October 19, 2018

Israel Retaliates For Rocket Attack, Gaza Crossings Closed

The IDF attacked over 20 targets, including a terror tunnel, in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning (17th) in retaliation for Grad rocket fire that hit and destroyed a home in Beersheba and another that landed in the water off the coast of a central Israeli city.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said the retaliatory strikes will continue.

Among the targets hit were underground infrastructure, Hamas military bases, rocket manufacturing sites and a sea terror tunnel that was still being dug.

“Only two terror organizations in Gaza have such rockets: Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  It doesn’t matter who fired. Hamas bears the responsibility,” Manelis added.

Meanwhile, following the rocket attack, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman ordered the closing of the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings to Gaza, as well as the reduction of the fishing area in Gaza to only 3 nautical miles.

The rocket attack came a day before Kamel Abbas, the head of Egyptian Intelligence, was due to arrive in Israel to discuss the ceasefire talks with Hamas.

(israelnn.com; ynetnews.com)


Netanyahu To Hamas: Israel will Retaliate Further with ‘Great Force’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas Wednesday (17th) that it will pay a heavy price following the rocket attack overnight that destroyed a house in Beersheba.  “I have now concluded an assessment of the situation with the heads of the IDF and security forces,” Netanyahu said.

“Israel views the attacks on the fence with great severity, on the Gaza perimeter, on Beersheba – everywhere.  I said this week at the start of the Cabinet meeting that if these attacks do not stop we will stop them. I want to tell you today, Israel will act with great force,” Netanyahu said during a security assessment at Gaza Division Headquarters.

Among those attending the meeting were Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Meir Ben Shabbat, the head of the National Security Council, Nadav Argaman, the head of the Israeli Security Agency and senior members of the security establishment.

Netanyahu said the Security cabinet would meet later Wednesday night (17th) to decide on further steps as soon as Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, who was on his way back to Israel, returned from the US.

During his visit to the Gaza Division HQ, Netanyahu met with video surveillance operators who identified the launching squad that was thwarted by the IDF Wednesday morning (17th) and praised them for their work.

Netanyahu later met with local council heads from the Gaza Belt Region.



‘We Lost Everything”

Hours after a powerful Grad rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel struck a private home in the southern city of Beersheba, the now homeless family that resided in the destroyed house is calling for the public to help them rebuild their lives.

“I don’t have a home,” said Miri Tamano, the mother of three whose home was destroyed when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip overnight Tuesday (16th) landed in her yard.  “I have three kids – each of them means the world to me,” she said.

Tamano said she lost everything, even the bare essentials. She and her children will stay in a hotel until repairs can be made on the house.

“The mother and her children said they went into their safe room and immediately after they locked the door, they heard a big explosion and everything shook,” said an MDA paramedic who treated the family for shock.

Attorney Ora Tamano, said her sister Miri, is “like a lioness.”  She was sleeping downstairs and the kids were in three rooms upstairs.  She simply grabbed them and forcefully pulled them into the safe room. It saved their lives.”

“She’s still frightened and disoriented.  I think she’s not entirely realizing the magnitude of the disaster.  Nothing is left of the house except for the safe room,” Tamano added.

Because of the attack, Schools were closed in Beersheba, Sderot and the Gaza border communities Wednesday (17th).

The last time a rocket was launched at Beersheba was over 2 months ago, on August 8, which was the first rocket launched at the city since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge.  Wednesday’s rocket was the first to hit inside the city in four years.

(ynetnews.com; israelnn.com)


Palestinians Win Vote To Chair Group Of Developing Countries At UN

The UN General Assembly, in a 146-3 vote with 15 abstentions, approved a resolution giving the Palestinians “the rights and capacity required” to head the 135-nation group of developing countries that includes China.

US Deputy  Ambassador Jonathan Cohen urged the assembly on Tuesday (16th) to vote “no” on the resolution, saying: “We cannot support efforts by the Palestinians to enhance their status outside of direct negotiations.”  He said the US doesn’t recognize “a Palestinian state” and “if this misguided resolution is adopted,” when the Palestinians speak as chair of the group, the US will remind UN members that “no such state has been admitted as a UN member state.”

Israel and Australia also voted against the resolution.  Most Western European countries supported the measure while many Eastern European countries abstained.

Meanwhile Nikki Haley, on Tuesday, (16th) said, “The Palestinians are not a UN Member State or any state at all.  The United States will continually point that out in our remarks at UN events led by the Palestinians. Today’s UN mistake undermines the prospects for peace by encouraging the illusion held by some Palestinian leaders that they can advance their goals without direct peace negotiations.  In fact, today’s vote does nothing to help the Palestinian people.”

(ap.com; usun.state.gov)


Russia Giving Syria The S-300 Is More Message Than Menace – Anna Borshchevskaya

→Why did the Russians give a more advanced version of an anti-aircraft system to Syria, an incompetent ally who just shot down their plane?  Wouldn’t the delivery only raise the risk for Russians operating in Syrian airspace?

→For the Kremlin, the delivery of the S-300 is about assertion of further dominance in Syria.  It is a political statement to the West, and everyone else in the region: Russia is here to stay.

→The S-300 gives Assad (and therefore Moscow) options they didn’t previously have to undermine the US position in Syria.  It potentially will provide additional cover to Iran’s and Assad’s activities in Syria. It could also complicate US and coalition operations against ISIS.

→Learning to operate an S-300 takes months of serious training.  Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced it will take three months to train Syrians to operate the S-300.  Yet the Syrians have been deploying the Soviet-provided S-200 for over 30 years, and still managed to shoot down a Russian plane.  Putin’s confidence in Syrian military competence is undoubtedly low and casts doubt on Shoigu’s deadline.

→The S-300 is a powerful weapon but it has limitations.  It has been around since the 1970s. US and Israeli militaries have studied it for years and know its capabilities.  Air surveillance and battle management also matters. If the air surveillance system is too slow to see an aircraft, for example, it doesn’t matter how strong the S-300 system is.

The writer, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is a former analyst for a US military contractor in Afghanistan.