Hamas fires first rockets at Jerusalem
After reaching Tel Aviv metropolitan area, missile range extended to Israel’s capital as well. Air raid siren sounded in Jerusalem area shortly after Palestinian organization promises ‘surprise’. Rocket lands near Palestinian village in Gush Etzion area; no injuries or damage reported
Noam (Dabul) Dvir
After Tel Aviv metropolitan area, capital under fire too: An air raid siren was sounded in Jerusalem and surrounding communities early Friday evening. After residents reported hearing blast sounds, security forces confirmed that one rocket had landed in the Gush Etzion area near a Palestinian village.
There were no reports of injuries or damage.
This was the first air raid siren sounded in the area since the IDFlaunched Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip. Air raid sirens were sounded in southern communities throughout the day and a barrage of missiles hit the area.
On Friday afternoon, an air raid siren sounded in Tel Aviv, followed by an explosion caused by a missile landing in an open area.
Rocket over Jerusalem (Photo: Or Saban)
Shortly after the air raid siren sounded in Jerusalem, Hamas‘ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the rocket fired at the capital area. according to the organization, it fired a homemade rocket called Qassam M76.
The rocket Hamas fired at Tel Aviv is nicknamed Qassam M75.
Shortly before the rocket hit the Jerusalem area, Hamas’ military wing promised “a surprise in a short while.”
At the same time the rockets were fired at Jerusalem, a factory in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council in southern Israel sustained a direct hit. Later, a rocket hit the backyard of a house in the Be’er Tuvia Regional Council. There were no reports of injuries in both incidents.
Taking shelter in Jerusalem (Photo: Roy Antebi)
The rocket, which sounded at 4:45 pm, caught Jerusalem residents off guard just before the start of Shabbat. Residents of Tel Aviv and southern communities, who fled to Jerusalem, were surprised to hear the siren.
“We were sitting together and listening to music, when suddenly the siren sounded,” said two 16-year-old Jerusalem residents, Denise and Inbar. “The first feeling was shock. We thought it wouldn’t happen to us.”
Taking cover in Tel Aviv, Friday afternoon
Gil, 27, who lives in the Mevasseret Zion area, said he heard three explosions. “We heard one boom during the siren and two afterwards. We ran into the fortified room, my girlfriend and I. It reminded us of the days of the first Gulf War.”
Roi and Matan, students who live in Tel Aviv, returned to their parents’ home in Jerusalem to relax from the rockets fired at Tel Aviv.
“I guess the safest place in Israel is in Nablus,” said Matan, who was surprised by siren sounds twice in the past 24 hours. “Yesterday I was shocked by the siren in Tel Aviv, and today it chased me to Jerusalem.”
Recruitment of 30,000 reservists okayed
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat asked the capital’s residents to continue their routine life and obey Home Front Command orders.
“The municipality is prepared for all scenarios, and the public bomb shelters are ready in case we need to open them,” he clarified.
Reserve forces head south (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Meanwhile, thousands of reserve forces are flocking to southern Israel. Hundreds of military trucks carrying supplies, ammunition, water and fuel, as well as tanks, armored personnel carriers and jeeps filled the Gaza vicinity’s roads.
As part of the preparations for a ground offensive in the Strip, the IDF opened the war-reserve-stores units and many weapons were transported toward Gaza.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave the green light to the IDF to extend the recruitment of reserve forces to more than 30,000 soldiers if necessary.
Meanwhile, the Home Front Command has ordered local authorities to prepare for a long period of fighting of up to seven weeks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at the Kirya Base in Tel Aviv on Friday afternoon to discuss the continuation of Operation Pillar of Defense with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, Shin Bet Director Yoram Cohen and senior officials.
More than 550 rockets fired at Israel
Meanwhile, the rocket fire has not stopped. Southern communities – including the cities of Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod – were hit by more than 100 rockets since the morning hours. There were no reports of injuries in all incidents. The Iron Dome system intercepted several rockets.
An air raid siren was sounded in the Tel Aviv area at 1:29 pm Friday after Thursday’s siren, which was the first heard in the city since the 1991 Gulf War. A rocket exploded in an open area.
Earlier Friday, three soldiers were injured in a mortar shell explosion in the Eshkol Regional Council. One of them sustained moderate wounds while the rest were lightly hurt.
Meanwhile, an Air Force place attempted to assassinate the commander of the Rafah division of Hamas’ military wing, Muhammad Abu Shamala. It is unclear whether he was hurt. Palestinian sources reported that the man’s house was attacked and destroyed.
More than 360 rockets have landed on Israeli soil since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense. The Iron Dome system intercepted more than additional 190 rockets since the start of the operation, 90 of them on Friday.
The IDF has struck more than 550 targets in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the operation.
Roy Antebi, Omri Efraim, Saar Haas, Elior Levy, Yoav Zitun and Gili Dagan contributed to this report
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