News Digest — 5/18/21

Israel Says 160 Terrorists Killed In Gaza Since Beginning Of Operation

The IDF has killed at least 160 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists since the beginning of Operation Guardian of the Walls began last week, the military said on Tuesday (18th).

The announcement came as incoming rocket sirens sounded in Gaza border communities on Tuesday morning (18th) after a rare six-hour lull in rocket fire through the night.

The overnight quiet came despite a threat by Hamas that they would fire on Tel Aviv should the IDF continue to strike residential buildings, including high-rises.

IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters that the IDF continued to carry out strikes against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets overnight , including 10-12 multi-barrel rocket launchers, six of which were ready to be fired toward Israel’s Gush Dan region.

A total of 65 launchers, which can fire between 4-9 rockets within seconds, have been destroyed in the past three days.

The Israel Air Force also struck the “D” phase of Hamas’ “metro” underground network.  According to Zilberman, 60 planes struck 65 targets with 110 munitions, destroying some 6 to 9 miles of network.

“We know the grid of the network underground and every entry shaft,” Zilberman said, adding that destroying the network pushes  the Hamas operatives to act above ground.

According to Zilberman, between 125-130 Hamas operatives and 30 Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives have been killed since the beginning of the operation last week.

Zilberman said that IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi spoke twice in recent days with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley about the operation in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF also struck several residences of battalion and unit commanders, including the home belonging to the Gaza battalion commander who is responsible for firing rockets toward the southern city of Ashkelon.

The IAF also struck numerous targets in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City and according to Zilberman will continue to hit targets there for the next 12 hours.

Meanwhile, on Israel’s northern border 6 rockets were fired from Lebanese territory towards the Jewish state by a Palestinian group.  None of the rockets crossed into Israeli territory and the IDF responded with tank and artillery fire.



Foreign Media: Iron Dome Proves Itself

While global media coverage of Operation Guardian of the Walls remains largely focused on Gaza and the thousands of rockets hitting Israel, many news sites across the world have also dedicated considerable airtime and coverage to the achievements of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, which has intercepted hundreds of projectiles fired by terrorist groups at the population centers in the Jewish state.

The reason for the special attention isn’t just the system’s impressive 90% success rate, but also the unprecedented video footage of dozens of simultaneous mid-air interceptions.

Several prominent news outlets in the US, including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Fox News and Vox, have all run lengthy articles about the Iron Dome and its accomplishments.

“As Hamas rockets rain on Israel, Iron Dome proves it can withstand the barrages,” the Wall Street Journal said in its headline.

The New York Times said in its headline: “Fire and thunder fill the night sky as Israel’s Iron Dome is tested.”

The Washington Post said critically in a headline that “Israel’s Iron Dome defense system protects Israeli lives, and perpetuates the Israel-Gaza conflict.”

In other countries, however, the excitement over the system’s achievements is painted in a different light.

The Greek City Times, for example, reported that Greek government officials in Athens were considering procuring the Iron Dome missile defense system and that its “purpose demo,” during the fighting, had reinforced the views of those who want to purchase it.

However, as the system’s effectiveness becomes more pronounced, so do claims within certain circles of critics who say that its existence negates Israel’s justification for carrying out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip which they argue are disproportionate to the threat. 



IDF Chief Of Staff: Operation To Last At Least 2 More Days

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi met Monday night (17th) with the head of the local authorities in the south whose communities have been under fire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets for the last week.

Kochavi told the heads of the authorities that the operation in Gaza would continue for at least another two days, during which the IDF would intensify some of its attacks: “Your leadership and the resilience of the civilians are very powerful.  Hamas was wrong when it fired eight days ago in the direction of Jerusalem, it did not think a powerful response would happen.”

“Hamas was surprised by the power, the methods and the achievements and it is now suffering a very severe blow. The operation will continue as long as necessary,” Kochavi noted  at the meeting in which Home Front Command General Uri Gordin also took part.

Sderot Mayor Alon David, who participated in the meeting, said afterward: “We promised to give the support as needed just to restore peace to the residents of the south and the State of Israel.  I can say with great appreciation that there is someone here for us to trust.  Thank you for your thorough and professional work and for guarding Israel day and night.  Let the IDF win.”



Fatah To West Bank Palestinians: “Confront Israeli Security Forces”

Fatah, formerly the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, called on Palestinians in the West Bank to declare a general strike on Tuesday (18th) and “confront” the Israeli security forces in protest of continued fighting in the Gaza Strip.

The current round of fighting entered its second week on Monday (17th) and there appeared to be no sign of any imminent end to the most serious hostilities in years between Israel and Palestinian militants despite mounting international calls for a ceasefire.

The idea behind the call “to strike” apparently is to create greater strife for Israel on three fronts: Gaza, the West Bank and within Israel through continued protests of Israeli Arabs.  It is unclear, however, if the public will respond to the call.

On Sunday (17th), nine Palestinians were killed in clashes with the IDF throughout the West Bank.

Hamas, since the start of this round of fighting, has also been calling on Palestinians in the West Bank to take to the streets and clash with security forces. 

Hamas Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ spokesperson Abu Obeida recently told West Bank residents: “Anyone with a weapon, a rock, or a knife should strike the Zionist enemy.  We are on the road to victory.”

In the meantime, the IDF on Monday morning (17th) foiled a car-ramming attack near Nablus.  No troops were hurt in the incident and the suspect was apprehended.



IDF Foils Attacks On Offshore Gas Rig, Eliminates Top Hamas Naval Commander

Cleared for publication: The Israeli military has thwarted several attempts by Hamas to target Israel’s Tamar offshore gas installation over the past week of fighting between the Jewish state and the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said that both rockets and suicide drones were launched in these attempts, but none ever posed an actual threat to the gas rig, which nonetheless was placed on alert and ordered to temporarily shut down operations.

According to Channel 12 News, Tamar is protected by a ship-borne Iron Dome air defense battery and other measures.

The military said that the Navy has been able to successfully ward-off various attacks by Hamas’ naval unit, adding it had also destroyed most of the terrorist group’s naval infrastructure since Operation Guardian of the Walls was launched on May 10.

In another major blow to Gaza’s rulers, the IDF said that the head of Hamas’ naval and submarine development scheme was killed in an Israeli strike this week.

In the latest round of fighting, the Israeli Navy has destroyed eight warehouses that contained naval weaponry, 10 Hamas naval posts, 22 ships belonging to the groups’ naval forces, and more.

Israeli Navy Commander Maj.-Gen. Eli Sharvit said in a statement, “The most significant thing, as in all of the IDF, is denying the enemy capabilities and establishing a strong defense.  Therefore, we have attacked bases, vessels, weapons warehouses, infrastructure and operatives.  We have acted so that the naval arms of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas would be depressed.”

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have significantly expanded their naval units since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, investing in training commandos and the relevant procurement, including commando ships and precision drones.



Jewish Man Hurt In Lod Riots Succumbs To Wounds

A Jewish man who was seriously hurt in last week’s riots in the central city of Lod has succumbed to his wounds, Shamir Medical Center announced on Monday (17th).

The man, identified as 56-year-old Yagal Yehoshua, was a resident of the Ganei Aviv neighborhood in Lod, and leaves behind a wife and two sons, aged 8 and 22.  He  was struck in the head with a brick thrown by Arab rioters and has become the first Jewish casualty in the ongoing nationwide civil unrest that broke out after weeks of tensions in Jerusalem.  Police have yet to make any arrests.

Yehoshua, worked as an electrician.  Effie Yehoshua, Yigal’s brother, said that Yigal was attacked on his way home from work, “by Arab rioters who lynched him with terrible cruelty.”  He said, “he managed to escape them and reached his home, but collapsed as he got out of his car.”  “A neighbor called the ambulance.  He never recovered from the attack, and never gave a sign of life afterward,” Effi concluded.   

On the same night of Yehoshua’s injury between Tuesday (11th) and Wednesday (12th) last week, another person was seriously injured during the riots in the city, several families were evacuated from their homes and dozens of vehicles were vandalized.  This prompted the government to declare a state of emergency in the city and deploy large Border Police forces to quell the unrest.

Police imposed a nighttime curfew and closed off several sections of the city to put a stop to the rampant rioting.  Officers were authorized to use “reasonable force” to enforce law and order.

Riots persisted through the following day, leaving 15 people injured, and 30 arrested.

The chairman of the Islamist Ra’am party MK Mansour Abbas, along with the Mayor of Lod, Yair Revivo arrived in Lod for a tour of the city Sunday (17th) and visited one of the eight synagogues that were torched in recent days.

Mayor Revivo and Abbas condemned the targeting of houses of prayer and called to restore calm in the streets. 

“This was a mistake by a small group of rioters.  Targeting holy sites is forbidden and whoever does it, goes against the teaching of Islam,” Abbas said, standing outside the charred remains of Lod’s Beit Yisrael Synagogue.

“There is no room to tolerate this, the same as we cannot accept the harming of our mosques.  The red line is violence of any kind.  We must look forward and start rebuilding our holy sites and our relations,” Abbas added.