Photo from the field: IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and senior commanders discuss Operation Pillar of Defense. Southern Israel, 16 November 2012. (IDF photo)
Meanwhile, Israel hit some 150 targets overnight, bringing the total number of targets hit by the Israeli Air Force to 450 since Wednesday. The IDF reported that the targets included medium-range rocket launching site and ammunition storage facilities across Gaza. Destroying Hamas’ longer-range missiles seems to be a main tactical goal of Israeli operation.
Hamas, after months of trying to stop militant factions in Gaza from shooting rockets across the border, responded forcefully to Israel’s killing on Wednesday of its top military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari. Hamas seems to be emboldened by its newly found diplomatic stature and support from Egypt, Qatar and Turkey (The Egyptian premier was in Gaza to arrange a cease-fire.) The New Hamas is now vying to fill the Palestinian leadership vacuum created by a weakened and crisis-laden Palestinian Authority.
But Operation Pillar of Defense could at the end show Israeli combat readiness in face of a barrage of incoming rockets and its ability to severely damage and destroy Hamas missile capabilities.
UPDATE: The Gazan casualties as of Friday night have reached 29.