Operation Pillar of Defense: Death Toll Rises in Israel – Hamas Conflict

In response to a continuous barrage of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip the IDF has launched a widespread campaign against terror targets in Gaza – Operation Pillar of Defense.  More than 700 rockets have struck Israel since the beginning of the year, and more than 120 since Saturday. The two main goals of the operation are to protect Israeli civilians and to cripple the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.

Yesterday, the IDF killed Ahmed Jabri, the head of Hamas’ military wing, in the Gaza Strip. Jabri was a senior Hamas operative who served in the upper echelon of the Hamas’ command and was directly responsible for executing terror attacks against Israel in the past. Thousands attended his funeral in Gaza on Thursday and another airstrike on Khan Younis killed three terrorists who were preparing to launch rockets. The IDF braced for an escalation in the rocket fire during Jabari’s funeral.

The IDF has been successful in significantly damaging Hamas’ long-range missile capabilities (40 km/25 mi range) & underground weapons storage facilities.  And, this morning the IDF dispersed leaflets above several locations in the Gaza Strip, warning local residents to stay away from Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

The contents of the leaflet:

    “Important announcement for the residents of the Gaza Strip:

    For your own safety, take responsibility for yourselves and avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives and facilities and those of other terror organizations that pose a risk to your safety.

    Hamas is once again dragging the region to violence and bloodshed. The IDF is determined to defend the residents of the State of Israel. This announcement is valid until quiet is restored to the region.

    Israel Defense Forces Command.”

As of 1:32 a.m. ET, the Iron Dome had intercepted 13 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel but 3 Israeli civilians have been killed and a baby critically injured by the rocket fire.

Earlier today, the IDF targeted a rocket warehouse in Gaza.  Watch the video.

For its part, Hamas shows no intention of backing down.  A statement by Hamas’s armed wing reads: “The Al-Qassam Brigades have vowed to turn the lives of Zionists into hell and make them regret the moment they decided to assassinate their esteemed leader. The coming days will prove the sincerity of our words.” The statement was  published by the Palestinian Media Center which is a Hamas affiliate.

According to IDF Spokesperson, Eytan Buchman, there is no specific timetable for when it will end. Buchman reports: “We will go on as long as we need to, we had over a million Israelis in bomb shelters over the last four days, that situation is untenable.”

For continuing updates, visit the IDF’s live blog.  All times are Israeli time (GMT +2). If the site is down, please check back again as sometimes Israeli websites are attacked when conflict arises.

Watch the news video regarding Operation Pillar of Defense.