Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Israel Aircraft Strikes Gaza Targets Despite Hamas Warnings: "Sharp Military Escalation"

Israeli Aircraft Strike 15 Gaza Targets In Response To Rocket Fire

Israeli jets carried out 15 precision strikes in the Gaza Strip early Thursday morning, in response to rocket fire on Israeli cities throughout Wednesday and into Thursday. At least 10 Palestinians have been injured, according to initial reports.

The IDF confirmed the strikes in a statement saying Hamas targets were hit, “including concealed rocket launchers, weapon storage facilities and terror activity sites.”

On Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, three rockets fired from Gaza exploded near residential buildings in the southern city of Sderot, causing damage to the buildings and to several vehicles as well as cutting off power to several streets in the city, officials said.

Over 20 rockets were fired from Gaza throughout Wednesday, repeatedly setting off warning sirens across the Gaza periphery.
On Wednesday evening Israeli jets struck in the Gaza Strip, hitting a “launching site,” the army said.

The Gaza-Israel border has seen a sharp military escalation in recent days, with Hamas claiming responsibility for several rocket attacks and the Israeli Air Force striking numerous targets in response to the salvos.
The sharp increase in violence in the south has come as tensions flare in the West Bank and inside Israel following the killing of three Israeli teenagers on June 12, the discovery of their bodies on June 30, and the suspected revenge killing of an Arab teen in East Jerusalem on July 2.

Wednesday night, July 2, Israel’s security cabinet held its third special session in two days to map out a response to the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, who were laid to rest in mass funerals Tuesday. Despite the impression of indecision, the select group of senior ministers conveyed, DEBKAfile’s sources report that they did in fact decide to hold back from a major military operation in the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minsiter Moshe Ya’alon abd Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz decided that instead of smashing Hamas infrastructure at its home base in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army would continue to pound its networks on the West Bank.

This decision was the outcome of heavy arm-twisting on the part of Egypt, Qatar and Jordan. They urged Israel to continue to smash Hamas in Mahmoud Abbas’ West Bank domain, but to leave the Islamist organization be in the Gaza Strip.

By heeding Arab advice on how to respond to the tragedy of three murdered young Israelis, the government found within hours that it had opened the door to unbridled violence both in Jerusalem and against the communities who have the misfortune to live within range of Gazan rockets.

The match which kindled the flames was the kidnap and murder of a 16-year old Palestinian boy Muhammad Abu Khdeir from the Palestinian district of Shuafat in Jerusalem. Since his body was found early Wednesday in the Jerusalem Forest, Jerusalem’s Palestinians have been in violent uproar demanding vengeance against Israel.

The prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged the police to hurry up the investigation of this “abominable crime.” But it soon turned out that the motive and the police investigation no longer mattered. The Palestinians had decided “Jewish settlers” had slain the Arab boy, and foreign observers treated the murder without further ado as tit-for-tat by Jewish extremists for the slain Israeli teenagers.

Tons of rocks and explosive devices were hurled during the day at Israeli police and security forces attempting to restore order in Jerusalem’s Palestinian districts.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas and the Jihad Islami leaders, knowing they were safe from Israeli retribution, let loose with volley after volley of rockets and mortars – 30 in a single day – against Ashkelon, Netivot, Sdot Negev, Sderot, Kerem Shalom and the Eshkol District. 

The three cabinet sessions not only failed to come up with ways to deter Hamas terror or cut its armed capabilities down to size, but reached a decision that opened the gates of violence in two arenas – Jerusalem and Gaza.

The discovery of the body of a brutally murdered Palestinian boy in the Jerusalem forest early Wednesday, July 2, unleashed violent disturbances in the Palestinian districts of Jerusalem, which climaxed in mid-morning with three pipe bombs hurled at security forces in the northern district of Beit Hanina at security forces attempting to maintain order.  One exploded, injuring a Palestinian. Enraged Palestinians then set fire to three light train stations that serve the northern districts.

Jerusalem has not seen this level of tension and Palestinian violence, including the use of explosive devices, since the suicide bombing uprising of 2000-2004.  

According to the Palestinians, the boy, since identified as Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir aged 16 from Shuafat, was kidnapped and murdered by “settlers.” They report a car with three men wrestled the boy into the vehicle and drove off. The Palestinian boy’s body showed stab wounds. It was found charred.
The Israeli police, after imposing a gag order on the investigation and the outbreaks in the Palestinian neighborhoods of north Jerusalem, said only that they are initially exploring several motives for the crime, including the boy’s family’s long history of disputes. Internal Security Minister Aharonovich reported that police reinforcements have been imported to the capital and the police were on high alert in other parts of Israel.

The troubles first erupted Tuesday night, July 1, in downtown Jerusalem, immediately after the three Israeli teens, who were abducted and murdered by Palestinians, were laid to rest in a mass funeral in Modiin. Hundreds of rowdy Jewish youths set upon Palestinians employed at places of work there. The police stepped in to arrest 50 Israeli rioters and rescue their victims.
In its first comment, the Palestinian Authority’s spokesman Abu Rodeina held Israel fully responsible for the death of the Palestinian boy and the outbreaks of violence in Jerusalem.

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