Some 2,800 rockets have been fired towards Israel since tensions with the Hamas-occupied Gaza heated up on Monday, alleges a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Lt.-Col. Jonathan Conricus told the international media live from Tel Aviv Saturday that 300 of those rockets were fired into central Israel on the Jewish Sabbath — one of which killed a 58-year-old.
That brings the Israeli death toll to 10, he said.
Al Jazeera reported Saturday that the death toll in Gaza has reached 145.
But Conricus claims much of the damage and casualties to innocent citizens has been caused by the 430 Hamas rockets that “fell short” and landed inside the Gaza strip.
“Hamas is blaming those deaths on Israel … Hamas uses families as human shields,” he alleged.
One of Israel’s counterstrikes leveled an office tower containing the offices of Associated Press, Al Jazeera and other media outlets — an act that drew consternation from many, including actor Mark Ruffalo, and caused AP to claim the world would “know less” about what is happening in Gaza because of the bombing.
Conricus claims it was not a media centre but a tower used by Hamas to collect and analyze military intelligence and to hamper the abilities of IDF along the southern borders.
He added that the media were warned in plenty of time to evacuate — something they do to “minimize civilian casualties.”
He said Israel is committed to protecting its citizens and the “Iron Dome is saving the day.”
He added that the IDF has managed to degrade a lot of the Hamas infrastructure both above ground and in the tunnels, as well as take out much of the Hamas military leadership who were hiding in the bunker system.
Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said some four million Israelis are within range of the rockets and the larger warheads carry 30-40 kilos of explosives.
Meanwhile, an anti-Israel protest — hosted by the Palestinian Youth Movement — was scheduled to occur at Nathan Phillips Square Saturday evening even though the city is in lockdown.
City of Toronto spokesman Brad Ross said “no permits” are being issued for any type of event at Nathan Phillips Square right now.
Toronto police spokesman Alison Sparkes said they’ve “been discouraging” the public for weeks to respect the provincial orders and not to attend large gatherings across the city.
“I can’t speak specifically to any one upcoming event,” she said Saturday afternoon, “but if large crowds are involved, the police may attend to keep the peace and ensure the safety of the broader area and community.”