Over the weekend nearly 700 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians. The shelling was so intense that missiles were fired on an average of every three minutes for hours at a time.
At this week’s more than year-long thousands-strong violent Friday protests waged by Gazans at the border with Israel, two Israeli soldiers were injured by sniper fire. By Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, rockets and missiles began pummeling the Jewish State. Israel responded with several hundred rounds of attacks.
ISRAEL TARGETS TERROR SITES, GAZANS TARGET ISRAELI CIVILIANS
Four Israeli civilians were murdered, including one Bedouin man, an Israeli Muslim, and two Israeli Jews, one of whom was an Israeli-American. More than 200 Israelis were injured. As Israel’s “Tzeva Adom,” (Code Red) warning sirens blared, thousands of Israelis fled to bomb shelters or safe rooms in their homes or buildings across much of southern Israel.
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted 240 rockets, while an estimated several dozens of rockets aimed at Israel fell short, landing instead in Gaza.
Israel responded with hundreds of attacks against terror sites in Gaza including rocket launch sites, ammunition depots and weapons manufacturing and training sites.
The IDF reinstated its targeted assassination protocol with pinpoint strikes against specific high value individuals in Gaza. A Hamas field commander was targeted by an Israeli aircraft in Gaza City on Sunday, and an Israeli missile was fired at a motorcycle transporting two terrorists in the northern Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad said eight of its members were killed over the weekend.
Hamas, the terrorist group voted into power by Gazans in 2006, is held responsible by Israel for all threats emanating from the Strip. But a rival terrorist group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is acknowledged to be behind many of the missile launches. PIJ unveiled a new rocket this weekend, the “Badr-3,” which it claims has a 250 kgs warhead.
Most savvy Middle East followers understand that Iran is the source of funding and weapons to the terror factions in Gaza. On Sunday, Israel successfully carried out a targeted assassination of Hamed Ahmed al-Khudari. The 34-year old Khudari was responsible for huge transfers of funds from Iran to the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The sites struck by Gazan missiles were almost all Israeli civilian sites, including a hospital, a civilian’s car, several residential homes and a kindergarten.
(SOME) U.S. OFFICIALS WEIGH IN ON ROCKET BARRAGES
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley expressed outrage at the bombardment of Israel by Gazans: “Imagine if 600 rockets had been fired into the US or any other country besides Israel. What country would not defend itself? Ever presidential candidate needs to weigh in on their thoughts on this attack. Go ahead…we’ll wait.” Haley tweeted.
U.S. President Donald Trump who is running for re-election did weigh in, tweeting, “Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed the President’s support for Israel’s self-defense during an appearance on Fox News.
The President also sent a message to Gazans: “To the Gazan people – these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery. END the violence and work towards peace – it can happen!”
While none of the Democrats competing to be the next presidential candidate for their party issued a statement about the ongoing misery in Israel and Gaza, some leading members of the party did weigh in. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo called “appalling” the “indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israelis” by Hamas. He went on: “Nothing justifies the barrage of hundreds of rockets targeting Israel’s population. The rocket fire from Gaza must stop so that both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) similarly put out a statement
calling on Hamas to immediately cease launching rockets into Israel. “The targeting of innocent communities is never acceptable, as is the exploitation of protected sites like schools and mosques by Hamas and its affiliates for the purpose of launching attacks.”
Hoyer called the attacks from Gaza a “gross and blatant violation of international law,” and called Israel’s response “entirely justified.”
Arizona’s new senator, Kyrsten Sinema (D), condemned the rocket attacks on “innocent civilians.” Sinema said she stands “in support of Israel and peace.”
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was mute, as was New York Senator Chuck Schumer. Also silent about Israel pummeling by Gaza was the representative of the congressional district with the highest concentration of Jews in the U.S., Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
TWO HOUSE MEMBERS SHIFT BLAME AWAY FROM GAZA
Two closely-watched members of Congress, both freshman Democrats, did have what to say about the escalating violence. Their views didn’t jibe with Cuomo’s, Hoyer’s or Sinema’s statements.
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), a self-described Palestinian Muslim, was outraged by a New York Times headline that described Israel’s response to Gazan rockets as “self-defense.” Tlaib wrote:
“When will the world stop dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free?” She slammed the headline, claiming it “feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress & target Palestinian children and families. #FreePalestine”
Tlaib’s bosom buddy, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (D} disingenuously queried: “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.”
Many responded to Omar’s tweet with disbelief. Israel removed every Israeli, living and dead, from Gaza in 2005: claiming Israel still occupies Gaza 14 years after the coastal enclave has been Jew-free is absurd, and only underscores Omar’s lack of sincerity, they pointed out.
SONS OF WORLD LEADERS CLASH OVER RESPONSIBILITY
Early reports from Gaza, widely repeated by the international media, claimed that a pregnant woman and her 14 month-old daughter, Seba abu Arar, were killed by Israel. However, Israeli spokespeople insisted the two were killed by a misfired Gaza rocket. Nevertheless, a photograph of the dead child was shown repeatedly on social media, accompanied by claims that Israel intentionally killed her.
In one particularly vivid exchange over this clash of responsibility, Tommy Corbin, son of U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbin who is widely acknowledged as a fervid Israel-hater and antisemite, posted a photo of the dead child. Corbyn called on the world to “wake up and stand in solidarity with Palestine. RIP. #FreePalestine.” And Yair Netanyahu, son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shot back: “They were killed by a Palestinian Hamas missile launched towards Israel that fell in Gaza.” The young Netanyahu continued schooling the young Corbyn about the bloodshed caused by Gaza: “4 Israelis were murdered including an Israeli Arab Muslim (I know u dont care about the other 3 Jews).”
(YET ANOTHER) CEASEFIRE
As of seven a.m. in Israel – midnight, U.S. time – the IDF Home Front Command gave official notice that civil defense restrictions in southern Israel were removed. Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire.