Monday, March 25, 2019

Rockets Continue To Pound Israel, Hamas Rocket Fire Overshadows AIPAC Conference

Rockets continue to pound Israel, despite purported cease-fire 

Despite talks of a cease-fire by 11:00 p.m., rockets continued to be shot into Israel from Gaza. At approximately midnight, a rocket barrage was shot into the Eshkol Regional Council and the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, where a spokeswoman for the cluster of communities said power was cut due to the attacks. 

Many residents reportedly went to sleep in bomb shelters, as communities in the Gaza belt region have 15 seconds from the time the "tzeva adom" or "code red" warning siren is sounded until rocket impact. In most cases rockets are shot down in mid-air by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, which has been deployed in the south of the country.

The latest wave of rockets caused no injuries or property damage, said Adi Meiri, spokeswoman for Shaar Hanegev Regional Council.

School has been cancelled for Tuesday in the city of Ashkelon and the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, areas that have been hit by rockets in past flare-ups, the Ministry of Education announced following recommendations from the Home Front Command. Residents will be updated in the morning if the situation continues.

The first rocket to be fired at Israel happened around 5:20 a.m. on Monday. Hamas launched a rocket that flew toward the center of the country, slamming into a private home in the Sharon region. Seven people were injured and four dogs were killed. 

That rocket led to an escalation between Israel and Hamas, as Israel retaliated. 

"The destruction of terrorist homes is good," said Yogev in a tweet late Monday night, referring to the actions the IDF has taken against terrorists in the West Bank, "but in the Gaza Strip it is not enough."

He said that a ceasefire in the face of continued rocket attacks, "violates Israel's commitment to its citizens. Deterrence resides only when the leaders of terror are given a price that they will not be able to withstand."

The festive atmosphere of the second day of the AIPAC Policy Conference was overshadowed by news of the rocket attack from Gaza Monday at dawn that struck Moshav Mishmeret. At the long lines for security checks outside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the MKs, journalists and participants from across the US were all regularly checking their cellphone for updates.

Maj.-Gen. (res) Amos Gilad told The Jerusalem Post that we are already in a new “round of violence.”

“Hamas attacked Israel. They have all sorts of excuses. But they are in charge in Gaza, and Israel responses accordingly. We are already in the midst of escalation. We did not initiate it. We are responding, defending ourselves. We should wait and see the outcome of the [IDF] attacks. That looks serious,” he said.

Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Post that “It is obviously a concern. There were provocations that are not acceptable, and we have to learn more about it. I don’t know all the details yet.” When asked if he thinks that we’re getting closer to a military confrontation between Israel and Hamas, Engel replied: “I don’t know. I hope not. But I certainly understand that Israel needs to protect its people, and the United States has always been supportive of Israel, and will continue to do so.”

In a conversation at the sidelines of AIPAC confab, Engel also addressed the presidential decision to recognize Israel sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“Israel has controlled the Golan Heights since the war in 1967,” he said. “I can’t think of anybody who seriously thinks that Israel should leave. Obviously, it is important to the security of Israel to continue to have a strong Israeli presence there. However they do it is fine with me. But I think that everyone realizes that given the situation in Syria, given the fact that there’s no real government there, given the fact that Assad is a murderer, no one thinks that the Golan Heights should return to Syria.”

Former secretary of cabinet and current Blue and White Knesset candidate Zvi Hauser told the Post that “In moments like this, the political debate is irrelevant. There’s a challenge to the state of Israel. The main challenge to the security is the missiles threat, both in the south and Israel’s north front. Therefore, we can’t live in a situation in which [the] Israeli citizen is the only one in the world that faces this threat on a daily basis.”

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