[caption id="attachment_3642" align="alignleft" width="300"] U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hours before the announcement of a lull in hostilities. (GPO)[/caption]
Please see an overview of the situation in the south of Israel following the ceasefire after Operation Pillar of Defense:
- As of November 22, 2012, terrorists in Gaza fired a total of 1,506 rockets during Operation Pillar of Defense. The number of rockets and mortars fired to date at Israeli civilians from Gaza for 2012 stood at more than 2,300.
- Yesterday, November 21, 2012, Gaza terrorists fired 130 rockets at Israeli towns and cities.
- The spokesman for Israel’s national police force reported that more than 12 rockets were fired at Israel last night after the 9:00 p.m. ceasefire was announced. Some of the rockets landed in open areas and caused no damage or casualties. More than three million Israelis live within range of rocket and mortar attacks.
- The Iron Dome system intercepted several of the rockets launched in violation of the ceasefire. All active Iron Dome batteries are remaining on 24-hour alert.
- More ceasefire violations were reported today. Air raid sirens sounded Thursday morning (November 22) due to two rockets fired at Israeli communities that landed in Gaza.
- During Operation Pillar of Defense, the Iron Dome batteries intercepted 421 rockets that would have landed in populated areas,with an overall success rate of 84%.
- The IDF said it carried out more than 1,500 airstrikes against terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, including “19 senior command centers, operational control centers and Hamas’s senior-rank headquarters, 30 senior operatives, damaging Hamas’s command and control, hundreds of underground rocket launchers, 140 smuggling tunnels, 66 terror tunnels, dozens of Hamas operation rooms and bases, 26 weapon manufacturing and storage facilities and dozens of long-range rocket launchers and launch sites.”
- The area closest to the Gaza border suffered the most rocket attacks and all 90 schools and 61 kindergartens in a radius of 40km of Gaza and many schools in the central city of Rishon LeZion (targeted twice with rockets) stayed closed today (November 22) as a precaution in case of additional ceasefire violations by terrorists in Gaza. Civil defense authorities ordered all places of non-essential work in the 7km-range of rocket fire to remain closed.
- IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz ordered the start of a gradual release of soldiers called up for emergency service during Operation Pillar of Defense.
- Following yesterday’s Tel Aviv bus bombing that wounded 28 Israeli civilians, five victims remain hospitalized Thursday with serious, but not life-threatening injuries.
- Celebrations in the Gaza Strip continued into the night. HamasTV broadcast the events showing a banner that reads "overwhelming joy" as residents mass in the streets, honking car horns, firing guns into the air, making the victory sign with their fingers, and dancing with Palestinian, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad flags. One Palestinian was killed and three wounded in the celebrations by stray bullets fired by other Palestinians.
- Hamas declared November 22 a national day of celebration to mark the “victory” of Palestinian groups in Operation Pillar of Defense.
- Immediately after the agreement on ceasefire, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “encouraged and relieved,” that Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire.
- Last night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his deep appreciation to U.S. President Barack Obama for his support of Israel during the operation and for his contribution to the Iron Dome system. The prime minister reiterated that Israel would take all necessary steps to defend its citizens.
- The EU’s foreign policy head Catherine Ashton issued the following statement on the ceasefire: “I welcome the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Israel. I commend in particular the efforts of Egypt and all those who engaged in mediating between the parties to secure this ceasefire. The European Union will continue its efforts to ensure a sustainable solution to the present situation in the Gaza Strip. This is crucial for ending all violence and enhancing security in the region.”