News Digest — 5/21/21
200 Terrorists Killed, 62 Miles Of Terror Tunnels Destroyed
The Israeli security cabinet voted to accept a ceasefire late Thursday (20th) as the Israeli south and Gaza remained inflamed.
The security cabinet unanimously agreed to a “mutual and unconditional” cessation of hostilities, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
As the IDF summarized Operation Guardian of the Walls, they said, “We did everything we could to make sure evil people didn’t come out of this alive.”
During the 11 days of the operation, IDF forces destroyed over 62 miles of Hamas’ “metro” – the network of underground tunnels created by the terrorist organization to protect both members and munitions and to enhance its mobility and freedom of action.
In addition, around 200 terrorists were eliminated, as well as 20 commanders and five senior commanders affiliated with either Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Health officials in the Gaza Strip say a total of 232 people were killed during the 11-day operation – most of which, the IDF said were combatants. The Israeli Air Force fires only at specific terror targets and not civilians, which keeps many more from being killed.
The IDF also hit 70 multi-barreled missile launchers, nine multi-storied buildings that housed Hamas infrastructure and offices, and dozens of command centers, outposts and training camps used by terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.
The Iron Dome missile defense system shot down around 90% of missiles fired into Israel.
Hamas Celebrates ‘Victory,’ Warns Of Future Resistance Against Israel
The fragile Israel-Hamas ceasefire that went into effect in the Gaza Strip at 2 a.m. on Friday (21st) seemed to hold throughout the morning as Palestinians shared footage of clashes and mass celebrations in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.
Clashes near the Damascus gate erupted just hours after the Egyptian-mediated truce went into effect.
Videos of the clashes, circulated by Palestinian media, shows tear gas explosions and sound grenades near the gate.
Celebratory demonstrations took place in the Gaza Strip and West Bank as well, following the ceasefire. Fireworks, singing and parades down the streets could be seen in uploaded footage shared on social media, accompanied with the hashtag #Palestine_Victorious.
On the Temple Mount, thousands of Palestinians launched fireworks and waved Palestinian flags. Video reportedly showed crowds entering the complex, as Palestinians chanted and threw objects at Israeli police who stood along the sides.
Khalil al-Hayya, Hamas’ deputy leader in Gaza declared, “Today the resistance declares victory over its enemies. Praise be to God who postponed our meal so that we can rejoice in two joys, the joy of Eid al-Fitr and the joy of victory.”
“It is true the battle ends today but Netanyahu and the whole world should know that our hands are on the trigger and we will continue to grow the capabilities of this resistance,” said Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of the Hamas political bureau.
Hezbollah congratulated Hamas on Friday (21st) for what it called a “heroic round,” saying that Palestinian terrorist groups had managed to establish “new rules that will pave the way for the next great victory and restore life to the Palestinian cause.”
Over 22,570 Rockets Fired At Israel Since Gaza Disengagement
Since the 2005 Disengagement from Gush Katif and the subsequent takeover of the area by the Hamas terror group, over 22,570 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel, data from Shabak (Israel Security Agency) shows.
The YESHA Council compiled the Shabak data on the rocket attacks. The data shows that the Disengagement led to a significant rise in the number of rocket attacks: In the five years prior to the Disengagement, less than 2,000 were fired at Israel, but in the five years following it, approximately 10,000 rockets were fired.
During the years in which large numbers of rockets were fired from Gaza, these led Israel to open war, which in turn caused a rise in the number of barrages.
The data also showed that not a single year passed in which Gaza terror groups did not fire rockets at Israeli civilians.
Einatan Zecharia, a spokesman for the Yesha Council, tweeted: “We even made a graph from the Shabak data.”
“Even though we warned that the Disengagement from Gush Katif and the exit from the Gaza Strip would lead to a rise in rocket terror, all sorts of former defense officials told us that there was no chance that that would happen.”
“We, on the other hand, warned that the Disengagement would blow up in our faces – unfortunately, we were right.”
Hamas Openly Operating From Mosque In Eastern Jerusalem
The Hamas terror group is using an eastern Jerusalem mosque as an operational center, Israeli NGO Your Jerusalem revealed Thursday (20th).
A cell phone video published by the group showed young men inside a mosque in the Arab town of Anata, which is partially under Israeli control, and borders the Shuafat eastern Jerusalem neighborhood, holding Hamas flags on Thursday morning (20th).
A different video of the same mosque captures a message made via the mosque’s muezzin (speaker), encouraging local young men to participate in an “uprising and show of resistance against Israeli activities in Sheikh Jarrah and Gaza.”
The message also called for youth to “confront the soldiers at the Shuafat checkpoint.”
“Once again, in broad daylight, terrorists are encouraged to go out and attack IDF soldiers in the State of Israel,” said right-wing NGO Im Tirtzu in a statement.
“The Terrorism Law stipulates that anyone who supports or encourages terrorism is liable to be imprisoned. We wonder when the law will be enforced in mosques – it is a sick evil that must be uprooted.”
“The mosques in Jerusalem and the surrounding area have become a source of incitement against the State of Israel,” Maor Tzemach, chair of Your Jerusalem, told World Israel News.
Tzemach said that the call for an uprising directly came from Hamas leadership. “Israel must act and stop Hamas’ activities in Jerusalem, and if necessary, even send security forces to enter the mosques for that purpose,” he said.
Tzemach told WIN that this is not an isolated incident – rather, Hamas is utilizing local mosques as part of its strategy to expand its presence in the capital and the Judea and Samaria region.
Referencing the Palestinian Authority elections scheduled for May 2021 that were cancelled by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Tzemach suggested that Hamas’ uptick in activity was a form of electioneering.
“The real PA elections in Jerusalem are happening in the street, and so far the winner is Hamas,” he said.
“We saw on social media that Hamas is clearly active on the Temple Mount, as they raised their flags there during the riots in early May.
“Hamas chief Mohammed Deif publicly took responsibility for Jerusalem and said that if Israel doesn’t withdraw from the Temple Mount, we’ll go to war against Israel, and that’s exactly what happened.
“From that moment, it proved that Fatah just threatens but doesn’t actually do anything. The real ‘defender of Jerusalem’ is Hamas. When it comes to Sheikh Jarrah and al-Aqsa Mosque, Hamas was the only terror group that actually responded.
“Fatah activists don’t dare enter the Temple Mount, because it’s Hamas territory. As we saw in a viral video, Fatah members who tried to enter were beaten up and thrown out of the compound,” Tzemach said.
Israeli Ambassador Walks Out Of UNGA Debate
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, on Thursday (20th) left the UN General Assembly hearing on the Israeli operation in Gaza, after the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister accused Israel of what he called a “deliberate massacre of children in their sleep.”
Erdan, who also delivered a speech during the debate, attacked the UN member states and claimed that they are backing a terrorist organization when they compare Hamas with a sovereign democratic state like Israel.
At the beginning of the debate, the President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, said that the role of the Assembly was “to give the Palestinians the feeling that we are hearing them and addressing their problems.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed both sides in his speech and called for an end to the fighting. However, he expressed significant empathy for the Palestinian Arabs. “I call on Israel to stop evacuating Palestinian families and deporting them from their homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – these are occupied territories,” he said.
Netanyahu: Drone Downed By IDF This Week Was Armed And Launched By Iran
A drone downed by the Israel Defense Forces earlier this week was launched by Iran and was armed with explosives, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday (20th).
Until now, the IDF has largely remained mum on the incident, in which the UAV was brought down as it approached Israeli airspace near the city of Beit She’an in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday morning (18th).
According to Netanyahu, the drone was made by Iran and launched by Iranian forces toward Israel from either Syria or Iraq.
“Iran sent an armed drone to Israel from Iraq or Syria. Iranian forces launched the armed drone, which our forces intercepted on the border between Israel and Jordan,” Netanyahu said, speaking at a press conference alongside German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
It would be the second time Iran has sent armed UAVs into Israel. In a similar case in 2018, a drone was flown from Syria into northern Israel before it was shot down by an Israeli helicopter. In response, the IDF launched a wave of strikes on Iranian assets in Syria.
Netanyahu accused Iran of providing support and technical assistance to terror groups throughout the Middle East, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which receives most of its funding from Tehran, as well as Hamas, which also gets weapons and other help from the Islamic Republic.
“They provide the scaffolding on which these organizations really work,” Netanyahu said.
Tuesday’s (18th) airspace breach came amid ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
At roughly 4 a.m. on Tuesday (18th), the Israel Air Force downed the drone as it approached the Israeli border from Jordan.
The UAV was being monitored by IDF air control units. The fragments of the UAV were collected by security forces,” the military said.
Israel has waged a nearly decade-long bombing campaign in Syria aimed at thwarting Iran and allied militias, including Hezbollah, from setting up bases to attack the Jewish state, as well as the transfer of advanced arms from Iran to Hezbollah.
Recent days have seen a number of attacks on Israel’s other borders apparently in solidarity with the Palestinians. Most recently at least four rockets were fired at northern Israel from Lebanon, one of which was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system and another struck an open field in the town of Shfaram. The other two rockets landed out at sea.