Operation Protective Edge – Update No. 1 (As of 1200 hours, July 9, 2014)

Video of the launch of an R160 long-range rocket targeting the northern Israeli city of Haifa (Qassam.ps, July 8, 2014). The rocket landed in Hadera.

Video of the launch of an R160 long-range rocket targeting the northern Israeli city of Haifa (Qassam.ps, July 8, 2014). The rocket landed in Hadera.

A rocket that hit a parking lot in the southern Israeli coastal city of Ashdod (Israel Police Force Spokesman, July 8, 2014).

A rocket that hit a parking lot in the southern Israeli coastal city of Ashdod (Israel Police Force Spokesman, July 8, 2014).

The IDF attacks in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF attacks in the Gaza Strip.

Syrian-made M-302 rockets found aboard the Klos-C (IDF Spokesman, March 10, 2014).

Syrian-made M-302 rockets found aboard the Klos-C (IDF Spokesman, March 10, 2014).


Overview

1.      Operation Protective Edge, which began on the evening of July 7, 2014, has entered its second day. According to statements from senior Israeli figures, it seems that the objective of the operation is to restore calm, defend the citizens of the State of Israel, and strike Hamas and the other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. That is to be done by preventing and disrupting attacks from the Gaza Strip, putting a stop to the rocket fire and restoring calm. Israel also seeks to stabilize the situation in Judea and Samaria (where relative calm has been maintained) by making a clear distinction between Judea and Samaria on the one hand and the Gaza Strip on the other.

2.      Hamas has not yet openly set binding conditions for ending the current escalation it initiated. Its senior figures have made the following demands: the end of Israeli attacks on targets in the Gaza Strip, the release of the terrorists freed in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal redetained in Judea and Samaria in Operation Brothers' Keeper, and putting an end to administrative detentions. Their objective is to deter Israel and improve Hamas' political status with an eye to the morning after. In addition, the Egyptian government was asked to open the Rafah crossing immediately to ease the difficult humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.

3.      During the past 24 hours the IDF attacked 270 terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip from the air and sea (approximately 160 on the night of July 8, 2014). Since the beginning of the operation 440 targets have been attacked, most of them from the air. The targets include terrorist operatives, rocket launchers and the terrorist infrastructure.

4.      The terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, led by Hamas, continue firing massive barrages of rockets and mortar shells into Israeli territory. During the past 24 hours the rocket fire was extended to the center of Israel, Jerusalem and the coastal plain (rocket remains were found in Hadera, 43 kilometers, or about 27 miles, north of Tel Aviv). So far more than 240 rockets have been identified in Israeli territory, about 15 of them rockets with ranges of more than 45 kilometers, or about 28 miles. The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted approximately 30 rockets, most of which targeted Israel's main cities. Hamas also tried to infiltrate into Israel to launch terrorist attacks. The most prominent attack prevented by the IDF came from the sea in the area of Kibbutz Zikim, about 2.5 kilometers (or about a mile and a half) north of the Gaza Strip.

5.      Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu issued the following statement:

"In recent days, Hamas terrorists have fired hundreds of rockets at Israel's civilians. No other country lives under such a threat, and no country would accept such a threat. Israel will not tolerate the firing of rockets on our cities and towns. We have therefore significantly expanded our operations against Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza. This comes after our repeated efforts to restore calm were met with increased Hamas rocket fire. Israel is not eager for war, but the security of our citizens is our primary consideration. Israel targets Hamas terrorists and not innocent civilians. By contrast, Hamas targets Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians. Hamas, therefore, bears full responsibility for any harm that comes to Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike"[1] (Israeli Prime Minister's website, July 8, 2014).

IDF Activity

6.      On the second day of Operation Protective Edge Israel continued its strikes on terrorist targets throughout the Gaza Strip. During the past 24 hours 270 targets were struck. Since the beginning of the operation, 240 air strikes were carried out. Among the targets struck during the past 24 hours were the following (IDF Spokesman, July 9, 2014):

1) 118 hidden rocket launchers, among them launchers for medium- and long-range rockets.

2) Buildings housing the ministry of internal security and the national security services.[2]

3) Terrorist operatives, among them Hafez Hamed, senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative, who was responsible for rocket fire targeting the southern Israeli town of Sderot during the past days; and Muhammad Shaaban, a commander in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades' naval commandos.

Left: Hafez Hamed, senior PIJ operative, killed in an Israeli Air Force attack on his house in Beit Hanoun (Jerusalem Brigades website, July 9, 2014). Right: The vehicle belonging to Muhammad Shaaban, a commander in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades' naval commandos, after it was struck by the Israeli Air Force (Paltimes.net, July 8, 2014).
Left: Hafez Hamed, senior PIJ operative, killed in an Israeli Air Force attack on his house in Beit Hanoun (Jerusalem Brigades website, July 9, 2014). Right: The vehicle belonging to Muhammad Shaaban, a commander in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades' naval commandos, after it was struck by the Israeli Air Force (Paltimes.net, July 8, 2014).

4) Houses of terrorist operatives which served as command and control bases for the organizations to which they belonged.

5) Houses of military-terrorist operatives who were involved in anti-Israeli terrorism.

6) Weapons storehouses.

7) Hamas naval bases, attacked by the Israeli navy.

Left: The IAF attacks hidden rocket launchers. Right: Attack on a weapons storehouse (IDF Spokesman, July 8, 2014).
Left: The IAF attacks hidden rocket launchers. Right: Attack on a weapons storehouse (IDF Spokesman, July 8, 2014).

Click for the video.

7.      According to reports in the Palestinian media and from the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, as of the morning of July 9, 2014, 24 Palestinians had been killed in Israel's attacks and more than 100 wounded. Iyad al-Bazam, spokesman for the ministry of the interior, demanded that the Egyptian authorities open the Rafah crossing immediately to ease the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip in view of what he called "Israel's continuing aggression" (Anballwatan.com, July 9, 2014).[3]

Rocket Fire

8.      During the past 24 hours there was an increase in rocket and mortar shell fire from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. It extended from the western Negev in southern Israel to Hadera in the north, a significant increase in range. On July 8, 2014, 220 rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory, 15 of them long-range rockets (with ranges of more than 45 kilometers). The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted about 30 rockets. Most of them targeted the towns and villages in the western Negev. Some of them targeted Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion, Rehovot, Nes Tziona and Ashdod. Rocket fragments were found in the coastal city of Hadera, north of Tel Aviv, the most northern target reached by rockets from the Gaza Strip. So far there have been no casualties, but property damage has been reported.

Left: The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepts a rocket in the skies over Holon, south of Tel Aviv (Photo by Keren Or Mula for Tazpit.org.il, July 8, 2014). Center: Rocket hit in the western Negev (Photo by Noga Benodiz for Tazpit.org.il, July 8, 2014). Right: Fire caused by a rocket hit near Sderot (Tazpit.org.il, July 8, 2014).
Left: The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepts a rocket in the skies over Holon, south of Tel Aviv (Photo by Keren Or Mula for Tazpit.org.il, July 8, 2014). Center: Rocket hit in the western Negev (Photo by Noga Benodiz for Tazpit.org.il, July 8, 2014). Right: Fire caused by a rocket hit near Sderot (Tazpit.org.il, July 8, 2014).

9.      According to IDF sources after an examination of the fragments of the long-range rockets, some of them were manufactured locally by Hamas and some of them were standard. The rocket whose fragments were found in Hadera belonged to an M302 (Haaretz.co.il, July 9, 2014). M-302s were a type of rocket found aboard the Klos-C, a ship sent from Iran to the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.[4] The M-302 is a surface-to-surface rocket made in Syria whose advanced models have a range of 200 kilometers (or about 124 miles). The rocket was first developed in the 1990s. Since then it has been upgraded a number of times and now appears in two versions, both of which were used by Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War to attack Haifa and Afula:

1) The M-302A – The basic model, with a range of between 90 and 100 kilometers (or about 56 and 112 miles) carrying a warhead of about 170 kilograms (or about 374 pounds) of explosives.

2) The M-302-B – This model has a range of about 100 kilometers and carries a warhead with about 175 kilograms (or about 386 pounds) of explosives.

10.   At this point the ITIC does not have information regarding which model Hamas has or how many of them it has.

11.   According to the Palestinian media, Hamas' military-terrorist wing claimed responsibility for most of the rocket fire. It reported that for the first time Hamas had fired a locally-produced rocket called the R160 at Haifa. According to the statement, the rocket was named for Abd Aziz Rantisi, former Hamas leader. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades also claimed responsibility for launching M75 rockets (first used by Hamas in Operation Pillar of Defense) to attack Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (Qassam.ps, July 8, 2014).

12.   The Jerusalem Brigades, the PIJ's military-terrorist wing, also claimed responsibility for rocket fire targeting Tel Aviv. It issued a statement claiming it had fired 60 rockets on the morning of July 8, 2014. A spokesman for the organization warned that they would escalate their response if Israel extended its military activities against the Gaza Strip. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and other local terrorist organizations publicly claimed responsibility for rocket and mortar shell fire, especially in the area around the Gaza Strip.

Left: A notice regarding the Buraq 70  (Jerusalem Brigades website, July 8, 2014). Right: A video issued by the PIJ's Jerusalem Brigades showing the launching of a Buraq 70 rocket at Tel Aviv (Jerusalem Brigades website, July 8, 2014).
Left: A notice regarding the Buraq 70[5] (Jerusalem Brigades website, July 8, 2014). Right: A video issued by the PIJ's Jerusalem Brigades showing the launching of a Buraq 70 rocket at Tel Aviv (Jerusalem Brigades website, July 8, 2014).

Terrorist Attacks from the Gaza Strip
Prevention of a Terrorist Attack from the Sea

13.   In the early evening of July 8, 2014, Israeli navy surveillance identified suspicious movement. A squad of armed terrorist operatives was located attempting to infiltrate into Israel from the sea in the area of Kibbutz Zikim, about 2.5 kilometers north of the Gaza Strip. An IDF force was sent to the location. The squad operatives, who arrived with the intention of carrying out an attack, were met by the force, which opened fire. Some of the terrorist operatives were killed. One IDF soldier incurred minor wounds and was treated at the scene (IDF Spokesman, July 8, 2014). (Qassam.ps, July 8, 2014).

A video issued by the IDF Spokesman showing the terrorist squad entering Israeli territory from the sea (IDF Spokesman, July 8, 2014).
A video issued by the IDF Spokesman showing the terrorist squad entering Israeli territory from the sea (IDF Spokesman, July 8, 2014).

Click for the video.

14.   Hamas' military-terrorist wing said in a statement that a commando force of its military wing had raided an Israeli naval base on the Ashqelon shore. According to the (completely false) statement, the commander of the force reported that the attack had been carried out according to plan and that the IDF had suffered heavy losses. Apparently, Hamas had intended to combine the rocket fire with a showcase attack along the shore north of the Gaza Strip to create the image of "victory."

Tunnel Blown Up in the Kerem Shalom Region

15.   Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives claimed responsibility for blowing up a tunnel near Kerem Shalom (Qassam.ps, July 8, 2014). Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, interviewed by Al-Jazeera, called the attacks important activities which were an expression of "the victory of the resistance" (Al-Jazeera, July 8, 2014).

Statements from Hamas

16.   Hamas and PIJ spokesmen continued threatening harsh reprisals after the IDF attacks, especially those on the houses of senior operatives of its military-terrorist wing (referred to as "crossing the red line"). Ismail Haniya, former head of the de-facto Hamas administration, called for an emergency meeting of the Palestinian organizations' temporary leadership to formulate a united Palestinian position. He also called for increased cooperation among the Palestinians to deal with what he referred to as "the sensitive stage." Ismail Haniya stressed Hamas' adherence to the internal Palestinian reconciliation more than ever, in view of what he called "Israeli aggression" (Safa.ps, July 8, 2014).

17.   Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas' military-terrorist wing, held a press conference where he called the current situation "a new chapter" in the campaign against Israel. He said Israel would not know stability or peace until it had carried out a number of steps. Among them, he said, was the release of the prisoners who had been detained in Operation Brothers' Keeper (Qassam.ps, July 8, 2014). In ITIC assessment he meant the prisoners who were freed in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal and redetained, and possibly senior Hamas activists detained in Judea and Samaria during the operation.

18.   Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the "resistance" [i.e., the terrorist organizations] would extend its response against Israel because Hamas was currently defending itself. He said an IDF ground incursion into the Gaza Strip would be an opportunity to abduct soldiers (Elbadil.com, July 9, 2014). He condemned the attack on the house in Khan Yunis where six civilians were killed, and said that because of it all Israelis had become legal targets for attack (Zamnpress.com, July 8, 2014).

19.   Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said that escalation was not a Hamas policy, but that the movement could not ignore "the crimes committed by the enemy." He said it was Israel that had violated the lull, detained those who had been released [in the Gilad Shalit deal] in Judea and Samaria, used administrative detentions and did not honor its commitments (Alqudsnews.net, July 8, 2014).

20.   Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that Israel had begun the aggression and had to pay the price set by the Palestinian people (Facebook page of Fawzi Barhoum, July 9, 2014). He said the Palestinian people would use all the means at their disposal to deal with Israel's aggression. He added that so far Palestinian responses had been limited and restrained, but in light of Israel's increased aggression Hamas would employ the best of its capabilities (Alquds.com, July 8, 2014). In another interview, he said that Hamas regarded the IDF's deployment near the Gaza Strip as a great opportunity, and that it wanted Israel to enter the Gaza Strip so that it could abduct soldiers (Al-Jazeera, July 8, 2014).

Arab and Western Responses
The Palestinian Authority (PA)

21.   Mahmoud Abbas demanded that Israel immediately stop its escalation and aggression against the Gaza Strip. He appealed to the international community to intervene immediately to end what he called "dangerous escalation," which was liable to drag the entire region into destruction and instability. He also noted the importance of preserving the lull which had been achieved, for the sake of the Palestinian people and its property, and defending innocents. He said the PA was in contact with a number of Arab and international elements with the objective of ending the escalation (Al-ayyam.com, July 8, 2014). Not once did Mahmoud Abbas mention the massive rocket fire into Israel from the Gaza Strip, which caused the escalation.

22.   "Presidential" spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina condemned Israel's decision to extend what he called "the scope of its aggression" against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria. He claimed that Israel's decision was a comprehensive declaration of war against the Palestinian people whose consequences would be borne by the Israeli government. He said the Palestinians had the right to defend themselves against aggression using any legitimate means in their possession (Wafa.ps, July 8, 2014). Nabil Abu Rudeina also did not mention the massive rocket fire into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

23.   Saeb Erekat, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee, acting on instructions from Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinians were holding intensive contacts with the United States, the EU and the UN. He said it was not a war against Hamas and the Gaza Strip as Israel claimed, but against the entire Palestinian people (Alquds.com, July 8, 2014).

Cartoon printed in the Palestinian daily paper Al-Ayyam, affiliated with the PA, condemning Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu for attacking the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the Islamic religious month of Ramadan.
Cartoon printed in the Palestinian daily paper Al-Ayyam, affiliated with the PA, condemning Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu for attacking the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the Islamic religious month of Ramadan. The missiles read "Lights of Ramadan" and "Blessed Ramadan" (Al-ayyam.com, July 8, 2014).

Egypt

24.   Badr Abdel A'aty, spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry, denounced the Israeli attacks and called on Israel to contain the situation. He said it was important for Israel to open a channel of direct communications with the PA. He said Egypt was in contact with all the relevant regional and international elements to stop the so-called Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. He added that Israel was responsible for ensuring the lives of Palestinian civilians.

The United States

25.   Josh Earnest, principal deputy press secretary of the White House, said "We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire inside of Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza…No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support Israel's right to defend itself against these vicious attacks."[6] He also urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep a diplomatic channel open with Palestinians to resolve the crisis (AFP.com, July 8, 2014).

Britain

26.   William Hague, the British foreign secretary, said he was "deeply concerned by the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel. I condemn the firing of rockets into Israel by Gaza-based militants. The UK calls on Hamas and other militant groups to stop these attacks. The people of Israel have the right to live without constant fear for their security; the people of Gaza also have the right to live in peace" [7] (Website of the British Foreign Office, July 8, 2014).

[1]http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Spokesman/Pages/spokebibi080714.aspx
[2]The security services in the Gaza Strip, which are subordinate to the ministry of the interior, join forces with Hamas military-terrorist wing in times of crisis. Many of the services' operatives are also operatives in Hamas' military-terrorist wing. For the double identities of the services' operatives, see the December 16, 2012 "Members of Hamas' Internal Security Services Who Were Also Operatives in Hamas' Military-Terrorist Wing and Were Killed in Operation Pillar of Defense." Since Operation Pillar of Defense other examples have been found of terrorist operatives with double identities.
[3]Despite the escalation, the Kerem Shalom crossing was open on July 8, 2014, for the entrance of 159 trucks carrying merchandise and 221 tons of fuel (Cogat.idf.il, July 9, 2014).
[4]For further information see the date bulletin see the March 5, 2014, bulletin " Israeli Navy Foils Iranian Attempt to Smuggle Advanced Weapons, Especially Long-Range Rockets, to the Gaza Strip (Initial report based on information from the IDF Spokesman).
[5]Buraq: "lightning" or the name of the flying steed that, according to Muslim belief, carried Muhammad from Al-Aqsa mosque to the sky.
[6]http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/07/08/palestinians-israel-usa-idINL2N0PJ1DG20140708
[7]https://www.gov.uk/government/news/foreign-secretary-urges-de-escalation-in-southern-israel-and-gaza