Tag Archives: Gaza

IDF strikes Gaza in retaliation to rocket fire

An Israeli air force F-15 fighter jet

The Israeli Defense Forces have launched an attack on Gaza allegedly striking a weapons cache near Khan Yunis in retaliation to a rocket fired from Gaza earlier in the day.

There were at least two strikes by the Israeli Air Force, Jerusalem Post reports. Residents reported hearing two explosions in an “area that contains training sites for Palestinian militants,” according to AP. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The attack allegedly comes in retaliation to a rocket fired from Gaza earlier in the day into an open territory near the Eshkol Regional Council.

“The IDF will not permit any attempt to undermine the security and jeopardize the well being of the civilians of Israel. The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible and accountable for today’s attack against Israel,” said the IDF Spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, cited by Haaretz.

The strike on what the military called a “Hamas terror infrastructure site” is believed to be the first airstrike by the IDF since Israel’s 50-day war with Gaza this summer. Friday’s rocket was the third projectile that hit Israeli territory since Operation Protective Edge in which more than 2,100 Palestinianswere killed,most of them civilians.

“After Protective Edge, the state had a unique opportunity to bring about a long-term settlement,” the head of Eshkol Regional Council Haim Yellin told Haaretz. “But instead we find ourselves with a ticking clock until the next round of escalation, and the next war.”

Nobody has claimed responsibility so far for the rocket attack, but the former deputy defense minister Danny Danon rushed to announce that the incident once again proves that Hamas, ruling Gaza, is a terrorist organization. “If anyone doubted this then they received the answer now with the [rocket] fire,” Danon said.

Earlier this week, the EU General Court ordered that the Palestinian group Hamas be removed from the bloc’s terror blacklist – over four years after Hamas appealed its terror designation before the EU. Later on Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood in “principle” with only 88 MEPs voting against it while 498 supported the symbolic move.

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If the Gaza Truce Holds, What Then? 5 Possible Outcomes

How Operation Protective Edge might end — or carry on interminably

Egypt announced that Palestinian factions declared a 72-hour cease-fire to begin on Tuesday at 8 a.m. Israel sat out of the Cairo talks that produced the humanitarian truce, but said it would hold by the cease-fire, a government spokesman told TIME.Whether or not the parties actually make it through a full three days with no airstrikes or rocket attacks remains to be seen. Every other cease-fire effort undertaken since the escalation in early July has failed. But there is a more pressing question: What now? Who and what can put an end to the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza — with 1,865 Palestinians and 67 Israelis killed so far – and also propose a longer-term solution?Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, on Monday offered a new idea for solving the Gaza problem: let the United Nations take control of the long-troubled territory. “Everyone is asking, what happens after the operation ends? Suppose Israel defeats Hamas. There are a few options. International control of Gaza, by the UN, should certainly be considered,” Lieberman said in a press conference. This has been tried in other war-torn locales, from Kosovo to East Timor. Why not Gaza?Well, for one thing, it would be an enormous and expensive undertaking for the international community to take responsibility for Gaza. It would also require Hamas and other militant groups to agree to participate in such a scheme, which is difficult to imagine given that they’ve built their entire identities around what they view as legitimate resistance to Israeli occupation. Still, many of the key players here say that almost a month into the bloodiest phase in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the Second Intifada, some significant change must emerge at the end of it. TIME looks at five possibilities for how this could end:

  1. Send in the UN. This would involve what’s been referred to as mini-Marshall Plan, including a massive rebuilding program that would help Gaza pick up the pieces. The task would be huge: electricity and water supplies have been compromised, and an estimated 10,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged. Shaul Mofaz, a former Israeli defense minister and IDF chief, has proposed some specifics. These include having the international community oversee the demilitarization of Gaza – a goal recently endorsed by Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, but opposed by Hamas – and approximately $50 billion dollars for rebuilding. EU foreign ministers issued a joint statement July 23 backing demilitarization.
  1. Bring the PA back to Gaza: Israel and Hamas will eventually be brought into some kind of proximity talks under an umbrella of Egyptian sponsorship, and the outcome of those discussions would likely involve the return of the Palestinian Authority and its security forces to Gaza, casting them in a key role as guardians of the crossing points into Israel and Egypt – along with international help. The PA, run by the PLO’s secular Fatah faction, was forced out of Gaza in 2007 as part of a violent coup staged by Hamas, whose name is an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement. Bringing a PA political and security presence back to Gaza would help beef up the legitimacy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. As part of such an arrangement, Israel would likely demand a joint patrolling mechanism on the Gaza perimeter to prevent infiltrations and renewed attempts to rebuild tunnels, more than 30 of which the IDF says it has destroyed. However, the rockets from Gaza did not start when Israel pulled its troops and 8,000 settlers out of Gaza in 2005, but rather, Israel points out, in 2001. Therefore, Israel is likely to refuse any agreement that doesn’t include a mechanism for preventing Hamas from rebuilding its rocket arsenal. The fact that Hamas and Fatah joined in a “reconciliation” government in April makes this form of cooperation more feasible than it was even a year ago.
  1. A ten-year truce: Almost two weeks ago, Hamas offered Israel a 10-year hudna, or Arabic truce. Its terms include – but are not limited to – the following: (1) the release of approximately 50 Palestinian prisoners who, after being released as part of Gilad Shalit deal in late 2011, were re-arrested by the IDF in June following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank (2) the opening of the border crossings with both Israel and Egypt (3) international supervision of the Gazan seaport instead of the Israeli naval blockade, as well as extended fishing rights to 10 km off the coast of Gaza, (4) an international airport under UN supervision, and (5) International forces on the borders of Gaza. Even if Israeli officials were prepared to accept all of that — which would be unlikely — they have said that the very concept of a hudna, a concept rooted in Islamic history, is problematic because it suggests Hamas only believes in a limited period of calm with the Jewish state, but refuses a more permanent solution because it seeks its destruction.
  1. Possible reoccupation of the Gaza Strip This is an option that is often mentioned by Israel’s far-right, including some members of Netanyahu’s cabinet. Coalition partner Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Economy, said last week that Israel should continue its military operating until Hamas is completely defeated. Lieberman, the foreign minister, had suggested in late June that Israel reoccupy Gaza, saying only that would stop the rockets. Ultimately, Netanyahu appears to have rejected these calls, realizing that such a move would likely cause far more bloodshed and further rattle Israel’s already compromised international legitimacy.
  1. Indefinite war In this scenario, Israel withdraws its troops and tanks from Gaza, but continues to use air and naval strikes as it sees fit. Hamas stays in power and launches rockets at Israel whenever it pleases, and essentially, nothing substantial changes from how things looked a month ago – other than a great number of destroyed buildings and upwards of 2,000 lives lost. If the parties cannot agree on a cease-fire deal that feels satisfactory, “Operation Protective Edge” could simmer down into a indeterminate cycle of occasional attacks, robbing both Israelis and Palestinians of a return to normal life. Some are hoping that the right cease-fire deal is just around the corner, and some are wishing their leaders will keep holding out for more. But the possibility of a low-level war of attrition, lasting years and costing yet more lives, is not remote.

 TIME.

4 Hamas Billionaires and 600 Millionaires Turning Civilian Suffering into Hard Cash

By S.M. Lightening

The media in Israel, but more so in neighboring Egypt, is full of condemnations of Hamas leaders, who live in luxury hotels at the expense of the Qatar oil sheiks, or in mansions with the latest fitness equipment, while instructing the downtrodden civilians in the Gaza Strip to become martyrs in service of the Palestinian cause.

Middle East expert Col. (res.) Dr. Moshe Elad spoke to Globes this week about the estimated wealth of those Hamas leaders, who are beginning to be known popularly as the Arab world’s new tycoons.

Elad spent 30 years in the IDF, as Governor of Jenin district, Bethlehem district , Tyre district (in South Lebanon), and as Head of Security coordination with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, during the implementation of the “Oslo Accord” (’95-’98). Since his retirement, Elad has been teaching today at Western Galilee College, and at Galil – the International Management Institute.

“The vast majority of Hamas founders and leaders were refugees or second generation refugees,” said Elad. “They had no money at all. When they and Hamas were just starting out, the organization (not in its own name) was nurtured by the Israeli military government, which fostered the Islamic associations working in the Gaza Strip as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Their phenomenal wealth started accumulating when they decided to disassociate themselves from Israel and search for alternative financing sources.”

The money, says Elad, came from wills of the deceased, charity funds, and contributions from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and these days Qatar.

To remind you, the strongly pro-Hamas Al Jazeera Media Network is also funded by the ruling family of Qatar, the House of Thani.

With US based charities starting to funnel funds to Hamas, in the early 1990s, Hamas leaders began to acquire big money. “One of those fundraisers was Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, the number 2 man in Hamas,” says Elad. “He began a fundraising campaign in the US among wealthy Muslims, while at the same time founding several banking enterprises. He himself became a conglomerate of 10 financial enterprises giving loans and making financial investments. He’s an amazing financier.”

The US arrested Marzook in 1995, on charges of supporting terrorism. After he spent two years in jail, he was expelled without a trial. And he got to keep the money.

“When he was expelled from the US in 1997, he was already worth several million dollars,” Elad says. “Somehow he evaded the clutches of the US Internal Revenue Service and was not charged with financing terrorism. People in the know say he probably became connected to the administration and cooperated with it. There is no proof, but it’s hard to think of any other reason why he escaped punishment for such serious offenses. In 2001, in the investigation of the September 11 events, it turned out that he had extensive financial connections with Al Qaeda, including the transfer of funds to the 21 Al Qaeda operatives accused of the attacks.”

Today, Marzook is considered one of Hamas’ wealthiest billionaires. “Arab sources estimate his wealth at $2-3 billion,” Elad says.

Another Hamas leader-turned-tycoon is Khaled Mashaal. “Estimates around the world are that Mashaal is currently worth $2.6 billion, but the numbers mentioned by the Arab commentators are much higher, varying from $2-5 billion invested in Egyptian and Persian Gulf banks, and some in real estate projects in the Persian Gulf countries,” Elad notes.

Another tycoon terrorist is Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. “He is a scion of a family from the Al-Shati refugee camp, and his capital is estimated at $4 million,” Elad says. “He registered most of his assets in the Gaza Strip in the name of his son-in-law, Nabil, and in the name of a dozen of his sons and daughters and a few less well known Hamas leaders. They all have homes in good neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip, where the value of every home is at least $1 million.”

The Arshaq Al-Awsad newspaper, one of the most prestigious in the Arab world, recently reported that at least 600 millionaires were living in the Gaza Strip. Much of that money came from the smuggling operations, through hundreds of tunnels that used to lead into Gaza from Egypt.

“Senior Hamas leaders charged a 25% tax and $2,000 on every disassembled vehicle coming through the tunnels,” said Elad. “From June 2007 until 2010, $800 million in cash was transferred in tunnel deals (according to information from Hamas money traders). Hamas also taxes Gaza merchants on everything traded, from boxes of vegetables to luxury cars, and the leaders scoop the money into their pockets.”

Another source of wealth for Hamas leaders was land acquisition. “They took over land mainly near the sea in good areas, such as the former Gush Katif, then sold it. In effect, they are the cat guarding the cream – the land – so they were able to take over land and loot it for themselves,” Elad explains.
“This is corruption at the highest level, Elad concludes. “What has united the Palestinian leaders all throughout the years is the saying, ‘We have to get rich quick.’ This is how the regime sees it. Their leaders have no shame. Shortly after they got power, they took control of fuel, communications, and any other profitable sectors in the country. There are get-rich-quick schemes and corruption in Western society, too, but there it’s done sophisticatedly with envelopes of money and complex structures of bribery and the like. Among the Palestinians, they tell you straight out, ‘I want to get rich.’”

Hamas’s Civilian Death Strategy – WSJ

Palestinians search for survivors in Gaza's eastern Shijaiyah district on July 20.

Palestinians search for survivors in Gaza‘s eastern Shijaiyah district on July 20.

By –Thane RosenbaumJuly 21, 2014 3:19 p.m. E

Let’s state the obvious: No one likes to see dead children. Well, that’s not completely true: Hamas does. They would prefer those children to be Jewish, but there is greater value to them if they are Palestinian. Outmatched by Israel’s military, handicapped by rocket launchers with the steady hands of Barney Fife, Hamas is playing the long game of moral revulsion.

With this conflict about to enter its third week, winning the PR war is the best Hamas can hope to achieve. Their weapon of choice, however, seems to be the cannon fodder of their own people, performing double duty in also sounding the drumbeat of Israeli condemnation. If you can’t beat Iron Dome, then deploy sacrificial children as human shields.

Civilian casualties will continue to mount. The evolving story will focus on the collateral damage of Palestinian lives. Israel’s moral dilemma will receive little attention. Each time the ledgers of relative loss are reported, world public opinion will turn against the Jewish state and box Israel into an even tighter corner of the Middle East.

All the ordinary rules of warfare are upended in Gaza. Everything about this conflict is asymmetrical—Hamas wears no uniforms and they don’t meet Israeli soldiers on battlefields. With the exception of kaffiyeh scarves, it isn’t possible to distinguish a Hamas militant from a noncombatant pharmacist. In Vietnam, the U.S. military learned guerrilla warfare in jungles. In Gaza, the Jewish state has had to adapt to the altogether surreal terrain of apartment complexes and schoolhouses.

There are now reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are transporting themselves throughout Gaza in ambulances packed with children. Believe it or not, a donkey laden with explosives detonated just the other day.

The asymmetry is complicated even further by the status of these civilians. Under such maddening circumstances, are the adults, in a legal and moral sense, actual civilians? To qualify as a civilian one has to do more than simply look the part. How you came to find yourself in such a vulnerable state matters. After all, when everyone is wearing casual street clothing, civilian status is shared widely.

The people of Gaza overwhelmingly elected Hamas, a terrorist outfit dedicated to the destruction of Israel, as their designated representatives. Almost instantly Hamas began stockpiling weapons and using them against a more powerful foe with a solid track record of retaliation.

What did Gazans think was going to happen? Surely they must have understood on election night that their lives would now be suspended in a state of utter chaos. Life expectancy would be miserably low; children would be without a future. Staying alive would be a challenge, if staying alive even mattered anymore.

To make matters worse, Gazans sheltered terrorists and their weapons in their homes, right beside ottoman sofas and dirty diapers. When Israel warned them of impending attacks, the inhabitants defiantly refused to leave.

On some basic level, you forfeit your right to be called civilians when you freely elect members of a terrorist organization as statesmen, invite them to dinner with blood on their hands and allow them to set up shop in your living room as their base of operations. At that point you begin to look a lot more like conscripted soldiers than innocent civilians. And you have wittingly made yourself targets.

It also calls your parenting skills into serious question. In the U.S. if a parent is found to have locked his or her child in a parked car on a summer day with the windows closed, a social worker takes the children away from the demonstrably unfit parent. In Gaza, parents who place their children in the direct line of fire are rewarded with an interview on MSNBC where they can call Israel a genocidal murderer.

The absurdity of Israel’s Gaza campaigns requires an entirely new terminology for the conduct of wars. “Enemy combatants,” “theater of war,” “innocent civilians,” “casualties of war” all have ambiguous meaning in Gaza. There is nothing casual about why so many Gazans die; these deaths are tragically predictable and predetermined. Hamas builds tunnels for terrorists and their rockets; bomb shelters for the people of Gaza never entered the Hamas leaders’ minds.

So much innocence is lost in this citizen army, which serves as the armor for demented leaders and their dwindling arsenal of rockets and martyrs. In Gaza the death toll of civilians is an endgame disguised as a tragedy. It is a sideshow—without death, Hamas has nothing to show for its efforts.

Surely there are civilians who have been killed in this conflict who have taken every step to distance themselves from this fast-moving war zone, and children whose parents are not card-carrying Hamas loyalists. These are the true innocents of Gaza. It is they for whom our sympathy should be reserved. The impossibility of identifying them, and saving them, is Israel’s deepest moral dilemma..

Mr. Rosenbaum, a novelist, essayist and professor at the New York University School of Law, is the author, most recently, of “Payback: The Case for Revenge.”

Hamas’s war is ultimately with Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his inauguration ceremonies at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, on June 8, 2014

The humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, which ran until 3 p.m. Thursday, ended abruptly. The two sides went back to fighting each other. Hamas fired rockets all over Israel, and Israel tried to strike the organization’s infrastructure, hitting Palestinian civilians along the way. Then, on Thursday night came the ground offensive — part two of Operation Protective Edge, as the IDF Spokesman put it. An Israeli delegation had returned from Cairo Thursday morning, where they tried unsuccessfully to reach a ceasefire. According to Egyptian media reports, the delegations from the two sides stayed in the same hotel in Cairo, as Egyptian mediators ran between them trying to bring about a truce

Hamas’s demands in the Cairo talks make it increasingly clear why the organization went to war. Hamas, it seems, initiated an escalation with Israel when its target was really Egypt. Hamas may be aiming its missiles at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but Israel was ultimately a hostage in the Islamists’ effort to get closer to Cairo.

Hamas wants this in order to bring an end to the blockade on Gaza, open the Rafah Border Crossing, and in many ways to ensure its own survival.

On Tuesday morning, many people in Israel raised an eyebrow at Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian ceasefire. But if we examine the crisis from the prism of Egypt-Hamas relations, we can see things differently.

Cairo offered the organization the same language it rejected from the outset: quiet for quiet. But for Hamas, the big problem was the way the Egyptian ceasefire was presented: At the same time that Razi Hamid, Hamas representative in Gaza, received the Egyptian document, the initiative was already being published in the Egyptian media.

This was a humiliation for Hamas, since no one thought to consult with its leadership. And still, as even senior Hamas officials admit, there is no other mediator in the region. Just like real estate agents who have a monopoly on a certain area, Egypt has a monopoly on Israel-Hamas relations.

Cairo might have no patience for the Palestinian group, treat it like an enemy for its deep connection with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and want to humiliate it, but Egypt’s own regional standing is no less important. Cairo does not want to see the involvement of any other regional actor, not Turkey and certainly not Qatar. (Egypt sees the al-Jazeera channel, which is so critical of the el-Sissi regime, as the long arm of the Qatari royal family and the semi-official mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood.)

The bottom line is that the key to solving the current escalation was — and remains — in Egypt’s hands, not in those of any other Arab or international party. Hamas demanded the opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza from almost the first minute of the operation. Egypt rejected the idea immediately, as long as Hamas stands on the Palestinian side of the crossing. But Cairo has emphasized that, if there are Palestinian Authority forces under Mahmoud Abbas deployed there, it has no objection to opening the crossing.

Hamas security forces stand guard at the closed gate of the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, May 2013.

And that is how the idea got rolling. The PA adopted it warmly, since it puts back Abbas at the center of things in Gaza. Israel didn’t reject it, primarily because it trusts Egyptian security oversight at Rafah. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni even held a series of consultations on the matter. And it seems as if, both in Ramallah and Jerusalem, the understanding was that Egypt would offer the opening of Rafah as part of the ceasefire package.

But Egypt didn’t play the proposal entirely right. It first offered quiet for quiet — perhaps in order to push Hamas into the corner, perhaps to keep another arrow in the quiver in ceasefire negotiations, perhaps both. Only after Hamas said no, and came out looking like a warmonger, did Abbas arrive in Cairo in order to come across as the one who proposed the idea that would save Gaza from both Hamas and Israel. A smart move.

The question remains, however, what will happen until the crossing is opened. Placing PA forces in Rafah, along the border and at the crossing, is not the work of a few hours. Abbas and Egypt made the offer to Hamas on Wednesday to first and foremost stop the firing, and then to talk about the opening of Rafah. Evidently the heads of the Hamas military wing were not prepared to do that.

In addition, Hamas has consistently presented other demands, such as the release of prisoners originally freed in the Gilad Shalit deal and re-arrested after the murder of the three Israeli teens last month, to which Israel does not agree at the moment.

And so, on Thursday evening, the possibility of a ceasefire grew dimmer and dimmer, and the ground option that Netanyahu so feared suddenly became the reality.

Who remembers now that some foreign media outlet reported a ceasefire would take effect on Friday morning at 6 a.m.?

The Times of Israel

 

Breaking news / Israeli military starts ground operation in Gaza

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the military to start a ground operation in Gaza, his office has announced.

“The prime minister and defence minister have instructed the IDF to begin a ground operation tonight in order to hit the terror tunnels from Gaza into Israel,” the statement said.

A large IDF force has launched a new phase of Operation Protective Edge, starting a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, an IDF spokesperson has confirmed.

As reported by the Associated Press, Israel had originally organized about 48,000 reserve soldiers for the operation, but on Thursday another 18,000 were called up. It’s unclear how many are actually involved in the ongoing ground offensive.

Israel’s chief military spokesman Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, meanwhile, urged residents in Gaza to evacuate areas in which the military is operating, since it is doing so with “very great force.”

According to the IDF statement, the goal is to target Hamas tunnels that “enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks.”

“We are now continuing with the ground forces to strike terrorist infrastructure, Hamas infrastructure, in multiple areas throughout the Gaza Strip,” army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters.

“Following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation, the Israel Defence Forces (army) has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in a statement, according to AFP.

The IDF also accused Hamas of using civilian deaths to paint Israel’s actions in a negative light.

“In the face of Hamas’ tactics to leverage civilian casualties in pursuit of its terrorist goals, the IDF will continue in its unprecedented efforts to limit civilian harm,” it said.

Hamas, meanwhile, said Israel’s move is “foolish” and will have “dreadful consequences.”

Speaking with CNN, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, “the beginning of the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza is a dangerous step with unknown consequences. Israel will pay a heavy price for it.”

Witnesses and Gaza residents reported heavy artillery and naval shelling along the Gaza border.

Israel’s latest ground operation comes after attempts to broker a cease-fire with Hamas failed to take hold. The last 10 days have seen both sides exchange rocket fire, resulting in the deaths of more than 220 Palestinians and one Israeli, with some attacks coming under intense scrutiny. Recently, four Palestinian children were killed by an Israeli airstrike while they were playing on a beach in Gaza.

Overall, Israel has struck more than 2,000 targets in Gaza, while Hamas has fired almost 1,500 rockets towards Israel.

Although both Israel and Hamas agreed to observe a brief suspension of hostilities following a request by the United Nations, reports indicated on Wednesday that Israel was considering sending boots on the ground in order to remove rockets and other weapons used by Hamas.

“The IDF’s objective as defined by the Israeli government is to establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continued indiscriminate terror, while striking a significant blow to Hamas’s terror infrastructure,” the army said in its statement.

The last time Israel launched an extensive ground offensive in Gaza was back in January 2009, following an armed conflict that began the month prior in December. That offensive, known as Operation Cast Lead, began on January 3 and was tasked with a similar objective: to secure areas from which militants were launching rockets. The entire conflict – which ran from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009 –resulted in the deaths of up to 1,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

Tensions Rise on Gaza Border as IDF Thwarts Terror Attack

Coming after terrorists launched rockets into Israel late last week and Israel retaliated, Monday, IDF soldiers prevented an attack at Israel’s border with Gaza. The Times of Israel reported:

The soldiers spotted two suspects carrying a suspicious object near the fence, and chased them away by firing warning shots, according to a statement from the army. As they fled, the suspects dropped the object, which exploded moments later.

Soldiers guarding Israel’s border with Hamas ruled Gaza are regularly under threat from snipers as well as improvised, explosive devices (IED’s).

Monday’s incident at the Gaza border came on the heels of cross border attacks during the past week. Thursday and Friday last week, terrorists fired 5 rockets into Israel. The IDF retaliated hitting five sites inside Gaza.

IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, said:

“The retaliation this evening at Gaza terrorist aggression was precision, and intelligence based. It is our obligation to seek out those that wish to attack us, eliminate their capabilities and pursue them wherever they hide. Hamas rocket terrorism is an intolerable reality Israelis should not have to accept.”

Four Hamas members were reported injured.

Last month Israel intercepted an Iranian sponsored arms shipment heading to Gaza. The rockets intercepted suggested that Hamas was trying replenish its arsenal that had been degraded during 2012′s Operation Pillar of Defense.

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Israel fires on 29 ‘terror sites’ after rockets from Gaza hit towns – CNN

(CNN) — Israel responded with heavy fire after five rockets from Gaza landed Wednesday in populated areas of southern Israel, marking “the most substantial attack” in two years against the country, the Israeli military said.

The military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, called the Al-Quds Brigade, claimed responsibility for firing dozens of missiles on what it called “Israeli settlements.”

In response, Israel launched airstrikes on three areas in Gaza — Rafah, Khan Younis and Jabalia — that are believed to belong to Islamic Jihad, according to security sources in Gaza. A Hamas spokesman texted CNN to say they counted six airstrikes, but claimed they were against bases that were empty.

In all, the Israeli military targeted “29 terror sites” in Gaza, the military said on its Twitter page.

“Direct hits were confirmed,” the military tweeted.

“In today’s attack, 41 rockets struck in Israel, five hit populated areas and three were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system,” the military said in another statement. “This is the most substantial rocket attack from the Gaza Strip since Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.”

Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which is the Palestinian movement running Gaza, evacuated their military and civilian institutions on expectation of Israeli reprisals, the security sources in Gaza said.

Israel intercepts ship with weapons headed to Gaza

In the wake of the attack, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Israeli army radio that “the position of my party Israel Beitanyu is that we support the full occupation of the whole of Gaza in any possible future action.”

Liberman opposed a response short of full occupation. “I am against a limited operation,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was later asked for his reaction to Liberman’s comments at a joint news conference with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron Wednesday evening in Jerusalem.

“If it is not quiet in southern Israel, it will be very noisy in Gaza,” Netanyahu said in Hebrew.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called upon Israel to stop the “military escalation on the besieged Gaza Strip, considering that this escalation will put the isolated residents in the danger of the war and destruction,” presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said through the official Wafa news agency.

“The Gaza Strip is constantly being targeted by Israeli airstrikes that targeted many areas,” Rudeineh said.

Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV flashed a banner stating: “The occupation bares the full responsibility regarding this wave of aggression and the ongoing escalation.”

Abu Ahmad, spokesman for the Al-Quds Brigades, said the rocket fire came “after a long series of violations to the truce with the Palestinian resistance since November 2012.”

“This operation, dubbed ‘Breaking the Silence,’ comes as a response to the ongoing and continued Zionist Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza,” Ahmad said.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ordered a halt to the shipment of goods to Gaza through a crossing on the Gaza-Israel-Egypt border until security assessments are made, the military said in statement.

However, another crossing will be open for humanitarian movements, the military said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the multiple rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel and urged maximum restraint by all parties to prevent an escalation of violence and destabilization to the region, a spokesman said.

Israeli Apache helicopters flew over Gaza City on Wednesday after several rockets were reportedly fired from the Palestinian territory at the Israeli town of Sderot, officials said.

The Al-Quds Brigade claimed responsibility on its website for firing a total of 34 rockets and 14 mortar rounds at “Zionist targets.”

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Rocket barrage from Gaza hits Israel, no one hurt : police

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(Reuters) – Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired at least 20 rockets into Israel on Wednesday, the Israeli military said, in the heaviest such barrage in two years.

The rocket fire, which police said caused no casualties, was claimed by the Islamic Jihad group and came a day after Israel killed three of its members in a Gaza air strike.

Police said “a number of waves of rockets” had hit southern Israel. The military said in a statement that two rockets had been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

“It’s a barrage such as we haven’t seen for two years,” Haim Yellin, a local municipal official in the south, told Army Radio, referring to an eight-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza in November 2012.

Sirens sounded in several communities across southern Israel to alert residents to take shelter and general warnings were given urging everyone in the area to remain indoors.

“It appears as though the waves of rockets have come in response to our preventive operations of yesterday,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

“We shall continue to thwart and attack those who seek to attack us, and shall act against them with great force.”

Describing the incident on Tuesday in which three Islamic Jihad militants were killed, the military said they were targeted after they fired mortar bombs at Israeli soldiers.

Islamic Jihad said at the time that its men had died confronting Israeli troops who had entered the Gaza Strip.

Israel pulled its soldiers and settlers out of the territory, now run by Hamas Islamists, in 2005. But it maintains a naval and air blockade and severely restricts the overland movement of people and goods across the volatile border.

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Hamas Official Brags Group Will Blanket Israel With Advanced Missiles in Next War

A Hamas official reportedly told Agence France-Presse (AFP) over the weekend that any future war between Israel and the Iran-backed terror group will see Hamas launching missiles at Israeli civilians far in the country’s north, a boast bound to deepen increasingly open concerns within Israel’s military and political establishments that Hamas is stockpiling an arsenal capable of the sustained saturation bombing of Israeli civilian centers.

The comments were made during a Hamas ceremony in Gaza City for the unveiling of a rocket-statue which features a life size M-75 rocket, whose real life counterpart can reach 75 kilometers into Israel. The M-75 was used to target Tel Aviv and its surroundings as well as the greater Jerusalem area during 2012′s Operation Pillar of Defense.

AFP conveyed other boasts from the ceremony, including one by a masked figure who bragged that “Hamas managed to take the battle to the heart of the Zionist entity (Israel) after developing its rocket system.”

Israel last week intercepted a Gaza-bound arms ship dispatched by Iran and carrying missiles capable of putting roughly five million Israelis under fire. The nature and substance of Hamas’s threats, especially coupled with the Palestinian faction’s ongoing efforts to stockpile advanced missiles, are likely to solidify Israeli skepticism toward calls from some corners of the international community that Jerusalem lift its blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

via Hamas Official Brags Group Will Blanket Israel With Advanced Missiles in Next War – The Tower – The Tower.

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