Wednesday, July 30, 2014

(En - 30 July 2014 - News) Israeli drone spotted over Gaza with new, unknown (firing?) pod

An Israeli source who wishes to remain anonymous sent us the photos you can find in this post.
They were taken on Jul. 24 and Jul. 29, over the southern Israeli Gaza border by AFP photographer Jack Guez and show an Hermes 450 drone.

Noteworthy, the Israeli UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) carries two previously unknown underwing pods. At first glance, they may resemble the two fuel tanks of the Hermes 450LE (Long Endurance) variant but a closer look shows they are not attached to a standard pylon but they are directly attached to the wing. Furthermore, the rear edge of this new pod, is aligned to the wing’s trailing edge.
According to our source, this is “a firing pod for a light missile,” possibly used to attack Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip but we are unable to verify it.

For sure the pod is something new, whose shape (loosely trapezoidal) reminds that of some gun pods carried by some warplanes. Hard to say whether it can really house a light missile or something else, even though we can’t completely rule it out.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

(En - 24 July 2014 - History) Here’s how Israel managed to get three second hand B-17 Flying Fortress bombers

The B-17 Flying Fortress bombers were acquired thanks to Al Schwimmer, a World War II USAAF (United States Army Air Force) flight engineer that during the second half of 1947 purchased and delivered the surplus transport aircraft that eventually built up the Israeli Air Force Air Transport Command.

Schwimmer (the founder and first CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries) found the future Israeli bombers among the Flying Fortress aircraft already flying with the numerous start-up airlines formed after the end of WWII.

As reported by Bill Norton in his book Air War on the Edge, A History of the Israel Air Force and its aircraft since 1947, two B-17s (s/n 44-83851 and 44-83753) were acquired for 30,000 USD from Charles Winters which used them for his freight business between Florida and Puerto Rico, while two more planes were purchased from Donald H. Roberts of Tulsa. The four B-17s were legally registered, commercially modified and above all, they were airworthy airframes, meaning that they could fly on their own power all the way from the U.S. to Israel.

Planned route for the Flying Fortress was Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico; San Juan to Santa Maria, Azores; and Azores to Zatec Czechoslovakia, for an epic 10,600 kilometer flight of at least 38 hours duration over the Atlantic Ocean and across the Iron Curtain.

The first three B-17s took off on Jun. 11, 1948 and their ferry flight was explained by David Goldberg, who was the co-pilot of one of the three bombers. Goldberg released his impressions for Wing Magazine Volume 11, February 1981. The same story was later reported also in Shlomo Aloni & Zvi Avidror book Hammers Israel’s Long-Range Heavy Bomber Arm: The Story of 69 Squadron:
“I had flown B-24s with the 15th Air Force in Italy during the war. While making cargo runs out of Miami in the spring of 1948, I was contacted by phone and asked if I’d be interested in earning $ 1000 to ferry an airplane to Europe. I said sure. […] A few days before we were to depart I was asked if I’ d fly as co-pilot instead of pilot, since they now had found a colonel who was supposed to have had a great deal of B-17 time, and, also, his name would look better on the documents. The money was the same, so I agreed. Our flight from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico, was uneventful. Besides the colonel and myself we had picked up a navigator and about ten young men classified as ‘cargo handlers’.”

The rest of the ferry flight was quite a scary adventure which saw Goldberg flying the B-17 most of the time: “The colonel got roaring drunk at San Juan and stayed that way up to departure time. The next morning we have managed to pour him into the plane, and the navigator and I flew it out. From San Juan we were heading to the Azores Islands. That would take 21 hours, and we had 24 hours of fuel on board. When we were about 10 hours out the colonel was coming around to relieve me so I could get some rest. I had just fallen asleep in the back when I was awakened with a great deal of excitement and told that Cohen, the navigator, had fallen through a glassed-over section in the floor of the nose that had been put there for aerial photography. The guy was barely hanging on, and was slowly being sucked out by the slipstream. I ran back to the cockpit to get the aircraft slowed down. Col. B— had gone to pieces and was shaking like a leaf. I slowed the plane down and put it on auto-pilot and went down to help pull the navigator back in. We succeeded, but he was absolutely useless after that, and we now had to find the Azores without him.”

Incredibly Goldberg and his aircrew were able to find the Portuguese islands: “By a stroke of luck we were able to pick up the airway radio beacon from Santa Maria after 20 hours of flying – but the weather had turned bad and the ceiling was low. The island is covered with mountains, and Col. B— then announced that an instrument approach would be too risky, so he was going to ditch the plane off the coast. I said that was crazy, and that I would make the approach. He refused to get out of the left-hand seat. It was time for some drastic action. I grabbed a fire extinguisher and told him I’d crush his skull if he didn’t get out of the f—-ing seat. He left, we landed safely… And I completed the rest of the flight to Czechoslovakia alone in the cockpit!”

As already said, after reaching Santa Maria, Azores, the three B-17s were planned to fly to Zatec, Czechoslovakia, but since the American authorities were not far behind, the bombers had to move on quickly. So, with the prior consent of French officials the crews filed a flight plan for Ajaccio, Corse, but instead they landed at Zatec on June 17, where the Israeli airlift was going on in earnest.
However the American press reports had already uncovered the affair from June 16, when news circulated that several American surplus warplanes had departed from Ajaccio to Palestine: moreover, despite arrangements, the French would not confirm the arrival of the aircraft at Ajaccio and they were declared missing.

The public exposure of the three B-17s’ epic flight made the delivery of the last bomber really difficult: in fact the fourth Flying Fortress never reached Israel since, at the request of the United States, Portuguese officials impounded the aircraft indefinitely at the Azores.

However three B-17s arrived in Israel and thanks to them the Israeli Air Force was able to respond to the Egyptian bombings only two months later, when the three Flying Fortress raided Cairo: these bombers were also the first aircraft flown by the legendary 69 Squadron Hammers, that today flies another Boeing product, the powerful F-15I Ra’am (Thunder).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

(En - 23 July 2014 - News) Decision of several U.S. and European airlines to cancel all flights to Israel amid concern for the continuing rocket attacks.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, shot down by an SA-11 Gadfly (“Buk”) while overflying eastern Ukraine, has reminded the world that civilian planes should be kept away from war zones.

For this reason, when on Jul. 22 rockets fell close to Ben Gurion international airport, in Tel Aviv, Delta Airlines and several U.S. and European airlines decided to cancell all their flights to Israel not to jeopardize the safety of their planes.

At the time Delta decided it was not safe to fly to Israel, DL468, a Boeing 747-400 was en route from JFK to Tel Aviv. The flight was then diverted to Paris Charles De Gaulle international airport.

Along with Delta, United Airlines, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France, Alitalia and other airlines decided to cancel their flights to Tel Aviv, most of them for at least 24 – 36 hours, or “until further notice.”

Monday, July 21, 2014

(Fr - 21 Juil 2014 - Actu) Selon la presse arabe, Israël aurait détruit une cache d’arme du Hamas au Soudan

« Israël a récemment fait exploser une cache d’armes au Soudan dont les armes étaient destinées au Hamas à Gaza. »  L’information a été publiée ce jour par le journal anglais en arabe Al-Arab.

Selon l’article, les autorités soudanaises pensent qu’Israël est derrière une possible frappe, mais un black-out a été imposé sur cet incident.

Le journal rapporte également que le bombardement de l’entrepôt d’armes a eu lieu quelques heures après qu’Israël ait accusé le Soudan de fournir des roquettes à longue portée au Hamas.

Une forte explosion s’est produite vendredi dernier dans un entrepôt d’armes et de matériel sur une base militaire au nord de Khartoum. « Officiellement, il s’agit d’un simple incendie. »

Selon Al-Arab, le président soudanais Omar al-Bashir a rencontré chef du Hamas Khaled Mechaal il y a deux semaines au Soudan. Les autorités soudanaises ont affirmé au journal que le black-out sur l’attaque israélienne a été conçu pour dissimuler la relation entre Khartoum et le Hamas.

Des témoins qui ont parlé au journal jurent avoir vu une forte explosion, suivi de colonnes de fumée.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

(En - 15 July 2014 - News) Israel to produce wings for F-35 stealth fighter jet

"The Defense Ministry's $250 million debt to Israel Aerospace Industries is burdening its activities," IAI CEO Yossi Weiss told Israel Hayom at the Farnborough Airshow on Monday. "We are slowing our pace, and even moving people between projects."

"However, this is a not a lost debt," Weiss continued. "For our part, we will continue to work and do all that is necessary, particularly given these tough times [the security situation in Israel]. We were able to produce the radar for the eighth Iron Dome battery and we are working around the clock to satisfy Israel's security needs."

Weiss revealed that IAI will open the production line for the wings of the F-35 stealth fighter jet in September. "We've invested greatly in setting up the most advanced line [of production], and we were one of the few companies in the world to receive a contract from Lockheed Martin to manufacture for it. We will produce 811 pairs of wings for the planes."

The F-35 is the talk of the Farnborough Airshow, which got underway on Monday, as the U.S. Defense Department nixed its expected appearance there. The F-35 was grounded after an engine fire on one of the planes last month. The cause of the malfunction has yet to be determined.

Lockheed Martin is still optimistic that the F-35 will appear at the air show toward the end of the week.

Monday, July 14, 2014

(En - 14 Juil 2014 - News) IAF aborts mission to avoid civilian casualties

An Israeli Air Force pilot flying over the Gaza Strip on Thursday decided to abort his mission after spotting Palestinian children in the vicinity of a confirmed terror target, the Israel Defense Forces said Sunday.
In a video released by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, the pilot is clearly heard telling the command center: "It looks like there are people, possibly children, in our targeted area." The response over the communication system states: "We're not going to strike this target now, let's move on."
The video's release came as foreign media reports began leveling criticism at the IDF over civilian casualties resulting from Operation Protective Edge's airstrikes on Gaza.

A senior IDF officer said that according to the military's data, some 30 percent of the casualties in Gaza are civilians. On Saturday, what the IDF described as an unusual incident occurred, in which 21 Palestinians were killed when the IAF struck the home of Hamas police chief in Gaza Tayseer al-Batsh, which was located near a mosque.
The Israeli military has gone to great lengths to minimize Palestinian casualties during the Gaza campaign. On Sunday morning, the IAF scattered thousands of leaflets over northern Gaza Strip neighborhoods, warning residents to evacuate their homes before noon. The IAF further issues warnings to residents of specific buildings identified as terror targets, warning them to evacuate before an imminent strike.
Hamas has repeatedly urged Gazans to ignore the Israeli warnings and remain in their homes.
The IDF reiterated Sunday that Palestinians "who ignore the warning place themselves and their families in danger."
Meanwhile, an opinion piece published by Business Insider magazine titled "Israel may be raising the moral standards of warfare," lauded Israel's efforts.
The piece, by political writer Will Saletan, originally appeared in Slate magazine, and said: "First, it's important not to get consumed by whether you love or hate Israel. ... Second, we don't need to debate the conduct of Hamas. Hamas rejects the whole idea that it's wrong to target civilians. So behaving better than Hamas isn't a standard worth talking about.
"Let’s focus instead on what Israel is doing," he wrote, commenting on what has been described by foreign media reports as the IDF's controversial practice of targeting terrorists' home. "The 'terrorists work from home' rationale raises ugly problems for the rules of war. Israel's warning procedures, however, could become a model."
According to Saletan, "In the history of warfare, this kind of systematic warning -- direct, specific, double-layered -- is unprecedented."
Although the article questions the consistency of the IDF's warning system, it concluded that "in some ways, Israel is raising the standards of what can be expected in warfare. Our job is to clarify those standards and hold everybody to them, including Israel."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

(Fr - 13 Juil 2014 - Actu) El Al Autorise les Changements de Dates de Billets sans Faire Payer des Suppléments.

La compagnie El al est fidèle à elle-même et a réagit très rapidement aux nouvelles données sécuritaires. Les billets d’avion achetés (tickets valables jusqu’au 18 Juillet) peuvent être modifiés sans suppléments. Par ailleurs elle fait le maximum pour éviter des retards (les avions militaires israéliens sont prioritaires et occupent l’espace).

La compagnie aérienne El Al a inauguré le premier semestre 2014 les opérations de sa filiale low cost, nommée UP, avec une liaison entre Tel Aviv et Berlin immédiatement suivie par celles vers Budapest, Prague, Kiev et Larnaca.

La nouvelle compagnie spécialisée dans le vol pas cher propose cinq destinations au départ de l’aéroport de Tel-Aviv-Ben Gurion, à bord de Boeing 737-800 configurés pour accueillir 36 passagers en classe Premium et 144 en Economie. Toutes sont desservies jusqu’à onze fois par semaine, deux fois par jour du dimanche au jeudi et une fois le vendredi (rotation du matin), aucun vol n’étant proposé le samedi, à l’exception de Larnaca qui n’est desservie que jusqu’à six fois par semaine dont le samedi.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

(Fr - 12Juil 2014 - Actu) Israël reçoit ses deux premiers M-346 Lavi

Alenia Aermacchi a annoncé hier la livraison de deux premiers M-346 à la force aérienne israélienne (IAF). Ces avions sont désormais basés sur la base de  Hatzerim dans le sud du pays. Le M-346 devrait progressivement prendre la relève des TA-4 Skyhawk dans l'arsenal militaire israélien.

Baptisé "Lavi" (lion en hébreu), le M-346 a été commandé à 30 exemplaires par Israel en 2012

En compensation de ce contrat d'une valeur totale estimée à environ un milliard de dollars, l'Italie s'était engagée en 2012 à acquérir deux avions d'alerte avancée G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) auprès de l'industriel israélien IAI.

A ce jour, le M-346 a été commandé à 56 exemplaires par quatre pays : six par l'Italie, douze par Singapour, trente par Israël et huit par la Pologne.

(Fr - 12 Juil 2014 - Actu) Le drone Skylark en première ligne

Depuis plusieurs jours les opérations militaires s'intensifient autour de la bande de Gaza. Les images des télévisions du monde entier montrent les rangées de chars lourd Merkava ou les effets des frappes aériennes conduites par les chasseurs de l'armée de l'air israélienne. Mais des moyens bien plus discrets sont devenus décisifs dans ce type d'opérations. C'est le cas du drone UAV Skylark.

Ce petit drone de sept kilos peut être porté à dos d'homme. A l'approche de la zone d'opération, le système est déployé par ses opérateurs. Le lancement est effectué par une personne à l'aide d'un système d'élastique. Une fois en l'air, le Skylark est propulsé par un moteur à hélice. Une caméra transmet en direct des images vers les opérateurs restés en lieu sûr. Selon l'armée israélienne, en vol, le système est quasi indétectable. Son autonomie annoncée est de trois heures. Son plafond est de 15 000 pieds et sa portée de 20 à 40 km.Le Skylark permet de suivre des mouvements de troupes au sol ou de préparer des tirs d'artillerie. Dans le cadre des opérations actuellement conduites par Tsahal (Armée israélienne) les drones sont déployés au dessus de la zone de Gaza. Les données recueillies par les drones légers sont directement analysées et transmises au troupes en première ligne. Le système est utile notamment en zone urbaine car il permet d'observer en détail un bâtiment.

L'utilisation de ce type de drones est devenue une constante des opérations militaires contemporaines. Des drones légers comme le Tracker d'Airbus Defense & Space sont utilisés pour éclairer les troupes au sol. La mise en oeuvre du Skylark par l'armée israélienne est caractéristique des apports du drone pour l'infanterie.
Le Skylark est développé par l'industriel israélien Elbit. Il a été choisi par plusieurs armées. Selon certaines sources il aurait été sélectionné notamment par les forces spéciales françaises.

Friday, July 11, 2014

(En - 11 July 2014 - Analysis) Eight facts about Iron Dome

 In recent days, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. delivered the seventh Iron Dome batter to the IDF. Up until now, the army's procurement of the interceptor systems has been through a special allocation from the US government, due to its high price. Past estimates of the price of a single battery ranged from $50 million to $60 million. The batteries are connected to MRR radar systems developed and manufactured by Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI). Production work on the radar was carried out in Ashdod, which is frequently on the receiving end of missiles from the Gaza Strip. The radar identifies the rockets fired at Israel, calculates their flight path, and marks the rockets likely to fall in populated areas, where they can cause casualties and property damage. The intercepting missile's command and control system, developed by Imprest, enables the Tamir interceptor to hit and destroy the threatening rocket. 

The interceptor
A senior defense source recently estimated the cost of launching a missile at a threatening rocket from the Gaza Strip at $100,000. Other defense sources previously estimated the cost at "only" $50,000. This is still a significantly higher price than that of the rockets fired at Israel, whose cost ranges from hundreds to a few thousand dollars. A year ago, the foreign press reported Rafael was leading a technological improvement in the interceptor missile likely to significantly lower its price. The Tamir interceptor is made by Rafael. For obvious reasons, the defense establishment is not disclosing how many interceptors the air defense system has. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that the interceptor system has a sufficient number of Tamir missiles.

The economics of missile interception
Iron Dome's ability to distinguish the rockets likely to hit populated areas from those expected to fall in open spaces saves an enormous amount of money. If Elta's MMR radar system analyzes a rocket's flight path and rules out a hit on a built-up area, the Iron Dome system will not go into action, and will not fire an expensive interceptor missile at it. At the same time, as soon as the radar's high-speed calculations mark the rocket as a threat to a city, community, strategic facility, or a site marked as protected by the air defense system, Tamir missiles are fired at it in order to destroy it. Two missiles are frequently fired, in case a first missile misses the target missile. 

The range
During its development period, the Iron Dome system was designed to provide defense against rockets with a shorter range than those seen already in Operation Pillar of Defense, and which are clearly visible in the current operation, Operation Protective Edge. The system was initially designed to defend against Grad and Kassam rockets with ranges of up to 40 km that threatened Beersheva, Ofakim, Netivot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, and the surrounding communities. A series of upgrades, software and hardware revisions by Rafael and Elta engineers, made it possible to double the system's effective interception range, enabling it to also intercept the M-75 and M-302 rockets threatening the Dan and Sharon regions, and up to the outskirts of Haifa.  The success As of this morning, according to IDF figures, since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, 320 rockets had been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. 255 of them fell in open spaces, and about 70 were intercepted by Iron Dome. In the past 24 hours, IDF officers said that the system was operating with 90% success. Similar success ratios were achieved the interception system in previous rounds of fighting between Israel and the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, especially in Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. Senior defense establishment sources and defense experts say that the great success in intercepting rockets from Gaza is very frustrating for the terrorist organizations there, which are finding it difficult to cause damage to the Israeli home front. In addition, the system's success is moderating the IDF's operations in Gaza, because with a negligible number of casualties, there is little public pressure on the government to step up its attacks in Gaza.  The next generation The Iron Dome system is only one layer of the multi-layer defense system that Israel has devised in recent years as a solution to the expanding threat of rockets and ballistic missiles, which could be directed against it in much greater concentrations in future military conflicts, such as with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Rafael is currently building the first battery of the Magic Wand (David's Sling) defense system, designed to protect the home front against heavy missiles and rockets in the hands of Hezbollah and Syria. The system has already passed a number of dramatic trials during the past year. Another defense layer that will operate above Magic Wand is the Arrow missile system, which is designed to provide a solution to the threat of ballistic missiles. In the coming years, another system based on Arrow-3 missiles will operate above the Arrow missile. The Arrow-3 is able to intercept nuclear missiles in space. In recent years, Rafael has been striving to develop a new defense system that will provide a solution for mortar shells, which Iron Dome is incapable of intercepting, due to their short range. This system, called Iron Beam, is designed use a laser beam to blow up the shells in flight.

In the past, the defense establishment has allowed Rafael to exhibit the Iron Dome system to the world through international weapons exhibitions in an attempt to obtain deals for its sale to friendly countries seeking to improve their ability to protect their home front. The US, India, and South Korea have previously been marked as possible customers for procurement of the defense system. The defense establishment's working assumption is that if Iron Dome and its accompanying systems can be exported, the defense companies can maintain a regular production capacity, thereby significantly reducing its cost to the IDF. Lowering the price to the IDF will enable the IDF to greatly increase the number of its interception batteries, depending on its operational needs in the various theaters. A special subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee estimated in the past that in order to meet Israel's security needs, no less than 13 batteries are required. Defense sources recently said that, despite the enormous interest in the groundbreaking system throughout the world, there is still no signed deal for the sale of the system to a foreign customer. One of the sources explained that, other than South Korea, there were no other countries in the world where the home front was exposed to such a major rocket threat.

The prize
In 2012, the developers of the system at Rafael and the Ministry of Defense Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure were awarded the prestigious Israel Defense Prize. The prize was given to the development team for its technological breakthrough, which enhanced Israel's capabilities in the war against terrorism, after senior defense officials demonstratively sneered at the system in its initial development stages because they did not believe that a rocket could be exploded in flight. While the system was being developed, many efforts were made to sell Israel a laser-based interception system called Nautilus, and efforts were also made to promote the stationing of other US-made interception systems. None of these systems has yet managed to approach the effectiveness demonstrated by Iron Dome.

(En - 11 July 2014 - Analysis) Israeli Rocket Defense System Is Failing, Expert Analysts Say

Even though Israel’s U.S.-funded “Iron Dome” rocket-defense interceptors appear to be hitting Hamas rockets in recent days, they are almost certainly failing in the crucial job of detonating those rockets’ shrapnel-packed explosive warheads, expert analysts say.

As a result, rockets fired from Gaza are probably plunging to the ground with intact explosives. The fact that they aren’t causing injuries or deaths in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other cities is mainly a matter of luck, the analysts add.

On Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said missiles from the system had intercepted 56 rockets fired out of Gaza, preventing strikes in several cities. Yet Richard Lloyd, a weapons expert and consultant who is a past Engineering Fellow at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, says that because these interceptions had almost certainly not detonated the rockets’ warheads, the system is essentially failing.

The Iron Dome system—meant to hit rockets traveling tens of miles from launch to landing—is a smaller cousin to the Patriot system, which attempts to hit much longer-range, faster incoming missiles. Iron Dome fires interceptors six inches wide and 10 feet long and uses sensors and real-time guidance systems to try to zero in on the rockets.

When an Iron Dome interceptor gets close to an incoming rocket, a proximity fuse triggers the interceptor to detonate, spraying out metal rods that are intended to strike and detonate the warheads on the incoming rockets, neutralizing their ability to maim people and destroy things on the ground.
Ted Postol, the MIT physicist and missile-defense expert who aided Lloyd’s analysis and who in 1991 debunked claims by the U.S. Army that its Patriot missiles were successfully shooting down Iraqi Scud missiles during the first Gulf War, agrees that they were failing in this crucial warhead-detonation job.

Postol had been an admirer of Iron Dome after initial reports of its performance during previous rocket assaults in 2012.But later analyses of interceptor contrails showed that its guidance system was behaving erratically. Instead of smoothly rising to meet their targets, the interceptors were making sharp turns and engaging from the side or behind, he says.
Those problems appear to be continuing, he says. “We expected that after more than a year and a half of time, whatever problems there were in the system related to guidance and control would be mitigated, or somewhat mitigated,” he says. “As it turns out, this is not the case. As far as we can tell, it is behaving in the same erratic way as it did in November 2012.”

The Iron Dome interceptors need to hit an incoming rocket head-on to have much hope of detonating a warhead, Lloyd says. And initial visual analysis of the engagements in recent days shows that the interceptions that are occurring are from the side or behind, which provide “essentially a zero chance of destroying the warhead,” based on the basic physics of such engagements, he adds.

Hamas rockets in late 2012 were going as far as 75 kilometers (47 miles) but some are now able to go twice as far.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

(En - 10 July 2014 - News) Senior IAF officer: 'Our intelligence data is limited'

"If we knew where the [Hamas'] long-range rockets were -- we would have struck them," a senior Israeli Air Force officer told reporters on Wednesday.

"We don't know everything, not everything can be attacked. We work with what we know and what we can attack. We will not strike a hospital that has long-range rockets stored in it," the officer told Israel Hayom.

During Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 the air force destroyed the majority of the long-range rockets in the Gaza Strip as a result of good intelligence gathering. The aerial blitz on the rocket stockpile came shortly after the assassination of Hamas military wing head Ahmed Jabari. The long-range rockets numbered in the dozens at the time.

Analysis today points to hundreds of rockets with a range larger than 40 kilometers (25 miles) in the Gaza Strip. This week Hamas presented the M-302, which the defense establishment had not been sure Hamas had. Only a few months ago, the IDF sent naval commandos nearly a thousand miles off Israeli shores to intercept the Klos C arms ship, which had M-302s onboard.

According to the air force officer, the IAF does not always know or is not always able to attack those long-range rockets. "I did not imply that we are lacking intelligence data, only that even with the best intelligence gathering there are still limitations. ... The air force is attacking a very wide range of targets based on the intelligence we have. We are working alongside IDF Southern Command, the Intelligence Directorate and the Shin Bet security agency. Strikes are carried out based on our capabilities and the information we have," the official said.

This time, unlike the last two operations in the Gaza Strip, the IDF did not start the campaign with an opening salvo, such as a targeted killing or attack on Hamas' strategic capabilities (like long-range rockets). According to a senior defense official, the reason for that is that Operation Protective Edge was not a surprise operation. It is seen as a direct continuation of the hostilities after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens and subsequent operation in the West Bank against Hamas, which has now become desperate.

The air force official said that militants had fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli jets over the Gaza Strip. The attempts included the Russian Strela anti-aircraft missile. "The threat is taken into account. We deal with it during the flight. It is a matter of opportunity for them."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

(En - 08 July 2014 - News) IDF Commences Operation "Protective Edge"

Last night, the IAF hit terrorist targets in central Gaza Strip, as part of Operation "Protective Edge". This operation comes in response to a heavy barrage of dozens of rockets that were fired last night on communities in southern Israel, including Ashdod and Gan Yavne. Soldiers from the "Iron Dome" batteries intercepted more than 10 rockets in half an hour alone.

The operation started after several tense weeks in southern Israel: over the past few days, the IAF has hit dozens of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, in response to the firing of rockets on communities in southern Israel. All airbases in the force are alert and ready for an intensive campaign in the Gaza Strip if need be.

"In light of the escalation in the Gaza Strip and the firing of rockets on southern communities in Israel over the past few nights, there have been many attack sorties carried out by fighter squadrons on base", said Colonel Nir Barkan, Commander of Ramat David airbase. "We are on high alert for any mission for which we will be needed".

According to the Home Front Command instructions to the residents of southern Israel, upon hearing the alarm or an explosion, residents must make their way to a protected space and stay there for 10 minutes.