Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Updates From Israel

Dozens of rockets and shells fired into Israel overnight, house hit

Thousands of Israelis spent the night in bomb shelters as terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired some 40 rockets and mortar shells at communities near the coastal enclave early Wednesday, with several of the projectiles being intercepted by Iron Dome. There were no reports of injuries.
The IDF said that rockets and shells were fired at the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regions and that Iron Dome intercepted some of them, while most of the others fell in open areas. One house in the Eshkol region suffered a direct hit; it was empty at the time.

The army did not give the number of rocket and mortar fire launches, but Hebrew media reports said there were more than 40.

Sirens also went off in other regions including the city of Ashkelon and the town of Netivot, but the IDF said they appeared to be false alarms and they were investigating the cause.
Earlier in the evening, fragments of a rocket that had apparently been intercepted by Iron Dome landed in a sports facility in Netivot. The shards of the projectile caused light damage to a number of structures, but no injuries. One woman, who was close by at the time, was said to have suffered a panic attack.
A video, shared by Channel 10 news on social media, showed a cloud of smoke coming out of the area following the impact.
Despite the attacks, schools in the region were set to open on schedule Wednesday morning.
Late Tuesday Israeli warplanes hit some 25 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in a second wave of retaliatory strikes, the army said.

The military said fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft bombed a Hamas drone facility, rocket manufacturing plant, advanced weapons depot, military compounds, training camps and weapons factories.

Video from Gaza showed large explosions rocking the area as aircraft were heard roaring overhead.
It was the second round of strikes carried out by the IDF in response to the mortar and rocket fire from Gaza. Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli aircraft targeted approximately 40 positions in the Gaza Strip belonging to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups.
Earlier, Hamas and the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad released a joint statement claiming responsibility for the dozens of rockets and mortar shells fired at southern Israel throughout the day.
Israel holds Hamas responsible for all violence emanating from the coastal enclave, which the Islamist terror group has ruled since 2007.
IDF spokesperson Ronen Manelis said at an evening press conference that the army was ready to intensify its retaliatory raids if Hamas and Islamic Jihad continued to launch projectiles at Israel.
“The IDF is prepared for a number of scenarios, is determined to act against terrorist operatives and will continue to fulfill its mission of defending the citizens of Israel,” the army said.
Tuesday’s escalation came after weeks of soaring tensions in the region stemming from weekly violent protests spurred by Hamas on the border. It began with an early morning mortar shell barrage into southern Israel, with one shell exploding in the yard of a kindergarten shortly before children arrived.

1. Strong words and threats by Israeli ministers to the Hamas terrorist group pepper the pages of the country’s major newspapers and websites after dozens of rockets and mortar shells were fired at the Jewish state from the Gaza Strip last night, forcing thousands of civilians to spend the night under the cover of bomb shelters.

2. But despite the soaring tensions in southern Israel, Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya announced on Tuesday that a “consensus” had been reached in the Strip to “return to the understandings of the ceasefire” during the night. He said that Hamas and other “resistance factions” were committed to the ceasefire as long as Israel, too, was committed to it.

3. Ben-Yishai adds that the IDF, well aware of the intentions of the Palestinian terror organizations, took steps to ensure that the situation wouldn’t escalate into a full-blown war.

4. But if the IDF can’t or won’t topple Hamas, what steps are needed in order to assure that Gaza doesn’t descend into chaos and inflame the entire region in the process?

5. In Israel Hayom, some of writers do not share the view of their counterparts in Haaretz, and many of the paper’s contributors demand that Israel enter the Strip and deal Hamas a debilitating blow.
    6. Despite the flareup in Israel’s south, there are still many who willingly choose to make the Jewish state their home. One of such individuals is Russian-Jewish billionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of London’s Chelsea soccer club.

    7. While the sirens wailed in the Israeli communities near Gaza, British alt rock band alt-J returned to Israel last night, playing Tel Aviv’s Convention Center.

    A senior defense official said Wednesday that Israel was prepared to refrain from further attacks on Gaza if terror factions in the Strip also kept the peace, indicating that an informal ceasefire has taken hold after a restive day.
    The Israeli Air Force bombed dozens of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad facilities across the Gaza Strip in two rounds of air raids, on Tuesday afternoon and predawn Wednesday, amid the largest exchange between Israel and Gazan terrorist groups since the 2014 war.
    Over the course of 22 hours, from 7 a.m. Tuesday to 5:17 a.m. Wednesday, sirens were triggered at least 166 times in southern Israel, according to the IDF Home Front Command, by mortar fire, rockets or, in some cases, heavy machine gun fire.

    A reported Egyptian-brokered informal ceasefire between Palestinian terror groups and Israel appeared to be holding on Wednesday morning, with both sides blaming the other for the flareup.

    Israel denied that it had reached an agreement, but a senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated to reporters that an understanding had been reached under which Israel would not conduct additional strikes in Gaza so long as no more rockets or mortar shells were fired.

    “If the launches are renewed, the attacks against Hamas will be intensified,” the official said.

    The rocket and mortar fire from Gaza has ceased because of significant strikes that the IDF carried outovernight in Gaza, a senior source in the Israeli defense establishment said Wednesday.

    “The IDF launched a significant strike overnight in Gaza and we have acted responsibly, and since the morning the fire has stopped. Israel has delivered a message that if the fire resumes, the attacks on Hamas and the other groups will intensify,” he said.

    “In recent months, Israel has acted with force and determination against any attempt to violate its sovereignty and/or harm the security of the residents of the south and it will continue to act with force against any attempt to violate the peace,” he said.

    Palestinian media quoted Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhom as saying a “consensus was reached to return to the ceasefire understandings” in the Gaza Strip after “many hours” of meditation.

    Israel’s Reshet Bet reported that over 180 rockets and mortars were launched towards Israeli civilian areas, and earlier on Wednesday the IDF released an infographic of 65 airstrikes carried against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to the over 24 hours of fire launched from the enclave.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday said foreign militias should leave southwestern Syria as soon as possible, state media outlet TASS reported.
    Lavrov echoed comments he made earlier in the week when he said that only Syrian troops should be stationed in rebel-held Daraa province, a region adjacent to the Israeli border that has emerged as a flashpoint in a wider standoff between the Jewish state and Iran.
    Israel has warned that Iran is trying to establish a presence near the border, and last month accused the Islamic Republic of firing a salvo of rockets at Israel from there. On Wednesday evening, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is scheduled to travel to Moscow for talks expected to focus on Iran and its forces in Syria.

    On Monday, Lavrov told reporters that only Syrian troops should be near the country’s southern border with Jordan and Israel, indicating that Russia is receptive to Jerusalem’s demands that Iranian forces should be kept far from its borders.
    “Of course, the withdrawal of all non-Syrian forces must be carried out on a mutual basis, this should be a two-way street,” Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow. “The result of this work which should continue and is continuing should be a situation when representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic’s army stand at Syria’s border with Israel.”

    Last week, Iran appeared to reject remarks from Russia’s leader that it should pull its forces out of Syria after a political settlement is reached in the war-torn country.
    “No one can force Iran to do anything,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi said, according to the Tasnim news website.

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