Op-Ed: Hamas wanted to send a message to Israel and in two days, they launched nearly 700 rockets into Israeli territory. Israel responded with heavy airstrikes and moved armor up to the border area in the latest outbreak of violence. When the smoke cleared, 24 Palestinians were dead with hundreds wounded and 4 Israelis were killed, with another 234 wounded.
The Egyptians brokered another ceasefire which began at 0130 hours local on Monday. They are trying to hammer out a long-term deal but the chances of that happening or ever coming to fruition are slim.
Hamas is trying to force the Israelis to ease blockade restrictions into Gaza and that it wanted to disrupt the upcoming music competition “Eurovision” which was slated to begin on Monday. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad vowed to “prevent the festival” in statements released by each.
“We will prevent the enemy from succeeding in establishing any festival aimed at harming the Palestinian narrative,” Palestinian Islamic Jihad released in a statement. Then Hamas began the weekend by launching 150 rockets into Israel.
The Israelis then began a series of airstrikes in Gaza City at the site of the rocket launches as well as targeting Hamas military targets. And as is the norm for Hamas, they launched their rockets from the middle of crowded neighborhoods, knowing full well that the Israelis would immediately launch counter-strikes before the first rockets hit the ground. Many of the Hamas commanders and their fighters’ homes were targeted as well.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘s office told David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, and ambassadors from Europe that Hamas was “committing a double war crime by indiscriminately shooting at civilians from civilian centers.”
The resultant civilian casualties are always what Hamas counts on, including two pregnant women, two infants and a child — were killed, along with two unborn children. However, the Israelis were quick to point out one Palestinian woman and child were not hit by Israeli strikes but from a malfunctioning Hamas rocket. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the IDF, said in a statement that, “It was from internal fire,” he said.
The IDF said it struck rocket launchers, tunnel shafts, “terror squads and operatives,” and weapons-making factories belonging to Hamas, who controls Gaza, and the Iranian-funded group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Of the 690 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel, the IDF announced that their “Iron Dome” missile defense system, successfully shot down 240 of the rockets. In response, Israel targeted over 350 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza. The Israelis killed a senior Hamas commander allegedly involved in transferring Iranian funds to the group was killed during an airstrike.
On Monday, Netanyahu said that “the campaign is not over and requires patience and judgment. We are preparing to continue. The goal was and remains to ensure the peace and security of the residents of the south.”
This latest spate of violence began on Friday when Islamic Jihad fired across the border and hit two Israeli soldiers. The airstrikes in retaliation killed two Hamas militants. Then on Saturday, Hamas began launching missiles at Israel which further escalated events. The two sides had attacked each other in March before the Egyptians stepped in again to broker yet another ceasefire.
Among the dead on the Israeli side was a 68-year old man whose minivan was hit with a Russian made Kornet wire-guided, anti-tank missile. Hamas took credit for that and proclaimed “victory” in that Israel has promised to expand the fishing limits for Gaza fishermen, Israel will stop shooting at Palestinians during the weekly protests near the border, also known as the Great March of Return; easing the blockade on the Gaza Strip; allowing international relief organizations to assist families whose houses were destroyed in the last round of fighting; an end to Israeli targeted assassinations.
With the influx of tourists this week for Eurovision. Netanyahu was forced between a rock and a hard place. But for Israeli citizens who live close to the Gaza border and who provided the Prime Minister the edge in the latest election, they’re wanting a much harder line between the government and Hamas.
But this isn’t the end of this latest back and forth affair. Israel this week celebrates their Memorial Day followed by Independence Day. For the Palestinians in Gaza, this week begins the Holy month of Ramadan. Tensions always get high during this time frame.
Of course, as soon as the violence erupted, American Congresswoman and noted anti-semite Ilhan Omar jumped into the fray with this latest bit on social media.
@IlhanMN – How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends?
The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable. Only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace.
She must have forgotten or doesn’t know (nor care) that Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza. The Israelis withdrew years ago leaving behind warehouses full of food and synagogues. Which the Palestinians burned… but the truth never got in the way of a good social media rant to incite the sheeple….right?
Photos of Offices of Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh – Rimal: IDF