250 Rockets Fired at Israel Since Wednesday – IDF Massing Armor, Ground Forces Near Gaza Border
Sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and residents were told to head for shelter Thursday evening. An explosion was reportedly heard. Magen David Adom said that there were no casualties.
Voice of Israel public radio said that the rocket is believed to have struck in a southern suburb of Tel Aviv, but Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter said that the rocket apparently fell into the sea near Bat Yam. Minister of Public Security Yitzchak Aharonovich gave a conflicting account and said that a missile fell into the sea.
The IDF is amassing ground forces near Gaza and preparing for a possible assault. Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) told Voice of Israel that Gaza is in for an "unprecedented attack.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday approved the call-up of 30,000 reserve soldiers, who can be called into action by the military at any point, the army’s official spokesman said.
"We are in the process of expanding the campaign,” Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai told Channel 2 television as Israel pressed a massive air campaign against Gaza terrorists.
"The Defense Minister approved a few minutes ago, based on the army’s request, the recruitment of another 30,000 soldiers. We will determine how many of them will be called in,” he said. "All options are on the table.”
The United States is calling on Egypt to use its sway with the Palestinians to try to end the violence from Gaza, a top U.S. official said Thursday, adding Hamas must stop its rocket attacks on Israel.
"We ask Egypt to use its influence in the region to help de-escalate the situation,” deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, adding that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had spoken with her Egyptian counterpart.
Egypt’s prime minister is to visit Gaza Friday.
Three sirens were also sounded in Be’er Sheva a few minutes before 7:00 p.m. and Magen David Adom said that a salvo of rockets was fired at the city. The Iron Dome system reportedly succeeded in intercepting seven rockets, bringing the total of interceptions by Iron Dome to 105. A few minutes before 8:00 p.m., Color Red sirens were sounded in Be’er Sheva and additional southern communities, including IAF Base Hatzerim.
A rocket fired from Gaza on Thursday struck Rishon Letzion, some 15 kilometers (nine miles) south of Tel Aviv, but there were no injuries or damage. Experts said it was most likely an Iranian-built Fajr 5 from Hamas’s arsenal, which have a range of up to 75 kilometers (46 miles).
"There was a rocket that hit in an open field in the Rishon Letzion area. There were no injuries or damage,” an army spokeswoman said. The city, with a population of some 228,000, lies about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Gaza. It borders on the greater Tel Aviv metropolitan zone.
Meanwhile, over 250 rockets have been fired at Israel since the beginning of operation "Pillar of Defense,” according to IDF spokespersons, things could have been worse still. (continue reading...)