NOTE: I was in Tel Aviv last Thursday evening when the warning sirens went off. We took shelter in a stairwell along with others, including young children, waiting there some minutes until after the sirens ended, as 90 seconds wasn’t long enough time to reach a bomb shelter. It was an unnerving experience. HRG
The launch of two rockets last Thursday evening towards Tel Aviv triggered rocket alarms in the city for the first time since 2014 and caught residents by surprise. Many Tel Aviv residents and those of the surrounding metropolis of Gush Dan rushed to bomb shelters and reported hearing explosions. The rockets both hit open areas and did not cause casualties. Five people were treated for shock.
In response to the rocket attack on Tel Aviv, IDF aircraft struck over 100 targets across Gaza. The targets included the headquarters responsible for the planning and execution of terror attacks in the West Bank, an underground complex that served as Hamas’ main rocket-manufacturing site, and a military training site that served the group’s drone programme. During the airstrikes, nine rockets were launched at Israeli communities bordering Gaza, with six intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system, while another fell short inside Gaza. Shrapnel was discovered outside a school in Sderot.
Subsequently it was claimed that the rockets targeting Tel Aviv were fired by “accident” when low-level Hamas operatives “messed with” a Gaza beach rocket launcher. Reportedly, news of rocket sirens blaring in Tel Aviv broke as Hamas leaders were meeting with an Egyptian delegation trying to mediate eased Israeli economic restrictions on Gaza. “You’re meeting with us at the same time as you’re firing on Tel Aviv?” the Egyptians reportedly asked in fury.
The weekly Hamas orchestrated protests along the Gaza-Israel border were called off Friday after the serious overnight escalation, the first time they have not been held in almost a year.
A Palestinian terrorist stabbed and murdered an IDF soldier, Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, and seized his gun near Ariel on Sunday. The attacker then opened fire at passing cars, critically injuring Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47 (who died on Monday), The terrorist also shot another soldier, Alexander Dvorsky, who is in critical condition.
Gal Keidan was a talented mandolin player whose performances may be found on YouTube. Rabbi Ettinger was father to twelve children.
The terrorist was killed on Tuesday when he opened fire on IDf troops. Read more here
Two Palestinians who attacked IDF soldiers guarding Joseph’s Tomb, Nablus by hurling explosive devices at them, were shot.
Hamas security forces in Gaza violently suppressed demonstrations by hundreds on Thursday and Friday, protesting the deteriorating economic situation under its rule. An independent Palestinian source estimates that 500 people were held in detention on Saturday evening. Demonstrations were dispersed with live fire into the air, clubs, metal rods and pepper spray, Palestinian human rights organizations said. Journalists, some of whom were beaten and detained, were forbidden from documenting the demonstrations and had their phones confiscated.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said Sunday: “I strongly condemn the campaign of arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against protesters, including women and children, in Gaza over the past three days. I am particularly alarmed by the brutal beating of journalists and staff from the ICHR and the raiding of homes.”
Activists declared a general strike in Gaza on Wednesday and Thursday, and called for civil disobedience against Hamas.
(in addition to the rocket attacks detailed above)
A Gazan was arrested Thursday after infiltrating into Israel from Gaza with an improvised explosive device. Earlier, another Gazan crossed the border fence armed with a knife, before being apprehended.
A Styrofoam model airplane with an attached hand grenade was found on Highway 234 in Israel near Gaza on Sunday.
More than 20 incendiary balloons and kites launched from Gaza landed in Israel on Monday morning. Two large clusters of balloons carrying explosive devices also landed in Israel
Gazans resumed night time protests along the border on Monday. Pictures and videos show them in several locations setting off explosions, lighting tyres on fire, and pointing lasers at Israeli security forces. The noisy explosions cause significant distress for Israelis living close to the border.
Israel issued a formal complaint to the UN Security Council last week over Hizbullah’s operations along Israel’s border with Syria, stating that Israel “will not ignore the conversion of Syria and Lebanon to a military front against us.
Security forces detained a Palestinian teenage girl who tried to sneak a knife into the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Sunday.
Miri, a three-legged donkey, Gary, a sheep with leg braces, and Omer, a blind goat, munch on some hay at Israel’s only animal rescue and educational sanctuary at Moshav Olesh in central Israel. Founded by animal rights activists, Freedom Farm serves as a refuge for mostly disabled animals and as an educational centre for visitors.
An ailing parrot in the Gaza Strip received treatment Tuesday from an Israeli animal rights group after its Palestinian owner appealed for help via Facebook.
The (Israeli) Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) will be working with Prof. Mohammed Dajani Daoudi of the Wasatia Academic Institute (WAI). Prof Daoudi founded the Wasatia movement in January 2007 to promote religious and political moderation among Palestinians, co-existence with Israelis, and education on the Holocaust and other topics considered taboo in Palestinian society. In 2014 he led a student delegation from Palestinian Al-Quds University to visit Auschwitz, after which he was expelled from his post and his car was torched. Daoudi identified five “problematic categories” within current Palestinian textbooks: “[Encouragement] to violence; subliminal violent messaging; demonization of the Other; indoctrination to militancy; and degradation of women.” ”
Israeli and Palestinian firefighters participated in a joint firefighting and rescue exercise on Tuesday in Jenin.
The U.S. envoy to Germany leading protests about the UNHCR’s targeting of Israel said: “This is not just a form of bigotry. It is a sign of intellectual and moral decay,”
In testimony delivered on Monday at the UN, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Corn (ret.) and British commander Col. Richard Kemp refuted a UNHCR report that accuses Israeli soldiers of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” on the Gaza border. Corn said, “By omitting from the UNHRC inquiry reports of the use of human shields by Hamas, the report incentivizes these terror tactics in the future, and the risk posed to the civilian population of Gaza is exacerbated. Kemp said that his personal testimony to the Commission of Inquiry was completely ignored in the production of the report. Later, hundreds gathered for an historic “Rally for Equal Rights” to protest UNHRC’s unprecedented assault on Israel which they targeted the Jewish state in seven biased reports.
Israeli FoodTech startup Inspecto Ltd. has introduced a new device that detects chemical contamination in food in real-time. The portable scanner can detect contaminants at concentration levels as required by regulators, bringing lab testing to farmers, food manufacturers, and retailers without time-consuming, high-cost lab testing.
Prospera, an Israeli AgTech company, plans to turn 60,000 irrigation pivots in open fields into artificial intelligence (AI) autonomous growing machines that can operate 24/7. The first one million acres in farms in Nebraska and Washington State will be converted by 2020.The machines will use data from the field and the grower to deliver the exact amount of water, fertilizer, and pesticides to the crops precisely when they need it, to enable farmers to use fewer inputs to produce more yield.
There are about 400 soldiers with autism and other disabilities currently serving in the Israeli army. Their service is organized by the IDF’s Special in Uniform programme. Israel is the only country in the world in which autistic and disabled soldiers are allowed to serve in the army.
Commentator Tom Gross notes (inter alia):
The BBC News website…waited 15 hours to report on Thursday evening’s rocket attacks from Gaza on Tel Aviv, only reporting after Israel hit back (at carefully selected targets to avoid killing anyone).
The Guardian online described the missiles and rockets fired from Gaza to try and kill civilians in Tel Aviv on Thursday as “projectiles”. A projectile is the term the British media usually use to describe toilet rolls and coins thrown by football fans at the pitch. The Fajr-5 fired at Tel Aviv are long range rockets with technology supplied by Iran.
The ongoing protests in Gaza by thousands of unarmed Palestinians against Hamas’ brutal rule …are being all but ignored by the very same …human rights groups and politicians …who profess to care about Palestinian lives and rights. Israeli and independent Palestinian media report that the Hamas terror group continues to beat and shoot at Palestinian protesters…The pro-Palestinian activists who dominate the European and American Left and take to the streets to protest Israel and “Free Palestine” at every opportunity are suddenly silent at this Hamas violence against innocent civilians in Gaza. Read more here
Khaled Abnu Toameh: The (Gaza) protests have seriously embarrassed Hamas, making it look like the main party responsible for the deteriorating economic situation…The photos and videos of Hamas policemen using force against Palestinian protesters have served as a reminder that Palestinians in Gaza are ruled by a repressive regime.
Alex Fishman: Anyone who tells savvy Gaza sources that the rocket fire (on Tel Aviv) was down to a “mishap” will be met with laughter. As far as they are concerned, it was no such thing. Everything is directed by Hamas to create a distraction from the internal protests in the Strip. The goal was to divert attention to the confrontation with Israel.
Amos Harel: the IDF (has) revealed a new deployment of Hizbullah on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border. Only last summer, Russia promised that it would remove Iranian forces and Shi’ite militias to a distance of 80 km. (50 miles) from the border. Putin, a so-called friend, is not delivering.