**IAF UNLEASHES HELL IN GAZA** The IDF operation which began on Shabbos in Gaza is called ‘Cast Lead’. Southern Israel residents had a very difficult Shabbos, which included a fatality and injuries, as well as widespread property damage.
At least 80 fighter jets and combat helicopter gunships dropped bombs on many targets as ‘Cast Lead’ got underway shortly before 12:00pm on Shabbos. On motzei Shabbos, Hamas reported over 205 dead and hundreds wounded. Over 60 rockets have hit southern areas since Shabbos morning.
Kassam and Katyusha rockets were fired into Gaza-belt communities, the Greater Sderot Area, Ashkelon, Netivot, Ashdod and Ofakim. In Netivot, a woman was killed and two seriously injured when a rocket made a direct hit on their home. In Kibbutz Miftachim, a rocket struck a shul, injuring one person seriously and one light. MDA reported earlier that at least 40 people have already been treated for hysteria as a result of attacks. Sirens were also heard in Kiryat Gat, but it does not appear that rockets hit that city.
MDA Director-General Eli Bin has raised the emergency medical service’s operational level to the highest, a level 3, around the country, with about 80% of the organization’s ambulances manned with personnel and ready to respond to emergencies.
IDF HOMEFRONT COMMAND:
IDF Homefront officials are monitoring the situation and preparations are underway to open emergency storehouses as well as for the possibility of activating reserve duty forces. The Homefront is calling on all southern residents to realize the state of emergency, banning the congregation of large groups and calling on residents to remain near bomb shelters and safe rooms.
Hamas in Gaza continues to threaten to increase its attacks, vowing to strike at areas deeper into Israel, areas that have not been under attack in the past. Officials report Gaza hospitals are “collapsing” under the reality of the IDF assault, calling for blood donations as well as seeking support from the international community. There have already been calls from the international community for both Israel and Hamas to exercise restraint.
PROTESTS, RIOTS & ROCK-THROWING ATTACKS:
The response among the Israeli Arab community as well as PA (Palestinian Authority) residents in Yehuda Shomron is a violent one, as many expected.
There are reports of stormy protests and rioting in areas including eastern Jerusalem, Nachal I’ron (Wadi Ara), and widespread rock-throwing attacks reported in areas throughout Yehuda and Shomron. In Nazareth, over 2,000 Arabs have gathered in protest and the numbers appear to be growing. Over 200 Arabs were rioting at Issawiya Checkpoint in eastern Yerushalayim.
Heavy rock-throwing was reported on the Hussan Bypass Road near Betar on motzei Shabbos, and at least one child was injured as a result. There were many reports of damage to vehicles.
Government officials have released statements, particularly Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who stated the operation will be expanded as the situation requires. Emergency treatment stations to address the growing number of hysteria victims have been established in four locations, including Ashkelon, Netivot and Sderot.
Assessors dealing with recording damage from attacks are operating and the national government promises that dealing with damage and repairs will be done as expeditiously as possible. A number has been established for residents to call for assistance. That number is 08-689-8153.
This article was written and posted on motzei Shabbos in Eretz Yisrael.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)