Further update 10 pm Israel time Sunday:
The missile fire is winding down for the night, again, here in Israel. The most recent Palestinian Hamas terrorist rockets were 4 that hit the western Negev region at 8:15 pm. The simple fact is that the terrorists in Gaza derive more public relations capital from striking Israeli towns and cities in the daytime than from bombing the deserted streets of communities at night. After all, the point is terror . . .
The IAF is continuing its campaign to knock out as many Hamas leaders and Hamas facilities as possible–with as few civilian casualties as possible. The main focus continues to be the missile launchers. You are probably wondering how there could be any launchers left after the IAF has flown almost 1200 sorties. If you take a look at the following IDF video–which contains Hamas video, you begin to get a sense of the problem. Hamas has poured all of its “humanitarian” funds into making very sophisticated launchers (click here for the video).
Just as last night, there is a great deal of talk about an imminent ceasefire. An unnamed Israeli official is returning to Jerusalem tonight with a draft agreement. For its part, Hamas publicly announced two hours ago that the ceasefire talks have “failed”. Speaking for Israel, PM Netanyahu has publicly announced that he will not even begin talking about a ceasefire until the firing stops from Gaza.
Where does all of this leave us? Moving closer to a ceasefire, undoubtedly, but when and under what conditions is still anybody’s guess. I think I can speak for everyone here in the South when I say “No ceasefire until the job is done.”
Further update 6:00 pm Israel time Sunday:
On the Gaza front, the Air Force has bombed the house of Yahia Abia, the “famed” head of the Hamas rocket operation killing Abia and three women who had the misfortune of being with him. Several other terrorist leaders have been killed this afternoon.
At the moment, the IAF continues hitting targets–and, it appears that the lights have gone out in Gaza as Israel has shut off the electricity. Whether this is temporary or permanent (hopefully), we will find out as the night wears on.
More Israelis have been injured this afternoon in the continuing rocket fire. In one instance, a car was hit by a missile while entering Ofakim. The driver was seriously wounded, the person in the passenger seat was moderately wounded, and the two people in the back seat including a young girl was lightly injured.
There have been more than a hundred tsava adom (red sirens) in the last 4 hours. To give you an example, there were 30 in 20 minutes between 5:00 pm and 5:21 pm alone: Shogda, Beeri, Nahal Oz (4), Alumim (4), Sufa (2), Cholit (2), Nir Yitzhak (2), Av Shalom, Dekel, Yavul, Yated, Prigan, Sde Avram, Sde Yosef, Chalusit, and Kimada.
Everyone is talking about the barrage on Ashdod that has gone on all day including 15 rockets in 30 seconds earlier in the afternoon.
Further update 3:30 pm Israel time Sunday:
The following picture shows the results of the Iron Dome shootdowns over our house between 1:56 and 2:00 pm–90 minutes ago. The official IDF report was that 7 missiles had been intercepted. However, inside our bomb shelter, we heard 11 explosive intercepts. This was the scene directly over our house at 2:05 pm:
As I pointed out today, after the last explosion sounds, you are supposed to wait in your bomb shelter for 10 minutes before venturing outside. Why? To avoid being hit by falling shrapnel. The area around our house is literally covered with shrapnel. These are some of the pieces I found after 2:00 pm this afternoon:
Further update 2:40 pm Israel time Sunday:
Ashdod has become ground zero for the missile attack on southern Israel–for this afternoon at least. We have had three more missile attacks (45, 46, 47) in the last hour and 20 minutes. The first two were at 1:56 and at 2:00 pm. In those two, Ashdod got hit by the biggest volleys of Grad rockets in the last 4 days of any place in Israel–eleven rockets were shot down directly over our house.
Your humble servant doesn’t know what Benjamin Netanyahu considers an escalation–but these last attacks would definitely fit into whatever definition of that term you can come up with.
Pictures to come.
Further update 1:20 pm Israel time Sunday:
There have been at least 125 more rockets fired at Israel today by the Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. This brings to 873 the total number of rockets and mortars that have hit southern Israel since this operation started.
More Israelis have been wounded by mortars and missiles–especially by shrapnel. Between 175-200 Israelis have now been treated and/or hospitalized. Of course, we all remember the three Israelis killed in Kiryat Malachi.
The following communities have been warned of incoming rockets from the Palestinian Hamas terrorists in Gaza within the last hour: Ein Hashlosha, Ashkelon, Gan Yavne, Negev region, Ofakim, Bnei Shimon, Sderot (3), Sha’ar Hanegev, Nirim, Reim, Beit Hadar, Giya, Mafkeim, Telme Yoffe, Barekhya, Odaya, Nishan, Gabim, Miflasim, Nitzan, Nitzanim, Kfar Silver, Ashkelon, Chof Ashkelon,
Ashdod was hit again at 12:02 pm, our 44th missile attack in the last 4 days. Two Grads this time.
Further update 11:30 am Israel time Sunday:
The last hour and fifteen minutes have been intense with rocket attacks against: Nir Galim, Ad Halom, Tel Aviv, Holon, Rishon Lezion, Ashkelon, Sderot, Nahal Oz, and Niram. The Iron Dome is becoming increasingly ineffective in places like Ashkelon where multiple barrages are taking place.
And Ashdod where we have had missile strikes 42 (10:23) and 43 (10:57)–with unknown numbers fired at us at each time.
At 10:57 am, your humble servant and family were trying to rush and complete some shopping errands when the sirens went off. We pulled our car to the side of the road along with a taxi that was behind us–and we all ran to the protection of a nearby wall.
With our camera filming. In the next hour or two, I will post that video of what took place.
Further update 10:15 am Israel time Sunday:
We have just had our 41st missile attack here in Ashdod; this time we heard three Iron Dome missiles fired but only 1 intercept.
Each time we go to the bomb shelter, we are supposed to stay there for 10 minutes after the last explosion. Why? Because of the danger of falling debris. The following picture was taken by a man here in south Ashdod of two pieces of a rocket that fell on the balcony of his apartment 10 minutes after one of the shootdowns:
Further update 10:00 am Israel time Sunday:
Large scale Palestinian Hamas missile launches against southern Israel in the last 30 minutes. The following communities all had warning sirens of incoming rockets: Miflisim, Nahal Oz, Alumim, Zimrat, Tshuva, Tushiya, Nir Galim, Ad Halom, Bet Ezra, Emunim, Givati, Ezer, Azriqam, Sde Uzziahayu, Shtulim, Kiryat Malachi, Be’er Tuvia, Timmurim, Kidma, Ein Shlosha, Nirim, and Orot.
And yes, here in Ashdod also. At 9:42, the alarm sounded here–we don’t know how many missiles were incoming, but two were apparently shot down by the Iron Dome system. By the way, it was just revealed that in one of the attacks yesterday, the Ashdod Iron Dome system had a technical malfunction, the interceptor rocket misfired and fell in a residential neighborhood, narrowly missing an apartment building.
This was the 40th missile attack against Ashdod in the last 4 days.
Further update 9:30 am Israel time Sunday:
In the last 27 minutes, there have been incoming rockets for Nahal Oz, Alumim, and Sha’ar Hanegev.
Further update 9:03 am Israel time Sunday:
Red sirens are blaring at this moment in the Chof Ashkelon region warning of incoming terrorist rockets.
Further update 8:35 am Israel time Sunday:
Five rockets hit Ashkelon in the 8:20 strike on the city–4 were shot down by the Iron Dome. The 5th rocket hit the top floor of a 4-story apartment building, passed through all four floors of the building, and ended up in the street. Miraculously, the “only” injury was a man wounded by shrapnel.
To this moment, the Iron Dome system has successfully intercepted some 276 Hamas rockets.
Further update 8:20 am Israel time Sunday:
Following the pattern of yesterday, rocket fire is now intensifying on southern Israel: Karmiah, Zikim (3 alarms), Ashkelon, Yad Mordechai (2 alarms), and the industrial section of Ashkelon have all been targeted in the last 10 minutes. Here in Ashdod, we could hear the explosive intercept of an incoming rocket over Ashkelon.
Basically, it is easier for the IAF to target launchers at night because of the rocket trails emitted.
Further update: 7:45 am Israel time Sunday:
Red sirens for incoming terrorist rockets for Chof Ashkelon, Sha’ar Hanegev, and Eshkol region.
Further update 7:41 am Israel time Sunday:
Red sirens for incoming Hamas rockets for Karmiah, Zikim, Yad Mordechai, Netiva Asara, and Erez.
Further update 7:17 am Israel time Sunday:
Has the rocket fire started again? Red sirens are now being heard in Sha’ar Hanegev and the northern Negev region.
UPDATE 7:00 am Israel time Sunday:
Today’s report begins with the way yesterday’s ended with talk of an imminent truce between Hamas and Israel. An Israeli official (or officials) have been in Cairo since last night negotiating the terms.
All talk of a ceasefire has been met with disbelief and anger here in southern Israel where people simply cannot believe that Israel would so quickly agree to a ceasefire after the merciless rocketing suffered by South in the last 4 days–and in the last 7 years.
If Netanyahu agrees to a ceasefire on the basis of yet another “promise” from Hamas not to fire rockets into Israel, there will be outrage on a massive scale.
There has been no rocket fire on Israel since around 11:00 pm last night. The Palestinian news media are asking this morning why Hamas has stopped firing rockets given the fact that Israel has continued to intensively target sites in Gaza overnight and this morning. However, it is useful to remember that the intense rocket fire out of Gaza yesterday began after a lull in rocket fire overnight during which Hamas regrouped.
Here in Ashdod, we have heard nonstop planes heading toward Gaza all night long–and now that morning has arrived we can see them still heading that way. The focus again has been on Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructure with few civilians killed or wounded–despite Hamas claims to the contrary. There are numerous reports of Israeli pilots not bombing targets out of fear of civilians being inside.
Some of the sites hit include an empty training camp of the so-called “Popular Resistance Committees in southern Gaza, more empty buildings belonging to Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and Hamas’ television station, al-Quds TV (six “journalists” lightly injured).
Netanyahu has apparently told Obama that no ground operation will take place unless rocket fire from Gaza is “escalated”. Frankly, after the last three days, it is difficult to see how it could be escalated even more.
Netanyahu’s aversion to a ground operation is completely understandable, but if a ceasefire is where we are heading today or tomorrow, he has badly misjudged the Israeli people in general, and we in the South in particular.