Weekend round-up of Gaza War

Sunday, November 18, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

The past weekend saw the Gaza war launched last week under the banner "Operation Pillar of Cloud" escalate in unprecedented ways.

On Thursday evening, at least one missile fired from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip hit in or near Tel Aviv. It was the first time Israel's coastal metropolis had sustained a missile attack since the first Gulf War over 20 years ago.

The Tel Aviv hit also confirmed that Gaza-based terrorists possess weapons capable of hitting most of Israel's population. The primary goal of Pillar of Cloud at present is to take out those weapons.

Another missile struck Tel Aviv on Friday afternoon. At that point, Israeli officials rushed the deployment of a fifth Iron Dome anti-missile defense system to the southern part of the city. The new unit manage to down yet another missile fired at Tel Aviv just hours after its deployment.

Also on Friday, Gaza-based terrorists fired a missile at Jerusalem. Local residents were shocked to hear an air raid siren, and many at first mistook it for the weekly siren that signals the start of Shabbat. The missile landed near the Etzion Bloc of Jewish communities just south of the capital.

Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil was visiting Gaza on Friday as missiles hit Tel Aviv for the first time. Kandil blamed Israel for the violence, while his boss, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, threatened that the Jewish state would "pay a heavy price."

The next day Israel bombed and destroyed the Hamas government headquarters where Kandil had met Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Missiles continued to strike cities across southern Israel over the weekend, in particular the Negev capital of Beersheva and the coastal cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod. Three people were wounded on Sunday morning, and countless others were treated for shock.

Due to the serious escalations posed by the targeting of both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel's army obtained government approval to mobilize 75,000 reserve soldiers. Many friends and family from the Israel Today office ended the Sabbath by packing up their bags and heading off to war.

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By Sunday morning, Israel was still unsure if it would launch a ground invasion of Gaza. Israeli leaders said their goal was to eliminate Hamas' ability to threaten southern Israel, but also to avoid unnecessary casualties on both sides.

The Obama Administration put its full support behind Israel, but was reportedly concerned that a drawn out ground war would actually work in Hamas' favor, at least in terms of public relations. Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed not to launch a ground war unless there was another escalation by Hamas.

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