News Digest — 5/11/21

More Than 70 Israelis Injured After Rockets Strike Homes In Ashkelon

More than 70 people were injured on Tuesday morning (11th) after rockets fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into two homes in Ashkelon.  Four of the injured were members of the same family.

The four were evacuated to Barzilai Hospital.  Authorities said that the father, 40, was in moderate-to-serious condition and suffering from head injuries.  The mother, 39, was in moderate condition and the children suffered from light injuries.

Of those injured, five were children, 21 were in light condition, eight were suffering from anxiety, one was moderately injured and one was seriously injured.

Under orders from the IDF HomeFront Command and local councils – within 24 miles of the Gaza Strip – schools were closed on Tuesday (11th) and public gatherings were banned.

In the center of the country, restrictions were also placed on large gatherings due to concerns that Hamas and other terrorist groups would fire rocket barrages on Tuesday (11th) in the direction of Tel Aviv.  Due to the fears, the Tel Aviv Municipality opened bomb shelters late Monday night (10th).  The cities of Givatayim, Ramat Gan and Bnei Brak made similar arrangements.  Another announcement added that schools will operate according to HomeFront Command regulations.



IDF Hits 130 Targets In Gaza, Eliminates 15 Terrorists

Israeli forces struck at least 130 targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip overnight in response to a series of rocket attacks on the Jewish State, an IDF Spokesperson said Tuesday morning (11th).

More than 130 terrorist targets were hit by Israeli airstrikes late Monday night (10th) and early Tuesday morning (11th), after terrorists operating out of the Gaza Strip launched over 200 rockets into Israeli territory.

During the first and second wave of airstrikes, collectively dubbed “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” Israeli Air Force fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, and army drones struck weapons manufacturing facilities operated by Hamas.

In the third wave of airstrikes, IDF forces hit a series of Hamas and Islamic Jihad positions in Gaza, including additional weapons manufacturing facilities, military training camps, and the home of a senior Hamas military commander.

In addition, Israeli forces hit a Hamas military intelligence center in the Gaza Strip, along with two terror tunnels running close to the Israeli border.

IDF tank fire targeted terrorist positions across the Strip.

A total of 15 terrorists were confirmed as being eliminated in the strikes.  The Gaza Health Authority claimed that a total of 24 people were killed in the airstrikes, with over 100 wounded.

The Israeli military announced Tuesday (11th) that “Operation Guardian of the Walls” would continue throughout the day.

“Our attacks are just beginning,” said IDF spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman.  “We have an intense day ahead of us, which will be a clear continuation of what we did last night.”

“We will attack anyone who points their weapons at us or threatens us with terrorism,”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently holding consultations with top security officials, including the IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the Shin Bet chief, the National Security Adviser, and other top brass.



Netanyahu: Gaza Terrorists Crossed Red Line With Jerusalem Rockets

Any one who attacks Israel will pay a heavy price, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Monday evening (10th) shortly after Palestinian terrorists launched dozens of rockets from Gaza into Israel.

Netanyahu warned that Israel will “respond with great force,” and that the current confrontation “could continue for some time.”

Israel “will not tolerate attacks on our territory, our capital, our citizens and our soldiers,” Netanyahu said at the central Jerusalem Day ceremony on Ammunition Hill.

“We are in a struggle on several fronts: in Jerusalem, Gaza and other places in Israel,” Netanyahu said,  “The terrorist groups in Gaza crossed a red line on Jerusalem Day, a red line, and attacked us with rockets on the outskirts of Jerusalem.”

The prime minister said Israel did not want an escalation, but if there is one, its force will be felt.

President Reuven Rivlin said Israel “will not bow in the face of any threat.  Whoever seeks to test our resilience will find a defensive wall – an iron fist.  Let no one challenge the lethal might of our forces,”  “Do not put them to the test,” he added.

Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan accused the international community of encouraging Palestinian violence through its recent statements calling for Israeli restraint.

“The UN, the Security Council and the Quartet have refused to unequivocally condemn Palestinian incitement and have only served to embolden Hamas terrorists, who are now firing rockets on Jerusalem and innocent civilians all over Israel,” Erdan said.  “Your outrageous comments have been destructive and have further inflamed the tensions.”

Erdan pointed out that Israel stopped Jews from visiting Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, in the interest of bringing calm to Jerusalem.

“Israel has no other choice but to defend its citizens from these indiscriminate attacks and we demand the international community hold the Palestinians accountable and forcibly condemn their actions,” he said.

EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret said he is “extremely concerned by the violence in East Jerusalem.  The firing of rockets from Gaza to Israel is totally unacceptable and needs to stop.”

“We need immediate deescalation to step back from the brink and protect civilians,” Giaufret tweeted.



Egypt, Qatar And The UN Urge Hamas To End Violence Against Israel

Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations have contacted Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in an attempt to prevent a major confrontation between the Gaza-based terrorist groups and Israel, sources close to Hamas said Monday night (10th).

Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar, phoned Turkish President  Recep Tayyip Erdogan and briefed him on the current situation in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, the sources said.

“Our decision and the decision of the Palestinian people is to defend al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem,” Haniyeh was quoted as telling Erdogan.  “This is not the battle of the Jerusalem residents alone, but the battle of all of Palestine and all Muslims.”

Leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip threatened to step up their attacks on Israel in response to Israeli attacks on the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

The Israeli strikes came after Izzadin al Qassam, the so-called “military” wing of Hamas, fired a barrage of rockets into Israel.  

“We have been contacted by some international and regional parties as part of an effort to avoid further escalation,” a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip said.  “We made it clear that it was Israel that started the current escalation because of its aggression on our people in Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque.

The clashes in Jerusalem between Palestinians and the police “reaffirm that the new generation of Palestinians is capable of defeating Israel and achieving victory,” Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq said.

Islamic Jihad called on Palestinians to join and support the “Ramadan Intifada” against Israel.

“Our people and their brave resistance will not allow the Zionist entity to carry out its plan to Judaize Jerusalem, steal our land and storm the holy sites,” the terrorist group said in a statement.



Former Ambassador Friedman: Anyone Defending Hamas Rockets Is Despicable  

Former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman responded to the rocket fire at central and southern Israel Monday (10th).

“Hamas is now firing rockets at civilians in Jerusalem, Mevaseret, Beit Shemesh and the Gaza periphery.  We watch children running for cover.  Anyone defending this despicable behavior is contributing to the barbarism,” Friedman wrote.

The Hamas terror organization launched seven rockets at Israel’s capital after 6 p.m. Monday evening (10th).  Shortly afterwards, the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization launched dozens of rockets at southern Israel.

Earlier Ambassador Friedman criticized US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for accusing Israel of attacking Al Aqsa Mosque during riots on the Temple Mount.

“Unlike you, I have never prayed on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, because Israel limits prayer there to Muslims – no Jewish or Christian prayer is allowed.  Israel bends over backwards to secure Muslim worship at Muslim holy sites.  You are way off on the facts.” Friedman wrote.



Knesset Will Elect Israel’s Next President June 2nd

The Presidency of the Knesset, chaired by Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, announced Monday (10th) that it has set the date for the Israeli presidential election for June 2, 2021.

Those interested in running for office must submit the signatures of at least 10 MKs by Wednesday, May 19.

Levin expressed hope that “in these complex days the president who will be elected will be a person acceptable to all sections of the people.”

The President of Israel is elected by the 120 Members of Knesset. 

The current President, Reuven Rivlin, has been serving as Israel’s 10th president since June 2014.

Amir Peretz, former chairman of the Labor Party, initially announced his intentions to run for the presidency, but then backed out.

Famed singer Yehoram Gaon, Professor Shimon Shitrit, Miriam Peretz, and Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, have also been mentioned as possible candidates.

The 11th President of the State of Israel is expected to enter office in July 2021.