LIVE BLOG: IDF prepares for ground invasion as Gaza offensive enters fourth day

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Sirens sound again across Israel’s south; Barak to Panetta: Israel is determined to achieve operation’s goals; Anonymous activists launch an attack on Israeli websites; initial attempts to bring a cease fire fail; cabinet approves expansion of draft to more than 75,000 reservists in preparation for ground invasion.

As Operation Pillar of Defense enters its fourth day, the Israel Defense Forces continues to prepare for a ground invasion of Gaza, drafting thousands of army reservists.

The IDF struck dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, including the office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and a police building.

After a relatively quiet night in Israel’s south, rockets were fired Saturday morning toward Israel’s south. On Friday, rockets that were  fired toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem exploded in open areas.

Since the begging of Operation Pillar of Defense, 35 Palestinians were killed, some of them civilians. On the Israeli side three civilians were killed on Friday in a rocket attack.

LIVE BLOG

11:00 A.M. IDF: Out of 650 rockets fired into Israel 27 explode in residential areas; Iron Dome intercepted 219 rockets; IAF craft attack over 800 targets in Gaza; 79 launches fail, resulting in rockets exploding inside the Strip.

10:43 A.M. IDF deploys new Iron Dome anti-missile battery in the Tel Aviv area (Gili Cohen)

10:40 A.M. Rocket fired by Gaza militants toward Ashkelon intercepted by Iron Dome system (Yanir Yagna)

10:28 A.M. Three Israeli soldiers lightly wounded after Gaza rocket explodes in the Eshkol Regional Council (Gili Cohen)

10:20 A.M. More than 20 rockets were fired Saturday morning from Gaza at Israel. Four rockets recently exploded in open areas in Eshkil Regional Council. Eight of the rockets were intercepted by an Iron Dome Dome battery (Yanir Yagna)

10:15 A.M. Defense Minister Ehud Barak tells U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta that Israel is determined to achieve Operation Pillar of Defense’s goals (Haaretz)

9:50 A.M. A house in the Be’er Tuvia Regional Council suffers a direct rocket hit, no casualties reported, damage done to three houses (Chaim Levinson)

9:48 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts two rockets fired from Gaza toward Hazerim and Ashkelon (Yanir Yagna)

9:20 A.M. The IDF struck overnight Friday three government buildings in Gaza. The most significant assault was carried out at the Hamas government building in the center of Gaza, where Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s bureau is located.

Since Friday at 6 P.M., the IDF attacked 200 targets in the Gaza Strip, including some 120 underground rocket launch sites and 20 smuggling tunnels in Rafah. Ammunition stockpiles were also targeted during the night assaults. The IDF also says it hit several high-ranking Hamas officials.

Twelve Palestinians were killed overnight in the attacks. Several civilians were reported wounded.

A high-ranking source in the IDF says that despite the talk concerning a cease fire, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ordered to prepare for a ground invasion (Gili Cohen) 

9:15 A.M. IDF strikes Gaza squad preparing to launch rockets at Be’er Sheva (Gili Cohen)

9:08 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts Gaza rocket over Ashdod (Yanir Yagna)

8:40 A.M. Rocket explodes in the yard of a house near Ashdod, no reports of casualties. Second rocket explodes in open area (Yanir Yagna)

8:09 A.M. Rocket explodes in Bnei Shimon Regional Council. No casualties or damage reported (Yanir Yagna)

7:48 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts two rockets fired from Gaza toward Be’er Sheva and Ofaqim; five rockets explode in Eshkol Regional Council, one in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council (Yanir Yagna)

7:33 A.M. Israel Air Forces strike in Khan Younis kills Palestinian. 25 Palestinians wounded in aerial assault on a house of a top Hamas military official near Jabaliya in northern Gaza. Other strikes targeted Gaza police headquarters, government buildings, smuggling tunnels and a mosque in Rafah (Avi Issacharoff)

7:28 A.M. Deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk, says initial attempts are made to bring a temporary cease fire between Israel and Hamas. Abu Marzouk, who is currently in Cairo and is considered a key negotiator for Hamas, adds that such the sides are still far from reaching such agreement.

7:13 A.M. After a relatively quiet night, sirens sound in Ashkelon area, Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council and Sdot Negev Regional Council. No reports of casualties or damage (Haaretz)

6:15 A.M. Anonymous activists launch an attack on Israeli websites, defacing and disabling many of them, including the political party Kadima’s website. Activists claim they have wiped databases of the Foreign Ministry and Bank of Jerusalem clean. (Haaretz)

6:00 A.M. IDF reports it has targeted 85 more terror sites in the Gaza Strip over the past six hours. (Haaretz)

6:00 A.M. Israel Air Force strikes the office building of Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The IDF says the bureau was also used as Hamas’ headquarters. Three days ago the IDF bombed a generator near Haniya’s house in Gaza (Gili Cohen)

4:00 A.M. Red Alert siren goes off in Ashkelon. (Army Radio)

1:55 A.M. U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the situation in Israel and Gaza with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, during which he reiterated U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself. (Reuters)

 

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