Missile alert sirens were heard across the Greater Tel Aviv area Saturday, Nov. 17, before the explosion caused by Iron Dome’s interception of one of the two rockets incoming from the Gaza Strip to Israel’s largest conurbation for the third day in a row. The second rocket landed harmlessly on open ground.
Hamas claimed to have launched Iran-made Fajr-5 long-range missile against Tel Aviv. The Iron Dome anti-missile battery, the fifth, was deployed for the first time in Greater Tel Aviv that morning as a defense for the Greater Tel Aviv area and Jerusalem. Jerusalem came within Hamas missile radius for the first time Friday night.
debkafile reported Friday.
Signs of an approaching full-scale war increased Friday afternoon, Nov. 16. The IDF obtained government approval to call up reserves in addition to the 30,000 already approved. Hospitals across the country were placed on emergency footing and patients not needing urgent treatment were sent home. The security cabinet meets urgently after 550 Palestinian rockets fired in three days. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were targeted Friday by Hamas which reported firing two “homemade M-75” missiles each at Israel’s capital and commercial hub. There were no casualties in either town.
The Jerusalem siren was heard in outlying towns Mevaseret Zion, Motza Ilit, Beitar Ilit, Kibbutz Maaleh Hahamisha, Ora and Har Adar.
Israeli ground forces continue to stand by on the Gaza border awaiting government orders to go in.
debkafile reported earflier Friday: As Hamas government officials greeted Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil on his arrival for a short visit to the Gaza Strip, Friday morning, Nov. 16, Palestinian rocket crews stepped up their barrage against Israel. After Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu acceded to Cairo’s request to suspend military action for the visit, air strikes were resumed over northern Gaza to counter Palestinians fire across the South: Dozens of rockets exploded in Beersheba, Ashdod, Hof Ashkelon, Ashkelon, Shear Hanegev, Ofakim, Sderot, Eshkol and Kiryat Malachi. There were several panic victims and direct hits to houses.
Thursday night, long-range Fajr rockets exploded in Greater Tel Aviv region, Israel’s urban and commercial heartland (3 million population) – two landing near Bat Yam or the sea and one or two between Rishon Lezion and Palmachim.
IDF armored, artillery and mechanized infantry units continued to stream to the Gaza border Thursday and Friday, gathering at jumping-off positions for crossing into the enclave in the next stage of the operation. Reservists are reporting for duty on the orders the defense minister issued for 30,000 call-ups. They are reporting at schools in various towns which were converted to registration stations.
Schools in the heavily battered south remain closed indefinitely and all locations within 40 kilometers stay on emergency footing for rocket attacks.
The IDF is rushing forward the completion of the fifth Iron Dome battery after the first four stopped some 150 incoming rockets in the last 48 hours.
debkafile: Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and the high IDF command are pushing for the ground operation, Stage B of the Pillar of Cloud operation, to start without delay. The prime minister and defense minister prefer to wait.
Thursday night, as the operation wound up its second day, the Israeli Air Force intensified its action, conducting 250 strikes across the territory, supported from the Mediterranean by the Israeli Navy. They targeted rocket-launching positions, stores, silos, arms and ordnance dumps and the eight tunnels snaking under the border fence for use in terrorist attacks and exploding booby-traps. A generator was hit near the residence of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Our sources report that Thursday, some international airlines cancelled flights to Israel. International airline officials told debkafile that security in central Israel is uncertain after Palestinian rockets from Gaza reached the Tel Aviv area. They fear Ben Gurion international airport at Lod may be next.
The sources noted that the landing of a rocket in the sea off Bat Yam posed a serious aviation hazard because it occurred under the flight path of passenger planes bound for and departing Israel. Intense Israeli Air Force activity over Gaza was making commercial flights additionally “hazardous if not impossible,” they said.
Air France was the first to reschedule flights and advise passengers to call in before setting out for their airport of departure.
Also on Thursday, the US embassy in Tel Aviv advised its nationals and staff to avoid non-essential travel to southern Israel and the children of staff to stay home from their schools in the Tel Aviv area.
A skeleton staff would operate the embassy with most of the diplomats and personnel taking the day off and staying home for their own safety, in case Yarkon Street where the building is situated were to come under Palestinian rocket fire.