvia area.

No damage or casualties have been reported.

Earlier today, a house in the area was hit by a rocket. No one was hurt.

Iron Dome has intercepted two rockets over Netivot.

“Iran will continue its political and spiritual support for the Palestinians,” Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi says in a phone call with a top Gaza official, adding Tehran is “ready to send humanitarian aid, including food and medical items, to Gaza.”

Meanwhile, Iranian parliamentarian Ali-Asghar Zare’i tells an IRNA reporter that the Gazans have “scared the Zionists to death” by responding “very seriously” to attacks against them, “contrary to the predictions of the United States and the Zionist regime.”

Joining worshipers at Tehran’s Palestine Square, Zare’i tells the Iranian news agency that the “usurper Jewish state” has “intensified its attacks against the defenseless Palestinians” after attempting to negotiate a peace and disarmament treaty with them.

The IDF has targeted 2 senior Hamas operatives in Gaza tonight — Muhammad Abu Jalal, company commander in central Gaza, and Khaled Shahyer, chief missile operator.

The UN chief says he is “extremely concerned” about the continued violence in Gaza and Israel and “deeply worried by the rising cost” of the fighting in human lives, stressing that “rocket attacks are unacceptable and must stop at once.”

Ban Ki-moon urges “all concerned” to do everything in their power to stop the “dangerous” escalation and restore calm. He calls on Israel to “exercise maximum restraint” in its responses to Hamas aggression.

“All sides must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in this regard. A new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more secure. Nor will bloodshed open the door to negotiations that could achieve the two-state solution necessary to end such violence permanently,” says Ban.

Air raid sirens sound in the city of Netivot and the Eshkol and Sdot Negev regions.

Air raid sirens are sounding in southern town of Netivot.

An hour ago, two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip were shot down by the Iron Dome over Netivot.

As the battle in Gaza grinds on, an unprecedented technological skirmish is taking place in cyberspace. On the Israeli side, the IDF’s Wednesday morning tweet announcing the launch of Operation Pillar of Defense marked the first military declaration of hostilities via Twitter in history.

Anonymous emblem (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Now the IDF may be facing an organized response from a group of hackers claiming to be part of the international hacker coalition Anonymous, who published on Thursday their own declaration of cyber-war on Israel and its supporters.

To learn more about Israel’s cyber-front read our article ‘Anonymous’ escalates cyber-war against Israel and pro-Israel groups

Another rocket fired from the Gaza Strip was intercepted over Netivot by the Iron Dome missile system.

The New York Times reports that an independent human rights group says Ashraf Ouaida, the Gaza man summarily executed earlier on Friday by Hamas for allegedly collaborating with Israel, had no record of arrest or sentencing.

Ouaida was shot in the street with a sign around his neck citing his alleged crimes.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon tells CNN on Friday that the decision to launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip could come within 24 to 36 hours if rocket fire continues.

The Israeli cabinet earlier on Friday evening approved a measure to increase reserve call ups to 75,000 soldier from 30,000. IDF troops are reportedly massing near the Israel-Gaza border.

Gaza-based activists report via Twitter that the death toll in the Gaza Strip after three days of Operation Pillar of Defense has reached 30. The Gaza Health Ministry reports 31 killed, and the number of wounded is estimated at over 300. It is not yet clear how many of the casualties were civilians, but Amira Hass reports in Haaretz that “almost all the wounded are civilians.”

Magen David Adom told The Times of Israel that as of 11 p.m. on Friday, rocket attacks killed three Israelis, seriously wounded one, moderately injured two and lightly injured 15 since the beginning of the operation. Another 53 were treated by MDA paramedics for shock.

The IDF Spokesperson tells The Times of Israel that since Pillar of Defense commenced on Wednesday afternoon, the military has conducted more than 640 strikes on the Gaza Strip. It also reports that at least 410 rockets fired from Gaza exploded in Israel, and that the Iron Dome missile system intercepted an additional 206 rockets.

Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on November 16, 2012. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)

The White House says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with US President Barack Obama on Friday to provide an update on the situation in Israel and Gaza. Netanyahu expressed appreciation to Obama and the American people for US investment in the Iron Dome rocket and mortar defense system, which has been used to defend Israel against rocket attacks from Gaza.

President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on March 5. (photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

The two leaders also spoke Wednesday.

The White House says Obama reiterated US support for Israel’s right to self-defense and expressed regret over the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives.


Gaza residents are reporting airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, from the north to the southern city of Khan Yunis.


Gaza resident Rana Baker reports via Twitter that the IAF continues to conduct airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip and that Israeli drones are circling the Hamas-controlled area causing a din of buzzing.

After several hours of relative quiet, red alert sirens are sounding in the Eshkol border region.

BBC correspondent Paul Danahar reports Israeli airstrikes near his hotel in the Gaza Strip. Other Twitter users in the Gaza Strip report the sound of ambulance sirens. No report of injuries yet.

Walla news reports air raid sirens sounding the coastal city of Ashkelon.

IAF airstrike in Gaza Strip reportedly targets “recently evacuated” police station building in west Gaza City, Gaza resident Rana Baker reports.

Emergency response en route. No injuries reported yet.

CNN reports that a large blast hit the Gaza Strip DMV building. The news agency’s correspondent says she heard explosions and saw fireball rising into the air. She adds that it wasn’t clear whether the explosion was an Israeli airstrike, and raises the possibility that explosives were stored in the building.

Reza Khalili claims in a recently published WND article that a source in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has admitted that its group has deployed its “Quds Forces in Gaza and other Palestinian territories to help Hamas and Islamic Jihad in setting up underground rocket facilities while training and supervising the Palestinians in launching attacks on Israel.”

Khalili claims that the source says that the current and ongoing “escalation of the Gaza conflict was ordered by the highest authority in Iran” and that “rockets targeting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are in fact a warning to Israel that its Iron Dome missile defense system cannot thwart Iran’s ballistic missiles and tens of thousands of rockets and missiles in the hands of Hezbollah.”

Moreover, Hezbollah reportedly possesses “chemical and microbial weapons” stockpiles provided by Tehran, Khalili’s source says.

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