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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Israel launches major air strikes on Gaza

New post on The Extinction Protocol: 2012 and beyond

Operation Pillar of Defense: Israel launches major air strikes on Gaza, killing military chief for Hamas

by The Extinction Protocol
November 15, 2012 – GAZA — Israel on Wednesday launched one of the most ferocious assaults on Gaza since its invasion four years ago, hitting at least 20 targets in aerial attacks that killed the top military commander of Hamas, drew strong condemnation from Egypt and escalated the risks of a new war in the Middle East. 

The Israelis coupled the intensity of the airstrikes with the threat of another ground invasion and warnings to all Hamas leaders in Gaza to stay out of sight or risk the same fate as the Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, who was killed in a pinpoint airstrike as he was traveling by car down a Gaza street. “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a Twitter message. 

The ferocity of the airstrikes, which Israel called Operation “Pillar of Defense” in response to repeated rocket attacks by Gaza-based Palestinian militants, provoked rage in Gaza, where Hamas said the airstrikes amounted to war and promised a harsh response. It quickly launched dozens of rockets into southern Israel, including several that struck the city of Beersheba, shattering windows and damaging cars but causing no injuries. 

Civil-defense authorities in Israel, anticipating retaliation, raised alert levels early in the day and told residents in southern Israel to take precautions. Many remained indoors or congregated in bomb shelters. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said the Israeli attacks had killed at least five others besides Mr. Jabari, including a baby and a 7-year-old girl, and had wounded at least 40. The abrupt escalation in hostilities between Israel and Hamas, the militant organization regarded by Israel as a terrorist group sworn to Israel’s destruction, came amid rising tensions between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors. 

Israel has faced growing lawlessness on its border with the Sinai, including cross-border attacks. It recently fired twice into Syria, which is caught in a civil war, after munitions fell in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and it has absorbed rocket fire from Gaza, which has damaged homes and frightened the population. Israeli officials had promised a robust response to the rocket fire, but for the moment, at least, opted against a ground invasion and instead chose airstrikes and targeted killings. 

The Israeli attacks especially threatened to further complicate Israel’s fragile relations with Egypt, where the Islamist-led government of President Mohamed Morsi, reversing a policy of ousted predecessor Hosni Mubarak, had established closer ties with Hamas and had been acting as a mediator to restore calm between Israel and Gaza-based militant groups. 

In the first crisis in Israeli-Egyptian relations since Mr. Morsi came to power, he called the Israeli actions “wanton aggression on the Gaza Strip.” He ordered Egypt’s ambassador to Israel to return home, summoned the Israeli ambassador to protest, and called for emergency meetings of both the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League over the Gaza attacks. Egyptian state media said Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr had “warned Israel against the consequences of escalation and the negative reflections it may have on the security and stability of the region.” –NY Times
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