Friday, November 16, 2012

16-Nov-12: Snapshotting the turbulence

Gaza Thursday
We are well into the third day of this latest phase in an ongoing war. A brief review of what has happened in the past 24 hours.
  • The IDF executed 340 strikes against a range of Gazan targets since Operation Pillar of Defense began on Wednesday. TOI says there were 70 strikes against Hamas targets last night (Thursday), a response to the firing of long-range missiles (two, it seems) on the Tel Aviv area yesterday evening.
  • From Gaza, they say sixteen Palestinian Arabs have killed and about 200 injured. The Gazan side does not make a meaningful distinction between terrorist combatants and the civilians in whose midst they operate.
  • As of early this morning and since fighting began on Wednesday evening, 305 rockets had crashed into Israeli territory. 130 were intercepted in mid-air by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
  • Three people were killed in a Kiryat Malachi apartment yesterday morning. Those injured include an 8-month-old infant, whose condition is serious. 
  • Right across Israel, Magen David Adom - the country's major first-responder organization, treated 54 Israelis for injuries during Thursday.
  • In a significant turning point, air raid sirens were sounded throughout metropolitan Tel-Aviv in the early evening of Thursday. Our television screens were filled with images of thousands running to find whatever shelter was available, or throwing themselves onto the ground and covering their heads with their hands; that's what the civil defence authorities have suggested we do if no proper bomb shelter is close by. The arrival of the bitter realities of a war that has been mainly conducted on Israel's periphery has practical implications for what happens next.
  • Those sirens were followed by explosive booms. The authorities are, for understandable reasons, remaining vague about what was hit. We are at war, after all. But the IDF has said, and evidently means, that no Gazan rockets landed near Tel Aviv. Perhaps this means they crashed crashed into the sea.
  • Last night, the government and the IDF authorized the call up of 30,000 reservists. There's widespread speculation that this a step before launching a ground-based attack on Hamas in Gaza in order to do what can be done less well, less effectively, from the air.
  • Hisham Kandil, the prime minister of the Moslem Brotherhood government in Egypt, is said to be going to Gaza some time today, and there are reports on the television news here that PM Netanyahu has announced Israel will temporarily discontinue its attacks on Gaza while he is in the area. Reports are saying that the Egyptian is coming "to show solidarity with the residents of Gaza" and to meet with the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Haniyeh - along with the entire Hamas leadership - has not been seen since Wednesday. None of them attended yesterday's funeral of their military 'chief-of staff' Jabari.
  • There have already been many rocket attacks on Israelis this morning. Soon after dawn this morning, a home in the Sha'ar Hanegev region took a direct hit. After that, rockets were fired at Be'er Sheba, Sderot and in the Sha'ar Hanegev region. The parking lot of a residential apartment building in  Ashdod was hit just after 7:00 am. All schools within a 40-kilometer radius of Gaza are closed.
  • TOI says "hundreds of soldiers from the Paratroops, Golani and Givati Brigades, as well as Armored Corps units, have been transferred to the Gaza border area for training exercises — apparently, in preparation for a possible ground incursion. Rumors that IDF soldiers had entered the Gaza Strip, or were about to, circulated briefly in the early hours of Friday morning, but they have not been substantiated."
    More later.

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