The residents of Sderot in southern Israel were on alert again today. This time, however, the explosions the locals heard were from Gaza, where the Israeli Air Force acted to take out a military leader of Hamas and neutralize the threat of long-range rockets that could have reached Tel Aviv.
Here’s the story from The Jerusalem Post:
IAF strike kills Hamas military chief Jabari
IAF hits 20 underground sites housing long-range launchers capable of striking Tel Aviv.
The IAF struck and killed Hamas armed wing Izzadin Kassam Brigades commander Ahmed Jabari in central Gaza on Wednesday. The strike marked the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense to target Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations in Gaza, IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai announced.
Jabari was killed when an IAF missile struck the car he was traveling in, in the central Strip. One other person was killed in the attack.
Following the assassination, the IAF struck over 20 underground rocket launchers belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The airstrikes targeted long-range rockets in the possession of terror organizations, such as the Fajr-5 and other rockets that are capable of striking Tel Aviv from Gaza. Palestinian sources said that six Gazans were killed in the IDF strikes.
The IDF said it believes it has eliminated the majority of the long-range threat.
“The first aim of this operation is to bring back quiet to southern Israel, and the second target is to strike at terror organizations,” Mordechai said. “The homefront must brace itself resiliently,” he added, describing Jabari as a man with “a lot of blood on his hands.”
The IDF says Jabari carried out and ordered numerous terror attacks against Israel, including the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit and the firing of hundreds of rockets in recent years.
Mordechai added that Gaza is a “forward Iranian base,” adding that the latest campaign of air strikes targeted most of the long-range offensive capabilities in the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
He added that columns of smoke were visible around Gaza.
The majority of the Gaza weapons storage sites targeted by the IAF were located in civilian residential buildings, the IDF confirmed. “This is further evidence of the pattern of Hamas to use the population in Gaza as human shields,” the IDF stressed.
The IDF has urged civilians to pay attention to instructions from the Home Front Command in light of the developments.
In response to the attacks, Hamas said that “the occupation has opened the gates of hell.”
Our Israeli correspondent MC follows up on his earlier report with this brief account of what happened today from the perspective of the inhabitants of Sderot:
As we were serving our last clients this evening there were four large bangs, which sounded to me like tank artillery but they were apparently smartbombs taking out a Gazan high official.
Soon after D’s mother rang him and demanded he come home at once as there is to be an ‘operation’ (D is 17).
As we closed up, T looked in and told us to get home quickly as Sderot is going into lockdown.
All schools and government offices are closed tomorrow and we have just had another series of explosions.
Looks like an noisy night tonight.