Rocket barrage comes as IDF prepares for possible ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. Plans are to be presented on Thursday to Netanyahu.
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The Israeli military is prepared to continue with its strikes on Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip for several days and has called up 7,000 reservists as rocket barrages continue to pound central and southern Israel, some of them falling in open areas.Play VideoIDF Air Force technology shooting down a suicide drone sent by Hamas, May 13, 2021. (Credit: IDF Spokesperson”s Unit)Hamas launched suicide drones laden with explosives into Israel on Thursday. At least two were intercepted midair in central Israel by the IDF. The drone attacks were preceded by the firing of 20-30 long-range rockets toward central Israel, including Tel Aviv, and as far south as Eilat. Four people were injured.
The IDF also targeted a launch site for long-range missiles in the northern part of the Strip.
Subsequent UAV warnings were sounded in the area of Nachal Oz and Alumim near the Gaza border.The alleged target of one of the UAVs was an Israeli gas rig in the Mediterranean. It was not specified which one. Since the fighting began, the Israeli Air Force downed three Hamas drones, some laden with explosives, that crossed into Israel. The drones were downed by the IAF using a Python-5 missile and Iron Dome missile batteries before crossing into Israel while others exploded in the air somewhere in central Israel.Later on Thursday, the IDF targeted the operational complex of the commander of Hamas’ UAV system, Samer Abu Daka. The same apartment was targeted during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
A total of 1,600 rockets have been fired toward Israel since Monday, with a third of them falling inside the Gaza Strip.The attacks came as the IDF called up reservists serving in artillery, Iron Dome batteries, doctors, paramedics, IAF, intelligence and other combat units. Another Iron Dome battery was also added to those placed around the country.Combat troops will also not be able to leave their bases and additional ground troops have been redeployed to the border ahead of a possible ground operation, including from the Paratroopers Brigade, Golani Infantry Brigade and 7th Armored Brigade.
IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said that a ground invasion remained a viable option. The plans will be presented to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi and then to the security cabinet for approval later on Thursday.Speaking to reporters Zilberman said that the plans are being put together by the Gaza Division and Southern Command and will be then given to Israel’s political echelon for approval.After a large barrage of rockets towards central and southern Israel on Thursday afternoon, Abu-Ubaida, spokesman of Hamas’s military wing the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, claimed that Hamas was launching rockets towards Ramon Airport using the 250 Ayyash rocket which he claimed has a range greater than 250 km.After the barrage, the Hevel Eilot Regional Council, located in the southern Negev, announced that a rocket had fallen in the regional council. No injuries were reported.Despite the continued rocket fire and threats, Ben-Gurion Airport will remain open for departing flights. All inbound flights will be rerouted to the Ramon International Airport near Eilat.
In the four days since Operation Guardians of the Walls began, an operation which is 95% airstrikes, over 700 Hamas targets have been hit by the Israeli Air Force and 60 operatives including senior commanders, have been killed. (Click Here)
The opening strikes by the IAF included key Hamas infrastructure which according to the military will affect the terror group for years to come, military officials said. The IDF has hit government targets, banks as well senior leaders in the terror organization.“The organization is losing everything,” the IDF Spokesperson told reporters on Thursday morning.”Last night, we started destroying government targets in the Gaza Strip, such as central banks and internal security buildings. Hamas is beginning to discover cracks and there is pressure in the organization, even among the Gaza public who is losing its patience and sees these ruins on the eve of the holiday [of Eid al-Fitr],” he said.
Among the targets belonging to Hamas that have been struck since the beginning of Operation Guardian of the Walls are those belonging to their police, Interior Ministry, banks, homes of commanders including that of the battalion commander of Khan Younis, a naval commando unit and a defensive tunnel inside a school.Four high-rise buildings were also destroyed by Israel Air Force airstrikes and some 60 Hamas operatives have been killed including 10 senior commanders. Four anti-tank guided missile cells were taken out by the IDF on Thursday.Nevertheless the IDF sees the operation continuing in order to strike additional targets that are key to Hamas’s military strength.On Wednesday night Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed the security cabinet that Israel officially rejected a Hamas proposal for a ceasefire and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi held a call with General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to update him on the operation.Throughout the night, incoming rocket sirens sounded throughout the country across the Center and South, as well as in northern Israel, as far as the Galilee region, a rare occurrence. According to Zilberman those sirens were false alarms.Several rockets made direct hits, including in Petach Tikva and Rishon Letzion where a part of a rocket landed inside a home. No one was injured.On Wednesday, an IDF soldier was killed by an anti-tank missile and a five-year-old boy was killed later in the day when a rocket scored a direct hit on the shelter of his family’s apartment building in Sderot.According to the military, the rocket which struck the shelter came in at a specific angle and speed when it exploded on the building, which led to fragments piercing through the protective window.Palestinian media reported on Thursday that at least 83 people have been killed in the IDF strikes, including 17 children, and that more than 487 have been wounded. Israel says that some were killed by rockets that misfired and fell inside Gaza. (Click to Source)
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