Hamas in Gaza over the weekend fired long-range missiles at Tel Aviv and, for
the first time, tried to hit Jerusalem.
The IAF struck back, killing 11
key terrorists and striking more than 300 targets in the Gaza Strip, including
medium-range rocket launchers and the regime’s official buildings.
troops and armored vehicles remained massed at the Gaza border, waiting for the
order to go in.
For the third time since Operation Pillar of Defense (in
Hebrew, Operation Pillar of Cloud) began on Wednesday, air raid sirens sent Tel
Aviv residents fleeing for cover on Saturday afternoon, as two long-range Hamas
missiles hurtled toward the city. An Iron Dome battery, which was only deployed
in the greater Tel Aviv area on Friday, went into action for the first time over
central Israel, intercepting both missiles. At least one large blast echoed over
the city during the interception. Tel Aviv is 85 km. from Gaza.
battery had been scheduled to be deployed in two months, but this was expedited
due to the current violence.
Defense Ministry technicians worked around
the clock to move the battery from the test field to the battlefield.
Friday, Hamas fired a projectile from Gaza toward the Jerusalem area it called
the M-75, triggering air raid sirens in the capital for the first
The rocket exploded near a Palestinian village in the West Bank,
shattering windows there. Jerusalem is 78 km. from the Gaza Strip.
100 rockets hit Israel on Saturday and 116 exploded on Friday, while the major
southern cities of Beersheba and Ashdod, and smaller towns such as Sderot were
repeatedly targeted with heavy salvos. The Iron Dome system intercepted 79
rockets heading for populated areas. Since the beginning of the operation, it
has intercepted 242 rockets.
The Lachish police subdistrict spokesman
said on Saturday alone, Gazans fired 54 projectiles at the region, including
nine that that fell inside communities, 10 in open fields, and 14 that were shot
down by the Iron Dome.
Of the 732 rockets fired into Israel since the
start of the operation, just 29 exploded in inhabited areas. The rest (242) were
intercepted, or fell in open areas (461).
The air force has struck more
than 950 targets in the Gaza Strip.
Senior terrorists who were killed
included Muhammad Abu Jalal, a Hamas company commander in central Gaza’s
El-Muazi area; Khaled Shaeer, who headed Hamas’s anti-tank missile program;
Muhammad Kalab, head of Hamas’s aerial defenses; and Osama Kadi, a senior
Other targets included rockets and launchers hidden
across the Strip, including the Gaza-built long-range rockets dubbed
“eight-inch” by Hamas rocket builders.
The campaign of air strikes
escalated on Saturday when the Israel Air Force bombed the bureau of Hamas Prime
Minister Ismail Haniyeh in northern Gaza. Haniyeh was not at the headquarters
during the IAF strike. Hamas’s Interior Ministry and cabinet headquarters were
also destroyed by air strikes.
Zaki Heller, spokesman for Magen David
Adom rescue services, said that on Saturday the organization treated 36
Israelis, including six lightly wounded by shrapnel, 10 with abrasions, and 20
suffering from shock. He added that one of those 20 was an elderly man in Holon
who went in serious shock when the rocket warning sirens went off in the Tel
Aviv area, and lost consciousness.
On Friday, MDA treated 20 people,
including five lightly wounded by shrapnel and 15 suffering from shock, Heller
Altogether, since Pillar of Defense began on Wednesday, MDA has
treated 150 Israelis.
“We set out on this operation because ordinary life
in the South became impossible,” OC Southern Command Maj.- Gen. Tal Russo said
in Beersheba on Saturday evening.
“We’ll continue with the operation
until we reach the goals we set ourselves: To create an atmosphere of normalcy
for residents of the South and strike the weapons arsenals, which were meant to
harm our civilians,” Russo added.
“The [attack] plan is growing in power
all the time. This will take more than a day or two.
We have all the
tools to deal with this,” he said.
The IDF revealed on Friday that it had
taken out Hamas’s nascent drone program. The military recently focused its
intelligence efforts on a group of Hamas terrorists who were developing and
producing drones with the help of Iranian technical advisers. The drones were
designed to strike fortified targets in Israel.
The “production team”
carried test flights of the drones in Gaza; the IAF struck the test flight sites
in recent attacks.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.