Iron Dome intercepts more rockets over Tel Aviv, as Netanyahu says IDF prepared to expand operation

JERUALEM (JTA) — The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted one of two missiles fired at the Tel Aviv area.

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The missiles fired on Sunday morning, the fifth day of what the Israeli military has dubbed Operation Pillar of Defense, mark at least four missiles fired from Gaza at one of Israel’s major population centers.

Shrapnel from the intercepted missile, which Hamas reportedly took responsibility for firing, set a car on fire in Holon, located on the outskirts of southern Tel Aviv. The driver was able to exit the car without injury. Hamas identified the long-range missiles as an M75-type rocket, which it said is manufactured in Gaza.  School has not been cancelled in the Tel Aviv area, but remains closed in the south,

At least three Israelis were injured Sunday morning from rocket shrapnel, and several homes and buildings in southern Israel were hit with either missiles or shrapnel.

The Israel Defense Forces reported that it successfully attacked dozens of rocket launchers in Gaza overnight Saturday “causing severe damage to the rocket launching capabilities of Hamas and other terror organizations,” according to the IDF spokesman’s office. The IDF also reported that it targeted two Hamas operational communication sites, saying they were identified by “precise intelligence.” The Palestinian Maan news agency reported that six journalists were wounded in the strikes. The IDF warned international journalists and correspondents working in Gaza “to stay clear of Hamas’ bases and facilities- which serve them in their activity against the citizens of Israel.”

Some 50 Palestinians, both terrorists and civilians, have been killed and hundreds injured since Operation Pillar of Defense began, according to Ma’an. Three Israelis were killed last week when a rocket from Gaza struck their apartment building and dozens have been injured and treated for shock and anxiety,

Israel’s Cabinet on Sunday morning approved an allocation of nearly $2 million in order to complete the financing of building protected daycare centers in communities within up to nearly five miles from the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the regular weekly Cabinet meeting that the IDF “is prepared for a significant expansion of its operation.” The IDF has attacked over 1,000 “terrorist targets” in Gaza and is continuing its operation, the prime minister said.

Netanyahu said he would continue Sunday to speak to world leaders and emphasize “the effort Israel is making to avoid hitting civilians, and this at a time when Hamas and the [other] terrorist organizations are making every effort to hit civilian targets in Israel.”

 Meanwhile, four cruise ships carrying 6,000 passengers decided not to disembark in Israel as a result of the warning sirens in Jerusalem over the weekend, reported Doron Sheffer of Israel Radio. A rocket fell Friday evening near a Palestinian village in Gush Etzion, located south of Jerusalem

Since Operation Pillar of Defense began on Nov. 14, more than 400 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israeli territory, according to the IDF. The Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted more than 270 rockets from Gaza since Nov. 14.

Egypt reportedly is continuing to try to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and other Gaza terror factions. Netanyahu reportedly has said that he would stop the assault on Gaza if the rocket fire and attacks on soldiers at the border ceases, and will not restart in a matter of weeks.


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