CNN – Published on May 29, 2018
CNN’s Phil Black reports that Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes on targets in Gaza in response to what it called the biggest barrage of rocket and mortar fire from the strip since the 2014 war there. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said it launched more than 35 airstrikes targeting the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, after approximately 70 rockets and mortars were fired toward Israeli territory. At least 25 incoming projectiles were intercepted by its iron dome air defense system, the IDF said earlier in the day.
Published on May 29, 2018
DAILY DOSE | A projectile interception was caught on camera as correspondent Shai Ben-Ari was in the field reporting on the situation with IDF forces and Gaza.
Published on May 29, 2018
Visit our website – http://www.tv7israelnews.com/ Today’s top stories 29.05.18; 1) Islamist militants fired this morning a heavy barrage of mortar shells from the Gaza Strip toward Israel’s southern communities. 2) Amid growing friction between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Israel in Syria that has escalated into a direct confrontation between the two regional powers; Russia has reportedly intervened, to assure the situation does not deteriorate further, a reality that could harm Moscow’s interests in the war-torn-country, including its goal of preserving the Assad regime. 3) EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini emphasized that the Union will continue to work together to advance its aspired two-state-solution, in which the EU will continue to promote Jerusalem as the future capital of both states.
GAZA MILITANTS BARRAGE ISRAEL WITH MORTARS AND ROCKETS
Sirens sounded in an Israeli kibbutz after mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning.CreditAmir Cohen/Reuters
JERUSALEM — Islamic militants in Gaza attacked southern Israel with rockets and mortars on Tuesday and Israel responded instantly with a wave of airstrikes across the Palestinian territory, a sharp escalation of violence after weeks of deadly protests, arson attacks and armed clashes along the border.
The exchanges were the most intense cross-border hostilities in Gaza since the two sides fought a 50-day war in the summer of 2014. By 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Israel said there had been 70 rockets or mortars fired from Gaza throughout the day.
The military wing of Hamas — the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza — claimed responsibility jointly with another faction, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Earlier in the day, it was initially assumed that Islamic Jihad was behind most of the attacks after Israel killed three of its members on Sunday.
“Bombing will be met by bombing and blood for blood,” the two groups said in the joint claim.
Israel responded with airstrikes on 35 targets in Gaza after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel held Hamas responsible for the mortar attacks. Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile system intercepted dozens of incoming projectiles, according to the military.
Three soldiers and one civilian were injured on the Israeli side, but no fatalities were reported.
Tensions have been spiraling along the border in recent weeks during a series of Palestinian protests against the 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip and to press Palestinian claims to lands in what is now Israel. Israel insisted that it was not seeking to escalate, and that it was up to Hamas to decide whether to ratchet things up or stand down.
“Quiet will be met with quiet and violence with an appropriate response,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman. But as he spoke, Israel’s civil defense system was alerting its citizens to a fresh round of incoming rockets and more alerts followed.
Late Tuesday, after a deluge of Israeli civil defense alerts about incoming fire from Gaza, Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced a cease-fire and credited Egyptian mediation for the deal. But Israel did not confirm such an agreement, and well after midnight the alerts of launchings from Gaza continued unabated.
Early Wednesday, Israel announced a new wave of airstrikes against 25 more Hamas targets in Gaza, saying it was holding Hamas responsible for conducting and allowing a “wide-scale attack against Israeli citizens.
Smoke billowing near Gaza City after an Israeli airstrike on Tuesday.CreditThomas Coex/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The United States called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the latest attacks on Israel from Gaza and said it expected the session to be held on Wednesday afternoon.
“The recent attacks out of Gaza are the largest we have seen since 2014,” said the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley. “Mortars fired by Palestinian militants hit civilian infrastructure, including a kindergarten. The Security Council should be outraged and respond to this latest bout of violence directed at innocent Israeli civilians, and the Palestinian leadership needs to be held accountable for what they’re allowing to happen in Gaza.”
The Israeli military also said it had discovered and destroyed a U-shaped tunnel dug by Hamas from Gaza heading south into Egypt, then looping back north and extending about 900 yards into Israel. Colonel Conricus said the tunnel was intended for both smuggling and attacks and had been completed but not yet been put into use.
One mortar shell fired Tuesday morning struck in the yard of a kindergarten in an Israeli border community shortly before preschoolers were to arrive. Television images showed the fortified walls of the kindergarten pockmarked with shrapnel and hunks of metal from the mortar shell jutting out of the sand in the playground.
Soon after the initial barrage of 25 mortars, Israeli authorities announced a return to normal and schools and kindergartens in the area opened as usual, suggesting that the military was not expecting, or planning, an immediate escalation into a broader conflict.
Half an hour later, however, sirens blared again as more mortar rounds were launched. That was followed by more sirens and more mortars.
By afternoon, cellphones were buzzing with alerts of incoming rockets a few times an hour, and Colonel Conricus said local residents had been told not to stray more than a 15-second run from the nearest bomb shelter.
“In some cases over the last few hours, we’ve been able to provide 20 seconds of warning. But the current standard of warning is for 15 seconds,” he said.
A tree damaged by mortar shells near the playground of a kindergarten in Israel on Tuesday.CreditAmir Cohen/Reuters
One of the rockets fired from Gaza hit a major supply line for electricity from Israel to Gaza and Israel’s electric company said repairs would have to wait until it was safe for crews to work on it. That was expected to further reduce the sporadic electricity supply that already leaves Gazans without power for many hours a day.
Suspicion for Tuesday’s attacks initially fell on Islamic Jihad, an extremist group backed by Iran which sometimes rivals Hamas but sometimes works with the group against Israel.
On Sunday, Israel shelled an Islamic Jihad observation post in southern Gaza, killing three members of the group.
The Israeli military said it was a response to an explosive being planted the night before along the security fence dividing Gaza from Israel. The bomb, hidden in a pair of wire cutters, exploded as sappers neutralized it remotely. There were no injuries on the Israeli side.
Islamic Jihad vowed to respond. Dawoud Shehab, a spokesman for the group, welcomed the mortar barrage, saying, “Our Palestinian people’s blood is not cheap.”
Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas are heavily funded by Iran, the Israeli military noted, adding that the mortars used Tuesday were standard Iranian munitions. But officials stopped short of accusing Iran of ordering the attack.
Experts said that there was ample room for the two sides to return to a standoff after Tuesday’s fighting, but that a different outcome of the morning’s mortar attack could have tied Israel’s hands.
Amos Harel, the military affairs analyst for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, said if the mortar had struck near the kindergarten half an hour later, it would likely have led to a major Israeli campaign.
An Israeli armored personnel carrier on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza on Tuesday.CreditAmir Cohen/Reuters
“If we had, God forbid, two or three kids dying there, then the public reaction and political reaction would have been much different and we may have been facing a larger Israeli operation, even a ground operation in Gaza right now,” he said.
Mr. Netanyahu met late Tuesday with the defense minister and the army chief of staff.
“Israel views harshly the attacks against it and its communities by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza,” the prime minister said earlier in the day. “Israel will exact a heavy price from whoever tries to harm it and we view Hamas as bearing the responsibility for preventing such attacks against us.”
The United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay E. Mladenov, condemned the barrage of fire out of Gaza.
“Such attacks are unacceptable and undermine the serious efforts by the international community to improve the situation in Gaza,” he said. “All parties must exercise restraint, avoid escalation and prevent incidents that jeopardize the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.”
As many as 120 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 30, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, mostly by snipers during the protests and half of them in a single day, May 14, the peak of the campaign.
The May 14 protests were timed to coincide with the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem and came on the eve of the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians call the nakba, or catastrophe, referring to the war surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948.
Israel said it was defending its border and the nearby communities against a mass breach by the protesters, adding that Gaza militants intended to use unarmed civilian protesters as cover to infiltrate Israeli territory and attack Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Palestinians have also sent incendiary kites and balloons over the border fence from Gaza, setting hundreds of fires in the fields and forest on the Israeli side.
Over the weekend, a small group of Palestinians cut through the fence and set fire to an empty Israeli military post. Israeli fighter jets struck a Hamas military compound in response. And late Monday, heavy machine-gun fire from Gaza hit buildings in the Israeli border town of Sderot.
Tuesday’s hostilities extended not just below and above ground, but out to sea. A Hamas boat carrying people needing medical attention attempted to run the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and head to Cyprus. But it was stopped and the boat was towed to the Israeli port city of Ashdod without any harm to the 17 people aboard, Israel said.