The Palestinians launched today more than 160 rockets, mostly at civilian targets, at ranges far beyond the 75km achieved in the 2012 Pillar of Defense – the last cycle of violence between the two sides. The Israeli side launched about 200 attacks at terrorist targets in Gaza as part of the operation code named “Defensive Edge”. The Israel Air Force, Navy vessels and army tanks pounded terrorist operatives and commanders, rocket sites, ammunition stockpiles and attack tunnels throughout the Gaza strip. In addition, according to the IAF sources, at least three targets struck were identified as ‘air defense assets’, (probably Man portable air defense systems – MANPADS).
While Israel have shown signs of restraints in escalating the conflict, at least at the initial phase, In addition to 122mm ‘GRAD’ rockets and the 300mm M75 and Fajr 3 rockets, Hamas has introduced a new rocket designated R160. Israeli inspection of the remains of the rocket determines it was a Syrian made 302mm rocket, capable of maximum range of 160 km, 40 such rockets were found on the KLOS-C cargo vessel seized by the Israel Navy in March 2014. On that attack on the city of Hadera, on Israel’s coastal plain, the rocket flew over 125 km but hit an empty parking lot causing no damage.
Iron dome returns to action
The Israeli Iron Dome Counter-Rockets, Artillery and Mortars (C-RAM) system demonstrated again its unique capability to defeat rocket attacks, discriminately intercepting only those rockets that posed a risk to population centers. In the past 24 hours (July 8th) 117 rockets struck Israel and an additional 29 were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Israel has already deployed seven Iron Dome formations, each comprising radar, battle management and several fire units, comprising multiple stacks containing several Tamir guided interceptors. Sofar Iron Dome has demonstrated an impressive capability to intercept salvos of 16 rockets. In an attempt to saturate the Iron Dome, Hamas has fielded multiple rocket launchers mounting 40 rockets.
Hamas commando raid failed
The Palestinians also tried to strike Israeli targets using strike teams attempting to penetrate into Israel through underground (tunnels) and the sea. This video, showing clips taken from surveillance cameras monitoring the area, show the operation as it was seen from the Israeli side today at 20:30 local time.
The first part shows what looks like a team of Palestinian naval commando emerging from the sea, possibly after conducting a diving ingress from their naval base in the city of Gaza. The team rapidly moved toward the nearby Israeli military base. Israeli surveillance units covering the area quickly grouped counterfire employing precision weapons blocking the enemy movement, pinning the enemy down.
At first they returned fire but after a while realized their desperate situation, engaged by IAF Apache attack helicopters, ground troops arriving at the scene and naval gun boats (the engagement as seen from the gunboat’s sight monitoring the remotely controlled gun sight is shown in the video above). The incident was finished after few minutes leaving the four Palestinians dead and one Israeli soldier wounded.
Earlier today a commander of a Palestinian Naval Commando unit Muhammad Sa’aban was killed when his car was targeted by Israeli missiles as he and two assistants were travelling in Gaza.
Preemptive attack prevents tunnel strike
Yesterday the Israel Air Force targeted a Hamas tunnel. According to the IDF the strike prevented an ‘imminent terror threat to Israeli citizens’. The tunnel was one of several ‘attack tunnels’ the Hamas has built under the border. These tunnels that extend from Gaza into Israel, would enable covert movement from Gaza into Israel and back, enabling the Hamas to execute surprise attacks against the IDF, or launch terror strikes against villages near the order. The strike triggered explosives the Palestinians were carrying through the tunnel, causing a massive blast that killed seven Hamas operatives. The terrorists likely planned to use the explosives to carry out an attack against Israel. Another attack using a tunnel was reported today, at the southern tip of the Gaza strip. This second tunnel strike was not confirmed.