History Podcasts

Ground Hog Summer? Missile Fired at Ashdod - History

Ground Hog Summer? Missile Fired at Ashdod - History

by Marc Schulman

For the past few months there have been discussions (primarily in jest), that since summer was nearing, we would soon be engaged in another war. For most of us, this war-prep banter seemed like a joke. Suddenly, a short time ago, that “joke” became much more real. This evening, all of a sudden, our smartphones (and my son’s Apple watch) were going off with notifications of “Red Alerts”. Red Alert sirens were sounded throughout the South of the country – including a city 30 miles south of Tel Aviv, where there were reports of explosions, indicating a rocket landed somewhere near Ashdod. After an initial period of confusion, it became clear that one rocket was fired from Gaza City, landing near Ashdod. After months of quiet, lasting from the end of this summer’s war, a rocket unexpectedly landed inside Israel, far from the Gaza border.

Suddenly, the idea we might have a war again this summer does not seem so far-fetched. Of course, all of the commentators have been quick to reassure the public that no one wants a war, and that the rocket was either fired by one of the groups who oppose Hamas, or alternatively, by Hamas itself, to remind everyone they are still here and cannot be ignored … but again, commentators emphasized – no one wants war. This may be true. However, sitting in Tel Aviv I remember hearing the exact same assessments last year, in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the war.

There was no logical reason for last year’s war in Gaza. The Hamas achieved nothing from the war, and yet, it happened. I cannot not see a logical reason why Hamas would want a war again this summer – their situation is even worse than it was last year. They have rebuilt their rocket arsenal, but Hamas’ relations with Egypt are even worse than they were a year ago, (which has made it practically impossible to smuggle any materials into Gaza.)

One of the theories above may be true. However, the trigger behind all actions are not always rational. Many wars have started either because of a misunderstanding, or because the two sides were operating from different play books. There is no doubt that tonight Israel will respond with an attack on Gaza. Will Israel’s response end the current exchange? One eight year old told his father that it was too bad there were wars in the summer, when he was off from school, and not during the winter, so he would miss days of school.

If I were a betting man, I would still bet that there will not be a war this summer. Though as a Tel Avivan who lived here through last summer, that’s not a bet I would like to make. Hopefully, this summer will be quiet, and the only thing we will have to worry about is the oppressively hot weather (tomorrow’s forecast alleges a temperature of 104ºF in Tel Aviv). Still, we must remain aware of the fact that our “Tel Aviv bubble” is located in the middle of the Middle East; a Middle East where none of the events of the last three years were predicted by the experts. So, as Americans kicked off the summer season in the U.S. this past weekend, those of us in Tel Aviv look toward this summer, with at least a tinge of trepidation that last summer might repeat itself.


Is the Iranian Navy a Threat? Your History Book Is Laughing.

Tensions have escalated in the Persian Gulf region in the aftermath of U.S. president Donald Trump’s decision unilaterally to withdraw the United States from the agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program.

Here's What You Need to Remember: While the U.S. ships fought off Iranian air attacks, Tehran’s 1960s-vintage destroyers joined the battle. Sahand and Sabalan both fired without effect at A-6s overhead. The A-6s shot back with Harpoons and laser-guided bombs, sinking Sahand and badly damaging Sabalan.

Tensions have escalated in the Persian Gulf region in the aftermath of U.S. president Donald Trump’s decision unilaterally to withdraw the United States from the agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program.

The U.S. military has implicated Iranian agents in several summer 2019 attacks on civilian ships sailing near Iran. The U.S. Navy sent the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and her strike group to the region. The U.S. Air Force deployed B-52 bombers and F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters.

If war breaks out, American forces could target Iran’s small navy as well as the vessels belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps militia.

(This first appeared in July 2019.)

The battle could be brief. Iran’s fleet has a long history of waging losing fights with the United States and other Western powers.

During World War II, the Allied powers worried that Iran, while technically neutral, might sympathize with and aid the Nazis, potentially depriving the Allies of the country’s oil. On Aug. 25, 1941, Commonwealth and Soviet forces invaded.

British and Australian warships steamed into Abadan Harbor as part of a surprise attack. HMS Shoreham opened fire first, striking the Iranian warship Palang. Soon virtually the entire Iranian fleet was in ruins and commander-in-chief Adm. Gholamali Bayandor lay dead.

The British and Soviets divided up Iran and deposed its shah. In the two decades following the war, the new regime rebuilt the navy with mostly British-made ships, some of which remain in service today.

The new Iranian navy fought hard during the bloody Iran-Iraq war between 1980 and 1988. Iran’s attacks on tanker ships—some strictly neutral, others admittedly supplying Iraq—incited international rage.

In 1987, Washington approved Kuwait’s request to “reflag” its tankers as American vessels, in order to allow the U.S. Navy to escort the ships through the Persian Gulf. The Americans’ Operation Earnest Will, lasting from July 1987 to September 1988, included several smaller efforts that resulted in the destruction of Iranian forces.

The Navy converted two oil-service barges into “sea bases” for Special Operations Forces and armed helicopters, and the U.S. Army placed attack copters aboard Navy ships. On Sept. 21, 1987 Little Bird helicopters from the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment attacked the Iranian vessel Ajr as she laid mines, forcing the crew to abandon ship.

A few days later, Little Birds sank three Iranian patrol boats.

On Oct. 16, 1987, an Iranian missile struck a Kuwaiti tanker, injuring 19 people. In response, a U.S. task force targeted two inoperable oil platforms that IRGC forces were using as bases for armed speedboats.

American warships surrounded the platforms, compelling the Iranian crews to evacuate. U.S. commandos climbed aboard one platform to gather up any documents the Iranians had left behind. Four U.S. destroyers opened fire, setting the platforms ablaze.

On April 14, 1988, the frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts struck an Iranian mine while escorting tanker ships through the Persian Gulf. The carrier USS Enterprise led a retaliatory raid.

Two U.S. destroyers and an amphibious assault ship carrying a battalion of U.S. Marines assaulted an oil platform the Iranians were using as a staging base. The Iranians fired back, drawing heavy return fire from the destroyers and Marine Cobra helicopters. Marines stormed the platform, capturing one surviving Iranian gunner.

Iranian speedboats raided three civilian cargo ships. As the Iranians withdrew, Enterprise’s A-6 bombers zeroed in, sinking one speedboat with cluster bombs.

The Iranian missile boat Joshan fired a Harpoon anti-ship missile at a group of American warships—and missed. The Americans fired back with Harpoon and Standard missiles then sank the damaged Joshan with their guns.

While the U.S. ships fought off Iranian air attacks, Tehran’s 1960s-vintage destroyers joined the battle. Sahand and Sabalan both fired without effect at A-6s overhead. The A-6s shot back with Harpoons and laser-guided bombs, sinking Sahand and badly damaging Sabalan.

At least 56 Iranians died in the fighting. Two U.S. Marines perished when their helicopter crashed. Battered, the Iranian fleet pulled back, and since then has been hesitant to make good on its periodic threats against Iran’s neighbors and the United States.

David Axe was Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels War Fix, War Is Boring and Machete Squad. This article first appeared earlier this year.


Contents

The Islamic Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, began firing rockets indiscriminately into northern Israeli population centers in the 1990s, posing a security challenge for the Israel Defense Forces. Israel had floated the idea of its own short-range antimissile system, but American defense officials cautioned that it would be "doomed to fail". ⎜]

In 2004, the idea for Iron Dome gained momentum with the installation of Brig. Gen. Daniel Gold as the head of the IDF's research and development bureau. Gold was a strong backer of the antimissile project, even skirting army contracting regulations to secure financing. ⎜] He also helped persuade key politicians to support the project. ⎜]

During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, approximately 4,000 Hezbollah-fired rockets (the great majority of which were short-range Katyusha rockets) landed in northern Israel, including on Haifa, the country's third largest city. The massive rocket barrage killed 44 Israeli civilians ⎝] and caused some 250,000 Israeli citizens to evacuate and relocate to other parts of Israel while an estimated 1 million Israelis were confined in or near bomb shelters during the conflict. ⎞]

To the south, more than 4,000 rockets and 4,000 mortar bombs were fired indiscriminately into Israeli population centers from Gaza between 2000 and 2008, principally by Hamas. Almost all of the rockets fired were Qassams launched by 122 mm Grad launchers smuggled into the Gaza Strip, giving longer range than other launch methods. Nearly a million Israelis living in the south were within rocket range, posing a serious security threat to the country and its citizens. ⎟]

In February 2007, Defense Minister Amir Peretz selected Iron Dome as Israel's defensive solution to this short-range rocket threat. ⎠] Since then, the US$210 million system has been developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems working jointly with the Israel Defense Forces. ⎡]


February [ edit | edit source ]

According to the Israel Security Agency's monthly summary, Palestinians fired 6 rockets and 19 mortar shells at Israel in 14 separate attacks. ⏀]

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a Qassam rocket into the Sdot Negev Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported. The Color Red alarm did not sound. ⏁]

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired two mortar shells into the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. ⏂] After nightfall, two additional mortar shells landed in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported in either incident. ⏂]

At around 11 am, two mortar shells launched by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip landed in a kibbutz in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. One projectile landed in a parking lot, damaging a car. A second landed in a nearby field and damaged a hose. No injuries were reported. Shortly after 2 pm, two more mortars were fired at the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council from the northern Gaza Strip. No injuries or damage were reported. The Color Red rocket alert system sounded during both attacks and residents of the area were asked to temporarily remain in their homes. Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were directed at a military post east of Khan Younis. ⏃] ⏄] ⏅]

Israel responded to the attacks with airstrikes on an infiltration tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip, a rocket manufacturing facility, and a third target near Jabaliya. Palestinian sources said that eight people were lightly injured. ⏆]

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that its militants fired a projectile at an Israeli military jeep in the morning. The Israel Defense Forces said they were not familiar with the incident. ⏇]

Around noon, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a Qassam rocket into the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported. ⏈] The attack, which occurred after several days of relative calm, coincided with the swearing of Benny Gantz as new Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. Ilana Curiel of Israel News speculated that the attack was a signal by Palestinian terror groups that they would not "make life easy" for him. ⏉]

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired three mortar shells at a kibbutz in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. One of the projectiles exploded near a soccer field, another near a pool and the third outside the border fence. No injuries were reported. The Color Red alarm did not sound. Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for mortars fired that day, saying it launched two shells at IDF forces which crossed the fence into the Gaza Strip. ⏊] ⏋]

Around 9:30 pm, Palestinians fired three Grad missiles at Beersheba, one of Israel's largest cities. One of the missiles hit the backyard of a home in a residential area, causing extensive damage to surrounding houses and vehicles. Four residents - two adults and two children - were treated for shock. No physical injuries were reported. The Color Red alarm sounded through the city mere seconds before the explosion. This marked the first time Beersheba was hit by Palestinian rockets since the 2009 Gaza War. ⏋] ⏌] ⏍] Israel responded that day with an airstrike on a Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell in eastern Gaza City, wounding three militants. This was followed by several airstrikes on military targets throughout the Gaza Strip, which caused heavy damage to buildings. The following day, a further airstrike on a Hamas vehicle in the Al Salaam area of Rafah killed one person and wounded several others. ⏎] ⏏]

A mortar shell fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported. ⏐] Israel responded with airstrikes on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant facilities in the Gaza Strip. Four Palestinians were lightly injured. ⏑] ⏒]

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a Qassam rocket at the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported. The Color Red alarm did not sound. ⏑] ⏒]

A mortar shell was fired from the northern Gaza Strip Israel but landed in Palestinian territory near the Erez border crossing. No injuries or damage were reported. Residents of three towns in the Shaar HaNegev and Ashkelon Coast regional councils were requested to remain in their protected spaces for fear of additional attacks. ⏓]


40 rockets fired in massive barrage buildings hit in Ashdod and Ashkelon, 2 lightly hurt

Dozens of rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli cities and communities in the south of Israel.

Some 40 projectiles are fired in a short period of time, with buildings suffering direct hits in the coastal cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod.

Rockets are additionally fired at Hatzor and Gan Yavne.

The Iron Dome missile defense system is activated but it is unclear how many projectiles are intercepted.

Two people are lightly injured and five people are treated for anxiety.

I’ll tell you the truth: Life here in Israel isn’t always easy. But it's full of beauty and meaning.

I'm proud to work at The Times of Israel alongside colleagues who pour their hearts into their work day in, day out, to capture the complexity of this extraordinary place.

I believe our reporting sets an important tone of honesty and decency that's essential to understand what's really happening in Israel. It takes a lot of time, commitment and hard work from our team to get this right.

Your support, through membership in The Times of Israel Community, enables us to continue our work. Would you join our Community today?

Sarah Tuttle Singer, New Media Editor

We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month.

That’s why we come to work every day - to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.

For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.


How many people have died from Gaza rockets into Israel?

Fatalities from rocket and mortar attacks in Israel from the Gaza Strip, 2001–present (up-to-date as of August 29, 2014)

Total fatalities in the history of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza into Israel: 44

Civilians: 30 (including 2 killed at military posts)

Rocket fatalities only: 23

Total fatality-producing strikes: 32 (19 rocket, 13 mortar)

Total rocket and mortar fatalities incurred in Israel during major Israeli “anti-rocket” military offensives: 27

(Refer to the bottom of the page for notes and sources.)

This page provides a current listing of total fatalities resulting from Gaza rockets and mortar shells into Israel and will be updated when necessary. Throughout news coverage of Israeli strikes into Gaza and rocket into Israel, certain numbers and infographics are bandied about frequently:

  • total fatalities for the duration of an Israeli military operation
  • number of Gaza rockets and mortar rounds fired into Israel and mortar shells fired into Israel—often with size dimensions, payload, and range
  • a display of the potential reach of Gaza projectiles superimposed on a map of Israel
  • number of projectiles supposedly intercepted by Iron Dome of how Iron Dome works

However, there is little attempt to describe other equally relevant data:

  • amount of ordnance fired by Israel into Gaza
  • types of weapons utilized by Israel, along with their firepower and range
  • a display of the potential reach of Israeli armaments superimposed on a map of the Gaza Strip

And perhaps most surprisingly,

The last count is especially important because of the rhetoric that relies on the threat level from Gaza rockets and mortars.

Additionally, discussion of the efficacy of Iron Dome has been almost exclusively relegated to the number of projectiles intercepted but not to the number of lives saved, which is presumably the ultimate goal. When a correlation is made between Iron Dome’s efficacy and the number of lives saved, it is often expressed in vague or implausible terms, such as “countless lives saved”, “hundreds of lives saved,” and even “thousands of lives saved.”

However, Iron Dome was rolled out in stages beginning March 27, 2011. In the ten years prior to Iron Dome, only 17 fatalities were incurred.

Outside of this site, there is no easily accessible listing of fatalities resulting from Gaza rockets and mortars into Israel. A previous listing prepared by me was written before the conclusion of Israel’s November 2012 offensive and is now out of date. Therefore I strive to maintain an up-to-date listing on this page for the benefit of journalists and analysts.

Faulty numbers on the internet

As I noted in my previous rocket fatality count, numbers distributed by Israeli agencies are wildly inaccurate and often contradictory. This is propounded by sources such as Wikipedia, which at the time of this writing repeats the discredited and unaccounted numbers provided by Israeli agencies.

As I also reported, injuries resulting from rocket and mortar strikes are exaggerated. Israel’s casualty counts always incorporate numbers of people who have been treated for “shock and anxiety,” as well as “light injuries” resulting from the rush to safety, such as “falling down the stairs.”

This practice is not employed in Gaza, nor for any other conflict. Journalists are urged to take these factors into account when reporting on numbers.

Changes from the previous table

In addition to adding the three fatalities that occurred after publication of my earlier listing, I have reformatted the table to indicate the number of fatalities resulting from each strike. In order to prevent confusion, I have also separated the two fatalities that resulted from handling unexploded ordnance.

Notes on the rocket and mortar fatalities table

Sources include, but are not limited to, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, the Israel Project, the Jerusaelm Post, B’Tselem, and numerous press articles. I made a point of referring to official Israeli and pro-Israeli sources (which were less likely to undercount), and then cross-checking them with one another. Some ages and spellings of names vary among reports. The dates refer to when the victim was struck, not necessarily when the victim succumbed to injuries.

* Non-Jewish fatalities
Eight of the fatalities were non-Jewish (including the two who were killed handling unexploded ordnance): Salam Ziadin, Khalid Ziadin, Hani al Mahdi, Eliyan Salem el Nabari, and Ouda Lafi al-Waj were Bedouin Lutfi Nasraladin was Druze Manee Singueanphon and Narakorn Kittiyangkul were Thai nationals.

Military targets
Fourteen of the fatalities were military personnel, while another two were civilians killed at military posts. Sgt.-Major Lutfi Nasraladin was killed in a mortar attack on an IDF base near Nahal Oz. Cpl. Yosef Partok, Lt. Boris Yarmolnik, and Eliyan el-Nabari were each killed in separate incidents in military posts in the Eshkol Regional Council. Chief Sgt. Barak Refael Degorker was killed at an “assembly zone” near a kibbutz in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. Staff Sgt. Eliav Eliyahu Haim Kahlon, Cpl. Meidan Maymon Biton, Cpl. Niran Cohen, and Staff Sgt. Adi Briga were all killed by a mortar attack at a military post in the Eshkol Regional Council. Master Sgt. Daniel Marsh, Capt. Omri Tal, Sgt. First Class Shai Kushner, Master Sgt. Noam Rosenthal, and Capt. Liran Adir were killed at a military staging area in the Eshkol Regional Council. Cpl. Netanel Maman had participated in Gaza fighting but was on weekend leave when he was killed in a car just outside Gan Yavne. Of the civilians, El-Nabari had been contracted by the Israeli Defense Ministry to build tents for soldiers who were awaiting ground deployment, while Dror Khenin was killed while delivering food to soldiers near the Erez Crossing.

Fatalities from previously unexploded ordnance
Salam and Khalid Ziadin were killed while handling an unexploded Qassam rocket for salvaging. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not include the Ziadins in its list of “Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism.”

This list does not include:

1. Palestinians killed by rocket or mortar misfire in the Gaza Strip.

2. People killed by Gaza rockets and mortars targeted inside the Gaza Strip.
Prior to the Gaza “disengagement,” illegal Israeli settlements within the Gaza Strip were targeted by rockets and mortars. They were not aimed inside Israel. They also do not form part of the rhetoric that rockets and mortars from Gaza constitute an “existential threat” to Israel.

In Gaza settlements and the Erez Industrial Zone, rocket and mortar attacks inflicted eight civilian fatalities: three Israeli Jews, three foreign laborers from Thailand and China, and two Palestinian laborers from Khan Younis.

Additionally there were two IDF fatalities in Gaza settlements, including a soldier killed while on his way to guard duty in Kfar Darom and a soldier killed at an IDF outpost in the Morag settlement.

All other rocket and mortar fatalities within Gaza were directed against IDF soldiers engaged in military operations outside of settlements.

3. One fatality in Israel by anti-tank missile.
The rockets-and-mortars rhetoric refers to high-trajectory ordnances deployed with the following qualities: indirect fire, which coupled with a high inaccuracy rate results in nondiscriminatory targeting a wide range that encompasses significant portions of southern Israel and a high deployment frequency.

Anti-tank missiles are direct-fire ordnances with a more limited range and have been used infrequently against civilian targets by Gazan armed groups. There has been one civilian fatality from an anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel (Daniel Viflic, age 16, killed on April 7, 2011, near Kibbutz Sa‘ad, by an anti-tank missile that struck the bus he was riding in). B’Tselem does not include this instance in its count of rocket and mortar fatalities.

So where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?

Mondoweiss covers the full picture of the struggle for justice in Palestine. Read by tens of thousands of people each month, our truth-telling journalism is an essential counterweight to the propaganda that passes for news in mainstream and legacy media.

Our news and analysis is available to everyone – which is why we need your support. Please contribute so that we can continue to raise the voices of those who advocate for the rights of Palestinians to live in dignity and peace.

Palestinians today are struggling for their lives as mainstream media turns away. Please support journalism that amplifies the urgent voices calling for freedom and justice in Palestine.


Northern Israel hit by projectile fired from Lebanon: army

ISRAEL has retaliated after militants launched rockets at a petrol station, and Lebanon also fired a missile at Israel today as tensions build in Gaza.

ISRAEL has retaliated after militants launched rockets at a petrol station, and Lebanon also fired a missile at Israel today as tensions build on the Gaza strip.

A rocket fired from Gaza hit a petrol station in southern Israel, causing a huge explosion and injuring three people, the army and medics said.

𠇊 barrage of rockets was fired at Ashdod, one of which hit a gas station causing massive damage,” a statement from the army said.

Medics said three people had been taken to hospital, including one who was very seriously hurt.

“Three people were injured, one very seriously,” emergency services spokesman Eli Bin told public radio of the incident, which occurred in the southern port city of Ashdod, 28 kilometres (17 miles) north of Gaza.

A large fire was raging at the site, with emergency teams trying to control the blaze, medics said

The military wing of Hamas took credit for firing what it said was a R-160 missile at Israel’s largest city in the north of the country.

The latest attack comes as a projectile fired from Lebanon also struck northern Israel today causing no harm or damages, the Israeli army said.

“One projectile hit an open space near Kfar Yuval, between (northern Israeli towns) Metula and Kiryat Shmona,” a military spokeswoman told AFP, adding the army did not yet know whether it was a mortar shell or a rocket.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner confirmed the projectile struck near Israel’s northern border. The military responded with artillery fire toward the source in Lebanon.

He said it was unclear whether the new front was “symbolic or something more substantial.”

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said two rockets were fired from the country.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

It comes as Israeli warplanes kept up deadly raids on Gaza today but failed to stop Palestinian militants firing rockets across the border, as the United States offered to help negotiate a truce.

Out of control . firemen extinguish a fire caused by a rocket fired from the Gaza strip, hitting the city of Ashdod. Source:AFP

Israeli air strikes killed more than 30 Palestinians on Thursday alone, many of them women and children.

Hamas, the Palestinian group ruling Gaza, also appeared to have no interest in letting up, striking deep inside Israel over the past 48 hours, with rockets crashing down near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and even as far away as Hadera, 116km to the north.

Senior Hamas member and the movement’s former Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniya ruled out any backing down by the Islamist movement.

“The enemy (Israel) is the one that started this aggression and it must stop, because we are (simply) defending ourselves,” Haniya said in a statement early Friday.

It comes as Israel intensified its bombardment on Thursday of the Gaza strip in an offensive against the Hamas militant group, with more than 900 targets attacked so far.

It said it was doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties in the crowded urban landscape.

Wiped out . Canadian chief project of peace activist boat "Gaza's Ark" checks damages to his burnt boat following an Israeli air strike during the night in the Gaza harbour, in Gaza City. Source:AFP

The risk of more civilian deaths will remain high, especially if Israel moves in with ground forces.

More than 95 people have been killed, including dozens of civilians, and more than 300 wounded since the offensive began on Tuesday, Palestinian medical officials said.

Israel has called up 30,000 reservists as politicians threaten a new ground offensive into the besieged Palestinian territories “within hours”.

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas said in a televised broadcast that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will launch a crushing ground operation in Gaza “within hours.”

Undeterred, Hamas militants have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, including salvos on Thursday at the country’s two largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, that were intercepted by the rocket-defence system known as the Iron Dome.

Since the start of the operation, Gaza militants have fired 407 mortars and rockets that struck Israel, while another 118 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome, an army spokeswoman said

Reprisal raid . Palestinians search in the rubble of a destroyed house where eight members of the Al Haj family were killed in a strike ein Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza strip, yesterday. Source:AP

President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lent his support to Israel’s efforts to defend itself from the rocket fire, but he also urged both Israel and the Palestinians to protect civilians and restore calm.

The White House said the U.S. was willing to �ilitate a cessation of hostilities,’’ potentially along the lines of a 2012 ceasefire that Egypt and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped broker.

Smoke rises . Israeli strikes on Gaza, seen from Israel-Gaza Border. Picture: Lefteris Pitarakis Source:AP

But Israel appeared bent on dealing a fatal blow to the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls Gaza, with Netanyahu reportedly saying talk of a ceasefire was “not even on the agenda”.

At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concern about the threats to civilians in Israel and Gaza, and urged an immediate ceasefire.

Sudden impact . Flames erupt from a building hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City. Israeli warplanes have been pounding the city in a major new confrontation with Palestinian militants, as Hamas flexed its firepower and sent thousands running for shelters across the country. Source:AFP

“It is unacceptable for citizens on both sides to permanently live in fear of the next attack,’’ Ban said.

“My paramount concern is the safety and wellbeing of all civilians, no matter where they are.’’

He condemned the “indiscriminate” rocket fire at Israel.

𠇋ut I am also concerned at the many Palestinian deaths and injuries as a result of Israeli operations,” he said.

Three Iron Dome rockets . explode after being launched from the Gaza strip by Palestinians militants, as seen from the Israel Gaza border, southern Israel. Picture: Lefteris Pitarakis Source:AP

“Once again, Palestinian civilians are caught between Hamas’ irresponsibility and Israel’s tough response.’’

Israel’s UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, pulled out a cellphone during the meeting and played a recording of an air-raid siren as he described the difficult circumstances of people living within rocket range.

His Palestinian counterpart, Riyad Mansour, decried the Israeli �rrage of death, destruction and terror.”

A picture taken from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows smoke billowing from buildings following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, on July 10. Pic: JACK GUEZ Source:AFP

Ban has been a key player in diplomatic efforts to halt the hostilities.

Egypt, historically a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, has said it is in touch with both sides.

Neither side has shown much interest in halting the fighting.

With rockets continuing to fly, Israel has been massing forces along the Gaza border in preparation for a possible ground invasion.

“So far the campaign is going as planned,” Netanyahu said in a statement broadcast on national television.

𠇋ut we are expecting more stages later. So far we have severely hit Hamas and other terrorists and we will deepen the strike against them as long as the campaign continues.”

Losing loved ones . Palestinians carry a body, a member of the Ghanam family, after being removed from under the rubble of their home following an Israeli air raid on Rafah, in the southern of Gaza strip. Picture: SAID KHATIB Source:AFP

He said Israel was making 𠇎very effort” to avoid harming civilians and accused Hamas of endangering the Palestinian public by “hiding behind Palestinian civilians.”

Residents in the crowded Khan Younis refugee camp in southern Gaza were at a loss to explain why the Al Haj family home was targeted last night.

The blast killed Mahmoud Al Haj, his wife, Basmah, and six of their children.

Yasser Al Haj, who was not at home in the refugee camp, was the only relative to survive.

“I want to see my family,” he wailed.

“Where is the house? Where is my family?”

Neighbour Iyad Hamad decried the deaths of 𠇌hildren, women and old people.”

“There can’t be more oppression than this in the world,” he said.

�n’t they see what is happening to the people here?”

Shot in the dark . Israeli firefighters extinguish a burning factory hit by an unguided rocket fired from the Gaza strip at an industrial zone in the southern city of Sderot. Source:AFP

It was not clear who was the target of the air strike, or whether the family had been warned.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said the incident was under investigation.

Israel has been taking precautions to protect civilians.

He said when Israel identifies a home used by Hamas as a 𠇌ommand and control centre,” it calls the inhabitants and orders them to leave. It then fires a “non-explosive munition” at the roof as a warning and looks for people to leave. Only then does it destroy the structure.

But he said if a militant is actively using a house to carry out attacks, he becomes a legitimate target.

“If you use civilian premises to perpetrate attacks, you are putting yourself and the people around you in a state of danger,” Lerner said.

Israel says Hamas intentionally uses civilian areas, including homes, mosques and schools, for cover during fighting.

“Hamas . intentionally embeds itself in civilian populations,” Lerner said.

Eternal struggle . A Palestinian youth ducks during clashes with Israeli soldiers at the gates of the Beit El Jewish settlement in the Israel occupied West Bank near Ramallah. Source:AFP

Israel uses electronic surveillance, a network of informants and other techniques to keep tabs on wanted militants in Gaza. It has a long history of killing senior militants in air strikes. But mistakes can happen.

Robbie Sabel, a former legal adviser for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said international laws of war prohibit deliberate targeting of civilians, but take into account that civilians may be hit in attacks on military targets as long as the response is “proportionate.” Beyond the legal issues, however, is the matter of public perception.

“The moment you see a picture in The New York Times of an injured child, it’s horrific. And there’s no way you can come up with a legal explanation that will help us,” he said.

The number of civilian casualties is sure to rise if Israel decides to launch a ground invasion. During a ground incursion in early 2009, hundreds of civilians were killed. Israel accused Hamas of putting people in harm’s way, but the heavy death toll drew war crimes accusations against Israel in a U.N. report.

Nowhere to hide . A Palestinian woman looks from a balcony at the wreckage left by an Israeli air strike, killing three people and wounding four others in Gaza City. Source:AFP

The report also accused Hamas of committing war crimes by firing indiscriminately at Israeli population centres. The current wave of rocket fire has placed an estimated 5 million Israelis in range, disrupting life across the country.

In southern Israel, the area hit hardest by the rockets, people have been ordered to stay within close range of shelter. Summer camps have been cancelled, motorists have been forced to jump out of their cars, and high school students took their final exams in bomb shelters. Many people are using a smartphone application that alerts them to incoming rockets when they can’t hear air-raid sirens.

Lian Assayag had planned a big wedding in the southern city of Ashkelon. But her special day was dashed due to the rocket fire. She decided instead to get married on Thursday night inside a bomb shelter at a synagogue in nearby Ashdod.

“I have mixed feelings. Everything got messed up,” she told Channel 10 TV. “It’ll be OK.”


Test Missile Fired at QF-16

On a dry, clear summer morning, Michael Macwilliam readied the QF-16 aerial target for its first live fire test.

Macwilliam is no stranger to the F-16. &ldquoI flew F-16s my whole career, since 1985,&rdquo said Macwilliam. He now works on the QF-16 program, which modified six F-16s to fly unmanned as aerial targets.

Macwilliam is responsible for getting the jet ready to fly unmanned, and this time ground-to-air missiles were fired at the jet.

&ldquoIt&rsquos a 4th generation aerial target. The F-16 is much more maneuverable. It can provide our customers with an aerial target that&rsquos got more capabilities,&rdquo said Macwilliam.

QF-16 Chief Engineer, Paul Cejas, said the aircraft is designed to gather data and report back to the shooter.

&ldquoThe QF-16&rsquos mission is really to act as a target and validate weapons systems. So, we do have a scoring system on the airplane and its job is to tell us basically how close the missile came and its trajectory.&rdquo

The ground control station sets the coordinates for the missile. Then, using its on board system, the QF-16 validates that the missile hit those coordinates, and detects the distance and speed of the missile. If all the data matches up, the mission is considered a &ldquokill.&rdquo

Watch the video above to see the QF-16 during its latest ground-based missile test. The QF-16 will also help fighter pilots sharpen their air-to-air combat skills by battling the unmanned F-16s. Learn more about the QF-16 here.


Twitter incidents [ edit | edit source ]

Some images of children in the conflict were outdated and caused controversy. During the March 2012 Gaza-Israel clashes, Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeted a photo of an Israeli woman and her two children ducking a Gaza rocket describing it as "when a rocket fired by terrorists from Gaza is about to hit their home." When it was proved the photo was from 2009 he said "I never stated that the photo was current." 𖐇] During that period Khulood Badawi, an Information and Media Coordinator for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, tweeted a picture of a Palestinian child covered in blood. She was criticized because the child was killed in 2006, allegedly in an accident. 𖐈] She later tweeted that she mistakenly had tweeted an old photo. 𖐉] Ma'an News Agency reported a week later that the hospital medical report on the dead girl read that she died “due to falling from a high area during the Israeli strike on Gaza”. There are differing accounts of how the Israeli air strike, reported to be as little as 100 meters away, may have caused the accident. Israel has denied having any involvement in the girl's death. 𖐊]


Watch the video: True Facts About the Groundhog (November 2021).