News Digest — 11/13/19

Another Salvo Fired At Southern Israel As Tensions With Gaza Rise

Gaza rocket fire on Israel resumed on Wednesday morning (13th) after a relatively calm night as Islamic Jihad terrorists fired dozens of projectiles at southern Israeli communities near the border. 

The military mounted three waves of strikes on the Gaza Strip, hitting dozens of Islamic Jihad targets in the coastal enclave.

The IDF Homefront Command said that the state of emergency declared in the area on Tuesday (12th) stands, but cleared central Israeli cities, most of which were also crippled by rocket fire on Tuesday (12th), to resume their activities.

The latest flare-up followed the targeted killing of top Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata, for which the Iranian-backed terrorist group vowed an “unprecedented response.”

The group’s spokesman, Abu Hamza, warned Tuesday (12th) that the “coming hours will add a new title of defeat for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

IDF Spokesperson Gen. Hidai Zilberman stressed that the relative calm overnight was not indicative of a ceasefire, saying it was more likely that Islamic Jihad had sought to ration its weapon stockpile as to stretch the rocket fire for several days.

“Palestinian Islamic Jihad resumed firing this morning and the group intends to fire rockets in a way similar to what we saw yesterday,” Zilberman told reporters Wednesday morning (13th).  “The Islamic Jihad is being meticulous and managing its stockpiles for several days of fighting and is keeping all their options on the table.”



PM Hails Iron Dome Operators, Warns Islamic Jihad

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended the teams operating the Iron Dome missile defense system Wednesday (13th), saying they had set a new standard by intercepting more than 90% of rockets launched from Gaza toward Israeli civilian population centers.

Speaking at a special cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said he believed Islamic Jihad was “beginning to get the message” that Israel would defend itself.

“They understand that we will continue to pound them mercilessly and that we are determined to defend ourselves,” the prime minister said adding the terror group would be mistaken to expect that their rocket attacks could weaken Israel’s resolve.

Netanyahu said the IDF was continuing to strike Islamic Jihad targets and accused the Gaza faction of responsibility for most of the terrorist attacks emanating from the Strip in the past year.

New Right leader Naftali Bennett, making his first statement as defense minister, said that Israel would not hesitate to strike at those who attack it.

“We are sending a clear message to our enemies on all fronts, that anyone intending to harm Israel will never be safe,” he said.

At least 18 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF strikes on Gaza, officials in the Hamas-run enclave said Wednesday (13th).



‘A Great Miracle’: Israeli Mother Describes Harrowing Escape From Direct Hit On House By Gaza Rocket

A mother from the southern Israeli city of Netivot is calling her family’s narrow escape from a direct hit on their house by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip a “miracle.”

Batsheva Hadad’s home suffered extensive damage from a rocket strike on Tuesday (12th) – a day on which more than 190 rockets were fired from Hamus-ruled Gaza into Israel after the IDF assassinated a top Islamic Jihad commander.

However, in the few seconds between the activation of the warning siren and the impact of the rocket, Batsheva succeeded in getting her family into a fortified room, saving all their lives.

“It is a great miracle – I have no words,” Batsheva told Israeli news media.

“Thanks to the Holy One, blessed be He,” she said.  “It wasn’t a given that we would get to the shelter in time – that we would close the door in time.  Although there was property damage, thank God no lives were lost.”

Batsheva’s daughter, Livna, also described the attack, saying, “There was a siren and then we ran to the shelter.  We heard a loud boom, and when we came out we saw the whole house destroyed.” 

“My mom really took it hard,” she noted.  “Inside the house the whole ceiling collapsed.”



Islamic Jihad Leader Admits: Tehran Is Calling The Shots

By its own admittance, the Gaza terrorist group that has fired over 200 rockets at Israel since early Monday morning (11th) is not calling the shots in the escalation of its fight with the Jewish state – Iran is.

“Only Tehran will decide if this round continues or stops,” a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader told Israel Hayom on Monday (11th).

This confirms what has been an open secret for a long time – that PIJ is a full-fledged Iranian proxy, acting on the behest of Israel’s arch-enemy right at its border.

The Islamic Republic’s motives for ordering PIJ to attack Israel may include the need to distract the world from its acceleration of uranium enrichment in contravention of the 2015 Iran deal, which was supposed to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.  It may also want to undermine Hamas’ grip on the Gaza Strip, especially since Hamas is currently uninterested in fighting Israel head-on (even though it too, receives funding from Tehran).

PIJ is considered the second most powerful group in the coastal enclave, even though it is far smaller than its rival.

Whatever Iran’s ultimate motive, an Egyptian intelligence official told Israeli media that Tehran is attempting to “ruin the lull” between Israel and Hamas.  A second PIJ leader indirectly confirmed this, saying that an offer Israel made to the group to “answer quiet with quiet” was rejected.

“We will hit the Zionist enemy until it begs for a ceasefire,” said the PIJ leader.  “The gates of hell have opened.”


US Ambassador to Israel And State Department: We Stand With Our Friend And Ally

US Ambassador David M. Friedman said the US stands “with our friend and ally Israel at this critical moment” on social media on Tuesday (12th) after roughly 190 rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Friedman further said Islamic Jihad, “an Islamist terrorist organization backed by Iran” is attacking Israel with “hundreds of missiles aimed at civilians.”

Advisor to US President Donald Trump Avi Berkowitz said on social media on Tuesday (12th) that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are the “main obstacles holding Gazans back” as they “put violence ahead of bettering the lives of the people of Gaza.”  He also said “the US fully supports our partner & ally Israel in its fight against terrorism.” 

U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told i24NEWS that the United States stands in solidarity with Israel and condemns the attacks by the Iran-sponsored Islamic Jihad. 

“My prayers are with everyone in Israel today,” Ortagus said, “I want to make it clear that we completely condemn these attacks.  We stand in solidarity with Israel and their citizens for the attacks against them today. It’s hard to believe that there are children in Israeli schools today who are learning about bomb shelters, who are worried about what is going to happen to them.”

“The U.S. State Department wants all Israelis to know that we stand with you in solidarity – we condemn these attacks and we condemn, of course, the Iranian regime which is ultimately the funder and facilitator of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”  



Amb. Danon: ‘UN Silence Is Prize For Gaza Terrorism’

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon is demanding that the United Nations Security Council condemn Tuesday’s (12th) rocket strike from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

“These rocket attacks from terrorist organizations threaten the lives of nine million civilians.  Instead of calling on all parties to exercise restraint, we expect the UNSC to clearly and unequivocally condemn the terrorists responsible.  It is time for the international community to realize that its silence is a prize for terrorism,” said Danon.

“Israel is not interested in escalation but will counter its campaign against terrorism with determination and strength,” the ambassador added.

Massive rocket barrages were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip since Tuesday morning (12th), with Israelis running for cover in southern and central parts of the country, with air raid sirens sounding in the Tel Aviv area and localities closer to Gaza.

As of 4:pm Tuesday, approximately 190 rockets had fallen on Israel.  The IDF estimates that the violence will continue for several more days.