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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.” Talk of a truce had galvanized the other side to step up attacks on Israeli towns, he said.
After holding talks with Binyamin Netanyahu on the Gaza crisis Tuesday and Wednesday and meeting Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the US Secretary of state Hillary Clinton travels to Cairo Wednesday. She 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 the aspirations of Israel and the Palestinians alike be addressed. Clinton voiced the hope for “broad agreement for a lasting peace in the days to come.”
Dozens protested against a ceasefire in Rishon Lezion, Beersheba and outside president’s residence in Jerusalem.
The IAF Tuesday night 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. The attack cut off one of the Hamas government’s main sources of revenue.
Jerusalem, Cairo and Gaza awaited US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's arrival Tuesday night, Nov. 20, to clinch the Gaza ceasefire accord. Israel held back from approval until then and the Palestinians stepped up their missile blitz. debkafile’s analysts say that by giving in to international pressure for a ceasefire – against the objections of top military chiefs and intelligence pros - Israel’s leaders would show they have not learned from their predecessors’ mistakes in ending two wars inconclusively.
Shrapnel from a falling mortar shell critically injured IDF Corp. Yosef Partok, 18, from Imanuel Tuesday in the Eshkol district.
The woman, aged 60, was shot in the neck Tuesday night while driving on a road near Beitar Ilit just inside the West Bank. Her car ran into a pile of stones and was attacked with bottle bombs.
Dozens of people in the high-rise were in shelters when the 90-kilo Iran-made Fajr rocket hit the roof of and damaged the top three floors of the residential building. Four people were injured and 15 went into shock. The damage extended to surrounding buildings and vehicles. In Ashkelon, one civilian was seriously hurt by another rocket.
From early Tuesday, one Israeli was killed in the Eshkol district and 51 were injured , three seriously, in scores of locations targeted by more than 120 missiles from the Gaza Strip. There were more than a 100 shock victims.
The station close to Hamas contradicted an early statement by Jihad Islami and Al Arabiya TV
that a ceasefire will be announced at 1900 or 2000 hours (local time). Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi also predicted a Gaza ceasefire would be in the bag before the end of the day. Arab League secretary led a delegation of 10 Arab foreign ministers on a visit to Gaza. DEBKAfile: The ministers tried to persuade Hamas to moderate its terms for a ceasefire.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said to UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon Tuesday: Terrorists don’t share your concern for civilian casualties. They sacrifice their own children as human shields as well as victimizing Israeli innocents and that is a war crime. We would prefer a diplomatic solution. Otherwise military action is the only course. The UN Secretary called on all sides to cease the fire at once. He condemned missile attacks on Israeli civilians but urged Israel to exercise maximum restraint.
First report: A single missile exploded on open ground outside the municipal area of Jerusalem on open ground near a Bethlehem village on the Palestinian West Bank. No casualties. The attack by a “M75” rocket was claimed by the Hamas military wing. Police are searching for the exact landing site. Jerusalem had its first missile attack from Gaza Friday, Nov. 16.
The US embassy guard in Tel Aviv was injured by a man with an axe and knife Tuesday, Nov. 20. The man was captured.
The US has returned three amphibious warships with 2,500 Marines aboard for standby off Israel’s shore in case US citizens need to be evacuated. They were sailing west of Gibraltar on their way back to Norfolk, Virginia, when they were turned around. debkafile: Washington evidently does not share the optimism in some Israeli quarters about an imminent ceasefire with Hamas but rather envisages a general conflagration.
In rising unrest on the West Bank sparked by the Gaza contest, a Palestinian was killed Monday night when he attacked an Israeli soldier on the Transjudea highway. Palestinian gunfire against an IDF position at the Salem checkpoint near Jenin was returned. Nine Palestinians were injured in a disturbance at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.
Lebanese forces prevented a Palestinian terrorist group from shooting Grad rockets into northern Israel from the Lebanese village of al-Mari. They dismantled the rockets.
An Iranian freighter departed Bandar Abbas port Sunday, Nov. 18, with 220 short-range missiles and 50 improved long-range Fajar-5 rockets for the Gaza Strip, debkafile reports. The ship turned toward the Bab al-Mandeb Straits and the Red Sea. The new Fajar-5s have a 200-kilo warhead, packing a bigger punch than the 175 kilo-payload of the rockets now in use with the Palestinian terrorists of Gaza. Hamas has removed part of this payload to extend their range as far as Tel Aviv 85 kilometers away.
The trio conducting Israel’s Gaza operation are reexamining their plan to launch a ground offensive now in view of strong pressure from US President Barack Obama to desist - although he solidly supported the Israeli operation until now. Netanyahu, Barak and Lieberman are weighing three options: Sending troops into Gaza regardless; delaying ground action until Wednesday or: launching immediate ground sorties to test the ground. An Israeli delegation flew to Cairo when Obama insisted on giving failed truce talks another chance.
Missile alert sirens sounded across Greater Tel Aviv Saturday, Nov. 17, before an explosion caused by Iron Dome’s interception of one of the two rockets incoming from the Gaza Strip against 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 was deployed for the first time in Greater Tel Aviv that morning,
President Barack Obama, in a phone conversation with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu early Saturday, reiterated his support for Israel’s right to defend itself. He also spoke to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Where does the sudden harmonious Obama-Netanyahu cooperation over the Gaza operation come from? debkafile: The US is using Israel’s Gaza operation to drag Iranian ruler Ali Khamenei to the negotiating table. Netanyahu hopes Obama will be led into a military confrontation with Iran. An Israeli ground operation is up to both.
Intelligence circles in the Middle East and Europe were fully abreast of Gen. David Petraeus’s fondness for the company of strong, ambitious women like Paula Broadwell and were not against exploiting those women’s garrulity for their own ends.
Knowing that the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt had egged Hamas on to launch a major missile offensive against Israel, the Netanyahu government took the precaution of getting US backing before launching Israel’s counter-offensive to degrade the terrorist group’s rocket capabilities.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has decided against opening direct talks with the Obama administration, upsetting the reelected President Obama’s best-laid plans to solve the Iranian nuclear controversy by diplomacy.