Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich the head of the foreign press branch of the IDF held a phone call briefing for bloggers today at approximately 3PM EST. The below is a transcript of the call (as best as possible):
"The foremost goal of this operation is to protect Israeli civilians, who have been living under fire for past 11 years. Only this year, the citizens of southern Israel have suffered over 760 rocket attacks. The second goal is to cripple the terrorists' capabilities. As you heard, our first target was a vehicle in central part of Gaza. Inside the vehicle was Ahmed Jabari, born in 1960, the head of the Hamas military wing who was involved in numerous terror attacks on Israelis, as well as Gilad Shalit's kidnapping. This is a man who has a lot of Israeli blood on his hands.
The second phase of the operation was an aerial attack which targeted 20 different targets, all underground, which served as launching pads for various kinds of rockets. Among these rockets were Fajr-5 rockets, Iranian-made weapons which can reach a lot further than the ordinary Grad missile. This was the second phase.
IDF General Staff is currently assessing the progress of the operation and according to its findings, will decide how to continue. All options are on the table, including a ground operation.
I can confirm Iron Dome batteries were operating in the past hours and have successfully intercepted 17 rockets over major Israeli cities."
Q: One report says special forces are already inside Gaza. Another says that armored battalions are already situated around Gaza, ready to go on.
A: I can't go into details regarding the actual location of forces, but I will say that all options are on the table, including ground maneuvers.
Q: The rockets originating from Egypt – who fired them?
A: I don't have any information about that.
Q: Is it possible the IDF will go into Sinai?
A: Currently we're focusing our efforts on the Gaza Strip and have no intentions of going into Egypt. The goal is Gaza.
Q: What about the Israeli Navy?
A: The focus of the operation is crippling the terror organizations while defending Israeli civilians. It's not natural for an Israeli – for anyone – to live in a shelter for such a long time. We're talking since 2001. Many of these Israelis have 15 seconds to run to shelter every time an alarm sounds. This situation obviously cannot continue. This is why we've launched this operation. We've reached the point where enough is enough.
Q: How will this affect Israeli-Egyptian ties?
A: That's a question for Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Q: Is the goal to disable the other side?
A: The goal is to cripple their abilities. Thank you, everyone
The IDF also offered a warning to the terrorists (via Twitter)
Also today Lt. Col. Leibovich was interviewed on Al Jazeera the terrorist propaganda network, she did a great job in deflecting their propaganda:
(if you cannot see video below click here)
UPDATE: The White House Issued this statement:
Today, the President spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Morsi about the rocket attacks being launched from Gaza into Israel, and the escalating violence in Gaza.
The President reiterated to Prime Minister Netanyahu the United States’ support for Israel’s right to self-defense in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians. The President urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. The two agreed that Hamas needs to stop its attacks on Israel to allow the situation to de-escalate. The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch in the coming days. Earlier today, Vice President Biden received a briefing from Prime Minister Netanyahu on the events in Gaza.
The President also spoke with President Morsi given Egypt’s central role in preserving regional security. In their conversation, President Obama condemned the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and reiterated Israel’s right to self-defense. The two leaders agreed on the importance of working to de-escalate the situation as quickly as possible and agreed to stay in close touch in the days ahead.