Ahmed-Jabari.jpg

UPDATED: Hamas Escalates Rocket Fire; Israel Assassinates Ahmed Jabari, Head of Hamas Military Wing

[See UPDATE at bottom of page]

I’m able to post only intermittently but wanted to get you up to speed on the escalation here between Hamas and Israel.

As you know if you listen to The Levy & Counsell Show (and I hope you do, and that that plug is not too shameless in this context), Hamas has recently kicked up its persistent rocket campaign against the civilian population of southern Israel. The Gaza Strip has been used as a giant launching pad by Hamas since Israel evacuated in 2005, with more than 1 million Israelis living under perpetual threat of rocket attack. More than 8,000 rockets have been launched by Hamas into Israel since the evacuation — 630 last year alone, and 183 in the month of October.

Yesterday (Wednesday), Hamas paid a price for the escalation. At about 4:00 pm, Israel used a surgical air strike to take out Ahmed Jabari, described by some as “Netanyahu’s Bin Laden” (with the attendant political implications for his assassination) and widely considered the number-one most wanted Hamas terrorist. Jabari was, among other things, the mastermind behind the abduction of Gilad Shalit, overseeing both Shalit’s abduction and his captivity. He is credited with putting Hamas’s terrorism industry on a much more professional footing.

Here is video, released by the IDF, of the assassination:

As the afternoon progressed, rocket fire continued from Gaza into Israel, and the Israeli Navy struck terror sites within the Strip. 

Last night, the IDF published an aerial photograph of a Fajr-5 long-range rocket launch site inside the Gaza Strip. As you’ll observe, the site is between a mosque, a playground, a gas station, and a factory, and is less than 100 yards from any of those locations. Here’s the photo:

fajr5site.jpgBy the time yesterday ended, 47 Palestinian rockets had landed inside civilian areas in Israel, with another 27 intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. The IDF took out dozens of medium-range (i.e., up to 40 km) underground rocket launching sites and other weapons storage facilities in the Strip, and by this morning, was reporting it had struck more than 100 “terror targets” in Gaza. Those sites included long-range rocket launching sites as well as teams in the act of preparing rockets for launch. 

At 7:20 this morning, the IDF dropped a warning leaflet over several areas in the Gaza strip, advising local inhabitants to get out of the way.

IDF-warning-leaflet.jpgThe leaflet is translated by the IDF as follows: 

“Important announcement for the residents of the Gaza Strip:

For your own safety, take responsibility for yourselves and avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives and facilities and those of other terror organizations that pose a risk to your safety.

Hamas is once again dragging the region to violence and bloodshed. The IDF is determined to defend the residents of the State of Israel. This announcement is valid until quiet is restored to the region. Israel Defense Forces Command.”

Hamas has labeled the Jabari assassination “a declaration of war,” but Hamas has obviously been at war with us a lot longer than 18 hours. Mahmoud Abbas, too, is beside himself over the Israeli aggression. 

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: It’s 10 AM here, and I’m seeing reports that we have three civilian dead on our side: three killed and four injured in a ”direct hit on a house” in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi, which is 18 miles north of the Gaza Strip. Now Lebanon reports as follows:

Police said at least 130 rockets had been fired since Israel killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari in a strike on a car in Gaza City on Wednesday afternoon.

“All the major cities in southern Israel were hit, and the majority of the more serious damage was in Beersheva,” police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, saying police had raised the level of alert across Israel “in order to deal with the possibility of terror attacks.”

Schools within 40 kilometers (24 miles) of Gaza were closed, and those living within seven kilometers (four miles) of the strip had been told not to go to work, he said. “It’s a pretty serious situation.”

In Gaza, Palestinian medics said three Hamas militants were killed in an early morning strike near the southern city of Khan Yunis, raising to 11 the number of Palestinians killed since the hit on Jaabari at around 1400 GMT on Wednesday.

“Eleven people have been killed and 115 people injured,” he told AFP.

Among the dead were five Hamas militants, two children, a woman and an elderly man, he said. The identities of the other two were not immediately clear.

More here from the Jerusalem Post.

FURTHER UPDATE: This afternoon, the Knesset authorized the call-up of reserves for immediate duty in the south. The number of reservists instructed to report has not yet been released.

  1. Arnold Falk

    Yesterday evening, on CNN International, there was an interview with Hanan Ashrawi, the Palastinian spokesperson, about the IDF’s action against Ahmed Jabari and the rocket launching sites throughout Gaza.   It was as if she was on a different planet.  She stood there calmly looking into the camera and in the face of some really softball questions from the CNN reporter, vaguely suggesting that Hamas had launched ‘a few’ rockets into Israel during the last few months, and stated that the Israelis are the aggressors.  Then later, there was an interview of Osama Hamdan by Hola Gorani.  Nauseating.  Always talk of Israelis as ‘occupiers’ and ‘aggressors’.   Israel:  Sooner or later, you’re going to have to go back into Gaza and take it back to protect yourselves.  There are a whole bunch of us out here who will support the action.  You have no other choice.

  2. Israel P.

    Here is an explanation about the meaning of the term “Pillar of Defense.”

    But don’t tell that to John Cook. Writing at Gawker in a post subtly titled “Israel Names Its New War After Biblical Story About God Terrorizing Egyptians,” Cook—who admits he does not know Hebrew…

    Incidentally, Monday evening I was in the area where the rockets have been landing. Despite the fact that these rockets have been falling for days, people were going about their business, more or less as usual and my lecture was well-attended.

    You see, these scum don’t fire in the evening. They prefer when kids are in school. Makes them an easier target.

  3. katievs

    When, oh when, will there be an end to the lying and violence?  Will the Palenstinian people ever see how ill-served they have been by their leaders?  

    Judith, Israel will be in my prayers today.  May God keep you safe in the shelter of His wings.

  4. Orion

    Thanks for the update. Stay Safe.

  5. Adriana Harris

    I listened to The Levy & Counsell Show; it was a very informative podcast and I look forward to more. 

    I will pray for Israel. And better yet, I’ll write my representative and senators and let them know we must support Israel and see them through this violence. 

  6. Zafar

    Just saw this on the news, here in Australia.  They had a stringer from Gaza reporting on casualties there – claiming that some civilians had suffered horrific injuries from “non-traditional” weapons. ??  In any case, hope this calms down soon.  I can’t help thinking that the timing of this is linked to the Israeli election two months hence.

  7. Mike Poliquin

    Hamas can’t lose in its own view: clear the Palestinians out. O-U-T GONE. Yes, it’ll be a televised trail of tears and yes, world MSM will be against Israel. Nothing new there.

    The adults in this Palestinian generation have cast their lots and their children’s (as we have in America). Israel’s adult leaders can’t count on America’s child leaders, so they should act before Hamas sets up an internal-external crossfire that they hope will take IDF’s attention from Iran.

    When the rockets only fly over Israel’s external borders, military objectives will be easier to select and achieve.

    My prayers are for all concerned, especially for mercy upon America, who might have made the situation better by being strong for an ally in the eyes of its enemies. Having a weak stance, we have failed our friends and emboldened our enemies. This is poor statesmanship at its worst.

    Friedman’s gloom about Obama’s “nightmare” is disgusting: All Obama has to lose is … nothing. At least he didn’t go Rahm’s route and cite wasted crises. The nightmare is in Israel where everyone is dealing with reality, not legacy.

  8. Group Captain Mandrake

     

    Zafar: I can’t help thinking that the timing of this is linked to the Israeli election two months hence.

    When you say “the timing of this” does ”this” mean the escalation of unacceptable rocket attacks by Hamas against civilian targets inside Israel or the inevitable and reasonable response by Israel?

  9. Cornelius Julius Sebastian

    May Psalm 91 steel Israeli soldiers’ hearts, and may the Lord protect the innocent on both sides.

  10. Retail Lawyer

    I cannot understand why Israel does not respond in kind – fire about 10 times the amount of dumb rockets into Gaza, announcing they cannot afford to send jets and smart weaponry out in response to being fired on.  The IDF leaflets should say that this will continue until, you know, the attacks on Israel stop.  Your choice.

    Something is so wrong when an inferior force attacks a superior force over and over again.  Israel is just too “civilized”.  Why not go all “Winston Churchill” on Gaza?

  11. Group Captain Mandrake

    The israelhayom.com site reports that:

    1. Britain called on Israel and the Palestinians to behave with restraint to prevent more deterioration.

    2. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for an end to Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip, demanding punishment for Israel and calling on the U.N. Security Council to become involved.

    Translating from British and Russian “diplomatic language” into English, I take this to mean ”We’re not getting involved, you’re on your own.”  Thanks a buncheroony, guys!

    State Department Mark Toner issued a statement supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and encouraging “Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.” (my underlining).

  12. katievs
    Retail Lawyer: I cannot understand why Israel does not respond in kind – fire about 10 times the amount of dumb rockets into Gaza, announcing they cannot afford to send jets and smart weaponry out in response to being fired on.  

    Maybe because, unlike their enemies, they care about innocent life?

  13. Israel P.
    Cornelius Julius Sebastian: May Psalm 91 steel Israeli soldiers’ hearts, and may the Lord protect the innocent on both sides. · 22 minutes ago

    We say 91 at funerals.

  14. Mafuta Kizola

    I just watched a clip by the BBC about the situation … I feel dumber.

  15. Cornelius Julius Sebastian
    Israel P.

    Cornelius Julius Sebastian: May Psalm 91 steel Israeli soldiers’ hearts, and may the Lord protect the innocent on both sides. · 22 minutes ago

    We say 91 at funerals. · 11 minutes ago

    I didn’t know that, IsraelP. If my comment was inappropos, my apologies.  Psalm 23 then?

  16. katievs
    Cornelius Julius Sebastian

    Israel P.

    Cornelius Julius Sebastian: May Psalm 91 steel Israeli soldiers’ hearts, and may the Lord protect the innocent on both sides. · 22 minutes ago

    We say 91 at funerals. 

    A strong and beautiful Psalm.

  17. Leslie Watkins

    Your reporting is much appreciated, Judith. I don’t know about you, of course, but I get kind of sick of the fact that the good must always suffer, not just physically but psychically, and simply continue on amid a sea of rejection by the world.

  18. Colin B Lane

    I was listening to Dennis Prager interview George Gilder yesterday, discussing Gilder’s book, The Israel Test, which I am now resolved to read.

    Israel is already hated because its economic dynamism and cultural civility stand in such stark contrast to so many of the barbarous hell holes by which it is surrounded. The only slightly incremental hatred it engenders for  finally saying “enough” to the barbarians and striking back with terminal force is, in my opinion, worth the cost.

  19. Group Captain Mandrake
    Cornelius Julius Sebastian

    Psalm 23 then?

    There’s a song that Geula Gil popularized after the Six-Day War which is a compilation of phrases from different psalms and which might be appropriate.  The transliterated title is “Lam’natzei’ach shir mizmor” which means “a song for the victor”.

  20. tabula rasa

    And our hard-hitting media didn’t ask Obama a single question about these events.

    Judith:  To you and the good people of Israel, defend yourself.  To my shame, I don’t believe America has your back.  God bless you.