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ALERT AND BACKGROUND: ISRAEL UNDER ATTACK

ALERT AND BACKGROUND: ISRAEL UNDER ATTACK
Mortars and Rockets fired at Israeli communities from Gaza

Key Points

• Over the past several weeks, Israel has worked strenuously with Egypt, the United Nations, Qatar and other actors to reach an “arrangement” with Hamas. Its goals:
– Restore security to Israeli citizens living within range of Hamas/Islamic Jihad missiles.
– Ease the humanitarian situation of Gaza’s civilians.
• Throughout, Israel has shown – and continues to show – immense restraint, responding to ongoing attacks along the border with measured and carefully-targeted strikes.
• Just as a truce was in reach, Hamas and its terrorist allies launched a 460-rocket barrage (Nov. 12/13), one of the most intensive attacks against Israeli civilians in the country’s history.
• Last night’s attacks are a brutal and wildly disproportionate attempt to murder innocent people.
• Deliberately attacking civilians is a grave and cynical violation of international law – and must be unequivocally condemned, as the US, EU, Germany, France and others have done.
No responsible government can accept such a massive and indiscriminate attack on its civilians. Yet Israel’s response even to this barrage has been proportionate, measured and restrained.

NOTE: As of this writing, there are reports of that Hamas and its allies had agreed to a ceasefire as of 15:30 Israel time (08:30 ET), but sirens continue to sound in the Gaza-border region.

 

Background

• Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired some 460 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli cities and towns along the border, killing at least one person and wounding dozens more, in the most severe military flare-up since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Approximately 100 projectiles fired from Gaza into Israel were shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
• The rocket fire left Israeli residents in the border area on high alert, forcing them to remain close to bomb shelters. The barrage of rockets hit Israel in a number of locations, including in Sderot, where several people suffered light injuries from shrapnel, and Netivot, where a house took a direct hit.
A 40-year-old man was killed, when a rocket slammed into a residential building in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Two women who were in the same building are said to be in critical condition.
The Magen David Adom said they overall treated 53 injured Israelis, suffering from blast injuries, smoke inhalation, and stress symptoms. In total, 58 Israelis have been hospitalized.
• Israel confirmed it destroyed over 150 militant targets belonging to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza in response to the attacks. Targets included three attack tunnels, military compounds, observation posts, weapon manufacturing sites and launch sites.

“There is ample room for additional targets,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson. “We have signaled to Hamas over the course of this night that we have the intelligence and ability to strike a variety of military targets that belong to Hamas.”

A Hamas spokesman said Monday that the Israeli towns of Beersheba and Ashdod would be targeted next, if “Israel persisted in its aggression.” Palestinian Islamic Jihad echoed the statement, saying Gaza factions have the capacity to continue their offensive.

• Israel came under a heavy barrage of rocket fire on Monday, a day after an incident in which an Israeli officer was killed during an operation in Gaza that also resulted in the deaths of seven terrorists. Hamas responded by firing 17 rockets into Israel (Nov. 11/12), without an Israeli response.
• In a separate incident, an anti-tank missile launched from Gaza hit a bus in southern Israel, severely wounding a 19-year-old soldier.

 

Political context

Israel is doing all in its power to avoid escalation and bloodshed in Gaza, but – if left with no choice – will act militarily if these prolonged and intense efforts do not yield calm along the border and security for Israeli citizens.
• On Nov. 8. Israel allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million in cash to Gaza to pay the salaries of Palestinian civil servants. The payment was the first instalment of a total of $150 million the Qataris intend to send. Despite hopes that the payment would prompt Hamas to maintain calm along the border, rioting continued Nov. 9 with some of the 10,000 Palestinian participants throwing explosive devices at soldiers. One Palestinian crossed the border and set fire to a greenhouse in Netiv Ha’asara before being arrested.
• The terrorist group continues to make clear its primary goal is the total annihilation of the state of Israel.
• Hamas’s dire strategic situation dictates its moves against Israel. The group is running out of ways to attack Israel, faces intense financial strains, and popular dissent in Gaza. Hamas wants to distract from the fact that it is directly responsible for the suffering of its own civilian population, wasting hundreds of millions in aid money on military infrastructure.
• After weeks of sending masses of civilians into direct confrontation with Israel – including women children, even babies – to act as a buffer between its operatives trying to infiltrate the border, Hamas has resorted to previous tactics of firing directly on residents on the Gaza border

“It’s not a secret — they’re [Hamas leadership] in hiding,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said on Tuesday. “They fire rockets from within the Gaza civilian population at our civilian population, and they do so while hiding beneath their civilian population.”

 

What officials are saying

• “When a terrorist organization on your border launches 300 rockets at your civilian population, you have to respond. You are justified to respond. Wishing the people of southern Israel and Gaza a quiet night, with no Hamas rocket launches and no need to respond.” Dan Shapiro, U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Obama from 2011-2017.

• “Terrorists in Gaza are again attacking Israel with tools of war. These rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli towns must be condemned by all. Israel is forced once again into military action to defend its citizens. We stand with Israel as it defends itself against these attacks.”

• “Hamas’ activities continue to prove they don’t really care about the Palestinians of Gaza & their only interest is to use them for political purposes. Even Palestinian lives seem not to matter to Hamas.” Jason Greenblatt, The White House’s special representative to the Middle East.

• “Following with great concern the situation and the indiscriminate firing of rockets towards the south of Israel. Attacks on civilians are unacceptable and need to stop. Everyone must step back from the brink.” Emanuele Giaufret, European Union ambassador to Israel.

• “The escalation in the past 24hrs is EXTREMELY dangerous and reckless. Rockets must STOP, restraint must be shown by all! No effort must be spared to reverse the spiral of violence.” Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Envoy for Mideast Peace.

 

Resources:

Our partners are invited and encouraged to use and disseminate the resources below, with or without credit to TIP.

 

Audio:

• Conversation with Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon (11/13).
• Press call with Gen. (ret.) Yossi Kuperwasser former head of IDF Intelligence (11/13).
• Press call with Gen. (ret.) Israel Ziv, former commander of IDF’s Gaza Division (11/12).
Emergency Tipping Point Podcast with Haaretz military correspondent, Amos Harel, and Gaza-border resident Adele Raemer (11/13).
• TIP’s Ken Bricker joins Chris Ingram on statewide news talk radio in Florida, to discuss the latest escalation in south Israel.

 

Video/Social Media:

Video: Nadav Tsabari of Kibbutz Nahal Oz talks about the attacks (12/13)
• Video:  TIP staffer Adam Haliva at the site in Ashkelon where a civilian died in rocket attack (12/13), plus B-roll of the building (12).
• Video: Night time rockets, Iron Dome intercepts, and rocket strike.
• Facebook video: Israel under attack” video.
• Ashkelon resident who saved a woman’s life and found the body of the civilian victim.
• Memes/images: “I support Israel’s right to protect her citizens”; 7 months, 1263 rockets, 1 target; tragic image of dog injured in attack on Netivot.

 

[Photo: The Israel Project / YouTube]