Residents of Gaza Belt communities in southern Israel once again raced in a mad dash for their bomb shelters when a Code Red rocket alert siren activated Monday at midday.
The siren sounded in Netiv Ha’Asara, Yad Mordechai and along the Mediterranean coast in the city of Ashkelon.
It was initially believed to be a false alarm, then later reported as a rocket fired at Israel that had fallen short, landing within Gaza territory.
Ultimately, it now appears that it really was a false alarm — but at the end of the day, it’s not clear because numerous jets were heard to scramble overhead, flying south.
Also in Karnei Shomron, Home Front Command apparently scheduled a test Monday morning for the Code Red incoming rocket alert system, but didn’t bother to inform residents about the drill. Talk about really bad timing.
In the north, the IDF has cleared for publication that early Monday morning a “stray rocket” landed in Israeli territory after being fired from the Quneitra border crossing in Syria.
The rocket exploded in an open area. No one was physically injured in the incident. According to the report, fighting on the Syrian side of the border has been “particularly intense” throughout the day.
JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is continuing his extensive efforts to maintain the international support for Israel’s operation against Hamas. Netanyahu met last night (Jul. 19) with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and told him at the start of their meeting: “I don’t think the international community should create any kind of symmetry between a democracy legitimately acting in its own self-defense trying to avoid civilian casualties and a terrorist organization that deliberately targets millions of innocent civilians. I know it’s not the position of France and I think it shouldn’t be the position of anyone in the international community.”
French-led efforts to reach a deal failed to yield results. Fabius, who flew to Israel after talks in Egypt and Jordan, told reporters after meeting with Netanyahu: “Sadly I can say that the call for a ceasefire has not been heard, and on the contrary, there’s a risk of more civilian casualties that worries us.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu also spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and told him about the missiles that were found at a UN school in Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Hamas is hiding rockets in schools and firing them at Israeli schools and noted that Hamas is using schools, residences, mosques and hospitals in order to launch rockets at Israeli civilians. He added that since Hamas is using innocent civilians as human shields for its terrorist activities, it is responsible if civilians are inadvertently hit.
Earlier on during Friday Netanyahu spoke with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and asked him to publish photographs showing the munitions that were hidden in a UN school in Gaza and which were discovered yesterday. Netanyahu added that Hamas conceals ammunition in schools and fires it at schools in Israel. Netanyahu stressed again that there is no symmetry between a murderous terrorist organization and a moral and democratic state that is under attack by missiles and tunnels. He said that Israel regrets any inadvertent strike on Palestinian civilians, whereas Hamas intentionally fires at millions of Israeli civilians. Qatar will host a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today in an attempt to reach a ceasefire agreement.
Later on Friday evening, Netanyahu spoke with US President Barack Obama. During their conversation a siren was heard as a result of missile fire from Gaza to Israel and the Prime Minister explained that this was the reality in which millions of Israelis have been living recently. Netanyahu told US President Obama that Hamas was using the residents of Gaza as human shields, as was seen yesterday when munitions were discovered in a UN school in Gaza, and added that, therefore, Hamas was responsible for injuries to the residents of Gaza. Netanyahu further thanked US President Obama for America’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself and for the partnership in developing the Iron Dome system.
Speaking to reporters after the conversation, Obama said, “We discussed Israel’s military operation in Gaza, including its efforts to stop the threat of terrorist infiltration through tunnels into Israel. I reaffirmed my strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself. No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory. In fact, while I was having the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, sirens went off in Tel Aviv.”
Obama also said expressed concern about “the loss of more innocent life. “And that’s why we’ve indicated although we support military efforts by the Israelis to make sure that rockets are not being fired into their territory, we also have said that our understanding is the current military ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels,” he said. He noted that Secretary of State John Kerry “is working to support Egypt’s initiative to pursue that outcome. I told Prime Minister Netanyahu that John is prepared to travel to the region following additional consultations.”
In general, Israel is so far enjoying strong international support for its efforts to defend itself from Hamas terrorist aggression.
Ever have a thought or concept that instantly summarizes itself in your brain in one word? That just happened to me moments ago, and the thought was – eerie. Yesterday, people all over Israel practiced what it would be like if we were suddenly hit with a massive missile barrage.
A couple of times, an air raid siren sounded. I was at a conference at a hotel – the Jerusalem Ramada Renaissance Hotel at a conference…I’ve helped organize two conferences there over the last two years and, to be honest, I’m very upset because when we tried to organize a third one – they hit us with a 25% increase in cost. That bothered me today as I went there for another conference and so I found myself being overly critical about the long lines for the bathroom and the food. Overall, a really nice hotel – not nice to hit us with such a large increase in one year (so, if you have recommendations for other hotels, please add them in a comment below).
In the morning, they announced the siren exercise, which would clearly disrupt the conference, and then announced, “the Ramada doesn’t do drills” – so if there was a siren – it wasn’t heard and no one did anything. I left the conference a bit early with a headache and came home and I’ve been on the phone for a good portion of that time.
The last call was with a family friend (and our insurance broker) who lives about an hour away – closer to Tel Aviv. As we were talking – I heard the siren – there was a split second of hesitation but immediately, I remembered the exercise and explained to our friend that this is what was happening. Seconds later, he said, “yes, by me too.”
And so I listened to what was supposed to symbolize a massive missile attack – sirens wailing all over Israel. I didn’t go to my bomb shelter, nor did our friend. But there was this eerie feeling hearing the echo of the siren coming through the phone, hearing it here in my neighborhood.
It wasn’t long ago that the siren sounded here and it was real. I saw two children in the distance hesitate – and then continue on their way to home.
We were not attacked by Iranian missiles; nor by Syria. Lebanon’s Hezbollah didn’t unleash some of their 40,000+ arsenal of rockets and Gaza didn’t fire either. That’s a lot of places from which to expect attacks for such a small country.
Meanwhile, as Syria crumbles and Iran and the Hizballah seem to step up their interference… Israelis who have not yet updated their gas masks are rushing to do so. We have ours in the living room under the small table…
Eerie – yes, that’s the word. Eerie.
From yesterday morning:
This is kind of a silly video because no one reacts…than again – what were they expected to do? It was not an enforced event, it wasn’t real and certainly, unlike Memorial Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day, traffic was not expected to stop. In any event, I’m posting it because what it does is give you the sound and length of the experience.
The first of two sirens went off in Israel at 12:30PM, as the country performs a nationwide drill. Residents are expected to go to their safe rooms for 10 minutes.
There will be a second siren alarm later in the day.