Reports of an imminent ceasefire proved to have been overly optimistic Tuesday night, as Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel. Two more Israelis were killed on a day of heavy rocket fire that reached as far north as Rishon Lezion, with Jerusalem also targeted. Late into Tuesday night, Israel was hitting Hamas installations and other terror targets throughout Gaza. The Times of Israel is live-blogging developments. Refresh for the latest updates.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II phoned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening to discuss the conflict with Gaza, according to the Jordanian news agency Petra.
According to the report, Abdullah warned Netanyahu of the consequences of a further deterioration, saying a worsening of the fighting could threaten the security and the stability of entire region.
TV news tonight was full of the news of the Rishon Lezion rocket attack. Israel’s fourth-biggest city, just south of Tel Aviv, hit for the first time.
The rocket — said to be carrying 90 kilograms of explosives — penetrated through three floors of the building, causing immense damage, but no serious injuries, because all the residents were in their safe rooms.
Hamas terrorists operating out of the Gaza Strip fired two missiles at Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon. Air raid sirens sounded throughout the capital as local residents rushed for bomb shelters.
Early reports were that both missiles landed south of Jerusalem, near two villages on the outskirts of Bethlehem. There were no reports of damage or injuries.
The air raid sirens were not a complete surprise to Jerusalemites this time around. The city had already been targeted by a missile from Gaza on Friday.
Israel responded to the attack on Jerusalem and a heavy barrage of missiles on southern Israel by launching a fresh wave of aerial strikes and artillery fire against terrorist targets in Gaza.
The attack on Jerusalem came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was meeting in the capital with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Having convinced the population of Gaza that it is winning the war, Hamas was the first to put forward ceasefire terms, which looked more like surrender terms for Israel. Hamas demanded that Israel halt all current and future missions to eliminate Hamas leaders, lift the limited blockade of Gaza, and open the borders between Gaza and Israel proper.
Naturally, Israel rejected those terms, and responded with its own: Hamas stops the rocket fire, and the war ends. Following a meeting with Germany's visiting foreign minister, Netanyahu said Israel "is seeking a diplomatic solution," but will continue to prepare for a ground invasion should Hamas remain intransigent.
Hamas and its allied terror groups refused to stop firing first.
The next three paragraphs are critical in understanding the current situation:
We used to have a lot more influence in Egypt, before we pushed out Hosni Mubarak, who had guaranteed the peace with Israel and at least fitfully patrolled the Sinai region to limit arms to Gaza. Clinton and Barack Obama demanded his withdrawal in favor of immediate elections, which all but ensured that the Muslim Brotherhood — Hamas’ mother organization and the only group organized well enough to take advantage of that time frame — would take control of Egypt. This crisis is due at least in part to the “smart power” fumbling of the so-called Arab Spring, and it’s not terribly likely that the same players who created the problem will have good answers on how to solve it now in Gaza.
Hamas, which is the Palestine branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, is theologically committed to the obliteration of Israel and believes, as a matter of faith, that Jews are Allah’s enemies. Its leaders have believed, since the group’s inception, that Jews are soft (“We love death and they love life,” a Hamas leader once told me, and it is a commonly expressed thought). Hamas also believes that eventually misery and fear will drive most Jews to leave Israel, which it views as a Muslim waqf, or endowment, not merely the rightful home of the Palestinian people.
Hamas’s decision to increase the tempo of rocket attacks at Israeli civilian targets — the cause of this latest round of violence, as President Barack Obama and most Western leaders have asserted — emerged not only from a desire on the part of the group to terrorize the Jewish state out of existence. It also emerged from a cold political calculation that the Arab Spring (or, in the eyes of Hamas, the Islamist Spring) means that the arc of history is bending toward them and away from the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas and its more moderate Arab supporters. This analysis has encouraged Hamas to assert itself now as the main player in the Palestinian “resistance.”