On the eve of the 22nd day of Operation Protective Edge, residents in the central Israeli coastal city of Rishon Lezion spent a sleepless night Monday, awakened suddenly at three in the morning by the wail of a Code Red rocket alert siren.
It had been a really tough day, with the loss of ten Israeli soldiers in Gaza operations, and the country was bone-tired. Israelis were tired.
Even though many homes are equipped with a ‘safe room’, it still required an effort to drag one’s self out of bed, and to rouse the children – or carry them sleeping – into the shelter, to safety, in 90 seconds or less.
Both of the M75 missiles fired from Gaza exploded on the outskirts of the city. Having presented no immediate threat to the population, neither was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. As a result, much of the city heard the resulting ‘booms!’
The third missile attack, aimed at Ashdod, was in fact aimed directly at the port city’s residential neighborhoods. That one was intercepted by the Iron Dome system, and shrapnel from the resulting explosion high above the city fell from skies a few seconds later.
Since nearly everyone was in bed or in their shelters at that hour, the risk of curious Israelis racing to examine or even take pieces of the shrapnel as a souvenir of the war, was thankfully minimized.
Meanwhile, Israel Defense Forces redoubled their attacks in Gaza overnight and into Tuesday morning, focusing heavy artillery fire and air strikes on the northern part of the region.
But reports by the IDF that 150 targets in Gaza were attacked over the past 24 hours are being challenged by retired IDF officials and analysts questioning their value. IAF fighter pilots bombed the home of Hamas Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, but it was empty at the time, with Haniyeh and his family safely tucked away elsewhere, far from the battle zone.
Retired National Security Council chief Maj.-Gen. (Res) Giora Eiland warned the Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Acharonot on Tuesday the IDF needs to advance deeper into Gaza. “It is not going to be possible to reach a true cease fire within the coming days,” he said. “It is unwise to remain only in the areas we are in at the moment; in order to get significant achievements we need to go deeper in our operations,” he explained. “Attacking Haniyeh’s home is not important,” he added. “He could not care less.” Haniyeh told reporters in response to the report: “My house is not more valuable than the houses of other people. Destroying stones will not break our determination,” he said.
Overnight IAF fighter pilots attacked 10 terror operatives in central Gaza, confirming hits each time.
The IDF targeted more than 70 terror sites overnight throughout Gaza, including two sites used as command and control centers belonging to Hamas, four weapon storage sites concealed within mosques, a concealed rocket launcher located near a mosque and an offensive tunnel.
In the early hours of the morning, IDF demolished a full terror tunnel route and also struck the Gaza City office of the Hamas treasury — used to fund and manage Hamas’ terror activities.
In addition, the IDF struck the Al-Aqsa television station used to incite Palestinians against Israel. The station is also used to transmit orders and messages to Hamas operatives and instruct Gaza residents to ignore IDF warnings about upcoming military activity in specific areas, the IDF said. But despite the bombing, Hamas reported the channel has continued its broadcasts – an indication that its primary transmitters and studios remained unscathed.
Hana Levi Julian