ESCALATION: At least 70 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza. Israeli jets hit 29 targets in Gaza in response.

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS>> LATEST UPDATES: Israeli aircraft hit 29 targets in Gaza after rocket attack — Islamic Jihad bases targeted; State Department calls heavy barrage ‘reprehensible,’ says Israel has the right to defend itself

“The Israeli Air Force launched airstrikes in the Gaza Strip shortly after 10 p.m. on Wednesday in retaliation for a massive rocket barrage earlier in the day, the largest of its kind since 2012,” reported the Times of Israel at 5pm eastern. “Israeli planes struck 29 targets in the Strip, the army said in a statement. Palestinians said at least five strategic points were hit in the coastal enclave, primarily in areas around the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah.”

As of this hour, Haaretz is reporting at least 70 rockets have been fired from Gaza at southern Israel.

“Israeli communities near southern and northern Gaza have come under heavy rocket attack on Wednesday evening,” reports the Jerusalem Post. As of 1:30pm eastern, “the IDF said at least 30 rockets had been fired in the largest attack since 2012′s Operation Pillar of Defense. “

“Israel Radio reported that up to 55 rockets had been fired into Israel in the deluge of projectiles,” the Post noted. ” The Iron Dome rocket defense system shot down three of the rockets, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office.  The IDF fired artillery rounds at two terror infrastructure targets in response.”

The Post added: “Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack, according to reports by Palestinian media. On Tuesday, the Israel Air Force struck an Islamic Jihad cell in southern Gaza, minutes after identifying it as being behind a mortar attack on  an IDF unit on the Gaza-Israel border….Islamic Jihad said the Israeli strike killed  three of its operatives. The IDF confirmed the aircraft’s hit on the terrorist  cell, and said that the aircraft had then returned safely to its base. The army added that it would not tolerate any attack on military forces operating along  the border. Islamic Jihad has been behind a trickle of attacks in recent days that have tested the cease-fire in place between Palestinian terrorist  groups in Gaza and Israel.”

Developing….

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Israel unveils Iranian arms for Gaza terrorists captured by IDF. Cache includes 40 missiles & 400,000 rounds of ammunition. Netanyahu: “Just as Iran hid its deadly missiles in the belly of this ship, Iran is hiding its actions and its intentions in many of its key installations for developing nuclear weapons.”

(source: IDF)

(source: IDF)

(Washington, D.C.) — UPDATE: “Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday lashed out at the world for its ‘hypocrisy’ over Iran as he unveiled a shipment of arms allegedly dispatched to Gaza by Tehran,” reports Agence France Presse. “Standing in front of a vast display of weapons seized last week from a vessel in the Red Sea, Netanyahu launched a blistering attack on the West over its apparent disregard for Iran’s alleged attempts to supply advanced weapons to Palestinian militants.”

“In a highly-publicised speech from Eilat port, where the weapons had been unloaded, Netanyahu said he had only heard a handful of ‘softly-worded condemnations of Iran’ over its ‘murderous delivery’ which came to light just days before EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton made a landmark visit to Tehran,” reports AFP. “We have been witness to the smiles and the handshakes between representatives of the West and the heads of the Iranian regime in Tehran, even as these missiles were being unloaded here in Eilat,” he said.

“The ship was organised by Iran, despatched by Iran, financed by Iran. The missiles were loaded by Iran, in Iran and as usual Iran denies these facts,” Netanyahu said. “Our intelligence services exposed the ship’s wayward route and Iran’s efforts to disguise it. They exposed the ship’s deadly cargo and its intended destination,” he said.

“Just as Iran hid its deadly missiles in the belly of this ship, Iran is hiding its actions and its intentions in many of its key installations for developing nuclear weapons,” he said. “Before it’s too late, the world must wake up from its illusion and prevent Iran from getting the capability to build a nuclear weapon.”

ORIGINAL POST: Today, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will “unveil the inventory of weapons recovered from the attempted Iranian shipment to Gaza last week on the intercepted freighter Klos C,” the Jerusalem Post reported. “Netanyahu, along with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, was scheduled on Monday to tour the Eilat naval base where the Klos C is docked, to highlight Iran’s support for terrorism.”

“According to Military Intelligence, Iran originally flew the rockets from Syria to an Iranian airfield a number of months ago, before trucking them to the Iranian port of Bander Abbas, where they were loaded onto the Klos C,” the Post noted. “On Saturday, Israel Navy ships escorted the commandeered freighter to Eilat Port after intercepting it last week in the Red Sea, some 150 km. from Port Sudan and 1,500 km. from Israeli shores. Islamic Jihad was one of the intended recipients of the rockets, and Hamas is also assumed to have been a recipient. IDF intelligence assessments say that Iran’s Quds Force organized the shipment.”

According to the IDF, the following weaponry was found onboard the “Klos-C”:

  • 40 rockets (type M-302), up-to the range of 160 kilometers
  • 180 mortar shells
  • Approximately 400,000 rounds of 7.62 caliber ammunition.

After IDF forces returned from their mission, the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin (Benny) Gantz  addressed the soldiers who took part in Operation Full Disclosure: “Our efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons and the supply of critical components with strategic influence over the region is not over, and our struggle does not end by arriving safely at our home port. We will sort through the equipment and continue our day to day efforts. There are many other missions ahead of us. The task we carried out was not a simple one. It was meticulously orchestrated by the IDF and particularly the Navy over a long period of time. It required each and every one of you to perform at your best while spending a significant amount of time at sea, and the product of this hard work is laid in front of you. Each one of these rockets poses a threat to the safety of the citizens of Israel. Each bullet and each rocket that was discovered had an Israeli address.”

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Israeli special forces intercept shipment of Iranian missiles headed to Gaza. “This is the real Iran,” says Netanyahu.

IDF soldiers inspect a missile found on board Klos-C in a commando operation Wednesday morning. The military says the ship was carrying an Iranian arms shipment headed for Gaza (Photo credit: IDF/Times of Israel)

IDF soldiers inspect a missile found on board Klos-C in a commando operation Wednesday morning. The military says the ship was carrying an Iranian arms shipment headed for Gaza (Photo credit: IDF/Times of Israel)

(Washington, D.C.) — “IDF special forces on Wednesday intercepted a ship in the Red Sea carrying an Iranian arms shipment headed for the Gaza Strip, Israel’s military said,” reports the Times of Israel. “Israeli naval commandos from the elite Shayetet 13 unit boarded and took control of the ‘Klos-C’ merchant ship, sailing under the Panama flag, at around 5 a.m. They encountered no resistance and there were no casualties reported on either side.”

“The army said soldiers carried out a preliminary inspection of the ship and found several dozen advanced Syrian M-302 missiles, with a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) and a payload of up to 170 kilograms (375 pounds),” noted the Times. “The missiles were hidden in shipping containers also carrying sacks of concrete. The incident took place 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from Israel’s coast, in the Red Sea, off the Sudanese-Eritrean border. Israel had been tailing the ship for several days before the operation was launched. The ship had a crew of 17, who were being interrogated by Israeli security forces. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said crew members were apparently unaware of the ship’s secret cargo. The vessel had reportedly set sail from Iran 10 days ago and was set to reach Sudan on Thursday. From there, the weaponry would have been smuggled into Gaza. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz personally oversaw the operation and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was briefed on its progress as he toured the US, the IDF said. Netanyahu commended Gantz and Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo for their efficient work.”

“I would like to congratulate the IDF, Israel’s intelligence apparatuses and of course the commanders and soldiers of the navy who carried out a flawless operation to capture a covert Iranian weapons ship,” Netanyahu said in a video statement. “As it conducts talks with [world] powers, as Iran smiles and utters pleasantries, the same Iran is sending lethal weapons to terror organizations…via an intricate network of clandestine global operations…in order to hurt innocent civilians….This is the real Iran and this country must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect Israeli citizens.”

President Shimon Peres said, “This operation exposes the true face of Iran which says one thing but does the opposite. They put on an innocent face and send the most dangerous missiles to a terror organization that kills innocents, in violation of international law. Iran must make up its mind either to tell the truth and respect international law or admit that it is all camouflage and we cannot trust their policy or declaration. The same is true for Hamas.”

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Amidst peace talks, Gaza terrorists have fired at least 18 rockets at Israel since Jan. 1.

Rocket being fired from Gaza Strip at southern Israel.

Rocket being fired from Gaza Strip at southern Israel.

>> MONDAY UPDATE: Loud explosions heard in Eilat – IDF troops dispatched to area to search for source, thought to be rockets (Times of Israel)

Even as Secretary of State John Kerry continues shuttling in and out the epicenter in search of a final, comprehensive peace treaty between the Israelis and Palestinians — and continues pressuring Netanyahu to make deeper and deeper concessions — terrorist rocket fire emanating from Gaza and targeting Jewish civilians in southern Israel is steadily increasing.

“January has seen an upsurge in Palestinian rocket  attacks from Gaza on southern Israel, with 18 projectiles fired since the start  of the month,” reports the Jerusalem Post.

“The Israel Air Force struck an Islamic Jihad member in the northern Gaza Strip  on Sunday morning who had been involved in a spate of rocket attacks against  Israel,” noted the Post. “Security sources said following the strike that Islamic Jihad, as the non-sovereign party in Gaza, was exploiting its position to attack Israel,  and that the coming hours would determine whether Hamas would be able to  exercise its authority as Gaza’s ruler to reinstate the truce with  Israel. The target of the strike, named as Ahmed Sa’ad, took part in the firing of rockets at southern Israeli communities, the IDF said, and planned  further attacks in the near future. Sunday’s air strike can be seen as a message from the IDF that  Israel is prepared to target terrorists personally involved in the  attacks.”

“It’s a signal that we won’t tolerate a drizzle of rockets,” a senior security source said.

“Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Sunday that Israel will not allow anyone to return it to a ‘routine’ of rocket fire, warning that ‘those who try to do so will pay a very high price,’” noted the Post.  “We see Hamas as being responsible for what occurs in the Gaza Strip, and if it does not know how to enforce its sovereignty on what takes place on the ground, we’ll keep hitting its interests. I would not recommend that anyone in the Gaza Strip test our patience and determination to protect the security of  Israeli civilians.”

Please pray that the rocket fire is effectively stopped. Please pray for the innocent civilians on both sides of the border find safety and security. Please also pray for the Lord to give wisdom to the diplomats and government officials in the region to make peace.

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog