News Digest — 8/8/22

Tense Hours Ahead As Truce Between Israel And Islamic Jihad Goes Into Effect

A ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) took effect late Sunday (7th) in a bid to end nearly three days of violence, with tense hours expected ahead to see if the fragile truce holds. 

The Egyptian-brokered truce that was set for 8 p.m Sunday (7th) was ignored by continuous rocket fire.  The truce then went into effect at 11:30 p.m., with militant rockets and Israeli retaliatory strikes continuing into the minutes leading up to it.

Just minutes before the ceasefire was set to begin at 8 p.m., Islamic Jihad fired rockets towards the southern city of Beersheba as well as communities along the border, while the IDF responded by striking rocket stores, launch pads and other PIJ targets in the Gaza Strip.

Eight minutes after the deadline, the Gaza faction fired rockets at the city of Sderot,  along the border.

Israeli officials and the PIJ both confirmed a ceasefire was to come into effect at 11:30 p.m., following indirect talks between the two warring sides mediated by Egypt.

Head of Public Diplomacy, Lior Hayat confirmed the agreement between the sides and said that Israel thanked Egypt for its efforts in bringing an end to the fighting.

“We maintain the right to respond forcefully to any violation of the ceasefire,” Hayat said in a statement.  “We will not allow any disruption of the lives of our residents,” he said.

The Islamist group ignored an earlier deadline at 8 p.m. that was agreed upon by Egyptian negotiators by firing dozens of rockets as far as Tel Aviv in a massive salvo.

The IDF on Monday (8th) said that more than a 1,000 projectiles were launched from Gaza in the 66-hour offensive against the Islamic Jihad in Gaza and 170 PIJ military targets were attacked by Israeli forces.

Israeli security officials will be meeting Monday (8th) to discuss lifting security restrictions imposed on residents of the south and the re-opening of the border crossings into the Strip.



Despite Ceasefire Talks, Terrorist Expanded Range Of Rockets

Although Israel had reportedly agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that would see Operation Breaking Dawn come to an end at 8 p.m. on Sunday (7th), the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group expanded the range of its rocketfire, targeting cities in central Israel.

Palestinian and Arabic-language media reports indicated that PIJ rejected the ceasefire, while Hebrew-language reports said that Egypt and Israel  were still awaiting a response from the terror group.

While the fate of the ceasefire proposal remained unclear, PIJ continued firing missiles and rockets towards Israel through Sunday afternoon and evening (7th).

Sirens wailed in Rishon Lezion, a central Israel city located just south of Tel Aviv.

The southern city of Beersheba also came under assault from the Strip on Sunday afternoon (7th), marking the first time it was targeted in this round of fighting.  Also on Sunday (7th), rocket sirens sounded in the outskirts of Jerusalem for the first time.

Social media footage showed fallen rockets in the central Israel town of Gan Yavne.

Some 100 buildings and homes in Israel are believed to have been damaged since the beginning of fighting last Friday (5th).

Israel’s Gaza-adjacent southern municipalities have been bombarded with hundreds of rockets since the beginning of the clashes on Friday (5th).  Several communities in the Eshkol Regional Council reported power outages on Sunday (7th) following a particularly intense salvo of projectiles.



IDF: Entirety Of Islamic Jihad’s Leadership Destroyed

The entire senior leadership of the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group has been eliminated, an Israeli military official said in a statement late Saturday evening (6th).

At the close of the second day of Operation Breaking Dawn, Major General Oded Basiuk told Hebrew-language reporters that “according to all available information,” Islamic Jihad’s most important decision-makers and those at the top of the structure’s hierarchy had been killed in IDF airstrikes.

“This organization tried to carry out a deadly attack against Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers by launching an anti-tank guided missile, aimed at killing civilians and soldiers,” Basiuk told the press gathered outside IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

“We hit and foiled the chain of command who attempted to execute this attack,” he added.  “The entire leadership of the PIJ military wing in Gaza were hit.”

Operation Breaking Dawn was launched a week after Israeli security forces arrested PIJ leader Bassam al-Saadi in Jenin, the culmination of months of terror arrests stemming from a wave of attacks which began in March 2022 and left 19 people dead.

In anticipation of a retaliatory attack from PIJ in Gaza, Israeli authorities put much of Israel’s south under a de facto lockdown, stopping train traffic and closing major thoroughfares in the region.

But rather than wait for a rocket to be launched from the coastal enclave, the IDF struck PIJ targets in the Strip, killing a number of the terror group’s prominent leaders.

On Saturday evening (6th), the Israeli military published a video of an airstrike that killed the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s top commander in the southern Gaza Strip Khaled Mansour.

Mansour’s killing came less than a day after an Israeli strike killed PIJ’s northern Strip commander, Tayseer Jabari.

More than 1,000 rockets have been launched towards Israel communities since the beginning of the conflict Friday evening (5th).

“This was an operational and intelligence effort and is an extraordinary achievement.  I want to express my appreciation to Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the Chief of General Staff, the Director of the ISA, and the thousands under their command,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid stated.

“The IDF continues to strike terrorist targets and operatives and to thwart rocket-launching squads.  We are acting in a precise and responsible way to minimize harm to civilians.  This operation will continue as long as necessary,” Lapid added.  

Defense Minister Benny Gantz declared: “Whoever seeks to hurt Israeli citizens-will be hurt.  The IDF, ISA and the security forces will continue to operate against Islamic Jihad until we restore quiet and remove the threats to the children living in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip”

“I would like to commend the IDF under the leadership of the Chief-of-Staff Aviv Kochavi, and the ISA under the leadership of Ronen Bar, for their major efforts in safeguarding the security of Israel,” Gantz added.



Misfired Islamic Jihad Rocket Kills 4 Children In Gaza

A rocket launched by the Islamic Jihad terror organization toward Israel on Saturday night (6th) misfired and exploded inside the Gaza Strip, killing innocent civilians including at least four children.

Following claims in the Gaza Strip that an IDF strike killed several children, the IDF stated that at 20:40, a rocket barrage from Gaza was launched toward Israel.

At the same time, social media reports from Gaza claimed that “children were massacred” at the Imad Akel Mosque in the city of Jabalya, and at least five children were killed and 15 injured.

After clarification with the IDF’s fire center, and the brigade command, the IDF stated that no Israeli attacks were carried out in the area during this time frame.  Furthermore, the IDF’s detection systems recorded the failed launch.

Israel’s Public Diplomacy Directorate issued the following statement:

“Contrary to Palestinian reports regarding the incident in Jabalya, it must be clarified: We have in our possession videos that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this incident was not the result of an Israel Defense Forces’ strike.  Israeli security forces did not strike in Jabalya in the past few hours.  It has been irrefutably proven that this incident was the result of the misfiring of a rocket launched by Islamic Jihad.”

Following reports in Palestinian and international media, an investigation took place that unequivocally showed it was not an Israeli strike that killed the children, but rather a rocket launched from within the Gaza Strip that fell in the heart of Jabalya.  All fire by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is a double war crime: it is shooting at Israeli civilians, and using Gaza civilians as human shields. 

Of the high number of rockets launched by the Islamic Jihad, at least 15% fell inside the Gaza Strip.



Thousands Of Jews Visit Temple Mount To Mark Tisha B’Av

Over 2,000 Jewish worshipers visited the Temple Mount on Sunday (7th), marking Tisha B’Av – the day of mourning the destruction of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem and the subsequent calamities and exiles that have befallen the Jewish people.

Jewish ascension to the site, which houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is severely restricted.  Entrance is allowed on Tisha B’Av which is always mired in security tensions, as the Palestinians object to any Jewish presence on the mount.

Operation Breaking Dawn – an extensive Israeli counterterrorism campaign against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip – has exacerbated in the volatile flashpoint.

The Jerusalem District Police declared a high alert in the capital, deploying hundreds of additional troops in the Old City, especially around the Western Wall, where thousands of Jews have been gathering since Saturday night (6th) to pray.

Worshipers began gathering at the entrance to the Temple Mount in the early hours of Sunday morning (7th).

Controversial MK Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, visited the mount as well, aggravating the already significant tensions at the site.  Calls of Allahu Akbar (”God is great’) echoed across the complex as he made his way in.  He replied by yelling “Am Yisrael Chai” (“long live the Jewish people”).

Ben-Gvir’s office said he received death threats on Facebook and on his personal smartphone over the visit.

“I will not be intimidated by threats.  The police have to catch the people making these threats,” he said, adding that he came to pray for the safety of the troops engaged in Operation Breaking Dawn.

Temple Mount activist Tom Nisani said that “the Ascension to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av is a test for Israeli authorities.  This latest pilgrimage to the Temple Mount is expected to be the largest since the days of the Temples.  The thousands of worshipers are proving by their actions that the Temple Mount has long since become part of the Israeli consensus.”  

“The time has come to prevent Hamas and Islamic Jihad from running this country,” Nisani added.