Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Epicenter On The Brink (II): Hamas-Israeli Tensions Increase

I was expecting to find some interesting news relating to ISIS and their movements into Jordan, possibly triggering an Israeli response (due to agreements between Israel and Jordan), which could predictably escalate things in the Middle East dramatically. 

However, as all things seem to be converging now, we now have the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli youths who were kidnapped. This situation marks another big step towards the prophetic conflicts to come. 

The Israeli Air Force struck 34 targets in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, carrying out “precision strikes” against Hamas and Islamic Jihad structures, the IDF said in a statement early Tuesday.

According to reports, sites in Khan Younes, Rafah and Beit lahia were hit.

“Following over 18 rockets which were fired at Israel since Sunday evening, IAF aircraft carried out a precision strike against 34 targets in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

“The IDF will continue to act in order to restore the peaceful living to the civilians of the state of Israel. The Hamas terror organization and its extensions are solely responsible for any terror activities emanating from the Gaza Strip,” IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip early Tuesday landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing damage to several cars and a fire close to a packaging plant, which was quickly put out by emergency services.
Another rocket landed in the Sdot Negev region, causing no damage or injuries.
The air strikes and rocket attacks came hours after the bodies of kidnapped Israeli teenagers — Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16 and Naftali Fraenkel, 16 — were found partially buried in a field near the West Bank village of Halhul, north of Hebron.
The bodies were found at about 5:30 p.m. Monday, bound and partially buried, in an open field in a hard-to-access area. The site is less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) from where the teens had been abducted.
Israel is on the hunt for two Hamas men it says were behind the kidnappings, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Aby Aysha.
Since the start of Operation Brother’s Keeper to find them, 18 days of searches had seen the arrests of over 400 Palestinians, a majority of them members of Hamas.
On Monday, Hamas operatives launched a large volley of rockets which slammed into Israel, the first time in years the Islamist group has directly challenged the Jewish state, according to Israeli defense officials.
At least 16 rockets were fired at Israel Monday morning, most of them hitting open areas in the Eshkol region, the army said.
The security sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, assessed that Hamas had probably launched the barrage in revenge for an Israeli airstrike several hours earlier which killed one person and injured three more.

Politicians across the spectrum condemned the murder of Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel after their bodies were found Monday night, and many called for war on Hamas.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein interrupted the Knesset meeting taking place in the evening, and all MKs with bills set to go to a vote pulled them. Tuesday’s Knesset committee meetings and votes were canceled as well.
“In this time I support the noble Shaer, Fraenkel and Yifrah families, which taught us all about love for the people of Israel and mankind,” Edelstein said. “Israel must fight an uncompromising war against terrorism, in general, and against Hamas, specifically.”
Edelstein added that the time had come for the Palestinians to learn that Hamas was leading them to the abyss, and to denounce the terrorist organization.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said it was time for “action and not talk.”
“There is no forgiveness for those who murder children,” Bennett said. “Our hearts are with the families.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) said “the kidnapping and murder of innocent teens in the dead of the night is an unforgivable crime. It has no explanation or justification and I am convinced that the long arm of the security forces will reach the murderers.
We experienced painful, difficult terrorist attacks in the past and we overcame them, as we will now. That is life in this land.”
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud Beytenu) said Israel must “use all its strength to destroy the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza and Judea and Samaria. We must teach Hamas a lesson it will never forget.”
“In war we must strike the terrorists without mercy on the one hand, and give an appropriate Zionist response on the other. The eternal nation is not afraid of a long journey,” Ariel said, referring to the title of a ruling by the iconic religious-Zionist Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said the kidnapping’s tragic ending should bring tragedy to Hamas as well.
“We must exterminate terrorism,” Danon declared. “We must destroy the houses of Hamas members, destroy their arsenals wherever they are, and stop money that is being used directly and indirectly to keeping the flame of terrorism burning. We must deter every organization that thinks it will kidnap an Israeli citizen or threaten Israel.”

“Kidnapping and murdering teens is a war crime that must be punished to the full extent of the law,” Gal-On said. “At the same time, in these moments we must differentiate between those who are responsible for the criminal act and the Palestinians who rejected it, like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas... We must take diplomatic action that will strengthen the moderates.”

Hamas is responsible for the murder of the Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah and Gil-Ad Shaer, and Hamas will pay, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday evening at the start of an emergency security cabinet meeting called to determine how to respond to the murders.
Netanyahu said that the three teens were murdered in cold blood, and that the entire country is weeping with the families.
“We will bury the boys,” Netanyahu said. Then, paraphrasing Haim Nahman Bialik's famous line that “Satan has not yet created vengeance for the blood of a small child,” he added, “nor for the blood of pure teens that were on their way home to see their parents, and who will never see them again.”

The emergency cabinet meeting was expected to determine what actions to take in light of the murders, with options ranging from an intensive military operation against Hamas – which Israel holds responsible for the murders – to announcements of building in the settlements.
In addition, Netanyahu is widely expected to push for stepping up the campaign to press Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve his unity pact with Hamas.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman who was in Berlin on Monday announced soon after the bodies were found that he would cancel a planned visit to Prague to return to Israel and take part in the security deliberations.

A Hamas spokesman denied responsibility Monday evening for the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers, threatening to “open the gates of hell” against Israel if it launched an attack against the Gaza Strip.

“The story of the disappearance and killing of the three settlers is based on the Israeli narrative only,” Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP. “The Israeli occupation is trying to refer to this narrative in order to justify its wide-scale war against our people, against the resistance and against Hamas.”

“If Netanyahu launches a war against Gaza, the gates of hell will open on him,” Abu Zuhri added on his Facebook page.

Channel 2 news reported that personnel at Hamas and Islamic Jihad facilities in Gaza abandoned their buildings late Monday, apparently fearing Israeli airstrikes.

Meanwhile, PA President Mahmoud Abbas convened an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership Monday evening to discuss “the political developments and the repercussions of the recent events,” the official Wafa news agency reported.

Izzat Al-Rishq, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, took the opportunity to lambaste the Palestinian Authority for assisting Israel to crack down on Hamas in the West Bank.

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