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GLOBALPOST LIVE BLOG: ISRAEL BOMBS GAZA, HAMAS MILITARY LEADER KILLED
UPDATE: 11/14/12 5:45 PM ET
Gaza: So does this mean war?
Amnesty International today issued a statement cautioning that Israeli action in Gaza risks "re-igniting the armed conflict" there and puts civilian lives in danger.
The watchdog's warning raises the question: Could Israel's strike on Hamas military leader actually lead to all-out war?
GlobalPost's Priyanka Boghani took the question to Tufts University's William Martel of the Fletcher School of International Affairs' International Security Studies.
"The two wild cards are that Egypt is a very different geopolitical space than it was a year ago," Martel told GlobalPost. "The other wildcard is Iran, and its increasing geopolitical influence in the Middle East."
And what else? What're the odds this will lead to war? Why is this happening? Find out by reading the full exchange here.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 4:53 PM ET
US raps Palestinians over Gaza flare-up
Here is the full statement from the US State Department on the Gaza conflict:
"We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence. There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately. We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.
Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 4:43 PM ET
Israel OKs sending reserve forces to Gaza if necessary
Israeli ministers today authorized the military "to mobilize reserve units" as necessary for the success of Israel's anti-Hamas "Pillar of Defense" operation, according to this statement from the Foreign Ministry.
Ministers also approved a possible air operation in Gaza "in accordance with the need and the authorization of the defense minister," Reuters cited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office as saying.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 4:19 PM ET
Casualty counts start rolling in as Gazans take safety precautions
The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told reporters today the "number of Palestinians killed in Gaza so far is nine and the number is increasing," reported Agence-France Presse.
Given the level of hostility there, Gazans are advised to be on their guard. Israel's Defense Forces Spokesperson Avital Leibovich tweeted:
Meanwhile, the US embassy in Tel Aviv today issued an "emergency message" instructing Americans there to "exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security in light of the escalating level of violence in Gaza and southern Israel."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 3:46 PM ET
Can you declare war on Twitter? Israel begs the question
Israel's military (IDF) has been religiously live-blogging its role in ongoing violence with the Palestinians following their killing of Hamas's leader earlier today, even going so far as to announce the start of an all-out military operation on Twitter:
Can you declare war on Twitter? Like, actually? We've come to the point where we're asking that question, says Slate's Fruzsina Eordogh:
"Wars are started via Twitter now. I am not talking about flame wars, but actual wars with actual bombs with in-real-life targets."
She points out that, according to FastCompany, this is the first time a military campaign has been made public on a platform like Twitter. The name of the Israeli operation is reportedly Pillar Of Defense (for more on its matching Twitter hashtag, see the post immediately following this one).
Foreign Policy is astounded by Israel's tech-savvy military, telling readers, "go to the IDF's website, you'll find a post with live, time-stamped updates on the operation," highlighting what they call a "jaw-dropping" video on the Jabari killing. Watch it here:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 3:20 PM ET
Gaza conflict sees spillover between rival groups on Twitter
In the midst of intense missile exchanges between Israel and Gaza, competing hashags have broken out on Twitter between the pro-Israel #Pillarofdefense and pro-Palestinian #GazaUnderAttack, leading to some nasty exchanges. Here's a quick snapshot of the microblog back-and-forth:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 3:05 PM ET
Egypt requests emergency UN Security Council meeting
Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting over the grave situation in Gaza:
Meanwhile, Abbas' calls for an Arab League meeting have been answered, with Al Arabiya reporting that they will convene on Saturday to discuss Gaza. Tweets are already pouring in mocking the long wait:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 2:51 PM ET
Egypt lashes out at Israel over Gaza violence
Egypt has reportedly recalled its ambassador to Egypt over the killing of Jabari today, reports BBC:
The move follows a strong statement from their foreign ministry warning that Israel "must take into account the changes in the Arab region and especially Egypt," because Cairo "will not allow the Palestinians to be subjected to Israeli aggression, as in the past," reports Al Jazeera.
The statement from Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr called for an end to the violence, noting its "escalation and its possible negative effects on regional stability."
The party of Egypt's new president, the Muslim Brotherhood (FJP), also issued a statement of protest, according to the Jewish Journal. "Israel's return to the policy of assignation of leaders from the Palestinian struggle groups shows that the Israeli occupation wants to drag the region towards instability," the report cited FJP as saying.
"But the occupying state has to understand that the changes the Arab region, and especially Egypt, have witnessed will not permit that the Palestinian people be put under the hold of the Israeli offence in the same way as the past," it added.
GlobalPost's Egypt senior correspondent Erin Cunningham says the Egyptian President's response is likely to say a great deal about his Mideast policy objectives:
"It's a big test for Morsi. The Brotherhood and its political arm can make these statements, but it's still unclear what position Morsi will take as president. He can condemn the attacks, but there's not a whole lot he can do to back up the rhetoric. He doesn't have full control over the security forces, and any unilateral cancelation of the peace treaty would most likely prompt the US to cut its military and other aid. It all really depends on to what extent popular opinion against the operation rises."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 2:36 PM ET
Israel continues to intercept missiles from Gaza
The Israeli Air Force is focused on attacking long-range Fajr missiles, which can reach the Tel Aviv region, according to our correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky.
So far, 40 missiles have been intercepted by the Iron Dome system. Almost all incoming missiles have been intercepted.
Meanwhile, the Alqassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas that was led by Jabari, continues to chronicle their retaliation on Twitter:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 2:30 PM ET
Correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reported that missiles and rockets have been launched in general direction of Israeli south including, for the first time, a grad missile towards the city of Dimona, where Israel's unacknowledged nuclear reactor resides.
Israelis are tense waiting to see if any cities beyond the "bordering cities" are hit tonight.
The IDF has also confirmed that navy warships are now involved in the operation. Channel 10 has reported Egypt requested Israel stop the opertaion, and Israel refused.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 2:11 PM ET
Gaza City: WATCH: Jabari's body is carried through the streets
Watch as an agitated crowd accompanies Jabari's body to a Gaza City morgue today, courtesy of Reuters as per The Guardian
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:55 PM ET
Israel's US ambassador Michael Oren reacts
"We are sending an unequivocal message that our citizens will not be hostage to terrorist missile fire and cross-border attacks," Israeli ambassador to US Michael Oren said in a press release about the Gaza mission.
"The scope of the IDF's defensive operation depends on Hamas and whether it takes the decision to cease firing missiles on our neighborhoods and homes. The IAF has been surgical and restrained in its response to the Hamas missile escalations, and has not targeted the long-range missiles stored in mosques, schools, and hospitals."
President Shimon Peres also spoke to Obama this afternoon to "explain Israel's motives," saying:
"The head of the military force of Hamas was killed half an hour ago. He was a most extreme man and was in charge of all the attacks and assassinations from Gaza against Israel. We shall handle it with great care. Our intension is not to raise the flames, but already for days, day and night, they are shooting rockets at Israel. Women cannot fall asleep. I was today there with the children. You know, there are limits. So I want you to know and I wanted to explain our motives."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:50 PM ET
Netanyahu, Barak press conference: "We are obliged to react"
"Terror organizations hit our citizens on purpose, while hiding behind their own civillians," Netanyahu said in a brief press conference this evening.
"We hit military targets, while attempting to diminish as much as possible any damage to civillians."
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said: "Israel does not want war, but the ongoing provokactions of the last few weeks and many more obliged us to react."
Analyst Emanuel Rosen on Israel's Channel 10 distilled the brief press conference, saying: "The main message is: to Israeli citizens, be prepared. not necessarilly just for now, but terror attacks and other acts in the future. To Gaza: if you dare hit us beyind the 40 kilometer line, we are ready to invade."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:45 PM ET
IDF reports that they have hit terror sites in Gaza
The Israeli Defense Force has announced on Twitter that they have struck "terror sites" in Gaza:
Fast Company and other sources have called the IDF's earlier tweet "the world's first announcement of a military campaign via Twitter." The Twitter announcement was made before a press conference was held:
They also released a video of their targeted attack on Ahmed Jabari:
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:33 PM ET
Israeli warships bombing Gaza from the sea
Sources are reporting on Twitter that Israeli warships are attacking Gaza from the Mediteranean sea:
BBC is also reporting that retaliation has begun and that rockets are being fired from Gaza the southern Israeli town of Be'er Sheva, though these reports have yet to be confirmed:
So far, 15 incoming missiles have been shot down by Israel's Iron Dome system. Read more about the system here.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:18 PM ET
Hamas asks Egypt to get involved, "not act like Mubarak"
Hamas has requested that the Egyptian government to get involved in their retaliation against Israel and "not act like Mubarak did," Egyptian cabinet apparently considering its response at the moment.
Ban Ki-Moon, UN secretary general, has called on Israel and Palestinian Hamas fighters to stop the violence from escalating and ensure civilians are out of harm's way, Al Jazeera reported.
"The Secretary-General calls for an immediate de-escalation of tensions," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said, adding that it was a reiteration of Ban Ki Moon's already-stated position. "Both sides should do everything to avoid further escalation and they must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians at all times,"
However, the bombings continue: GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky reports that a car just blew up in Sabra neighborhood in Gaza, apparently another attempted strike.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:12 PM ET
Bombing continues in Gaza
Erin Cunningham, GlobalPost's correspondent in Cairo, says her contacts in the region continue to hear bombing in Gaza:
Meanwhile, air raid warnings are being sounded in city of Be'er Sheva, where a major boom was reported, our correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reports. Residents in all of southern Israel have been ordered to remain within 15 seconds of shelter at all times.
Barak and Netanyahu will be holding a press conference around 1:30 EST, when Obama is scheduled to speak about the ongoing Petraeus scandal.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 1:05 PM ET
Israeli-Arab Knesset member calls bombing "Deja-vu"
Israeli Arab Member of Knesset Ahmad Tibi calls Operation Pillar of Defense "Deja-vu all over again two months before the elections."
"Terrible days are coming both to residents of the south and of Gaza," he said, our correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reports.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 12:53 PM ET
New reports say commander Raed Attar was not hit by Israeli strikes
Raed Attar, the commander of Hamas's Khan Yunis unit, was earlier reported to have been killed Wednesday in strikes that took the lives of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari and his son. However, new reports say that is not the case.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 12:44 PM ET
Gilad Shalit's father asks, "What do we do once the canons are silent?"
Noam Shalit, the father of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier formerly held by Hamas, told Israel Radio that killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari was one of the men who escorted his son to freedom.
"The goal is to bring normalcy back to a million people who want to live in peace and quite. That's the goal. Eveything else is just part of the process. We have to think a step ahead, one step after the war, once the canons are silent, what do we do then?"
The interviewer on Israel Radio pointed out that Israel did not hit Jabari as long as Gilad Shalit was held hostage. Reactions inside Israel have pointed out the protection that holding Shalit hostage essentially provided Jabari. Shalit was released.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 12:32 PM ET
Israel mobilizes reserve forces, shutters schools along southern border
The Israeli army is calling up Homeland Command reserve soldiers in the wake of ongoing strikes as part of an operation that killed the military leader of Hamas, his son, and another commander, GlobalPost's Israel correspondent reports.
Additionally, no educational institutions within 40 kilometers of Israel's southern border will be in operation tomorrow.
The country remains on high alert.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 12:19 PM ET
Ten confirmed dead in Gaza; strikes ongoing
Israel has confirmed that ten people have died in strikes on Gaza as part of the operation that killed the military leader of Hamas, his son, and another commander. The remaining seven individuals have not yet been identified.
Israel strikes against Gaza are ongoing, with "booms loudly audible on Israeli side of the border," reports GlobalPost's Noga Tarnopolsky. She added that six Gaza-launched missiles have hit Israel today.
Israel Army Radio reported that some of the explosions emanating from Gaza were the result of stockpiles of ammunition and missiles being struck.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 12:07 PM ET
Hamas promises retaliation for Operation Pillar of Defense, aka "Cloud Column"
The Israeli strike that killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari was part of an operation known in English as Operation Pillar of Defense, or in Hebrew as Cloud Column or Cloud Pillar.
GlobalPost correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky said, "It appears that the plan is only for an aerial operation, though, as the military analyst on Israel Army Radio has just said, 'you go into something like this knowing that it can take you in different directions.'"
An IDF spokesman said, "If I was high up in Hamas, I would be looking for shelter deep underground right now."
Meanwhile, via Israel Radio, Hamas swore retaliation, saying, "Tel Aviv will be on fire tonight."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 11:57 AM ET
Israel Defense Forces targeting Hamas rocket sites
In a statement released Wednesday, military sources in Israel said:
"The IDF has targeted a significant number of long range rockets sites (over 40km) owned by Hamas. This deals a significant blow to the terror organizations underground rocket launching capabilities and munitions ware houses owned by Hamas and other terror organizations.
The aim of targeting these sites is to hamper their rocket launching weapons build up capabilities.
The Gaza strip, has turned it into a frontal base for Iran firing rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.
The IDF will continue to target terrorist sites that are used to carry out terror attacks against Israeli citizens."
UPDATE: 11/14/12 11:50 AM ET
Israel on nationwide "high alert"
Israeli police have put the nation on high alert, GlobalPost Israel correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky reports, and the foreign ministry has shifted to emergency footing in the wake of a strike that killed the military leader of Hamas, his son, and another commander.
Israel has confirmed that 6 have been killed in Gaza so far, though the remaining three have yet to be identified.
IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai told Israel Radio, "The operation has just started. Residents of the south were waiting for this."
Israel's cabinet has convened in Tel Aviv.
Read more on the conflict here.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 11:24 AM ET
Hamas leader's son and commander of Khan Yunis unit also killed
The son of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari, as well as the commander of Hamas's Khan Yunis unit, Raed Attar, were also killed Wednesday in the strike that took the leader's life.
The IDF website said Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz had “approved an expansive strike against terrorist organizations in Gaza.”
“As a part of the program, a short while ago, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck Ahmed Jabari and other senior officers of Hamas' Military Wing, who were involved in planning and implementing dozens of attacks, including the kidnapping of SFC [Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit,” it said.
The Palestine Liberation Organization, via Dr. Saeb Erekat, issued at statement deploring the strike.
“We condemn in the strongest terms this new Israeli assassination which aims to initiate a bloody escalation," it said.
"We hold the Israeli government fully responsible for the consequences that this new act of aggression would bring to the region.” “This exposes that Israel has an agenda for war but not for peace.”
Hamas has sworn retaliation aganist Tel Aviv.
Read more here.
UPDATE: 11/14/12 10:12 AM ET
Ahmed Jabari, Hamas military chief of staff, killed in Israeli strike
Israel Defense Forces killed the head of Hamas's military wing, sources confirmed Wednesday to GlobalPost's correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky.
"In the past hour, the IDF targeted Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas's military wing, in the Gaza Strip," a military source said. "Jabari was a senior Hamas operative who served in the upper echelon of the Hamas' command and was directly responsible for executing terror attacks against the State of Israel in the past number of years."
The death of Jabari, who ran the Ezzidine Al-Qassam Brigades, is a serious blow to Hamas's chain of command.
"The IDF will continue to target sites that are used for carrying out terror attacks against the citizens of Israel while improving their daily security," the source added.
Read more here.