By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
IDF aircraft and artillery pounded terrorist targets in Gaza Friday in the largest attack on the Hamas terror infrastructure there.
“Throughout the night, approximately 160 IDF aircraft from 12 squadrons struck over 150 underground targets in the northern Gaza Strip,” an IDF statement said. “Parallel to the Air Force strikes, ground forces, artillery and armored troops deployed along the border and fired hundreds of artillery shells and dozens of tank shells against targets in the Gaza Strip.”
The IDF said the goal of the operation was to “severely damage the strategically important underground tunnels belonging to Hamas,” adding that “many kilometres of the tunnel network were destroyed” – part of the “underground city” of tunnels Hamas uses to move its military so as not to be exposed to air attack.
The launch of the operation just after midnight sowed confusion not just in Gaza, but in the international media when the IDF put out a short statement saying “IDF air and ground forces are currently attacking the Gaza Strip.”
Palestinian sources and the international media interpreted that statement to be that a ground operation was underway. A Channel 12 military affairs reporter said foreign colleagues were calling their Israeli contacts in a panic to find out if Israeli troops had entered Gaza.
However, military analysts said the addition of the word “ground” may have been used to fool Hamas into deploying their forces to meet a ground attack, allowing the air force to spot the movements and attack.
The ground forces used, however, were only tanks and artillery that were deployed on the Israeli side of the border firing at military targets in Gaza.
Asked if Israel was indeed Israel had faked the idea of a ground war, Finance Minister Yisrael Katz told Channel 13 news that he was aware of the claim, but avoided a direct answer.
“There is no doubt that they (Hamas) were surprised and paid a heavy price, but it’s not over,” Katz said.
Both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terror group continued to fire rockets at cities and towns in southern Israel, but had not fired any rockets at the heavily populated center of Israel since one volley at the area of Ben Gurion Airport shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday evening, and no rockets were fired at Tel Aviv since Thursday afternoon.
A 50-year-old woman in the Tel Aviv region became Israel’s ninth victim. The woman died two days after falling and being seriously injured while running for a bomb shelter during a rocket attack Tuesday.
Seven other civilians and one Israeli soldier have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza.
Magen David Adom rescue organization spokesman Nadav Matzner said that since Thursday morning MDA teams have treated 42 Israelis injured by rocket attacks including one person in critical condition. Since the beginning of the rocket attacks on May 10 ambulance teams have treated 524 injured people.