The IDF has been stepping up its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Saturday, the fourth day of Operation Pillar of Defense. Rocket fire from the Strip persists, with Gaza terrorists directly hitting an apartment building in Ashdod and three other houses, injuring 10. By Saturday night, some 100 rockets had been fired into Israel (and 600 since Wednesday), including two at Tel Aviv, one of which was intercepted by the newly deployed fifth Iron Dome battery, placed in central Israel, where it can protect the residents of Tel Aviv and its environs. The Palestinians appear to be taking the first steps in a diplomatic push, via Egypt, toward a ceasefire. Palestinians report 42 killed from Israeli airstrikes; Israel has carried out over 300 such strikes in the past two days, and 950 in all to date. Israeli death toll is three, and one seriously injured.
The IDF’s pounding of Hamas’ infrastructure in Gaza entered its fourth day Saturday, and is deemed as highly successful until this point.
The Hamas government headquarters, which housed Gaza “prime minister” Ismail Haniyeh’s offices, were leveled to the ground. In addition, “security compounds, tunnels and electricity transformers” were hit, according to Al Jazeera. “Missiles also knocked out five electricity transformers, plunging more than 400,000 people into darkness, according to the Gaza electricity distribution company,” the news network reported.
The IDF’s attacks from air and sea have been very accurate, and attempts to minimize civilian deaths have also been relatively successful, although with Hamas, one never knows when a family may be purposely placed in harm’s way to create a bloodbath that can be blamed on Israel. The technologically innovative Iron Dome’s system’s high rate of success at intercepting missiles is seen as the centerpiece of the IDF’s performance in that it gives the military breathing room to pulverize Hamas targets without having to worry too much about Israeli civilian causalties.
The United States and even the European Union have been relatively supportive of the IDF’s action.
Even the Israeli press has been behaving more patriotically than it did in previous conflicts, although the nature of the coverage differs from program to program and from broadcaster to broadcaster.
Editors at Channel 2 television made the problematic decision to bring the highly controversial MK Ahmed Tibi (Raam Taal), a former advisor to PLO head Yasser Arafat, into the studio Friday night. Tibi tried to convince viewers that Hamas senior commander Ahmed Jaabari, killed by the IDF, was a man of peace who was behind “lulls” with Israel and predicted the Gaza operation would wind up preventing Israel from hitting Iran’s nuclear program.
Channel 2‘s broadcaster Arad Nir later interviewed an Arab from Gaza whose daughter was injured in shelling, while pictures of the girl were shown over and over again.
MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) spoke out against the IDF operation, but interviewees like Maj. Gen.(res.) Yom Tov Samia and former Shin Bet head Yaakov Perry insisted that this is not a time for criticism and discord, and that Israelis need to unite behind their government and troops. Arab affairs expert Ehud Yaari noted that while panelists on Channel 2 were debating whther Hamas can be a partner