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Operation Protective Edge
Week 1 - 7-13 July 2014

The IDF on 07 July 2014 anounced the start of a military operation in Gaza aimed at halting the rocket fire that had increasingly plagued Israel's southern communities in recent days. The upsurge in violence followed the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths in June 2014 in the occupied West Bank, and the horrific murder of a Palestinian teen in early July, in an attack for which Israel arrested six Jewish suspects. Operation Protective Edge showed Israel's determination to get tough on Hamas just as Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and Pillar of Defence in 2012 did.

The "IDF has commenced Operation Protective Edge in Gaza against Hamas, in order to stop the terror Israel's citizens face on a daily basis," said the IDF Spokesman's office. Although Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense system stops some of the attacks, most rockets are capable of reaching Israelís biggest cities. More than half a million Israelis have less than 60 seconds to find shelter after a rocket is launched from Gaza into Israel. Many have only 15 seconds.

Operation "Protective Edge" came in response to a heavy barrage of dozens of rockets that were fired last night on communities in southern Israel, including Ashdod and Gan Yavne. Soldiers from the "Iron Dome" batteries intercepted more than 10 rockets in half an hour alone. The operation started after several tense weeks in southern Israel: over a few days, the IAF hit dozens of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, in response to the firing of rockets on communities in southern Israel. All airbases in the force were alert and ready for an intensive campaign in the Gaza Strip if need be.

"In light of the escalation in the Gaza Strip and the firing of rockets on southern communities in Israel over the past few nights, there have been many attack sorties carried out by fighter squadrons on base", said Colonel Nir Barkan, Commander of Ramat David airbase. "We are on high alert for any mission for which we will be needed". According to the Home Front Command instructions to the residents of southern Israel, upon hearing the alarm or an explosion, residents must make their way to a protected space and stay there for 10 minutes.

Since June 12, southern Israel had been the target of ever-increasing rocket and other terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip, aimed deliberately at civilian targets. Since June 12, at least 240 rockets had been fired at southern Israel from Gaza, aimed deliberately at civilian targets. At least 80 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza on Monday, July 7. Over 25 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip rained down on southern Israel Sunday (July 6), striking in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, and Sderot. This followed the rocket attacks on Saturday, two of which were fired at Beersheba. At least 29 other rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel over the weekend.

Since the beginning of the year, Gaza terrorists had fired more than 450 rockets towards Israeli citizens. The attacks have sent thousands running into bomb shelters, threatening millions of Israeli lives. In order to restore quiet to the region and stop Hamas terrorism, the IDF has commenced Operation Protective Edge.

Since Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, Hamas continued to arm itself with vast amounts of weaponry and was currently in possession of 10,000 rockets. Hamas deliberately and systematically exploits Palestinians and uses them as human shields when firing at Israel. Over 3.5 million Israelis are currently living under the threat of rocket attacks. No nation would accept this reality.

Israel announced plans to deploy 40,000 reservists to its border with the Gaza Strip where Hamas leaders vow to fight Israeli occupation. Israel escalated attacks on the Gaza Strip in the second day of the major offensive. Palestinian officials said 09 July 2014 that at least three dozen people had been killed in Gaza. Israel launched more than 200 air strikes against the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions. The Israeli military said targets included the homes of Hamas leaders, smuggling tunnels and weapons depots. There had been more than 400 air strikes since the offensive began on 08 July 2014 , aimed at stopping a wave of Palestinian rocket attacks. Israel's Strategic Affair Minister Yuval Steinitz said there is much more to come. "This offensive will not be short," Steinitz told Israel Radio, "because we are determined to restore peace and quiet to the citizens of Israel." He said the army would impose a severe blow on the military capabilities of Hamas. Hamas did not back down. It continued to fire rockets deeper into Israel. Many of the rockets have been shot down by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system. Israel reported no deaths, but air raid sirens could be heard in the key Israeli business center of Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem and beyond.

The military said it struck more than 300 targets over the night of 09-10 July 2014 and had now hit 750 since 08 July 2014. Those airstrikes killed at least 74 Palestinians, most of them civilians. There have been no Israeli fatalities, the Israeli military said. "We are facing long days of fighting and Hamas attempts to surprise Israeli with attacks from the air, sea and land," Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said. Hamas has continued to fire dozens of rockets at Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv, but many have been shot down by Israelís Iron Dome missile defense system. Overall, Israel's Iron Dome interceptor has shot down some 90 percent of Palestinian rockets it engaged during this week's surge of Gaza fighting, up from the 85 percent rate in the previous mini-war of 2012, Israeli and US officials said. About 20,000 reservists have been mobilized, the military said.

A rocket launched from Lebanon into northern Israel early Friday 11 July 2014 drew retaliatory artillery fire from Israeli troops, raising fears of a broader regional conflict. The rocket, launched around 6 a.m. local time, struck an open area near Metula at Israel's northernmost tip without causing casualties or damage. Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said artillery units fired a barrage at "suspicious positions" over the border. Israeli troops responded by firing about 25 artillery shells on southern Lebanon, the Associated Press reported. Military officials said they believed the attack was carried out by a small Palestinian group aligned with Islamist Hamas militants.

Hamas warned airlines against using Tel Aviv's international airport, which has maintained flights desipite the aerial offensive launched by Israel. ďThe armed wing of the Hamas movement has decided to respond to the Israeli aggression, and we warn you against carrying out flights to Ben-Gurion airport, which will be one of our targets today because it also hosts a military air base,'' the Islamist group's Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades said.

Israeli warplanes had launched more than 1,000 strikes since operations began. The military said it hit targets belonging to the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas, including long-range rocket launchers, government facilities, smuggling tunnels and training camps. The Israeli military said its air strikes had hit another 320 Hamas targets Thursday, focusing on underground tunnel networks and rocket-launching sites but also hitting homes. Israel has reported no fatalities, while Palestinian officials said the death toll from Israel's Gaza military offensive had risen above 100, including women and children.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay voiced serious doubts about the legality of Israelís military offensive against Gaza and has called on both sides to stop fighting. Pillay on July 11 said Israel is required by international law to take measures to ensure its attacks are proportional, distinguish between military targets and civilians, and avoid civilian casualties. Pillay said reports of civilian casualties from strikes on homes raised doubts about Israelís compliance. Pillay also called on Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups in Gaza to stop launching attacks from densely populated areas or putting military assets there.

Israel claimed 12 July 2014 to have hit more than 1,100 targets inside Gaza since operations began. The military has called up more than 30,000 reservists and is now weighing whether to begin ground operations in Gaza. Officials in Gaza say about 120 people have been killed in Israeli military strikes since operations began in response to weeks of Palestinian rocket fire into Israel.

On 13 July 2014, a rocket fired from Gaza hit electricity infrastructure in Israel that supplied power to Gaza, cutting power to about 70,000 people in Gaza.

On the sixth day of the offensive, Palestinian officials said 13 July 2014 at least 160 people had been killed. Despite intensified Israeli military action - which included a commando raid overnight in what was Israel's first reported ground action in Gaza during the fighting - militants continued to launch rocket after rocket across the border. Several Israeli citizens have been wounded, but no one killed, by Palestinian rockets, which are being launched at longer range than in previous conflicts. Israel had launched more than 1,300 airstrikes since the offensive began, while Palestinian militants had launched more than 800 rockets at Israel, including 130 in the past 24 hours.

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Page last modified: 30-07-2014 20:42:23 ZULU