Israel's Operation Cloud Pillar against Gaza terrorists has begun with the assassination of 52-year-old Ahmed Al-Jabari, who ran the armed wing of Hamas, the Izz al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. Al-Jabari's son was also killed in the car hit by the IDF.
Ynet news and the IDF report that after IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz approved the detailed plan, besides the targeted attack on Al-Jabari, Israel forces wiped out at least 20 long-range rocket launching pads, weapons building and underground rocket launching capabilities. Additional Israeli infantry units have moved south whilst Israeli reservists have been mobilised.
According to the Jerusalem Post Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the Islamist movement, says this is a declaration of war and Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades have vowed to avenge the killing of Ahmed Al-Jabari.
Israeli residents are already tweeting that air-raid sirens are sounding in Beersheva, one of Israel's southern cities approximately 40kms from Gaza and Israeli radio news is reporting that rocket attacks have started on the Israeli city.
By Israel Defense Forces
IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai (centre)
The IDF state that:
"The Gaza strip, has turned it into a forward base for Iran, firing rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens."
IDF Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, is quoted as saying said that IDF operations began following the "intolerable situation in the south of the country, and seeks to harm terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip."
Ynet report that Israeli President Shimon Peres discussed the situation with US President Barack Obama and said: "Half an hour ago the commander of Hamas's armed wing Ahmed Jabari was killed. He was an extreme radical who was responsible for many terrorist actions. Israel has no interest fanning the flames, but for the last five days we have been bombarded by rockets. There is only so much we can take."