Rocket barrage on Israel's south continues overnight, IDF striking in Gaza
Israel launched a military operation in Gaza Wednesday, killing Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari in airstrike; over 100 rockets fired at Israel since; more than 25 rockets intercepted by Iron Dome System; Israel may expand Gaza operation, says senior official; Israeli cabinet authorizes IDF reservists call-up; UNSC held emergency meeting on escalation.
Over 100 rockets were fired at Israel since the assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday.
Following four days of escalation on the Israel-Gaza border, Israel launched a military operation in the Gaza Strip, killing Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari in an airstrike, and targeting weapons warehouses and long-range rocket launchers.
The Jerusalem official said that until now, the operation has already achieved several goals, including severe damage to Hamas' long-range Fajr missiles, which can reach Tel Aviv and the Gush Dan area.
Jabari, 52, the head of Hamas' military wing, was the man behind the abduction of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. With the targeting of Jabari, Israel renewed its policy of targeted assassinations. More than 90 rockets hit Israel over the course of the day on Wednesday, 28 Israelis suffered from shock and two were lightly injured. The Iron Dome System intercepted 27 rockets and Ashdod and Be'er Sheva suffered property damage.
The UN Security Council said later Wednesday that it would hold a closed emergency meeting that day to discuss the escalation in Gaza. The French UN mission announced on its Twitter feed that the meeting would be a "closed private debate" beginning at 9:00 P.M. EST (0200 GMT Thursday). Council diplomats said Israeli and Palestinian envoys would speak at the meeting.
At a joint press conference with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday night at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Hamas chose to escalate its attacks in recent days. We will not accept the threat of rocket fire against our citizens," adding that airstrikes carried out by the Israel Air Force Wednesday "seriously damaged Hamas's ability to fire long-range missiles to the center of Israel," including to Tel Aviv. "Hamas is targeting our citizens on purpose while hiding behind Palestinian civilians," Netanyahu said, adding, "We do everything not to harm civilians."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak sounded a slightly more conciliatory note than Netanyahu however, saying, "We don't want escalation, but Hamas's provocations in the last weeks forced us to act decisively." He said the main goals of the Gaza operation, which the IDF has dubbed Operation Pillar of Defense, were to destroy the rocket infrastructure of the terror organizations in Gaza and to establish deterrence. "We managed to destroy most of the long-range Fajr rockets and other Hamas infrastructure," Barak said at the press conference.