At 1:22 a.m. local time Tuesday, Israel officially declared that a military operation – Operation Protective Edge – was underway to respond to the rocket attacks carried out by Hamas, a terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip.
According to a senior Israeli official, “The army is ready for the possibility of an escalation. We will intensify the air strikes and prepare the ground. The message to Hamas is clear: unconditional ceasefire. ‘Quiet will be met with quiet’ is an old quote from Thursday. Today we are ready for an escalation.”
According to the Israel Defense Force Twitter page:
On Monday, over 80 rockets were fired by Hamas jihadists from Gaza into Israeli territory. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system shot down over a dozen rockets, those which it automatically sensed as potentially dangerous to civilian areas. Thirty of the rockets fired by Hamas were deployed within a ten-minute period.
Hamas, which is part of the new Palestinian unity government, claimed responsibility for the attacks. “Al-Qassam [Hamas’s militant wing] fired dozens of rockets on Netivot and Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ofakim in response to the Zionist aggression,” a statement said.
At least 1,500 Israeli reserve soldiers were called up late Monday due to the escalation of attacks from Gaza.
Photos have surfaced, produced by Flash 90, showing Israeli tanks and armored vehicles stationed on the border with the Gaza Strip:
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed that the Obama administration still believes Israel does indeed have the right to protect itself from the radical Islamist rocket barrage attacks on innocent civilians. “We support Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks,” she said. Psaki cautioned Israel not to “escalate” the situation, one which has left millions in hiding under the cover of bomb shelters overnight. The spokeswoman said the focus of her call to the government in Jerusalem “was on reiterating our concern about escalating tensions… More needs to be done” on both sides to stop the ongoing crisis, she said.