Plans for a potential land invasion of the Gaza Strip will be addressed to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi for approval later on Thursday, while the Israeli military intensifies its attack on Hamas.
Speaking to the press The preparations are being put together by the Gaza Division and Southern Command, according to IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman, and will then be presented to Israel’s political echelon for approval.
On May 12, 2021, the IDF successfully attacked a multi-level building used by the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip. (Photo courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)
The IDF has hit government targets, banks as well senior leaders in the terror organization.
“The organization is losing everything,” IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters on Thursday morning.
“Tonight 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.
Over 650 targets belonging to Hamas have been struck since the beginning of Operation Guardian of the Walls, such as those belonging to their police, interior ministry and banks as well as homes of commanders including that of the battalion commander of Khan Younis as well as a naval commando unit and defensive tunnel inside a school.
Three high-rise buildings were also destroyed by Israel Air Force airstrikes and some 60 Hamas operatives have been killed including 10 senior commanders.
According to Zilberman, all options remain on the table 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.
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 of the country, 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 struck people directly, including in Petach Tikva and Rishon Letzion, where a missile fragment landed inside a building. Nobody was hurt.
Ben-Gurion Airport started rerouting inbound flights to Ramon International Airport in southern Israel on Thursday morning. Flights will continue to depart from Ben-Gurion.
On Wednesday night, Israel’s defence cabinet accepted IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi’s proposal to intensify retaliatory airstrikes into Gaza. Defense Minister Benny Gantz is advising Knesset members as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares that Israel will not consider a cease-fire with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
An IDF soldier was killed by an anti-tank missile early Wednesday morning and a five-year-old boy was killed later in the day when a rocket scored a direct hit on his family’s apartment building in Sderot. More than 1,200 rockets have been fired into Israel since the fighting began on Monday.
A rocket barrage was launched toward central Israel on Wednesday evening and sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and throughout the South as Hamas launched the rockets to avenge the deaths of its top commanders by Israel earlier in the day.
According to the IDF, two people were killed in a terrorist attack in the West Bank (Samaria) late Wednesday night, and the terrorist was neutralised on the spot. The incident is being investigated.
The missiles either landed in open areas or were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system. However, in Ashkelon, one of the rockets landed directly on a building, causing significant damage to one of the dwellings. When the sirens sounded, a child who had been sleeping there was whisked away to safety.
Earlier in the day, IDF St.-Sgt. Omer Tabib was killed and three other soldiers were injured after a Hamas-fired Kornet anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) hit his jeep near the Gaza border. The attack came after a night of intense rocket barrages toward the center of the country.
The jeep, belonging to the 931st Nahal battalion, was inside the Kibbutz of Netiv Ha’asara but was at a spot where it was exposed to the ATGM when it was struck.
Netanyahu said on Wednesday afternoon, “On behalf of all Israeli citizens, I express my deepest condolences and send my condolences to the family and friends of the IDF soldier, the late Staff Sergeant Omer Tabib, a fighter in the Nahal Brigade who fell this morning from anti-tank fire during an operation to protect the Gaza Strip.
“I send my best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery to another fighter and another officer who were injured in the attack.”
Shortly before the attack, the IDF warned residents of communities near Gaza to remain at home out of concern that Hamas might fire short-range mortars, ATGM’s or sniper attacks against civilians in the area.
Updated Home Front Command directives have been put in place from Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. until Friday at 2 p.m. In the Gaza border communities, the Western Negev, the Shfela region, Sharon and Yarkon, up to ten people will be allowed in open areas and 100 inside. It is permitted to work in places where there is an accessible rocket shelter. Educational institutions will be closed.
In the rest of the country, gatherings will be permitted in accordance with the government’s instructions. Workplaces will be active without restrictions and classes will take place without restrictions.
Hamas launched a barrage of rockets at Ashdod and Ashkelon on Wednesday afternoon following the strike against the top Hamas command, in which some six senior terrorists were killed. The incident came as the Israeli military continued to carry out waves of airstrikes targeting Hamas terrorists, including senior commanders.
More than 900 rockets crossed into Israeli territory after being launched from Gaza, and another 200 fell inside the Hamas-run coastal enclave. Several rockets have made direct hits on buildings and cars in Israel, killing six Israelis.
Two of those killed have been named as Khalil Awad, 52, and his daughter Nadin, 16, Arab-Israeli residents of a town near Lod who were killed when a rocket struck a car in Lod early Wednesday.
The rocket hit Lod as the mixed Jewish-Arab city was rocked by violent protests during the night, bringing Israel’s death toll to five since the war started on Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, two people were killed in Ashkelon, and another woman was killed by a missile that hit Rishon Lezion in the evening.
Gantz stressed that the IDF will continue striking Gaza until it can bring a “complete and long-term peace,” during a visit to Ashkelon on Wednesday.
“In the last few hours, the IDF has carried out a series of significant attacks. We have attacked squads of commanders and significant Hamas infrastructure and we will continue to protect all residents of Israel,” said Gantz. “We have attacked many hundreds of targets, towers are falling, factories are collapsing, tunnels are being destroyed and commanders are assassinated. All the means and all the options are on the table and there is a lot more activity in the bank.”
“The IDF will continue to attack and bring a complete and long-term peace,” added Gantz. “Only when we achieve this goal can we talk about calm. There is currently no end date. We will not accept moral sermons from any organization or institution about our right and duty to protect Israeli citizens.”
Gantz decided on Wednesday afternoon to extend the special situation in the home front for an additional two weeks in light of the ongoing rocket attacks against Israel and plans to expand IDF strikes against the Gaza Strip.
RAW FOOTAGE: This is the moment the Iron Dome intercepted a barrage of rockets over Tel Aviv and central Israel. pic.twitter.com/8jl8OTgWCl
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 11, 2021
The Israeli military continued to execute waves of airstrikes against Hamas terrorists, including its senior commanders and their homes, as well as several high-rise buildings that housed infrastructure belonging to the terror group, such as military intelligence offices.
In response to the bombing of high-rise buildings in Gaza City, hundreds of rockets pounded Israel throughout Tuesday and Wednesday with sirens wailing throughout the center and south of the country, including Tel Aviv and Beersheba. In one of the strikes, senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders were killed.
Palestinian media reported that at least 69 people have been killed in the IDF strikes, including 17 children, and that more than 388 have been wounded. Israel says that some were killed by rockets that misfired and fell inside Gaza.
According to Zilberman, the IDF also launched an arrest drive against Hamas members on the West Bank overnight. “You understand why we’re doing it,” he said.
Israel has “the right and obligation to act and will continue to act,” according to Gantz.
According to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Israel “started a fire in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and the flames spread to Gaza – therefore, it is responsible for the consequences.”
According to Haniyeh, Qatar, Egypt, and the United Nations have all urged peace, but Hamas’ message to Israel is: “If they want to escalate, the resistance is ready; if they want to stop, the resistance is ready.”