The IDF began its long-awaited attack on Hamas-controlled Gaza at 11:30 AM Saturday, and according to initial reports managed to catch Hamas off-guard, after deliberately sending soldiers home on furloughs Thursday to create the impression that a military strike was not imminent.
The operation is codenamed "Cast Lead" – a phrase taken from a well known Chanukah song which refers to "cast-lead draydels."
At least 80 IAF aircraft, including both jets and helicopters, struck pre-selected targets in Gaza, reportedly dropping at least 100 bombs. According to Arab sources in Gaza, the death toll there is 205. Hamas sources predicted that the body count would reach 350.
Among the targets was a Hamas ceremony for graduates of a paramilitary course.
Gaza terror squads kept firing rockets at Israeli civilians. One of these rockets hit a home in Netivot, killing one civilian -- Beber Vaaknin, 58 -- and wounding six others.
Barak: this won't be short
Defense Minister Ehud Barak convened a news conference in which he said that the operation has thre
"The IDF also wishes to inform the Israeli public that it must prepare itself for continued rocket fire by Hamas."
e goals: "to hit Hamas hard, to change the situation radically and to prevent the continuation of rocket fire at Israeli civilians." He said that the operation would not be a short one.
Gaza terror squads kept firing rockets at Israeli civilians. One of these rockets hit a home in Netivot, killing one civilian and wounding six others.
The wounded were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva in medium to serious condition by the Magen David Adom emergency medical service.
At 5:20 PM Saturday a Gazan rocket slammed into a synagogue in a moshav community in the Eshkol regional council, seriously wounding one person and lightly wounding another.
Gaza terror squads fired more than 60 rockets by 5:30 PM: 21 at Netivot, 20 at Ofakim, 13 at Ashkelon and seven at Sderot.
The IDF Spokesman published the following announcement in the early evening hours:
"Since this morning, the IDF attacked dozens of targets affiliated with the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip. The targets included command centers, training camps, various Hamas installations, rocket manufacturing facilities and storage warehouses.
"The vast majority of the casualties are terror operatives; most of whom were wearing uniform and working on behalf of terror organizations.
"The operation is ongoing and will continue for as long as is necessary, pending security assessments by the General Staff the IDF Chief of Staff.
"The IDF wishes to emphasize that secrecy and the element of surprise were central to the implementation of the operation.
"The IDF also wishes to inform the Israeli public that it must prepare itself for continued rocket fire by Hamas. The patience and resilience of the Israeli public is required.
"The Israeli public is requested to listen to IDF Spokesperson Announcements and follow directions given by the Home Front Command in order to ensure their safety."