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Friday, November 16, 2012

Community update from the Centre's Israel Office

Source: The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

Re: Overnight Update from David Weinberg

Please see below the Centre's Israel Office Director, David Weinberg's update update from early this morning Eastern time. David and his staff have been monitoring the situation and providing analysis of the rocket attacks from Gaza and Israel's response. Overnight Update from the Centre's Israel Office Director, David M. Weinberg

Intense rocket fire continued from Gaza overnight (more than 200 missiles fired into Israel), and an Israeli family of three was killed when a missile struck their home in Kiryat Malachi north of Ashkelon. 70 Israelis have been injured in the Hamas attacks.

Iron Dome continues to intercept many - but not all - rockets (perhaps 50 interceptions) that have been fired at Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon. Ofakim, Yavne, and Dimona were targeted as well.

Israeli air strikes in the Khan Yunis region have resulted in the death of three additional Hamas operatives, and leaflets have been dropped in Gaza urging residents to stay away from launching facilities and weapons depots. Israel has struck more than 200 targets in Gaza. The IDF released aerial maps and videos showing Hamas missile depots and launchers adjacent to kindergartens, mosques and gas stations. Defense Minister Barak says that most Hamas missile depots with missiles that can hit Tel Aviv -- have been destroyed by Israel air force strikes.

Israeli ground forces are amassing on Gaza border, as the cabinet yesterday authorized reserve call-ups of soldiers in the home front command and some key combat units -- although the extent of the call-up unclear due to military censorship. Reserve soldiers have been recruited to Special Forces, including military reconnaissance squads, emergency forces, and others. Engineering tools and tanks are being moved into Israel's south. The IDF has sealed off many areas as closed military sites near the Gaza Strip, indicating a concentration of military forces in the region.

Beersheba and Ashkelon are emptying out, as residents flee northwards. There were gigantic traffic jams last night at the exits from Ashdod too. Even schools in Jerusalem are sending students home early today, so that nobody has to travel after nightfall. Neighborhood committees in central Israel are organizing to take in residents from the south for several days stay, at least. Some critical industrial have been facilities nationalized under emergency regulations. Soroka (Beersheba), Barzilai (Ashkelon), and Sheba (Tel Hashomer) hospitals were put on emergency footing (meaning that most non-critical patients are being transferred elsewhere).

Israeli politicians Yachimovich (Labor), Mofaz (Kadima), Lapid (Yesh Atid), Olmert and Livni have backed the government's assault on Hamas terrorist infrastructures and leadership. Galon (Meretz) and Tibi (United Arab List) criticize the operation. Abbas of the PA has been silent. Egypt recalled its ambassador (for the moment, this is considered a mild Egyptian reaction), and Morsi called the operation "unacceptable." Following a divisive emergency Security Council meeting, Secretary General Ban merely expressed "concern" over the attacks.

Defense Minister Barak says this morning that "difficult days are ahead."

- David Weinberg