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


Leaders of Turkey, Qatar, Egypt meet in Cairo in push for ceasefire agreement; IDF chief instructs air force to intensify aerial attacks; Barak to Panetta: Israel is determined to achieve operation’s goals; ‘Anonymous’ hackers launch attack on Israeli websites.

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 beginning 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.


6:15 P.M. IAF fires at the home of Senior Hamas commander A-Din Hazaz. It is still not known whether he was home at the time. (Haaretz)

6:10 P.M. Senior Hamas leader Osama Qadi attacked in a joint Shin Bet IDF operation, his condition is still unknown. (Haaretz)

5:32 P.M. Since beginning of Pillar of Defense, 246 rockets fired at residential areas were intercepted by Iron Dome batteries; 57 rockets exploded in Israel on Saturday, bringing the total of rockets exploding in Israel since beginning of operation to 410.

5:15 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts five rockets over Ashkelon (Yanir Yagna)

4:57 P.M. Rocket explodes in open field at the Bnei Shimon Regional council; Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Sderot (Yanir Yagna)

4:50 P.M. Rocket warning sirens sound in Be’er Sheva.

4:44 P.M. Rocket intercepted over Tel Aviv area. No wounded or damage reported.

4:35 P.M. Two explosions heard in Tel Aviv area after rocket warning sirens sound.

4:17 P.M. Minister Avi Dichter: Only a few rockets threaten Tel Aviv, unlike greater danger facing towns in Israel’s south (Ilan Lior)

4:01 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts 2 rockets fired by Gaza militants at Be’er Sheva (Yanir Yagna)

4:00 P.M. Social protest leader Stav Shaffir: “The coming together of Israeli citizens in the face of security threats shows how strong our society is. But, without strong social standing there is no strong security standing.”

3:28 P.M. 500 people marching in Nazareth parade organized by Hadash party to protest IDF operation in Gaza (Jack Khoury)

2:53 P.M. 5 rockets fall in open spaces in the Eshkol Regional Council; none wounded (Yanir Yagna)

2:32 P.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts 4 Gaza rockets over southern city of Netivot (Yanir Yagna)

2:31 P.M. Meretz party chairwoman Zahava Gal-On warns of ground invasion of Gaza, saying that the Israeli leadership is “trying to drag us into another war of deception… Experience shows that ground operations are an assurance for a bloody chaos.” Gal-On says the Israeli government must set in motion negotiations with Hamas via Egyptian or international mediators. “This is the correct, effective way to guard the citizens of Israel” (Haaretz)

2:30 P.M. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi are holding a meeting in Cairo. Hamas head Khaled Meshla and Islamic Jihad leader Ramdan Shalah (Avi Issacharoff)

2:13 P.M. Defense Minister Ehud Barak holds consultation meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and army officials in Tel Aviv (Haaretz)

1:52 P.M. Hamas prevents foreign nationals, including 22 journalists, from leaving Gaza Strip, report says (DPA)

1:25 P.M. Iron dome battery intercepts 8 rockets over Be’er Sheva and Ashdod; two rockets explode in open areas near Be’er Sheva (Yanir Yagna)

1:25 P.M. Hamas’ al-Aqtsa Brigades sign text messages sent to many Israelis, reading: “We will turn Gaza into a cemetery for your soldiers” (Haaretz)

1:24 P.M. Rocket hits a 10-story residential building in the center of Ashdod. Home Front Command seals the building to assess damages (Yanir Yagna)

1:13 P.M. Gaza militants shoot volley of rockets toward Ashdod, reports of rockets exploding in city (Yanir Yagna)

12:51 P.M. Senior Egyptian sources to Haaretz: Cairo leading intensive attempts to reach ceasefire between Hamas and Israel (Avi Issacharoff)

12:38 P.M. After meeting in IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, army chief Benny Gantz says instructs air force to intensify aerial attacks on Gaza (Gili Cohen)

12:26 P.M. Rocket hits Be’er Tuvia house, destroying home of two elderly women, and damaging two others; none wounded (Chaim Levinson)

12:14 A.M. Gaza rocket hits a home in the Eshkol Regional Council, no casualties reported (Yanir Yagna)

12:08 A.M. Another rocket explodes in a town in the Eshkol Regional Council, damage done to vehicle (Yanir Yagna)

12:07 A.M. Seven rockets explode in open areas in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council and Eshkol Regional Council; one rocket explodes in a town in Eshkol, no casualties reported (Yanir Yagna)

11:56 A.M. Rocket barrage fired from Gaza toward Ashkelon area, Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council and Eshkol Regional Council; at least three intercepted by Iron Dome battery (Yanir Yagna)

11:46 A.M. Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslem during Gaza visit: We will act immediately in the Arab League and the UN to stop Israeli aggression (Jack Khoury)

11:18 A.M. Iron Dome intercepts two rockets fired at Ashdod (Yanir Yagna)

11:11 A.M. Palestinians report 5 killed in IAF attack on Rafah, raising the reported death toll in Gaza to 39 since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense (Jack Khoury)

11:04 A.M. Iron Dome battery intercepts a rocket fired from Gaza toward Be’er Sheva; three rockets intercepted over Ashkelon (Yanir Yagna)

11:00 A.M. IDF: Since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense 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.

10:55 A.M. Three Israelis lightly wounded are IDF soldiers, IDF reports (GIli Cohen)


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