Hamas Attack Israel, Israel Attack Hamas, Obama Taking Cover

opisIsrael launched a major operation against Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza in the early hours of Tuesday morning, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, following heavy Hamas rocket fire over the preceding days. By Tuesday night, Hamas had fired over 140 rockets in 24 hours into Israel, as far north as Hadera; Iron Dome intercepted about 30 of them. Palestinian media put the Gaza death toll at over 20.

The IDF announces that it hit 50 targets in the Gaza strip overnight Monday after launching a major operation aimed at “restoring stability to the South.”

Among the targets hit were concealed “rocket launchers, launching infrastructures, a weapon storage facility, training bases and terror tunnels shafts,” the army says in a statement.

The IDF names the Hamas operatives associated with some of those targets as Ei’ad Sakik, Abdullah Hshash, Samer Abu Daka and Hassan Abdullah, all of whom, it says, have been involved in terrorist activities in the past.

“We are determined to lay a significant blow on Hamas’ terror capabilities and infrastructure, eliminate any threat on Israeli sovereignty emanating from the Gaza Strip and restore stability to the southern region,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner says. “Terrorists perpetrating the aggression against Israel have a personal price to pay and will bear the consequences of their actions.”

The IDF launched Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday morning after militants launched over 100 missiles and mortars at Israeli territory in 24 hours. The army has called up 1,500 reserve soldiers in anticipation of continuing escalation.

Meanwhile, Hamas is giving no indication that the rocket fire on Israel will subside, warning that it will respond to further Israeli air raids by firing on targets deeper into Israel, including Tel Aviv.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum says: “This is not the time for quiet. We have a bank of various targets. An Iron Dome [missile battery] will be needed in every Israeli home.”

A rocket landed in an open area of the Eshkol region bordering Gaza just after sun-up, causing no injuries or damage.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas releases a statement calling on Israel to end what he calls “a dangerous escalation” after Israel launched a major operation in the Gaza strip Tuesday morning.

“Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas demanded Israel immediately stop its escalation and the raids on Gaza,” says a statement from his office published by the official WAFA news agency.

Meanwhile, another rocket falls in an open field, this time in the Sdot Negev region just east of Gaza.

For the first time in the latest round of violence, Islamic Jihad is claiming responsibility for some of the rocket attacks on Ashdod and Ashkelon on Tuesday morning.

The organization says it has fired some 60 rockets in recent days.

The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, has initiated an operation called “Stable Building,” Gaza’s Safa news agency reports.

Ynet reports that one of the rocket fired earlier hit near a house in the Hof Ashkelon region, causing a brush fire to break out.

Two other rockets landed in open areas between Ashkelon and Ashdod.

Officials in Jerusalem tell The Times of Israel that Hamas chose to escalate the exchange of fire with Israel and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has therefore instructed the army to launch a “continuous, methodological, and forceful campaign” against the terrorist group in the Gaza Strip.

“The directive to the Israel Defense Forces is to be ready to go until the end,” the sources say, adding that even a ground operation is on the table.

It is likely that the IDF will call up additional reservists to prepare for a possible invasion of the strip, the sources say.

The purpose of Operation Protective Edge is to “is exact a heavy price from Hamas, to hit it hard, and to create a significant attack that that will lead to deterrence,” the sources say.

In addition to the op’s military aspect, the prime minister is also active in the diplomatic arena, planning to call to several international leaders to explain to them why Israel was forced to act, they add.

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