Hamas Announces It Is Now In "Open War" With Israel
As expected, the escalation out of Gaza has been fast and furious with Al Arabiya reporting that the Hamas response to the operation that Israel has code named "Operation Pillar Of Cloud", which an IDF spokesperson has clarified Israel is ready to escalate into a ground operation into Gaza if needed, is that "Hamas is now in open war" with Israel. Moments later the organization Islamic Jihad has unsurprisingly, chimed in: "Israel has declared war on Gaza and they will bear the responsibility for the consequences." Stay tuned folks cause this may get very messy quickly. Now if only the US military wasn't currently the functional equivalent of a grotesque reality gong show.
A picture of Gaza:
Some recent updates courtesy of Enduring America:
Israel/Palestine Describing Gaza as a "forward Iranian base", IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai claims that Israel has struck 20 underground rocket launchers belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in an airstrike.
Israel/Palestine. Islamic Jihad responds unsuprisingly strongly to Israel's attacks today. Reuters reports the organisation as saying:
Israel has declared war on Gaza and they will bear the responsibility for the consequences.
Israel/Syria. Earlier today, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu toured the occupied Golan Heights region. The Jerusalem Post reports that Barak told journalists that nearly all of the Syrian villages along the Israeli border are in the hands of rebels. Barak added that the IDF was closely monitoring "the painful crumbling of the Assad regime".
Since Sunday, Israel has twice fired into Syria, claiming that it is responding to shells which have struck territory in the occupied Golan Heights. On Monday, the IDF claimed it had made "direct hits" on Syrian targets. Barak said today that the IDF is working to stop any Syrian fire crossing the border into Israel, "while making more wide-scale preparations for all developments". He continued:
It's very difficult to estimate what will be in Syria in the future, and we need to be alert and ready here, like in other areas.
We are determined to defend our land and our borders. We made that clear to the other side.
Israel-Palestine.. Citing Palestinian sources, Hareetz reports that Hamas military wing chief in Rafah, Raed al-Atar, has also been killed in IDF strike.
The Jerusalem Post also reports al-Atar's death, citing Israel Radio.
Israel-Palestine. Charlotte Alfred, a journalist working for Ma'an News, an independent Palestinian news organization, has sent me the following comment.
Multiple airstrikes are ongoing across the Gaza Strip. Ahmad al-Jabari is Hamas' most senior military leader. This is the most serious assassination of a Palestinian figure in years. Qassam [the military wing of Hamas] are furious. Just hours earlier [Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh] was expressing defiance that Israel's assassination threats will amount to nothing.
Rockets -- not much reported right now but they will come
There are already reports of rocket attacks against Israel - here are the last 3 updates from the IDF's own liveblog, though the last update was about an hour ago:
4:30 PM: A rocket fired from Gaza hits the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.
6:00 AM: A rocket fired from Gaza hits southern Israel.
2:10 AM: In response to rocket fire from Gaza, the Israeli Air Force targeted a weapon storage facility in the central Gaza Strip, as well as two launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip.
Israel-Palestine. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman has put out s statement on the assassination of Hamas's head of military operations Ahmed Jabari in central Gaza. Yoav Mordechai said, "The first aim of this operation is to bring back quiet to southern Israel, and the second target is to strike at terror organizations."
Mordechai described Jabari as a man with "a lot of blood on his hands", as he raised the prospect of more operation. Over the past 48 hours, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reportedly approved a series of steps following border clashes and the exchanges of Israeli airstrikes and rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel.
"All options are open," Mordechai said. "We are very determined to strike at terror organizations."