PREAMBLE: Here’s a recap of yesterday and the morning’s incidents:
Operation Pillar of Defense was launched Wednesday afternoon following a drastic escalation in rocket fire from Gaza since Saturday. That escalation in turn followed an attack on an IDF jeep inside the Israeli border with Gaza on Saturday, and retaliatory fire on terror targets in Gaza.
Initial indications that the upsurge was over on Tuesday swiftly proved inaccurate. The government decided it could not tolerate the intermittent rounds of rocket fire on southern Israel, and began an Israel Air Force-led assault on Hamas targets.
Here’s our initial wrap-up of the resort to force yesterday afternoon: Israel hits Hamas military leader, targets missile sites in major air assault on Gaza Strip.
And here’s our piece reporting on the press conference last night at which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak set out the reasons for and goals of the operation: Wider offensive and possible ground operation on the table, as cabinet okays reserves call-up.
This is a profile of Ahmed Jabari, the Hamas military commander and terror chief who was killed by Israel in the air strike on Gaza that began the operation: Ahmed Jabari: The ruthless terror chief whose bloody end was only a matter of time.
And this is Mitch Ginsburg’s analysis of the state of affairs at the end of day one: A stunning initial success for the IDF. Now what?
David Horovitz’s Op-Ed examines the goals, and the precedents, for the operation: The wisdom will lie in knowing when to stop.
Rocket attacks have deepened ever since Israel began the assault on terror targets. Already today, three people were killed and a baby was critically injured this morning after a rocket blasted into a four story building in Kiryat Malachi.
As emergency services scrambled to rescue those still trapped inside the shattered structure another five missiles were fired at the town but the Iron Dome system intercepted them before they landed.
Two salvos of rockets were fired at Ashdod and the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted some of the incoming rockets. However, one missile landed near a house in Ashdod lightly injuring three people. A chicken coop in Eshkol Region was also hit, causing damage but no injuries.
During Thursday morning, Israeli media reported on several salvos of missiles some of which penetrated the Iron Dome defenses. One missile was reported to have landed near Beersheba and another hit Kiryat Gat. Missiles were also fired at the port city of Ashkelon.
The Home Front command ordered residents in the areas under attack to remain in shelters until further notice.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office reported that seven terrorists were killed overnight in Israeli airstrikes across the Strip, as the army continued its day-old offensive against Gaza terror groups. Israel carried out strikes on more than 100 terror targets overnight, successfully hitting five rocket launching squads. The air force also distributed leaflets over Gaza warning residents to stay away from terrorist bases and weapons depots, stressing that civilians were not the targets of the strikes.
At least eight rockets were fired Thursday morning at Beersheba, which took the brunt of the 90 rockets Gaza hurled at Israel a day earlier following the assassination of Hamas military commander Jabari. Five rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, which is programmed to intercept rockets heading towards populated areas. The rest fell in open areas, causing no injuries or damage.
Iron Dome also intercepted rockets fired towards Ashdod and Ashkelon.