News Digest — 3/27/19

Israel Opens Schools In Gaza Border Towns As Tense Quiet Returns After Night Of Clashes

A sense of tense-quiet appeared to be holding Wednesday (27th) between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, despite limited exchanges of fire.  A number of overnight rocket attacks from Gaza set off air-raid sirens, breaking a daylong lull. The Israeli military struck back against additional Hamas targets, but there were no reports of casualties on either side.

Schools in communities and cities close to the Gaza border – often the first target of Palestinian rocket and mortar fire – opened as usual on Wednesday morning (27th) after consultations with the IDF Home Front Command.  In the Eshkol Regional Council – where soldiers were stationed at school entrances – some 30 percent of the students didn’t show up for classes as parents opted to keep their children at home.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and dozens of skirmishes since the Islamic terrorist group seized control of Gaza in 2007, expelling Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas’ rival Fatah movement.  The latest round was triggered by a Gaza rocket fired before dawn on Monday (25th) that slammed into a house in central Israel and wounded seven people.

Meanwhile, dozens of residents from Israel’s Gaza border communities took to the streets late Tuesday (26th) in protest over the deteriorating situation on the southern border.



Rocket Launched At Israel As Tensions Flare Up Again

A rocket siren was triggered in the Eshkol region near the Gaza border early Tuesday evening (26th), as tensions flared up again after a day of relative quiet.

The IDF confirmed that a rocket landed in an open area in the Eshkol region.  No injuries or damages were reported.

Israel has not agreed to a cease fire, and the fighting could re-erupt at any time, a senior government official said Tuesday evening.

“There is no agreement on a cease fire,” he said.  The fighting is liable to be renewed at any moment, and it was decided to reinforce troops and prepare for a continuation.”

Despite a day of quiet in Israel’s south, the IDF decided to deploy more reinforcements to the border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Following the situation assessment led by Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff, Lt-Gen. Aviv Kochavi ordered a reinforcement of troops by an additional infantry brigade headquarters and an artillery battalion to the south.  He also approved completion of summoning additional reserve soldiers.

Numerous explosions were reported on Tuesday afternoon (26th) along the Gaza border, as disruptions by Palestinians took place at multiple points, while the IDF monitored them, according to a spokesperson from the Eshkol Regional Council.



Report: Hamas Won’t Halt Weekend Protests At Gaza Fence Despite Ongoing Fighting

Hamas has refused to halt Friday protests or nighttime disturbances along the Gaza border fence despite the current round of fighting with Israel, the London-based, Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Wednesday (27th).

Israel’s Air Force has been bombing Hamas targets in Gaza since Monday evening (25th), hours after a rocket  fired by Hamas in Gaza directly hit a home north of Tel Aviv wounding seven people.

Palestinians in Gaza have been protesting at the Israel border every Friday since last March, and this weekend will mark their first anniversary of the demonstrations, dubbed the March of Return protests.

According to the Supreme Commission for the March of Return, the anniversary demonstrations will take place Saturday (30th), and not on Friday (29th) as is customary.  Palestinians will also mark Land Day on Saturday.

The Supreme Commission has called for a general strike in Gaza, the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, and urged Israeli Arabs to participate.



Israel Thanks America For Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty Over The Golan Heights – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday (25th):

→For two decades, from 1948-1967, Syria rained deadly fire from the Golan Heights on Israel’s citizens below.  A generation of Israeli children lived in constant danger.

→Then, in two glorious days in June 1967, the brave soldiers of Israel scaled those daunting heights and liberated the Golan.  One of those brave soldiers was my brother, who was wounded in battle three hours before the end of the war.

→In 1973, Syria launched a surprise attack against Israel, and those same Golan Heights proved to enable us to absorb the initial, horrific attack and successfully counterattack the invading Syrian forces.

→While Israel won those two wars, we would have to wait nearly half a century, until this moment here in this room, to translate our military victory into a diplomatic victory.  Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of self-defense.

→Your proclamation comes at a time when the Golan is more important than ever for our security, when Iran is trying to establish bases in Syria to strike at Israel.  We hold the high ground and we shall never give it up.



Iran’s Rouhani, Hezbollah’s Nasrallah Urge Regional Unity After US Move On Golan Heights

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that regional countries must unite to fight against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel, in a phone call with Iraq’s prime minister on Tuesday (26th).

“The excessive demands of the Zionist regime and the wrong decisions of Washington necessitate closer cooperation among regional countries,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster IRIB in a phone call with Iraq’s Adel Abdul Mahdi.  Rouhani said developments in the Golan Heights were “very dangerous for regional security.”

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, and a key Damascus ally, said the move was evidence of US “distain and disregard’ for the Arab and Muslim world and of international law.

“This absolute ‘supporter of Israel’ cannot be a sponsor of the peace process and here he is today dealing a deadly blow to the so-called peace process,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

Nasrallah said Trump had been emboldened by Arab “silence” after US recognition last year of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and warned that the West Bank, also captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War, could be next.

“We must expect that it is a matter of time before Trump says that he recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, in accordance with the will of the Zionists of course; they claim that it is their eternal homeland,” said Nasrallah.

The militia leader then reiterated that in order to reclaim land and their dignity from Israel, the Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian people must continue to “resist, resist, resist.”