News Digest — 5/6/19
Ceasefire Goes Into Effect, Israel Lifts Restrictions On Citizens In South
A ceasefire went into effect at 4:30 a.m. on Monday morning (6th) between Israel and Hamas, although no formal announcement has yet been made.
The IDF, however, signaled it had agreed to a ceasefire as it declared it was removing protective restrictions on Israeli citizens starting at 7:a.m. Hamas issued a brief ceasefire statement on its Al-Aqsa radio.
The fighting which started Friday night (3rd) came to an abrupt halt with the last air raid siren warning Israelis to take shelter heard at 2:30 a.m. in the Eshkol region in Israel’s south, Ynet News reports.
Israel’s transportation department said that all roadblocks in the south have been opened and that train lines were returning to normal. Schools which initially had been cancelled for Monday (6th), announced there would be classes.
This latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas has been the worst since Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge, prompted by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas. Over 700 rockets were fired at Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Four Israelis were killed, and Kan News reports 145 Israeli citizens were injured, some seriously. The numbers are considered high in comparison to other rocket barrages.
Palestinian medical officials claim that of the 29 Palestinians killed, 11 were terrorists, according to The Times of Israel.
According to AFP, an Islamic Jihad terrorist leader said that the ceasefire is based on Israel lifting the blockade.
On Monday morning (6th), Hamas announced that “any calm in which Israel does not commit to lifting the siege will collapse.”
Netanyahu: Gaza Campaign Not Over, Preparing For More Fighting
Israel’s campaign against Palestinian terror groups in Gaza is not over, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday (6th), as a ceasefire, while not officially confirmed, appeared to take hold after almost three days of escalating violence between the Jewish state and the Hamas-run enclave.
“Over the last two days we struck Hamas and Islamic Jihad with great force,” Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office.
“We hit over 350 targets. We struck at terrorist leaders and operatives and we destroyed terrorist buildings,” the statement said.
“The campaign is not over and it demands patience and sagacity. We are prepared to continue,” he said. “The goal has been – and remains – ensuring quiet and security for the residents of the south. I send condolences to the families who lost loved ones and best wishes for recovery to the wounded.”
Meanwhile, an Israeli security source said Monday (6th) that the Gaza organizations had sought a ceasefire out of fear over what Israel would do in the Strip.
“Hamas and Islamic Jihad understood very well that the rules of the game had changed,” the source said. “Therefore, they stopped firing rockets on their own initiative after repeated requests for a ceasefire.”
Four Israelis Dead, 700 Rockets And A Weekend Full Of Terror In Israel
The IDF Had reinforced troops along the Gaza border after close to 700 rockets were fired towards southern Israel by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) from the Gaza Strip, killing four civilians and injuring over 100 others.
Terror groups fired dozens of rocket barrages toward southern Israel on Sunday (5th), as well as several long-range projectiles towards central Israel. According to the IDF, terror groups in the Strip also tried to carry out a terror attack using a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) attached to a drone. The RPG-laden drone, which landed on a tank deployed along the border, did not explode.
On Saturday night (4th), Moshe Agadi, a father of four, was killed when a rocket struck his home. He was struck with shrapnel to his stomach and chest and was taken by Magen David Adom teams to Barzilai Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Another man, Moshe Feder, 67, was killed after a Kornet anti-tank guided missile struck a car near the Gaza border between the communities of Yad Mordechai and Sderot.
A Bedouin man was killed after he was critically injured in his chest by shrapnel from a direct hit on a factory in Ashkelon. A 23-year-old man in his 20s, Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, an Israeli American, was also killed Sunday evening (5th) after he suffered severe shrapnel injuries to his chest while running to a shelter in Ashdod.
On Sunday afternoon (5th), Israel’s Security Cabinet met and instructed the military to intensify its attacks in the Strip.
Due to the violence in the South, the IDF had deployed the 7th Armored Brigade, which would be ready to act as an offensive force within the Gaza Division along with the Golani Brigade. The Paratroopers Brigade was also on standby to deploy south if needed, the military said.
A senior Israel Air Force officer said Sunday (5th) that over 600 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza since Saturday morning (4th), and that over 150 had been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. While the majority struck in open spaces, 35 struck urban areas in Israel.
In retaliation, the IAF struck over 350 targets belonging to PIJ and Hamas, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said. In addition, Manelis and the senior Air Force officer both confirmed that the military had begun carrying out targeted assassinations in the Strip against Hamas militants.
The first targeted strike since 2014 hit a vehicle carrying 39-year-old Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudari, who the IDF said was in charge of large-scale money transfers from Iran to terror groups in the Strip.
The officer told reporters that the IDF “had not carried out a targeted assassination for a long time” and that a number of aircraft participated in the strike, which was carried out in the heart of Gaza City with the approval of Israel’s political echelon.
“We are prepared to continue operating with the message that Hamas and its men are vulnerable,” the officer said, adding that this is in an attempt to “renew deterrence” against the terrorist group.
“We are acting against Hamas and the PIJ – but for us, Hamas is the sovereign and its role is to stop PIJ,” he said, explaining that under this directive, the IDF has carried out over 100 sorties, striking weapon warehouses, terror infrastructures, terrorist cells, tunnels and more.”
“We are prepared for the possibility of escalation,” he continued, warning that “we have not used everything yet: there’s a lot more we can do.”
Israel’s navy also struck several naval targets belonging to both Hamas and (PIJ).
Nikki Haley Slams Israeli Critics’ Double-Standard: ‘No Other Country Would Sit Back And Take This’
On Saturday (4th), Nikki Haley responded to Palestinian terrorists ongoing rocket fire on Israel with a pointed post on Twitter questioning the double-standard many nations apply to the Jewish State.
“If this was any other country, the international community would raise havoc. No other country would sit back and take this. Why should Israel? #DoubleStandard,” she tweeted.
Former Amb. Haley also shared a video on Twitter showing the devastation caused by the rockets that killed four Israelis and wounded many.
The former ambassador is slated to visit the Jewish State at the end of June to serve as the keynote speaker at a forum hosted by daily newspaper Israel Hayom, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin are scheduled to attend.
During her tenure as the US ambassador to the United Nations, Haley proved herself a vocal supporter of the Jewish State.
European Union Condemns Hamas Attacks On Israel
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini spoke about the continuing Gaza escalation on Sunday (5th). Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups have caused the deaths of four Israeli citizens and fired over 600 rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip since the escalation began on Saturday (4th).
“Indiscriminate rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in Gaza must stop immediately: the European Union reiterates its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel,” Mogherini said. “We express our condolences to the families of the victims and to the Israeli people, and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded.”
“These attacks provoke unspeakable suffering to the Israelis and serve only the cause of endless violence and of an endless conflict,” Mogherini added.
“A new escalation risks also to reverse the work to relieve the suffering of the people in Gaza who are already paying a high price with many victims that we mourn.”
“The European Union reiterates its full support to the push of Egypt and the UN to reduce tensions in Gaza and expect the parties to work with them to restore calm, Together with the international community, we will keep working to bring relief to all those suffering from this conflict, and cooperate with those who serve the cause of peace,” Mogherini concluded.