Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Evening Update: Heavy Fire In Central Israel, Worse May Yet Lie Ahead

Heavy Rocket Fire On Central Israel

Gaza terrorists fired a sudden barrage of rockets at Israeli cities at around 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Rocket sirens were heard in the coastal cities of Holon, Bat Yam, and in Modiin, located inland between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Sirens sounded in Samaria, as well.
Terrorists also targeted Israeli towns near Gaza, as they had done on several previous occasions throughout the day.
No injuries or damage were reported in the attack. The Iron Dome defense system shot down two incoming rockets.
Earlier in the day Gaza terrorists fired on the Tel Aviv region. Shrapnel from one rocket hit a courtyard in the town of Yahud near Ben Gurion International Airport, causing damage. The Yahud attack prompted several international airlines to suspend their flights to and from Israel.
A short time later, terrorists fired on the southern cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon.
The frequency of rocket attacks has dropped since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. IDF commanders say troops have successfully destroyed over 1,700 terror targets, including rockets,launchers, and launch sites.

As of Tuesday night, despite the efforts of international intermediaries here in the region, there was no sign of an Israel-Hamas ceasefire. Visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had failed to achieve the long-term humanitarian truce he planned. This despite signs Monday that Hamas might want to halt the fighting.

The Al-Mayadeen satellite station, which has good contacts in the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed late Monday that Abbas and Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal had reached a ceasefire deal, based on Egypt’s proposal for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Abbas’s intelligence chief Majid Faraj set off to persuade the Egyptians to make minor changes to their proposal.

After midnight, however, it became clear that Egypt wasn’t inclined to make the minor changes, and that Hamas’s military wing wanted more than minor changes. It still wants the release of prisoners, the opening of the Rafah border crossing, the opening of a seaport, and more.

The Hamas military wing has stuck by its demands for the whole two weeks of the conflict. But if until recently its demands seemed like the consequence of exaggerated, arrogant expectation, now its stubbornness seems to reflect a fear for its feature and a certain frustration. The Hamas political and military leadership know that a ceasefire now, with 600 dead Gazans, almost 4,000 injured and nothing dramatic to show for it will not go down well with the Gaza public. Hamas’s standing will simply crash.
It’s been telling Gazans that the siege — the Israeli-Egyptian security blockade — will be lifted. And that this is what it’s fighting for. The damage to Gaza is immense. Thousands of homes have been hit. More than 600 destroyed. Some 100,000 people have fled their homes. To agree a ceasefire now, after all that, will look like meek surrender.
Until a couple of days ago, most Gazans were supporting Hamas — that is, supporting the fighting. The battling in Shejaiya changed that to some extent. “Enough of this; we’re exhausted,” Gazans say in phone conversations now. Every few minutes there’s another Israeli attack, and more death. The atmosphere is one of despair. Eid al-Fitr, the celebratory end of Ramadan, is on Sunday. The killings of 27 Israeli soldiers and the possible capture of one more (likely dead) does not amount to sufficient comfort.
Hence the trap. Hamas will find it hard to end the fighting without a significant achievement. But such an achievement — the opening of the borders, for instance — is not at hand. Egypt has no desire to come to its aid. Israel has no intention of freeing prisoners.
And so after quite a few bad days for Israel and for Gaza, worse days still seem to lie ahead.

For the second time in less than a week, rockets have been found in a school in Gaza operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the body said.

“Today, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip,” the organization said in a statement issued Tuesday. “As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets. The school is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons.”

Israeli officials reacted furiously to the discovery. “How many more schools will have to be abused by Hamas missile squads before the international community will intervene,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor told The Times of Israel. “How many times can it turn its head the other way and pretend that it just doesn’t see?”

 “The rockets were passed on to the government authorities in Gaza, which is Hamas. In other words, UNRWA handed to Hamas rockets that could well be shot at Israel,” a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel.

It was the ninth synagogue attack in France since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in Gaza two weeks ago. To Eliyahu and many other French Jews, the attacks have contributed to a growing realization that, despite the extraordinary efforts of French authorities to protect them, French Jews need to rely mostly on themselves for their defense.

French authorities have been vigorous in their condemnations of recent attacks, with President Francois Hollande vowing not to allow violence in the Middle East to spill over into the streets of France and Prime Minister Manuel Valls promising to severely punish anti-Semitic attacks.
But while they are grateful for the government’s backing, many French Jews lack confidence in its ability to protect them. Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, temporarily banned protests against Israel last week out of concern for public order, but that ban was ignored by thousands who staged unauthorized protests anyway.
In this climate, there appears to be growing support for LDJ, a controversial group with a history of vigilantism and violence that has been central to recent efforts to fight back against mobs attacking French synagogues.
Martine Cohen, a sociologist who specializes in French Jewry, said LDJ’s activity has increased due to “the escalation of anti-Semitic attacks that target Jews, supposedly for Israel’s actions,” though she stressed that LDJ remains a small movement that pales in comparison to the threat posed by pro-Palestinian rioters.
“I used to tell my grandsons to focus on the studies and stay out of trouble, but now I sent them to join the LDJ and defend our synagogues against the scum,” says Victor Sofer, a barber who works in Paris’ heavily Jewish 10th arrondissement.
“The Arabs own the streets now,” said Sofer. “We need make them lose the appetite for messing with us if we’re to survive here. LDJ is our Iron Dome.”
Three Jews were wounded in the fight at the Synagogue de la Roquette, in which 30 young Jewish men from LDJ and other groups fought off 200 rioters while six police officers protected the 150 worshipers inside. For 15 minutes, the young Jews kept the mob from reaching the synagogue doors until French riot police arrived on the scene. Videos of the clashes show both LDJ members and anti-Israel rioters hurling bottles and even chairs at one another.

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