Gaza Operation Day 2: Hamas steps up long-range rocket attacks
This is a special report from Debka File on the current situation. I normally do not give this much detail. However, I think that this information is useful to understand the present circumstance.
DEBKAfile Special Report
December 28, 2008, 3:07 PM (GMT+02:00)
Israeli tanks just outside Gaza
The Israeli cabinet Sunday, Dec. 28, approved call-up orders for 6,500 reservists the day after Israel's devastating assault on hundreds of Hamas military sites in Gaza, in which 282 Palestinians, 90 percent in uniform, were killed. Two thousand were recruited Saturday. Hamas activated its Iran-made improved Grad Katyusha unit, sending rockets winging as far as Moshav Bnei Ayish near Yavne to the northeast and the big port city of Ashdod to the north, both nearly 40 km from the Gaza Strip. One fell in the yard of an Ashdod home. Four landed in Ashkelon, injuring three people.
The call-up orders went to command personnel, technical teams and homeland front units. Several Israeli tanks have moved forward to the Gaza border fence and opened fire. The Israeli assault on Hamas continues to focus on aerial action.
In Gaza City, Israeli bombers struck the government center, headquarters of the Hamas security services and two police compounds, the Rafah governate and Beit Hanoun municipality - going after the symbols of Hamas rule as well as missile-launchers Saturday. The unofficial Palestinian death toll has risen to 282 as Israeli air strikes continued during the night.
The targeted Israeli population has expanded to almost three quarters of a million.
Residents of the towns of Yavne and Beersheba, capital of the Negev, were told to standby for missile alerts in addition to all locations closer to Gaza. Tuesday after the Hanukkah holiday, schools will not reopen up to 20 km from the Gaza border. Shear Hanegev farmers inside that strip were told to stay indoors.
DEBKAfile's military sources report that the dozens of brand-new Grad rockets reached Hamas' arsenal in recent months through the Suez Canal and Sinai. The Egyptians turned a blind eye.
Hamas and its fellow Palestinian terror groups have divided up their missions: Hamas controls the long-range rockets able to reach targets 42 km from Gaza – Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi, Netivot, Ofakim and the outskirts of Beersheba; its allies wield the home-made Qassam missiles to pound nearby Israeli locations like Sderot.
Overnight and Sunday, the Israeli air force sought out Palestinian crews. Leaflets were scattered warning Palestinian civilians to stay clear of coming attack. Those crews managed to fire off 13 missiles and rockets by Sunday afternoon. Defense minister Ehud Barak said Israeli ground forces would go into the enclave if that is what it takes to stop the fire
Israel launched its massive air attack Saturday eight days after Hamas terminated the agreed six-month Gaza ceasefire by showering missiles and mortar rounds on 250,000 Israeli civilians day after day. They kept on falling even as Israel opened the crossings to allow 90 trucks of food and medicines to cross into the Gaza Strip. A further 30 trucks of assistance required by international aid agencies went through from Israel Sunday.
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