Friday, November 16, 2012

16-Nov-12: Friday midday update

Kiryat Malachi, Thursday [Image Source: Telegraph UK]   
Here's an updated brief snapshot at 1:00 pm on a sunny but extremely tense Friday.
  • It continues to rain rockets here. The official IDF talley is 67 Palestinian Arab rockets, fired from Gaza, that struck Israel today. They continue to be fired at us with all the power that the terrorists can summon up.
  • The total since Wednesday is 335.
  • The Iron Dome system intercepted 55 rockets in mid-air, today alone. (That number and the others above have almost certainly grown since we started writing this post.)
  • If Israelis expected the rate at which the terrorist forces in Gaza fire rockets into the cities, towns and farming communities of southern Israel to diminish after the events of Wednesday evening, it is not working out that way. Homefront Defense Minister Avi Dichter, quoted in Times of Israel this morning, says we should expect "hundreds of rockets per day to be launched at Israel from Gaza over the coming days".
  • Egyptian prime minister Hisham Qandil has come (to Gaza) and gone. CNN quotes an un-named source in Israel's Ministry of Defence saying that "during the Egyptian prime minister's visit, 50 rockets flew out of Gaza toward Israel". Very surprising. Not.
  • Al Ahram, the official news channel of the Egyptian government, is saying his visit this morning was (a) "to show solidarity with the besieged coastal enclave", to voice "unconditional Egyptian support for the Palestinians", (c) "to intensify Cairo's efforts to secure a truce and end Israel's "aggression"" [Aggression in the Al Ahram version appears in quotation marks, which is almost refreshing.] And "he will also, according to sources involved in preparing his trip, avoid escalatory language". 
  • The IDF's Givati brigade is making no secret of its plans to be part of a comprehensive land-based invasion of Gaza as soon as the top brass gives the order. Over at YouTube, there's a very brief (half minute long) video of the preparations.
  • EU minister of foreign affairs Catherine Ashton issued a statement at noon today saying how "deeply concerned at the escalating violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip" she is. She deplores the loss of civilian lives on both sides. Hamas rocket attacks "which began this current crisis are totally unacceptable for any government and must stop. Israel has the right to protect its population from these kinds of attacks. I urge Israel to ensure that its response is proportionate.” 
  • A civilian vehicle came under fire from the Gazan side at Nahal Oz, southern Israel, in the late morning. Turns out one of the passengers (or the driver) was a Reuters employee who is lightly wounded. [Maan has some coverage.]
  • Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has condemned the attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. She is quoted saying "the rocket attacks will not help the Palestinian campaign for self-determination.... The government condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip and calls on Hamas to cease these immediately. Australia supports Israel's right to defend itself against these indiscriminate attacks. Such attacks on Israel's civilian population are utterly unacceptable.''
  • John Lyons, reporting for The Australian newspaper from Jerusalem, says that in the longer term, "Australia, which takes up a seat on the Security Council next year, would back steps towards a negotiated two-state outcome as the only genuine means of preventing the recurrence of violence."
  • It's Friday, the Moslem sabbath. In Iran, worshippers by the thousand have taken to the streets of Tehran after Friday prayers to protest “Zionist crimes in Gaza” according to the Fars News Agency. They are chanting “death to Israel” and “death to America.” Similar protests are reportedly taking place at various other cities across the country.

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