A bombing attack on a bus in cenral Tel Aviv Wednesday, Nov. 21, left at least 25 people injured, five seriously. A missile siren earlier alerted the towns and kibbutzim just west of Jerusalem – up to Beit Shemesh – Wednesday morning, Day 8 of the Gaza operation – the day after two Palestinian rockets missed the Israeli capital and landed at a West Bank Palestinian village. Two houses in Beir Tuvia took direct hits, injuring a woman and causing shock. Iron Dome saved Ashkelon and Beersheba from missile barrages. Rocket fire was also directed at Kiryat Malachi, Yad Mordecai, Netiv Haasara, Yavne and Sdot Hanegev. Four shells exploded in the Eshkol district where a soldier was killed Tuesday. In days, the Palestinians have launched 1,400 rockets against Israeli civilian locations. Iron Dome intercepted 400, most of the rockets threatening built-up areas.
As the first shells from Gaza exploded in the Eshkol district Wednesday morning, Nov. 21, the IDF spokesman, Brig. Yoav Mordecai, asked if the ceasefire talks in Cairo had reduced Israel’s military activities or preparations, said: Certainly not! Until we get different orders from the government, we are intensifying our operations and the units poised on the Gaza border will continue to prepare for a ground incursion.”
He reported that Tuesday, the IDF carried out 70 air sorties, destroyed Hamas’ main internal security command center, 20 tunnels and a financial institution and killed 30 rocket operatives. The IAF later bombed the gas pipelines bringing Egyptian gas to the Gaza Strip through Sinai. All four gas lines in Rafah were hit, igniting a huge fire and cutting off one of the Hamas government’s main sources of revenue.
The talk of a truce had galvanized the other side into stepping up attacks on Israeli towns, said the spokesman.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday night, travels to Cairo Wednesday where attempts to negotiate a Gaza ceasefire are stalled.
In a short statement in Jerusalem, the secretary welcomed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s efforts to broker a ceasefire and de-escalate the crisis. Missile fire from Gaza must stop, she said, and went on to voice hope for “a broad agreement for a lasting peace in the days to come.”
One Israeli was killed Tuesday – Israeli IDF Corp. Yosef Partok, 18, from Immanuel, by shrapnel from a falling mortar shell fired from Gaza at the Eshkol district. Another 55 were injured, three seriously, by 120 missiles fired from the Gaza Strip in furious salvoes on scores of locations. There were more than a 100 shock victims.
Four people were injured by a rocket from Gaza hitting an apartment building in Rishon Lezion southeast of Tel Aviv. Fifteen people went into shock. Dozens of people were saved by sheltering in bomb-proof rooms when the 90-kilo Iran-made Fajr rocket hit the roof and destroyed apartments on the three top floors of the eight-floor building. Other buildings and vehicles on the street were also damaged by the blast.
Some Rishon schools were closed Wednesday and others arranged to send the children home early – the first time the Gaza missile offensive has affected schools in a town of central Israel.
In Ashkelon, a civilian was seriously hurt in the street when another rocket hit the town. Beersheba took two 16-rocket salvoes.
Two long-range missiles fired from Gaza at Jerusalem exploded in a Palestinian village on the West Bank near Gush Etzion. There were no casualties. Hamas claimed the shooting of a “M75” rocket.
Jerusalem had its first missile attack Friday, Nov. 16.
Extensive damage was caused to property in the towns attacked and economic losses are mounting as the lockdown of southern Israel goes into its second week.
Tuesday afternoon, the Israeli Air Force dropped leaflets signaling residents of Gaza City' eastern outskirts to leave their homes. The IDF closed highways to southern Israel to civilian traffic.