Day 3: Operation Pillar of Defense |

LIVE BLOG: Day 3 of Israel-Gaza Conflict 2012

Rocket lands in Gush Etzion, no casualties; Israeli cabinet approves expansion of draft to more than 75,000 army reservists; IDF: Projectile on Tel Aviv did not hit ground; more than 550 rockets from Gaza explode in Israel since beginning of operation; IDF strikes over 500 Gaza targets; EU's Ashton: Hamas must cease rocket fire, Israel must make sure response is proportionate.

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After a relatively quiet night on the Israeli side of the border, Friday morning saw the renewal of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israel's south. Several rockets hit residential areas in Ashdod; a woman sustained light injuries and a few residents suffered an anxiety attack following the rocket fire. The Israel Defense Forces struck some 150 targets overnight in Gaza.

On Thursday night, two Fajr rockets were fired toward Tel Aviv. Sirens were sounded in the Tel Aviv area for the first time since the Gulf War in 1991.

The IDF said that since the operation began with the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, it has struck most of the Fajr launching sites in Gaza. The Iranian-made Fajr rockets, when fired from the northern Gaza Strip, can hit cities in central Israel.

The IDF is now preparing for the possibility of expanding the operation, including the use of ground forces in the Gaza Strip. The IDF General Staff on Friday morning approved the initial draft of 16,000 army reservists. Israel agreed to hold fire during a visit in Gaza by Egypt Prime Minister Hashim Kandil. During his visit, volleys were fired from Gaza toward Israel's south.

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7:48 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts two rockets fired from Gaza toward Be'er Sheva and Ofaqim; five rockets explode in Eshkol Regional Council, one in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council (Yanir Yagna)

7:33 Israel Air Force strike in Khan Younis kills Palestinian. 25 Palestinians wounded in aerial assault on the house of a top Hamas military official near Jabaliya in northern Gaza. Other strikes targeted Gaza police headquarters, smuggling tunnels and a mosque in Rafah (Avi Issacharoff)

7:28 A.M. Deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk, says initial attempts are made to bring a temporary cease fire between Israel and Hamas. Abu Marzouk, who is currently in Cairo, who is considered a key negotiator for Hamas, adds that such the sides are still far from reaching such agreement.

7:13 A.M. After a relatively quiet night, sirens sound in Ashkelon area, Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council and Sdot Negev Regional Council. No reports of casualties or damage (Haaretz)

6:15 A.M. Anonymous activists launch an attack on Israeli websites, defacing and disabling many websites including the political party Kadima's website. Activists claim they had wiped databases of the Foreign Ministry and Bank of Jerusalem clean. (Haaretz)

6:00 A.M. IDF reports it had targeted 85 more terror sites in the Gaza Strip during the past six hours. (Haaretz)

6:00 A.M. Israel Air Force strikes the office building of Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniya. The IDF says the bureau was also used as Hamas headquarters. Three days ago the IDF bombed a generator near Haniya's house in Gaza (Gili Cohen)

4:00 A.M. Red Alert siren goes off in Ashkelon. (Army Radio)

1:55 A.M. U.S. President Barack Obama discusses situation in Israel and Gaza with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, reiterated U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself. (Reuters)

11: 25 P.M. IDF kills five Palestinians in Gaza. Since start of fighting, three Israelis were killed, as were 29 Gazans. Palestinians report that 10 out of the 29 killed were civilians. (Haaretz)

11:07 P.M.The Israeli cabinet approved the request of Defense Minister Ehud Barak to call-up 75,000 additional reservists. The draft order is due to take effect within a few hours. During Operation Cast Lead, some 10,000 reservists were drafted and during the Second Lebanon War, some 60,000 reservists were drafted. (Haaretz)

10:45 P.M. Gaza rocket explodes north of Ashdod (Haaretz)

10:31 P.M, Head of Hamas' anti-tank warfare was killed in Israeli air strike; IDF confirms that IAF planes bombed the building of Hamas' Interior Ministry on Friday morning.

10:04 P.M. Gaza residents receiving alerts from IDF via text messages warning against strikes (Haaretz)

9:30 P.M. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of launching Gaza assault to undermine his efforts to secure diplomatic upgrade at UN (Reuters)

9:24 P.M. U.S. President Barack Obama speaks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the escalation in Gaza. "The two leaders shared their concerns about the dangers to civilian populations on both sides and expressed their common desire to see an end to the violence." (Haaretz)

9:13 P.M. Rockets fired from direction of Egypt toward Eshkol Regional Council (Haaretz)

9:06 P.M. Barrage of rockets fired toward Be'er Sheva. Iron Dome intercepts one rocket and two more exploded in open areas. Another rocket exploded near residential area in moshav in Eshkol Regional Council (Haaretz)

8:50 P.M. Three Palestinians, including commander in Hamas' military wing, Ahmed Abu Jalal, were killed during IDF strike in central Gaza. The IDF says the attack targeted a terror cell that was about to launch rockets toward Israel (Haaretz)

8:45 P.M. U.S. consulate in Jerusalem issues security message for U.S. citizens, urges Americans to "exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security in light of the escalating level of violence in Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank" (Haaretz)

8:40 P.M. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman: "Israel has two goals in the Gaza operation: to rehabilitate our deterrence ability and destroy long-range missiles. Once we attain these goals, we will end the operation." (Channel 2)

8:30 P.M. Palestinian President Abbas asks Arab League chief to visit Gaza (Reuters)

8:20 P.M. Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, some 520 rockets were fired into Israel, 190 of them on Friday (Haaretz)

7:40 P.M. Grad rocket fired toward Ashkelon, Iron Dome intercepts it (Haaretz)

Grad damage in Ashdod, Nov. 16, 2012.
A breakdown of the fighting between Israel and Gaza.
IDF soldiers pray on their tank stationed at the Israeli-Gaza Strip border on Nov. 16, 2012.
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Grad damage in Ashdod, Nov. 16, 2012.Credit: Ilan Assayag
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A breakdown of the fighting between Israel and Gaza.
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IDF soldiers pray on their tank stationed at the Israeli-Gaza Strip border on Nov. 16, 2012. Credit: AFP
Operation Pillar of Defense enters third day

7:32 P.M. Defense Minister approves expansion of draft to more than 75,000 army reservists; request was transferred to the approval of the cabinet. In Operation Cast Lead, less than 10,000 were drafted (Haaretz)

6:36 P.M. Rocket directly hit home in Be'er Tuvia Regional Council; damage but no casualties reported (Haaretz)

6:24 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts rockets fired toward Ashdod area (Haaretz)

6:05 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts rocket fired toward Be'er Tuvia Regional Council

6:00 P.M. Two rockets explode in open areas in Eshkol Regional Council; no casualties or damage reported (Haaretz)

5:45 P.M.: Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the request of the IDF to widen the draft of army reservists to more than 30,000. The request was transferred to the approval of the government.

5:35 P.M. For first time since 1970, rocket fired at Jerusalem, lands in open area in Gush Etzion, directly south of Jerusalem; no casualties (Haaretz)

5:01 P.M. Hamas claims it fired at the Knesset. Residents report sounds of explosion in the Jerusalem area (Haaretz)

4:50 P.M. Alarm sounds in Jerusalem area (Haaretz)

4:40 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts rocket volley toward Be'er Tuvia and Kiryat Malakhi (Haaretz)

4:25 P.M. Egypt's Morsi: "The new Egypt is completely different, and determined to stop the attack on Gaza" (Avi Issacharoff)

4:04 P.M. IDF Spokesman: Air force conducted more than 600 strikes in Gaza (Haaretz)

3:50 P.M. Gag order lifted: Three wounded by explosion in Eshkol Regional Council are IDF soldiers; two moderately wounded, one lightly wounded; all were hospitalized at Soroka Medical Center, Be’er Sheva. (Haaretz)

3:30 P.M. Since Operation Pillar of Defense began Wednesday, 550 rockets were fired toward Israel, of which 26 exploded in built up areas. By noon on Friday, Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted 109 rockets. The Israel Defense Forces has thus far struck more than 500 targets in the Strip (Haaretz)

3:25 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Shimon Peres this afternoon to update him on details of the operation. Netanyahu is currently evaluating the security situation. (Haaretz)

3:20 IDF resumes Gaza strikes after halting attacks over Egyptian PM's visit (Gili Cohen)

2:44 P.M. IDF says attacked over 500 targets in Gaza since beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense (Haaretz)

2:31 P.M. Direct hit on a house in Be'er Tuvia Regional Council; none wounded, building damaged (Haaretz)

2:21 P.M. Iron Dome system intercepts rocket volleys fired toward Ashdod and one rocket fired at Sderot (Yanir Yagna)

2:15 P.M. Britain cautions Israel: "Israel does have to bear in mind that it is when ground invasions have taken place in previous conflicts that they have lost international support and a great deal of sympathy around the world," British Foreign Secretary William Hague tells BBC radio show. (DPA)

2:11 P.M. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi denounces Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip as "a blatant aggression against humanity" and said Cairo "would not leave Gaza on its own", the state news agency MENA reports. (Reuters)

2:01 P.M. Rocket volley fired toward Ashkelon, Gan Yavne, and Be'er Sheva (Yanir Yagna)

1:56 P.M. Tel Aviv municipality says will unlock all public bomb shelters (Haaretz)

1:58 P.M. Alarm sounds in Be’er Sheva and Ashkelon (Yanir Yagna)

1:50 P.M. Three Israelis wounded after rocket explodes in Eshkol Regional Council (Yanir Yagna)

1:47 P.M. Rocket fired toward Tel Aviv explodes in open area; no wounded or damages reported. IDF says projectile did not explode on the ground (Yanir Yagna).

1:30 P.M. Alarm sounds in the Tel Aviv area indicating rocket fire from Gaza; (Haaretz)

1:28 P.M. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay denounces Israel's aerial attacks on the Gaza Strip as well as rockets fired by Hamas militants into southern Israel (Reuters)

1:25 P.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts 4 rockets over Ashklelon; one rocket explodes in open area (Yanir Yagna)

1:23 P.M. Red alert sirens sound in Be’er Sheva and the Ofaqim area (Haaretz)

1:15 P.M. Red Alert sirens, indicating rocket fire from Gaza, sound across Israel’s south (Haaretz)

1:05 P.M. Gaza rocket hits chicken coop in the Eshkol Regional Council; red alert sirens sound in the Gaza envelope communities near border (Yanir Yagna)

1:04 P.M. Iron Dome batteries intercept at least 4 rockets over Be’er Sheva and Kiryat Malachi after barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza; one rocket hits Be’er Sheva, rest of rockets explode in open areas (Yanir Yagna, Gili Cohen)

12:45 P.M. German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls on Egypt to use its influence on Gaza’s Hamas to bring a cease fire. "There is no justification for the shooting of rockets at Israel, which has led to massive suffering of the civilian population," the statement said. (Reuters)

12:28 P.M. Hundreds of Hamas activists march in Ramallah in support of Ismail Haniya’s government in Gaza; calling to bomb Tel Aviv (Amira Hass)

12:12 P.M. Touring the south, Labor party chairman Shelly Yacimovich says government must compensate business and workers in south of Israel threatened by rockets from Gaza. Yacimovich said that the Finance Ministry now only compensates communities located some 7 kilometers from the Gaza border, adding that this leaves out the residents of Ashkelon, Be’er Sheva, Ashdod, Ofaqim and other cities and towns (Haaretz)

12:02 P.M. IDF: Israel Air Force bombs technological development centers in Gaza used for drone production (Gili Cohen)

12:02 P.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts over Sderot a rocket launched from Gaza after red alert sirens sound in the area (Yanir Yagna)

12:00 P.M. IDF Brigade commander: We have known an operation in Gaza was just a matter of time; we spoke of it during training drills, conventions. There is no doubt action is needed (Haaretz)

11:46 A.M. Two rockets fired from Gaza explode in open areas in the southern Eshkol Regional Counil (Yanir Yagna)

11:42 A.M. EU minister of foreign affairs Catherine Ashton in a statement: "I am deeply concerned at the escalating violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip and deplore the loss of civilian lives on both sides. The rocket attacks by Hamas and other factions in Gaza which began this current crisis are totally unacceptable for any government and must stop. Israel has the right to protect its population from these kinds of attacks. I urge Israel to ensure that its response is proportionate.” In the statement, Ashton said she spoke to leaders in the region, stressing the need to prevent further escalation (Haaretz)

11:31 A.M. The IDF is holding fire in recent hours due to a visit in Gaza by Egypt Prime Minister Hashim Kandil. Since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense the IDF struck more than 300 targets in the Gaza Strip, mostly of rocket storage warehouses, Qassam and Fajr rocket launch sites.

11:23 A.M. Defense Ministry: Fifth Iron Dome battery to be handed to IDF on Saturday night, two months earlier than planned. The battery is considered to be the most advanced system (Haaretz)

11:21 A.M. A Reuters employee lightly wounded in attack on car in Nahal Oz, near the Gaza border (Yanir Yagna)

10:45 A.M. Egypt Prime Minister Hisham Kandil Speaking in Gaza: Egypt supports the Palestinians, Israel’s actions will not go unnoticed (Army Radio)

10:43 A.M. Home Front Minister Avi Dichter: Some 450 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense, hundreds more are expected to be fired; Israel will not endanger the life of Egypt Prime Minister Hashim Kandil (Yanir Yagna)

10:31 A.M. Red Alert sirens sound in Ashkelon coast, Kiryat Gat and Lachish area, and near Gedera; Iron Dome battery intercepts at least 4 rockets over Ashdod (Haaretz)

10:22 A.M. Gaza fire hits a Reuters vehicle near the Gaza border (Gili Cohen, Yanir Yagna)

10:20 A.M. Rocket explodes in parking lot near a school in southern city of Ashkelon (Yanir Yagna)

10:05 A.M. Red Alert sirens sound near Ashkelon in Israel’s south (Haaretz)

9:59 A.M. Egypt President Morsi orders Intelligence Minister Rafat Shehata to cut his Turkey visit short; according to a source in Egypt, Shehata will join Prime Minister Kandil in visiting Gaza (Jack Khoury)

9:54 A.M. IDF strikes home of Muhammad Abu Shamala, a top official in Hamas' military wing in the southern Strip (Avi Issacharoff)

9:50 A.M. Red Alert sirens sound in the Ashkelon coast, Kiryat Gat area, Kiryayt Malachi and the Gaza envelope communities (Haaretz)

9:40 A.M. Rockets explode in open areas in the Kiryat Gat area; Irone Dome battery intercepts rockets over Ashkelon and Kiryat Gat; no casualties or damage reported (Yanir Yagna, Haaretz)

9:30 A.M. Red Alert alarms sound in the Kiryat Gat area as a rocket barrage is fired toward Israel’s south (Yanir Tagna)

9:17 A.M. More than 20 rockets explode in the Eshkol Regional Council and in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. No casualties or damage reported (Yanir Yagna)

9:16 A.M. Red Alert alarms sound in Kiryat Gat and the surrounding area (Haaretz)

9:12 A.M. Red Alert sirens sound in the Ashkelon coast region (Haaretz)

9:08 A.M. Red Alert sirens sound as 13 rockets are fired at Israel’s south; a house in the Eshkol Regional Council suffers a direct hit (Haaretz)

9:12 A.M. Red Alert sirens sound in the Ashkelon coast region (Haaretz)

9:08 A.M. Red Alert sirens sound as rocket barrage fired at Israel’s south; a house in the Eshkol Regional Council suffers a direct hit (Haaretz)

8:50 A.M. Egypt Prime Minister Hisham Kandil arrives in Gaza in attempt to mediate a cease fire agreement; Israel to hold fire during visit (AP)

8:31 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts a rocket fired from Gaza near Ashkelon (Haaretz)

8:23 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts a Gaza rocket over southern city of Ashkelon (Haaretz)

08:07 A.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informs Egypt that the IDF will hold fire during the planned visit of its prime minister in Gaza on Friday morning (AP)

8:05 A.M. Six rockets explode in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council. No reports of casualties or damage (Haaretz)

8:01 A.M. The IDF General Staff decides on initial draft of 16,000 reservists, some of which to replace the forces currently operating in the Gaza area (Haaretz)

7:55 A.M. Some 30 rockets fired at Israel’s south in the past 10 minutes. No reports of casualties or damage (Haaretz)

7:47 A.M. Red Alert sirens sound in wide areas in southern Israel including Be'er Sheva, Ofakim, and Sderot (Haaretz)

7:16 A.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will stop offensive action in Gaza during visit by Egyptian Prime Minister Friday (Reuters)

7:15 A.M. Gaza Rocket hits an empty house in the Sha'ar Ha'Negev Regional Council, no injuries (Haaretz)

7:00 A.M. Gaza Rocket hits residential area in Ashdod, no injuries reported (Haaretz)

6:55 A.M. IDF confirms it bombed the Hamas's Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip (Haaretz)

6:50 A.M. Red Alert sounds in Ashdod (Haaretz)

6:45 A.M. Red Alert sounds in Sdot Negev Regional Council. (Haaretz)

4:01 A.M. Hamas reports one IDF strike near a graveyard in the Al Shujaiya neighborhood east of Gaza City, also two strikes in Rafah and in Khan Younis, as well as IAF shelling in the Strip. No injuries reported. (Haaretz)

3:47 A.M. Since beginning of the operation in Gaza, Magen David Adom rescue services has treated 54 wounded Israelis, including the three Israeli casualties in Kiryat Malakhi. (Haaretz)

3:32 A.M. Jewish Federations of North America commits up to $5 million in new Israel Terror Relief Fund "to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel at this critical time." The funds will be used "for the immediate needs of the people of Israel, especially in the South, through both existing reserve funds and new contributions from Federations," the JFNA said in a statement. (Natasha Mozgovaya)

2:35 A.M. U.S. Senate unanimously passes resolution expressing solidarity with Israel, supporting its “inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism." (Natasha Mozgovaya)

2:26 A.M. PLO mission to the U.S. has criticized the Obama administration's response to the operation in Gaza: "The United States response is at best biased and weak because it completely ignored the fact that Israel started the escalation. The U.S. has a moral obligation to ask Israel not to deploy its U.S.-made weapons to kill and injure civilians. The U.S. is also expected to tell Israel that there is no military solution to the conflict. The only way to achieve peace is to uproot the cause of its absence: Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. It is shameful that certain countries are justifying the murder of Palestinian civilians. It is time for all to understand that Palestinian lives are as precious as any others in the region and around the world. The political complicity must end and Israel must be held accountable." (Natasha Mozgovaya)

1:56 A.M. Air France announces that due to the escalation with Gaza there may be disruption to its flights to and from Israel. (Haaretz)

1:04 A.M. Red alert sounds in Ashkelon. (Haaretz)

00:15 A.M. French President Francois Hollande has begun talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other world leaders to avert an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Jean-Francois Ayrault said on Thursday.

"It's time to stop this escalation, which is dangerous for the security of Israel and its people and for that of the Palestinian people," Ayrault told reporters during a visit to Berlin. France had made "direct contact" with Netanyahu and Egyptian Prime Minister Mohamed Morsi, he added. (Reuters)

00:57 A.M. Rockets fired toward Ashkelon and Sdot Negev and Hof Ashkelon Regional Councils. No damage or injuries reported. (Haaretz)

For Thursday's live updates, click here.

A windshield damaged by a GRAD rocket, Ashdod, Nov. 16, 2012.Credit: Ilan Assayag
A breakdown of the fighting between Israel and Gaza.

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