Israel Update: 31 May 2018
SOUTHERN ISRAEL UNDER ATTACK TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY
Four barrages of mortars, consisting of at least 30 projectiles in total, were fired from the Gaza Strip at towns in southern Israel on Tuesday morning, making it the largest attack on Israeli border communities since the 2014 conflict. One mortar landed in the grounds of a kindergarten. On Monday evening, several homes and cars in the southern Israeli city of Sderot were struck by machine gunfire hours after one Gazan was killed by an IDF tank shell after an exchange of fire with IDF troops in the northern Gaza Strip. The gunfight ensued after two Gazans armed with knives, wire cutters and incendiary material were caught trying to breach the security fence.According to the IDF, troops were targeted with gunfire during the arrest, leading to the IDF responding with tank fire against a nearby observation post.The incident came after the IDF confirmed Sunday that a drone armed with explosiveslaunched from Gaza landed in Israeli territory last week.
The Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad took joint responsibility for Tuesday’s barrage of rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip.Projectiles were fired from Gaza into southern Israel Tuesday afternoon in a fresh salvo of cross-border fire amid the most intense fighting seen in the region in years.
70 rockets or mortars were fired at Israel on Tuesday with Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile system intercepting dozens of incoming projectiles,.
Israel says Iran is behind the most serious escalation on its southern front in four years. Less than a month after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps fired 32 rockets toward Israel’s northern Golan Heights, the Iranian-funded Islamic Jihad along with Hamas fired some 180 Iranian-made 120-mm.mortar shells and 107-mm. rockets toward communities in southern Israel. It was the largest salvo fired from the Gaza Strip since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. In response, Israel carried out the most extensive retaliation since 2014, striking 65 Hamas targets across the entire Gaza Strip, including a dual-purpose tunnel dug one kilometer into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and then 900 meters into Israeli territory. The tunnel was intended to be used to carry out attacks against Israel and also to smuggle weaponry into Gaza.
One of the rockets fired by terrorist groups from Gaza at southern Israel Tuesday struck equipment that provides electricity to the southern Gaza Strip, knocking out power to tens of thousands, a spokesperson for Israel’s Electric Company said. Israel’s Energy Minister ordered the company to hold off repair work until the situation in the restive border region returned to calm, in order to “not endanger its workers.”
The IDF on Thursday released satellite images and details of the more than 65 targets it struck in Gaza in response to massive mortar and rocket attacks by terror groups from the coastal enclave on Tuesday and Wednesday. The satellite images show a “Hamas drone storage facility, Hamas weapons manufacturing site and a Hamas naval force base.”
The UN Security Council was blocked by Kuwait from condemning the attacks on Israel.
Statement by U.S. UN Amb. Nicky Haley:
EXTRACT: “ “It is outrageous for the Security Council to fail to condemn Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, while the Human Rights Council approves sending a team to investigate Israeli actions taken in self-defense. “I urge the members of the Security Council to exercise at least as much scrutiny of the actions of the Hamas terrorist group as it does to Israel’s legitimate right of self-defense. To allow Hamas to continue to get away with its terrorist acts, and to somehow expect Israel to sit on its hands when it is attacked, is the height of hypocrisy. To continue to condemn Israel without even acknowledging what is actually coming from the leaders of Gaza makes me question who actually cares about the welfare of the Palestinian people.” https://usun.state.gov/remarks/8454
See video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2czppAnx5g
THE HUMAN DIMENSION
Thousands of Israelis spent the night in bomb shelters as terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired some 40 rockets and mortar shells at communities near the coastal enclave early Wednesday, with several of the projectiles being intercepted by Iron Dome.https://www.timesofisrael.com/dozens-of-rockets-and-mortars-fired-into-israel-overnight-several-intercepted/
An Israeli family near the Gaza border awoke on Wednesday morning to discover their porch had suffered a direct hit from a rocket fired from the coastal enclave. Naomi and Roni Fletcher had spent the night in the fortified room of their home in the Eshkol region. When they stepped into their garden in the morning, they found a crater from a rocket that caused significant damage to a shed adjacent to the house…Also overnight, fragments of a rocket that had apparently been intercepted by the Iron Dome landed in a sports facility in Netivot, some 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the Gaza border. This was the first time a rocket from Gaza had gone that far since 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.
The shards of the projectile caused light damage to a number of structures. Several people, who were close by at the time, were said to have suffered a panic attack…Over the course of 22 hours, from 7 a.m. Tuesday to 5:17 a.m. Wednesday, sirens were triggered at least 166 times in southern Israel, according to the IDF Home Front Command, by mortar fire, rockets or, in some cases, heavy machine gun fire.
Three Israeli soldiers and a civilian were wounded by shrapnel Tuesday . Two people were injured while running to shelters and at least ten suffered panic attacks. https://www.timesofisrael.com/three-soldiers-wounded-by-shrapnel-as-south-buffeted-by-gazan-fusillade/
A palpable sigh of relief could be heard among Gaza’s citizenry Wednesday morning, after Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad officially announced understandings were reached with Israel to instate a ceasefire. https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5274818,00.html
INCENDIARY KITES (continued)
Since April 13, the “aerial terror offensive” against the Gaza border communities has continued, with some 300 incendiary kites flown into Israel’s territory resulting in 100 fires and more than 3,000 acres of wheat destroyed, causing millions of shekels worth of damage to the farmers of the area. The Gaza border communities’ farmers are dealing on a daily basis with putting out fires instead of taking care of their harvest.
Drone footage released Monday showed how hundreds of acres of the Be’eri Crater Nature Reserve, one of the most scenic areas of southern Israel, have been reduced to burned, blackened wasteland by firebomb-laden kites flown across the border by Gazans .https://www.timesofisrael.com/drone-footage-shows-nature-reserve-devastated-by-gaza-flaming-kites/
Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky who died Saturday, two days after he was critically injured during an arrest raid, was laid to rest early Sunday morning in Jerusalem. He was fatally wounded when a marble slab was dropped on his head during an IDF operation to arrest suspected terrorists in the West Bank.
RECENT GAZA BORDER RIOTS
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry has said it has removed Leila al-Ghandour, an eight-month-old baby, from a list of people killed in clashes at the border with Israel while authorities investigate the cause of death. A doctor cited by the Associated Presssaid the infant had a pre-existing medical condition and that he did not believe teargas caused her death.
In a statement entitled “Gaza – Telling things as they really are,” Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky last Thursday said Hamas alone was to blame for the recent flare-up of violence on the Gaza border. He also posited that deadly riots on May 14 had nothing to do with the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on that day. Stropnicky said protest organizers engaged in a number of “provocative actions that no state in the world could accept, including those that so vehemently protest against Israel’sresponse.”https://www.timesofisrael.com/czech-fm-hamas-alone-responsible-for-deadly-gaza-violence/
An explosive device was thrown on Friday at Israeli troops along the Gaza border in the Strip’s north, as Gazans took part in weekly clashes near the security fence.
Michael Oren, Israeli deputy minister for public diplomacy and a former ambassador to the U.S., spoke in an interview of events on the Israel-Gaza border. “There were dozens of attempts to cross the border. And the people who were shot were presenting an imminent danger to our border and every shot taken had to have three clearance orders….We used lethal fire because there was no choice. And, last point: If they had broken through the border, many, many more people would have been killed including a great many more Palestinians….No soldier fires at will. That order did not exist on the Gaza border.”
Oil giant BP said on Tuesday its venture capital fund invested $20 million in Israeli firm StoreDot, which developed a battery system that could potentially charge an electric car in the amount of time it takes to fill a gas tank.
An Israeli company has built a drone to airlift wounded soldiers. Tactical Robotics demonstrated the Cormorant at Megiddo airport simulating the collection of a casualty. The company said that the drone could take patients to a civilian hospital.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University say they may have found the basis of what could become a treatment for the devastating neurodegenerative Lou Gehrig disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which causes muscles to atrophy and produces permanent disability in patient. The study highlights, for the first time, the importance of toxic muscle-secreting molecules in the pathology of ALS.
COMMENT & OPINION
Alan Dershowitz: As evidence mounts that Hamas intended to murder Israeli children, women and men after breaching the border fence to Israel, Hamas apologists must ask themselves why they are on the wrong side of morality. It was a lynch mob. The goal of the lynchers, according to Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas political leader, was to “take down the border” and “tear their hearts from their bodies.” According to the Wall Street Journal,“Hamas posted maps for their operatives showing the quickest routes from the border to Israeli homes, schools and day care centres.” Thankfully, the Israeli military, who are the good guys in this encounter, were there to protect innocent civilians from being lynched. Only Hamas can stop the bloodshed. But it won’t as long as the media gives it public relations victories every time Israel kills in self-defence. The media incentivizes this Hamas tactic by its gruesome focus on the body count.
They (Israeli military officers) voiced frustration at what they considered knee-jerk criticism of their use of live fire by people who did not understand the situation on the ground. Major J. described one incident when shots began to ring out as the Palestinian crowd surged in front of the fence. “They started shooting on our positions,” he said. Militants opened fire with handguns and Kalashnikov rifles from a Hamas outpost and a rubbish dump directly facing the Israelis, as well as from the middle of the crowd. The gun battle lasted for 25 minutes. One Druze infantry battalion commander said the men under his command had 20 explosives – grenades, Molotov cocktails, improvised bombs – thrown at them each week of the protests.
Liat Collins: The Yarmouk “Palestinian refugee camp” in southern Damascus was pounded by Syrian forces to no international outcry. As Khaled Abu Toameh put it in an article for the Gatestone Institute titled “220 Airstrikes on Palestinians; World yawns,” “The international community seems to differentiate between a Palestinian shot by an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian shot by a Syrian soldier…. Dropping barrels of dynamite on houses and hospitals in a Palestinian refugee camp is apparently of no interest to those who pretend to champion Palestinians around the world. Nor does the issue seem to move the UN Security Council.”
Brendan O’Neill: What we are witnessing is the development of an almost symbiotic relationship between Westerners’ need for stories of Israeli evil and Hamas’s “keen” desire to tell and possibly even assist in the creation of such stories. Hating Israel has become a kind of negative moral framework through which many in the West now advertise their virtue. Westerners’ obsession with this conflict, and with an infantile reading of it as evil vs. innocence, has helped to warp the conflict itself.http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-ugly-trade-in-palestinian-pain/21414?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Brexit%20tragedy&utm_content=The%20Brexit%20tragedy+CID_74fe1606c01f4484d23feb#.Ww1te9WFNz8
Dore Gold: What is common to all the critics of Israel in the wars involving Gaza is a kind of rush to judgment by which people automatically assume that Israel is to blame for whatever has occurred. It’s this rush to judgment that encourages Hamas to keep its war going against the State of Israel.
Matthew R J Brodsky: During the recent events in Gaza, the prevailing narrative was that strong-armed Israelis were shooting and killing unarmed peaceful Palestinian protesters, when in fact there were a series of violent riots planned by Hamas as cover while they attempted to breach the security fence, pour into Israel, and kidnap or kill Israelis…After 70 years of a failed strategy to secure their statehood in place of Israel, Palestinian leadership would still rather use its population as cannon fodder for a media stunt and its reconstruction aid for building terror tunnels than devote resources to building the institutions necessary to run a state and provide for its people.
Israeli-Arab Dima Taya defended her country Israel on Musawa TV, a TV station headquartered in Amman , Jordan. She lauded the equal opportunities available to Israeli citizens, both Arab & Jew and stated that most of the residents of Gaza & the West Bank would prefer to live in a similar democracy.