IAF kills Hamas commanders; rockets fired at south
As third day of Operation Pillar of Defense comes to an end, IDF attacks interior ministry headquarters in Gaza, kills two Hamas military wing commanders in airstrikes. Meanwhile, Iron Dome intercepts rockets in Ashdod, Netivot. Government approves call up of up to 75,000 reservists
Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported that the Israel Air Force bombed the Hamas government's interior ministry headquarters in the Gaza Strip. The IDF confirmed that the place had been attacked.
In addition, two senior field commanders in Hamas' military wing were assassinated.
Air raid sirens sounded in the southern cities of Ashdod and Netivot. Four rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome System over Ashdod, while one rocket was located in the Be'er Tuvia Regional Council.
Earlier Friday evening, the government approved the defense minister's request to recruit up to 75,000 reserve soldiers if necessary.
Airstrike in Gaza, Friday evening (Photo: AFP)
Baby killed in Gaza strike (Photo: AP)
Khaled Shaer, a senior activist in Hamas' antitank unit in the central Strip was killed in an Air Force strike. Earlier, three Hamas members – including Ahmed Abu Jalal, a senior member in Hamas' military wing – were killed in a strike east of the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Strip. Abu Jalal's two brothers and another person were also killed.
The IDF sent text messages to 12,000 of the Strip's residents on Friday morning. The messages read, "Stay away from Hamas activists. The next phase is about to begin."
A state official said Friday evening, "We are going to significantly aggravate the operation."
Official sources in the Gaza Strip said that 28 Palestinians have been killed in IDF strikes in Gaza since the start of Operational Pillar of Defense, including 16 civilians. The Palestinian health ministry reported that some 270 people have been injured so far.
Osama Hamdan, who is responsible for Hamas' foreign relations, said that the Arab Spring events in the Middle East have resulted in regimes which will not turn their backs on the Palestinians.
In an interview to the al-Quds television network, Hamdan said that the rules of the game against Israel have changed: "If (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu wants to win the elections at Gaza's expense, Ahmed Jabari's blood will be a curse in its military and political career. Hamas will emerge stronger and greater from this war."
Gaza after IDF strike (Photo: AFP)
Gaza bombing (Photo: Reuters)
Mosque hit in Beit Hanoun (Photo: AP)
Shifa hospital in Gaza (Photo: AFP)
Thousands of reserve soldiers were called up in recent days as part of the preparations for a ground offensive in Gaza. The IDF has opened the war-reserve-stores unit and many weapons have been transported toward Gaza.
IDF Spokesperson's Office Yoav Mordechai said in a press briefing at the Kirya Base in Tel Aviv that "there is a wide-scale call up of reserve soldiers, and the forces are prepared to continue the task and launch a ground offensive according to the political echelon's decisions."
In the meantime, the Home Front Command has instructed local authorities to prepare for a long period of fighting of up to seven weeks.
Jerusalem's residents were caught off guard shortly before the beginning of Shabbat, as an air raid siren was sounded in the capital and surrounding communities.
security forces confirmed that one rocket had been located in the Gush Etzion area, closer to a Palestinian village than to the settlement's houses. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
This was the first air raid siren sounded in the area since the IDF launched Operation Pillar of Defense. Air raid sirens were sounded in southern communities throughout the day and a barrage of missiles hit the area.
On Friday afternoon, an air raid siren sounded in Tel Aviv, followed by an explosion caused by a missile landing in an open area.
Shortly after the air raid siren sounded in Jerusalem, Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the rockets fired at the capital area. according to the organization, it fired a homemade rocket called Qassam M76. The rocket Hamas fired at Tel Aviv is nicknamed Qassam M75.
Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, said: "We are conveying a short and simple message – not a single Zionist on Palestinian soil is safe, and we are planning additional surprises."
Yoav Zitun and Itamar Eichner contributed to this report