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Posted in: Israel

Published on May 12, 2021 by Fern Sidman

Published by The Jewish Voice

Hamas Launches Unprecedented Rocket Barrage on Israel; Arabs Lay Siege on Lod

The IDF has deployed artillery units to the Gaza border and ordered the mobilization of 5,000 reserve soldiers after rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip continued into Tuesday. Israel has been under unceasing rocket attack since Monday afternoon, with the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups in Gaza began targeting Israel’s southern and central regions as well as Jerusalem. Three Israelis have been confirmed to have died from injuries sustained in the missile attacks, as was reported by the Tazpit Press Service.

Late Tuesday night it was reported that the Israel Defense Forces have said that they have neutralized two senior Hamas leaders in a targeted strike. They identified the men as Hassan Kaugi, the chief of the security department in Hamas military intelligence and his deputy, Wail Issa. The IDF said that Issa was the brother of Marwan Issa, the deputy commander of the Hamas military wing.

On Tuesday it was reported that a 50-year old woman from Rishon Letzion was tragically killed during a barrage of rockets launched from Gaza. There are also reports of eight people injured in the attack, including a five year old girl. Also on Tuesday, TPS reported that an Ashkelon woman, Sahumia Santosh, 32, the mother of one child and a citizen of India who was employed as a caregiver to an 80-year old woman was killed when a rocket struck her house. The elderly patient was severely wounded.

According to a Times of Israel report, a technical issue with an Iron Dome battery during the massive rocket barrage toward the coastal city prevented some rockets from being intercepted and may have been responsible for the casualties and deaths. The malfunction was repaired and the battery returned to being fully operational shortly after, Hebrew-language media reports said.

The Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon on Tuesday said that it treated 95 casualties, including two seriously wounded and two in moderate condition.

On Tuesday afternoon, it was also reported that the Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline facility was hit by a rocket from Hamas forces in Gaza and heavy flames engulfed the structure.

According to a Yeshiva World News report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday ordered a massive contingency of Border Police battalions to the city of Lod, where Palestinian terrorists have overtaken parts of the city, destroying synagogues, Jewish owned stores and dozens of vehicles.

Yeshiva World News reported that Arabs in Lod went on wild rampages “in solidarity” with their Arab brethren in the Gaza Strip, ransacking and torching shuls, desecrating Sifrei Torah, and setting Jewish schools on fire, including a Talmud Torah. The Arabs, who raised Palestinian and Hamas flags in the course of the riots, also tried to set a police station on fire, attacked the Lod city hall and a museum, and tore down traffic lights and street signs.

The Arab mob also attacked the medical staff at the nearby Assaf HaRofeh Hospital, and some patients had to be evacuated for their safety.

Israel’s Home Front Commander has announced that schools will be closed throughout the country on Wednesday, due to the escalating attacks from Gaza. The education system is preparing for several days of remote learning.

The recent spate of hostilities emerged late last week when Arab mobs began to organize violent riots in the Sheikh Jarrah section of Jerusalem, which is adjacent to the Silwan area. Arabs launched attacks on Jews, claiming that court proceedings regarding their illegal squatting in Jewish owned homes in the area was unfair. Using guns and other live firearms, the Arab rioters moved their battle to the Al Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. For several days, the Arab mob locked horns with Israeli police as a sense of terror pervaded the area.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a situation assessment in the IDF’s Southern Command on Tuesday with Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, and other senior IDF officers, as southern Israel was being pounded by over 300 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip in less than 24 hours, as was reported by TPS.

Netanyahu stated at the end of the session that Israel is in the “midst of a campaign. Since yesterday, the IDF has been conducting hundreds of attacks on Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. We have eliminated commanders, and have hit many of their quality targets.”

“The conclusion of the meeting is to further increase both the intensity of the attacks and the rate of attacks,” he declared.

“Hamas will receive blows that it did not expect. I know that this also involves patience and a certain sacrifice on your part,” he said to the citizens of the south.

In an address to the entire nation on Tuesday, Netanyahu said: “We are in the midst of a major campaign – Operation Guardian of the Walls. Yesterday and today, the IDF attacked hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. We have eliminated dozens of terrorists, including senior commanders. We have bombed Hamas command centers and toppled buildings that serve the terrorist organizations. We will continue to attack with all force.

We have just finished a consultation and assessment of the situation with the heads of the security establishment and we made decisions. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have paid and – I tell you here – will pay a very heavy price for their aggression. I say here this evening – their blood is on their heads.

Citizens of Israel, we stand united against a reprehensible enemy. We all grieve for those who have been killed. We all pray for the wellbeing of the wounded. We all stand behind the IDF and the security forces.

I ask everyone, without exception, to strictly follow the directives of IDF Home Front Command and enter protected spaces, this saves lives. I tell you something else this evening. This campaign will take time. With determination, unity and strength, we will restore security to the citizens of Israel.”

Also on Tuesday, it was reported that the forces being called up in an emergency procedure include infantry and artillery units as well as intelligence and air force personnel as part of Operation Guardian of the Walls. Photos seen by TPS show artillery batteries and tanks close to the Gaza border. Large numbers of armored vehicles have been reported to be making their way to Israel’s south from the north.

The IDF will maintain strikes on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip, an IDF spokesperson stated on Tuesday, as was reported by TPS. After missile attacks had continued throughout the night, the IDF announced it had hit additional targets in Gaza.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday authorized the mobilization of the reserve units, the Ministry of Defense stated, according to the TPS report. The soldiers have been ordered to join Israel’s Southern Command, the Homefront Command, and the Operations Directorate within the IDF General Staff.

Eight Border Police reserve units have also been called to active duty and are to reinforce police units across the country following the latest violence and Muslim riots in several cities and towns, the Israeli police announced on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the IDF’s “Chariots of Fire” military exercise has been suspended. Launched on Sunday, the month-long wargame was to simulate war on several fronts, and primarily against Hezbollah in the north, and was to include a scenario of the massive firing of missiles and rockets from all arenas on the home front, as was reported by TPS.

It was scheduled to be the largest and most comprehensive IDF maneuver in its history and was to include regular and reserve forces from all commands, with the participation of combat forces in the air, at sea and on land, as well as the political echelon, the Ministry of Defense, the National Emergency Authority the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other security bodies.

On Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi had announced that the operation would not be canceled or postponed due to tensions in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip but on Tuesday reversed his decision following the latest round of missile attacks, according to the TPS report.

The IDF has reported that it has eliminated some 30 terrorists since Hamas attacked Jerusalem on Monday evening and after the IDF announced the launch of Operation Guardian of the Walls. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has bombed hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip and has killed several senior military commanders since the commencement of Operation Guardian of the Walls on Monday night. The head of the Islamic Jihad’s special rocket unit Jihad, Samah Abd al-Mamluk, was killed in an IAF strikes together with other terrorists.

Gantz stated Monday night that the IDF ”will continue in the coming days with powerful actions of strategic significance to the activities of terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, and we will not stop until the peace returns. We will not stop until we achieve long-term peace and severe damage to the terrorist infrastructure.”

Yeshiva World News reported that IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said on Tuesday that the operation is expected to last several days and that the IDF will hit Hamas harshly in the coming day. “We have an intense day ahead of us,” Zilberman said at a press conference. “We have a goal and we won’t stop until we’ve achieved it.”

Islamic Jihad stated on Tuesday that two of its commanders were killed in an airstrike and another one, the brother of Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata, who was eliminated by Israel in 2019, was critically injured.

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups took responsibility for the rocket fire. Hamas issued a statement on Tuesday claiming that it fired 137 rockets within five minutes. “This was our biggest rocket attack yet and we have much more,” the statement said.

Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) near Tel Aviv was temporarily shut down on late Tuesday evening, following rocket attacks on central Israel and the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Videos showed missiles fired from the Gaza Strip being intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system close to the airport.

Flights were diverted to Cyprus and Greece as it initially remained unclear how long the airport would remain closed. Outgoing flights have been postponed. Late Tuesday, VIN News Service reported that the airport had reopened after been shuttered for approximately an hour.

In a statement, the Israel Airports Authority said that the airport had been shut down “to allow defense of the nation’s skies.”

On Tuesday afternoon an official statement sent to the media by Israel’s Acting Consul General in New York, Israel Mitzan said: “Hamas continues to incite violence in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria. Rockets have been fired at schools, hospitals, playgrounds, hitting apartment buildings and other civilian rockets. Oftentimes in the last 24 hours, the rockets have been fired from civilian areas in Gaza. Hamas terrorists are endangering the lives of civilians in Gaza, in Israel and in the West Bank, as more than one-third of the rockets launched have landed in Gaza.”

“In regards to the violence on the Temple Mount, Israeli police forces did not descend on worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque. Protestors gathered at the holy site, gathering rocks, stones and fireworks in the hours before the escalation. Rioters are using the mosque as a base to hold stones and fireworks, with the intention of hurling them at police and Jews worshipping below at the Western Wall. The destruction seen at al-Aqsa is the direct result of rioters violently attacking police. Police were acting in the interest of public safety for all citizens of Jerusalem.”

“Hamas is maliciously exploiting an especially sensitive time as the holiest days of Ramadan coincide with Jerusalem Day, the national holiday celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. The terrorist organization Hamas is taking advantage of the sensitive religious and national sentiment of this period in order to inflame tensions in Jerusalem, as well as to strengthen its own position in Judea and Samaria. This did not start as a clash over the freedom of worship. Instead, Hamas is intentionally using this holy time to incite violence against Israel. Israel is committed to enabling everyone, regardless of faith, to worship and ensuring everyone’s freedom of religion in Jerusalem and beyond.”

Israeli Consulate spokesman Itay Milner said: “It’s important to emphasize that Iran-backed Hamas and other terrorist groups are deliberately firing at civilian Israeli targets while using their own Palestinian civilian areas as the staging areas for their attacks. Israel is responding by launching targeted attacks at terror sites while working extremely hard to reduce any civilian casualties.

The two Israeli women killed in Ashkelon today were murdered as part of the intended efforts of terrorists in Gaza, and they are celebrating them as such. Palestinian casualties of any kind are something Israel mourns and regrets deeply. For several days, Israel avoided escalation while the situation became more tense. Hamas, though, crossed a limit by firing rockets at the capital of Israel for its own political and eternal reasons.”

Dr. Phyllis Chesler, a prolific author, psychologist, veteran feminist activist and ubiquitous voice on Israel related topics said: “The propaganda that has preceded the rocket attacks by Hamas is seemingly unstoppable. This kind of insidious propaganda gives cover for Islamic terrorism. Let’s be clear; what we are witnessing now is Palestinian act of war. Currently, the New Yorker magazine has come out with an article about Israeli “intransigence” and the purported oppression of the Palestinians. My fear is that the United Nations will condemn Israel for defending themselves against those who are bent on its total destruction.”

Also on Tuesday, Rabbi Aryeh Spero, president of Conference of Jewish Affairs said in a statement to the media: “As reports pour in of rocket attacks on Jerusalem by the Hamas terrorist organization, we of the Conference of Jewish Affairs stand firmly with Israel and call on President Biden to follow the courageous lead of his predecessor, President Trump, who was a staunch supporter of Israel and who, with clarity, achieved unparalleled strides in bringing peace to the Middle East region through the ground-breaking Abraham Accords.

“It is time for the Biden Administration to step up and enunciate a clear pro-Israel policy, as well as to follow through on implementing the Abraham Accords peace initiatives,” stated Rabbi Spero. “ “According to reports in Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, during riots last Friday in Jerusalem, Hamas terror leader, Ismail Haniyeh, a partner of Iran, blessed the youth who participated in violent attacks against Israel.” He has stepped up his calls for rioters to intensify their attacks on citizens in Israel and is launching missiles against heavy population centers in Israel and near kindergartens.

Also on Tuesday, in a statement sent to the media the The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim condemned the recent missile attacks by terrorists in Gaza that were fired on Jerusalem during Jerusalem Reunification Day.

Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the RAA expressed the strongest condemnation “of this cowardly terrorist attack on Israel. It is disrespectful for the world to stand idle during these attacks on civilians as Israel celebrates the 54th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Israel, America’s trusted ally in the volatile Middle East, should not face an unprovoked attack that places its citizenry in harm’s way without harsh consequences for the attacker. Israel takes every step to accommodate all religions and permits all peaceful worshippers the full opportunity to access their holy sites and pray in them freely. This freedom of religion is a rarity in the Middle East.

However, when Israeli Jews celebrate their holidays and national days of celebration, they are attacked. Jews cannot and will not be second class citizens in the world, unable to practice their religion and celebrate their holidays. The path to peace in the Middle East will never lie in denying Jews their historical and religious rights.”

On Tuesday afternoon, former President Donald J. Trump also released a statement to the media. Having crafted a legacy of being the most pro-Israel and anti-terrorism president in the history of the United States, the 45th president said: “When I was in office we were known as the Peace Presidency, because Israel’s adversaries knew that the United States stood strongly with Israel and there would be swift retribution if Israel was attacked.

Under Biden, the world is getting more violent and more unstable because Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies. America must always stand with Israel and make clear that the Palestinians must end the violence, terror, and rocket attacks, and make clear that the U.S. will always strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself.

Unbelievably, Democrats also continue to stand by crazed anti-American Rep. Ilhan Omar, and others, who savagely attack Israel while they are under terrorist assault.”

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