Operation Pillar of Defense

Here is a summary of some of the attacks against Israel prior to Operation: IEDs targeted IDF units operating near the border fence (Nov.6, three IDF casualties); detonation of an explosive tunnel against IDF on Israeli soil (Nov.8, one lightly injured IDF soldier); AT attack against an armored patrolling vehicle near the border fence (Nov.10, four IDF casualties, two seriously injured).


Following eight days of fighting, ceasefire was announced on November 21, 2012 at 21:00, through mediation of international elements. During Operation Pillar of Defense, which began with the killing of Head of Hamas military wing, Ahmad Jabari in Gaza on November 14, 2012, circa 1,700 rockets and over 50 mortar shells were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip. The launchings were directed by Hamas and PIJ. Advanced AA and AT rockets were also fired into Israel, luckily resulting in zero casualties. 


More than a quarter of all rockets fired into Israel (436) were intercepted by Iron Dome Defense System. Less than one percent of all rockets (0.6%, circa 10 rockets) ranged over 60km, of which seven were launched towards Tel Aviv Metropolitan area, and two were launched towards Jerusalem.  


Circa half of the rockets (50.74%) were short range reaching up to 20km, while the rest (48.65%) were medium range reaching 20-60km. Israel's southern cities suffering Gaza's incessant fire (according to the number of launchings) were Be'er Sheva (255), Ashdod (163), Ashkelon (70), Ofakim (66), and Kiryat Malachi (48).


Six Israelis were killed during Operation Pillar of Defense: four citizens (three residents of Kiryat Malachi, and a Bedouin resident in north-western Negev) and two soldiers. 231 Israelis were injured, most (218) suffered light injuries.


Throughout Operation Pillar of Defense, circa 80 Palestinian terrorists were killed and over 1,100 casualties were recorded in Gaza. Throughout the eight days of the operation, the IDF attacked circa 1,500 targets in the Gaza Strip with the help of ISA intelligence; thousands of rockets were destroyed and the long range rocket array (consisting of Fajr rockets) was heavily damaged. Rocket launching squads were also hit (circa 150).


IDF also attacked over 210 tunnels, mostly consisting of smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Sinai border ("Philadelphi route") and a portion consisting of Hamas assault/explosive tunnels. One should note that these tunnels enabled the smuggling of large quantities of quality weaponry that came from Libya and Sudan, such as long range rockets, advanced AT and AA rockets that constitute a central factor in the military build-up of Gazan terror groups.


Still more, during the Operation, IDF hit nearly 70 Hamas and PIJ targets, to include posts and weapons warehouses, the production and development UAV array, and Hamas government emblems with nexus to Hamas military activity. The latter comprised inter alia of 30 homes of senior military Hamas activists, when some of their homes functioned as weapons warehouses.


A number of the houses which were hit were those of: Ghazi Abu Tama'a, Central Camps Brigade commander whose house served as a weapons warehouse. The secondary explosions generated by the weapons stored inside the house caused injuries and damage to the nearby environs. Mohammad Senwar, Khan Younes Brigade commander, Mohammad Abu Shammallah, Southern G.S. Brigade commander, Ahmed Ghandour, Northern G.S. Brigade commander, Iz Al Din Hadad, Southern Gaza City Brigade commander, Isam Dalese, advisor to Hamas PM Ismail Haniya and a senior smuggler of terror funds into Gaza.


During the operation, IDF went to great lengths to refrain from hurting innocent bystanders and minimized harm to innocent Gazan civilians.

The attacks in the Gaza Strip which caused serious damage to Hamas, and Israel's pressure on Hamas led the latter to diminish the amounts of rockets fired on a daily basis into Israel, ultimately enforcing Hamas to accept a ceasefire. Furthermore, Palestinian Gazans were not interested in an IDF Gaza ground operation, something which could shift the balance of power in Gaza against Hamas.


In this context, the level of violence in the Judea and Samaria has increased in light of the operation. The following violent incidents were recorded: solidarity protests, Gaza support demonstrations when some turned into riots and violent clashes with IDF in conflict areas. Other violent incidents included terrorist attacks such as stabbing, stone throwing (one female Israeli citizen seriously injured, Nov. 20), firebombs, and a fake IED at the Jerusalem's light rail. This series of violent incidents led to arrests of over 50 activists on the night of Nov.21-22, who took part in these violent events.


On November 21, 2012, 29 Israeli civilians were wounded in an IED attack on a Tel Aviv bus. Most casualties suffered light injuries. Within hours ISA arrested the perpetrators of the attack who were affiliated with a local Hamas and PIJ grouping from Beit Laqiya in the Ramallah area. They were facilitated by an Israeli-Arab originally from Beit Laqiya, who placed the IED on the bus and who had obtained his Israeli citizenship under the family reunification policy in Israel.



Below is a chart on the number of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on each day of the operation:


On November 14-21 2012, in response to the major terror escalation from the Gaza Strip, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense. The escalation came as a result of series of attacks which targeted IDF operating on Israeli soil, near the border fence, and following a mount in the number of high trajectory launchings of rockets and mortar shells against Israel (over 170 launchings in only three days, November 10-12).