Update Pillar of Defense – November 20, Afternoon

10:00 pm: As of now there is no ceasefire agreement. The IAF is hitting targets in Gaza and the IDF is using artillery to supplement the air force.

8:52 pm: The IDF spokesman blog is reporting that Hamas is urging the citizens in the northern part of Gaza to ignore the IDF warnings to evacuate the area before an IDF ground operation. I guess they will miss their human shields….http://www.idfblog.com/2012/11/20/hamas-spokesman-urges-palestinian-civilians-to-ignore-idf-warnings/

8:37 pm: Barzilai Hospital has moved many of their patients to underground facilities, specially built for this type of situation.

8:34 pm: Sirens sounding in Ashkelon.

8:29 pm: Terrorist attack near Beitar Ilit – an elderly woman is found seriously wounded in her car. It seems that she was attacked by stone throwers.

8:19 pm: Sirens sounding in Ashkelon and communities around the Gaza border.

8:16 pm: Released for publication – a soldier was killed by a rocket in the Eshkol region.

7:17 pm: Sirens in Beersheba, and communities around the Gaza border.

Just to give some perspective, today alone over 300 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. In addition to the rockets, Arabs rioted in various places in Judea and Samaria, especially in Hebron.

7:12 pm: Sirens sounding in Ashdod, Beersheba and communities near the Gaza border.

6:55 pm: The head of the Homefront command has stated that the Israeli public should continue to follow the rules of conduct during an air raid siren and go to the safe rooms, and he specifically said that talk of a ceasefire does not change this.

6:25 pm: There is a lot of confusion here in Israel. There is talk about a ceasefire, but the IAF has dropped leaflets in the northern part of Gaza warning the citizens to leave as the IDF will be invading soon. They are listening to the warnings and leaving en masse toward the south. Meanwhile the rockets are still being fired from Gaza and people are being hurt.

6:08 pm: Rocket hits in Ashkelon, at least one injured seriously. Rocket falls on a building Rishon LeZion (suburb of Tel Aviv). Rockets were taken out near Ashdod.

6:00 pm: The rockets keep being fired from Gaza, but there is talk about a ceasefire that will be in effect starting tonight. The only problem is that Israel has not confirmed this.

3:27 pm: The IDF is reporting that the Hamas terrorists who fired the rocket toward Jerusalem earlier were now killed by an attack by the IAF.

Update – Pillar of Defense November 20

3:24 pm: Sirens sounding again in the communities close to the Gaza border.

3:15 pm: Sirens sounding in areas around Gaza. Reshet Bet (Radio 2) is trying to lift morale by playing upbeat Israeli songs, and they keep getting interrupted by warnings of rockets falling. The radio host has said that this has been the most surreal broadcast he has ever done.

3:07 pm: The IAF is conducting a major attack on Gaza now, destroying rocket storage sites.

2:51 pm: Sirens again in Jerusalem.

2:38 pm: A person is seriously injured in the Eshkol region. Sirens sounding now in areas around Gaza, Ofakim.

2:23 pm: Sirens sounded in Jerusalem and in our yishuv northwest of Jerusalem. I went directly to my safe room and waited the requisite 10 minutes. A rocket fell in an open area not in Jerusalem. It seems that the rocket fell in the Gush Etzion region.

1:05 pm: Rocket hits a building in Sderot.

12:53 pm: Sirens sounding in Netivot.

12:41 pm: Sirens sounding in areas very close to Gaza, including Sderot.

The southern cities in Israel had a very hard night with many rockets landing. This morning the rocket barrage continued, with Beersheba receiving the brunt of the rocket attacks. An army officer in a base near the Gaza border was injured by shrapnel and taken to a hospital. In addition, a person tried to force his way into the American Embassy in Tel Aviv and was overpowered. The incident is being investigated.

The IAF is attacking many Hamas positions in Gaza, aiming at Hamas operatives.

There is still talk of a cease fire agreement, but no hard news. The IDF is poised to go for a ground offensive, but has not received the order yet.

Mothers and Children Under Threat

How would you feel if these were your children?

Girl with drawing in Hebrew “Please stop the rockets”

Boys taking cover during rocket attack

Families taking shelter in Ashkelon during rocket fire

Mother and child taking cover in a cement pipe when rockets are falling

A mother protects her children during a rocket attack in Tel Aviv, November 18

Where Do Your Children Wake Up in the Morning?

Where do your children wake up in the morning? If you are an Israeli living in the southern half of Israel, chances are your kids are waking up in bomb shelters this morning. Would you put up with this in your country?

Update Pillar of Defense – November 19

1:12 pm: Sirens in Ashkelon, Ofakim

12:51 pm: Sirens sounding in Sderot.

12:36 pm: Rockets falling now in Ashdod.

11:31 am: Sirens in Eshkol region. Rocket falls near Beersheba.

11:14 am: Siren in Ofakim.

Israel not only calls up reserve soldiers, but they have called up reserve firefighters too. These firefighters work to not only deal with fires that start because of the rockets, but they also get rid of the pieces of rockets stuck in the roads, houses, etc. Some of these firefighters have been hurt recently.

11:00 am: A rocket fell onto a school in Ashkelon. Thank G-d there were no injuries as the school is closed. Sirens are sounding in the Eshkol region. Rockets fired at Ofakim, no injuries.

10:33 am: Sirens in Ashkelon, Zikim, Shapir, Beer Tuvia

9:26 am: Sirens in Eshkol and Sdot Negev.

8:40 am: Sirens in Sdot Negev.

8:06 am: Explosions reported in Eilat. No injuries reported. (Last night rockets were fired toward Eilat but landed in open areas).

7:49 am: Sirens sounding in Ashkelon area.

7:27 am: Sirens sounding in the Eshkol region.

7:00 am: Rockets hit the Eshkol region, no injuries.

The southern part of Israel had a relatively quiet night – from midnight to 6:00 am no rockets were fired. The IAF continued to hit terrorist targets in Gaza overnight.

The Strength of Israel – Courage, Faith, and A Sense of Humor

Today was a long day of sirens and rockets and injuries. I think I will end my posting for today with something different.

I frequently write posts about things that I find unique and wonderful about Israel under the title “Only in Israel”. Sometimes it is about topics referring to the combination of Jewish law and modern technology. Sometimes it is about the wonderful people that you find in Israel.

I decided to take a break from the updates about rocket fire to make a compilation of “only in Israel” stories reflecting the current war.

First, the heart and soul of our wonderful soldiers and citizens – this is a link to an article, with video, of an Israeli officer wounded by a rocket being carried to an emergency room on a stretcher, who insists on hearing about the other soldiers in his care who were also wounded. Here is an article about a student in Beersheba who decided to stay in the city despite the rockets, and he explains why.

Second, the marriage of Jewish law and the modern world. Many Israelis are either Orthodox or traditional, and keep the Sabbath according to Jewish law. One of these laws prohibits listening to the radio (or looking at tv or going onto the computer, etc.). During the war, those who live in areas under rocket attack usually have the radio on, so that they can get the warning in real time when a rocket is coming in (this is usually louder than the sirens outside). How do Jews who don’t listen to the radio on Shabbat protect themselves? In Israel there is what is called the “silent channel”. The radio on this channel only broadcasts when a siren goes off – otherwise there is silence. In this way a Jew keeping Shabbat can have the radio on and it will only be “used” in case of danger to life.

Third, the life affirming sense of humor of the Israeli people. I think we are probably the best in the world when it comes to gallows humor. I listened to the radio interview of a member of a kibbutz located very close to the Gaza border. She described her kibbutz as “the one that first received the ‘ahavat chinam’ of the terrorists”. Ahavat chinam (literally translated “love for free” or unconditional love) refers in Judaism to when Jews love each other even if the other does not deserve it. This is in contrast to sinat chinam, unconditional hate, that we sometimes have for each other and is considered a huge sin in Jewish life. Obviously the woman was being sarcastic, but in a Jewish and sophisticated way.

Another example of humor:

Please send me more examples of Jewish humor relating to our situation now. I think everyone could use some of it!

Update Pillar of Defense November 18

6:48 pm: Two rockets destroyed by the Iron Dome system in Tel Aviv.

6:41 pm: Sirens sounding in Tel Aviv, Rishon LeZion, Holon, Petach Tikvah and Eshkol.

6:38 pm: Sirens sounding in Eshkol region.

5:45 pm: Sirens sounding in Ashkelon.

Public prayers for the safety of the people in the south and for the safety of the IDF soldiers are taking place at the Kotel (Western Wall).

4:05 pm: A car carrying five people, including a baby, is hit by a rocket. This happened in the southern city of Ofakim. They are being treated in a nearby hospital.

2:00 pm: Sirens in Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beer Tuvia, Eshkol. Rockets fell in Shaar HaNegev. Palestinian reporters are supposedly leaving their headquarters in Gaza in fear of attacks by the IAF.

1:52 pm: The IDF is periodically taking over the radio broadcasts from Hamas in Gaza and is warning the civilian population to stay away from Hamas areas. (Personally, this would really freak me out if it happened the other way – if Hamas took over Reshet Bet, the radio station that I listen to all day when there is a war).

1:24 pm: Sirens sounding in Beersheba, Rechavim. The Israeli cabinet is meeting now to decide whether or not to proceed to a ground invasion of Gaza.

1:12pm: Direct hit on a house in Sderot. No injuries since the people living there were not in the house. In Ashdod they found parts of a rocket that has not yet exploded – security personnel are taking care of it.

1:00 pm: Sirens sounding in Ashkelon, Shafir, Beer Tuvia and Sderot. The Iron Dome system successfully shoots down most of the rockets.

12:38 pm: Sirens sounding in Ofakim, Merchavim, Sdot Negev,  Ashdod, and Sderot.

12:30 pm: The government reports that their websites have successfully withstood an uprecedented number of cyber attacks.

12:00 pm: A firefighter in the Shaar HaNegev region was injured by a mortar when he was helping others and he is now receiving treatment. Rockets fired at Ashkelon.

11:10 am: More sirens across the south of Israel.

11:00 am: A rocket hit a home in Ashkelon, damage reported but as of yet no reports of injuries. The IAF is focussing its hits in Gaza on the media centers (tv, radio, etc.).

10:30 am: Sirens sounding in Tel Aviv and Rishon LeZion, Holon and Bat Yam. 15 rockets were fired in the past few minutes at various places in Israel. The Iron Dome system destroyed the rockets, including one on its way to Tel Aviv, and parts of the rocket fell onto a car and started a fire.

There is “talk” about a ceasefire, but Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel. Overnight it was quiet, but starting at 7:15 this morning the rocket fire started up again. At first the rockets were fired in the area very close to Gaza, and then more rockets were fired at the city of Ashkelon. One rocket hit a building directly, smashed through the top two floors, and injured a few people. Thank G-d most of the people did what the Home Front Command says – in a house or apartment building without reinforced rooms, when the siren goes off go to the stairwell.

After this hit, the Home Front added another suggestion, that those who live on the top floors move down to stay in the stairwell towards the bottom fo the apartment building.

Will the IDF Start A Ground Operation?

Right now the IAF (Israel Air Force) is continuing to hit targets in Gaza, trying to destroy as many rockets and ammunition dumps as possible. In between they are hitting the houses of Hamas members (who are never there – they are hiding in bunkers). Perhaps this is a way of putting psychological pressure on Hamas – in effect saying “we know where you live, and can get you at any time if we want.”

The big question now of course is whether the IDF will go in and start a ground operation. This decision depends on a lot of factors, and of course the military and political analysts are weighing in with their opinions (and in some cases, spin).

Ron ben Yishai of Ynetnews.com explains things pretty well. He points out the variables and the fact that Israel and the world will be looking at how Egypt will react and if they will be able to negotiate a real truce with Hamas. Yaakov Lappin of the Jerusalem Post states the facts in a clear way – but he states that the IAF has already taken out most of the long range Fajr rockets – a fact tha I find puzzling. How does this piece of information get out to the press – past the military censor? (yes, in Israel there is a military censor, something that America could use!). Is it really accurate, or just another way of goading Hamas into showing its hand?

Not only is Israel filled with military experts – but it is filled with many chess experts – both literally and figuratively. Anyone who follows our convoluted political process can see this. So what is discussed in public can be seen as the truth, but the question always needs to be asked “why is this piece of information being released”?

Sirens in the Shomron and Tel Aviv

As a Sabbath observer I was not able to post until now (Saturday evening, Israel time). Last night, about twenty minutes after lighting the Sabbath candles, the siren in our small community went off. I did what I was supposed to do – I went into the “safe room” (every house built after 1993 in Israel is required to have a room with extra reinforcements built in) in our house, which happens to be our bedroom. I waited there for about ten minutes and then came out. My husband was at the synagogue, and he reported that when the siren went off they put the children into the safe room in the synagogue – and the adults stood under the eaves of the building.

The fact that it happened on the Sabbath complicated matters, as we do not use cell phones or other electronic devices, and we did not know how to proceed afterwards. People involved in public safety are allowed by Jewish law to use these devices, and they eventually told us that a rocket had landed in Gush Etzion, and that we could proceed with our regular schedule, unless the siren sounded again.

Our village is located in the Shomron (Samaria) and is relatively close to Ben Gurion airport and directly east of Tel Aviv. If the rockets fired from Gaza are a threat to us, and to the city of Tel Aviv, then the IDF must take serious action. I don’t say that because I view my life or those that live in Tel Aviv as more important than those in the southern part of Israel – G-d forbid. The IDF should have gone into Gaza earlier to take care of the terrorists. My point is that if both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are under threat then our very existence is under threat. Our financial center is in Tel Aviv, our hi-tech industry is centered on the coast, and the tourist industry depends on people visiting both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I don’t think Hamas has any idea what it did by firing the Fajir rockets (the ones with the long range capability of reaching the center of Israel).

I cannot predict what the IDF will do exactly – but I can say that they are preparing the public relations war in a much more sophisticated way than ever before. I am using my Facebook page to help with this effort, and the IDF sends out information to disseminate on a regular basis. They are also using twitter in a positive way. Right now the IAF (Israel Air Force) is continuing to bomb sites in Gaza in a “surgical way” – attempting to minimize civilian casualties. I am not sure they will continue this way throughout the whole campaign – especially if the Hamas operatives hide in bunkers under hospitals.

Update – Pillar of Defense November 16

1:30 pm: Sirens and two explosions in Tel Aviv. Sirens in Ashdod. This is the first time I have ever heard a radio personality in the studio say “sirens are sounding here”. This is a game changer folks.

12:30 pm: Sirens and explosions in Beersheva.

12:00 pm: Sirens are sounding in Sderot.

There are thousands of police deployed around Israel now to protect the public from possible riots. A large number are deployed in Jerusalem near the Kotel and the Temple Mount.

11:30 am: Rockets have fallen in Ofakim and other places in the south. An anti-tank rocket hit a jeep containing photographers from Reuters – they escaped unharmed.  I wonder if this will change some minds.

10:00 am: Sirens sounding in Ashkelon.

9:42 am: A direct hit onto a house in the south, thank G-d no injuries.

Well, Hamas, being Hamas, is sending rockets into Israel while the Prime Minister of Egypt is in Gaza. The Israeli government promised to hold back attacks on terrorist targets in Gaza if the terrorists did the same – and they are of course ignoring this.

9:30 am: Sirens going off in Kiryat Gat.

9:20 am: Sirens sounding in Kiryat Malachi, the city where three Israelis were killed by a rocket yesterday.

9:00 am: Sirens sounding in ring communities right near the Gaza border.

Israel has announced that it will not fire at targets in Gaza during the time that the Prime Minister of Egypt will visit Gaza, on the condition of course that the terrorists don’t fire rockets into Israel. It will be interesting to see what plays out here.

8:00 am: Ten rockets were fired in the last hour towards the south of Israel. The IDF has asked the public not to give out information about where the rockets have landed, as this helps the terrorists improve their “aim”.

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