Operation Defensive Pillar- Update November 18th

This morning, residents of a four storey Ashkelon apartment building survived a direct hit by a rocket to their building. They were taking shelter in the second floor stairwell. The rocket crashed through the roof and exploded on the third floor. Two residents were wounded by shrapnel and another five were treated for shock, but they will all be okay, thankfully.

 During the day many more rockets continued to fall across the southern half of the country. Some rockets hit homes. One rocket was intercepted over Tel Aviv by the “Iron Dome” battery stationed there. It is one of four batteries developed by Israel. A fifth battery will be entering service this week.

 In another rocket attack this afternoon in Ofakim, five civilians were wounded. A family of three, including a baby, were wounded by a rocket which exploded near their car. Two other pedestrians were also wounded in the explosion.

Today’s message to my readers in Israel: Heed the warnings of the Home Front Command:

If you are in a building, make sure to note the location of the nearest bomb shelter or protected area and go there if a siren sounds. If there is no bomb shelter in your building, go into the stairwell and go down at least two floors, but avoid being on ground level. Rockets are most likely to hit the higher floors, but they may also explode in the street, in which case the ground floor may be hit by shrapnel. In a four storey building, the second floor stairwell is the safest place, as illustrated by the attack in Ashkelon this morning.

 If you are outside and a siren sounds, run into the nearest building and head for the bomb shelter, or if there is no bomb shelter, head for the stairwell.

 In any case- stay away from windows and outer walls. Do not attempt to catch a glimpse of the rockets or of “Iron Dome” interceptions. On Friday, it cost lives.

 If you are in a car, stop your car safely on the side of the road, turn on emergency lights, and enter the nearest building. If there is no building nearby, find a safe spot near your car away from traffic and lie on the ground with your hands over your head for protection.

 If you cannot exit your car safely, remain in your car.

 Wait for 10 minutes before leaving shelter.

A quick warning- I have noticed that many of the search terms leading to this blog are for the map of alarm zones (the time in which each area has in order to reach shelter). The map is on the Home Front Command’s website, but the English version is not up to date! I just got off the phone with them and told them about the problem. They promised to fix it. Meanwhile, I have translated the Hebrew map, which is up to date, and I am posting it here.

Translated map from the Hebrew website of the Home Front Command.

 As I write these lines, sirens have sounded (18:40) all across the southern Tel-Aviv metropolitan area (Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion, Holon, Bat Yam and the region).

Update (18:50): According to the radio, “Iron Dome” intercepted all the missiles fired in this last barrage.

Meanwhile in Gaza

The IDF continues its aerial offensive against Hamas targets in Gaza. This morning the IDF destroyed the offices of two Hamas controlled television stations. Later on, the IDF took over the channels’ airwaves and broadcast a warning to Palestinian civilians to stay away from Hamas installations, for their own safety.

 This afternoon, shortly before 16:00, the IDF killed the head of Hamas’s rocket launching command.

 In an article from June 2008, the PalestinianCenter for Human Rights warned against storing weaponry near civilian population. According to the article, many Palestinians have been killed not by Israeli strikes, but by secondary explosions caused by weaponry stored near civilians. This also goes against international law.

Update- I just saw an article in which Palestinians claim that the IDF hit a house in Gaza and killed 11 civilians (no link in English yet). I take these reports with a grain of salt. The Palestinians have been “inventing” deaths and injuries as I showed in yesterday’s update. Since then, I have also seen an article about a Palestinian boy who was killed on Friday by one of Hamas’s own rockets and was portrayed as being killed by Israel. Nevertheless, I pray that no more innocents are harmed on either side. Which leads me to today’s message to any readers I may have in Gaza:

Today’s message to any readers I may have in Gaza is: Stay away from Hamas members and facilities.

Do yourselves a favor, do not become a pawn in Hamas’s PR game. Stay away from members of Hamas. Stay away from Hamas facilities and warehouses. Stay away from Hamas rocket launchers. And if you have the guts, stand up and tell Hamas: Stop using us as human shields! Get out of our homes! Get out of our neighborhoods and playgrounds and kindergartens and hospitals and mosques! GET OUT!

***

Meanwhile on the Internet

 The Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs has opened a Facebook page, titled “Israel under fire“. The page pools Public Diplomacy materials in a number of languages and can be used and distributed freely.

 Also, a friend brought to my attention this wikipedia page documenting all the Palestinian rocket attacks. It is almost up to date (2 days delay).

Israeli schooldhildren running for shelter in a town near Gaza. Photo posted on “Israel Under Fire” Facebook page.

 

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Read all the updates on Operation Defensive Pillar:

Israel and Gaza- Operation Pillar of Defense- What is it all about?

Update- November 15th

Update- November 17th: Living under fire- I’m in range!

Israel and Gaza, Day 6, November 19th

One game of scrabble, five rocket attacks (guest post)

Operation Defensive Pillar- Day 7- November 20th

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