#AceHealthReport – Sept.11: A research team using data from Maccabi Healthcare Services in Tel Aviv found that the rate of infection dropped 48 to 68 percent within a week to 13 days after the third shot of the Pfizer vaccine. In addition, the study found the infection rate dropped even further—70 to 84 percent—two weeks to 20 days after the additional dose, reports Jason Gale of Fortunemagazine.
#CoronavirusNewsDesksays an Israeli Study Finds Third Shot Provides Significant Boost in Covid-19 Immunity: When it comes to #COVID19 vaccinations, it appears the third time is a charm. A new Israeli study finds that people who get a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have a significantly lower risk of infection from the coronavirus, including the more dangerous #Delta variant.
Israeli study finds infection rate drops dramatically with third Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination
Released on MedRxiv before submission to a peer-reviewed journal, the Israeli Ministry of Health study concludes there are short-term health benefits to receiving a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“Further studies are needed to determine the duration of protection conferred by the third dose and its effect on severe disease,” conclude the researchers, who include Daniel M. Weinberger, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health.
So far, more than 2 million of Israel’s 9.3 million residents have received the third dose, reports Dov Lieber of the Wall Street Journal. They include 70 percent of Israelis 60 or older and about half who are more than 50 years old.
“If your goal is to provide someone with high levels of short-term immunity, there’s no question that a good way to do this is … through a booster shot,” David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in the research, tells Gretchen Vogel of Science magazine.
He cautions that more research is needed to find out how long the boosters last since this study only covers a short period of time.
Health officials in Israel also want to know more about the booster’s longevity. They say they don’t know yet if more than three doses will be needed to protect people, though they are moving ahead with plans to give the booster to as many people as possible as the Delta variant continues to spread.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had wanted wealthier nations to hold off on administering boosters until people in poorer countries had received their first shots. However, Hans Kluge, WHO Europe’s regional director, is now saying the additional dose should be given to people who are most at risk.
“A third dose of vaccine is not a luxury booster taking away from someone who is still waiting for a first jab,” he tells Hannah Knowles and Lenny Bernstein of the Washington Post. “But it’s basically a way to keep the people safe, the most vulnerable. But at the same time, we need to share. So we need to do it all.”
#AceNewsReport – Sept.07: A picture of a tunnel entrance purportedly used by the prisoners to escape has been widely shared on Palestinian social media.
#AceDailyNews says Six Palestinians Escape from High-Security Israeli Occupation police and the military had started a search after the escape from Gilboa prison in the Zionist entity’s north.
Media outlets reported that the inmates had apparently escaped through a tunnel early on Monday.
A picture of a tunnel entrance purportedly used by the prisoners to escape has been widely shared on Palestinian social media, and Israeli media are reporting the men used a tunnel to get out, but police have not yet confirmed it.
Five of the Palestinians reportedly belong to the Islamic Jihad Resistance movement and one is a former commander of an armed group affiliated with the mainstream Fatah party, the Prisons Service said.
The facility, about 4 km (2 miles) from the boundary with the occupied West Bank, is one of the highest-security jails in the occupation regime.
Four of the men were serving life sentences. One of them s was identified by the Prisons Service as Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank city of Jenin.
Palestinian Resistance factions hailed the jailbreak, with Hamas considering it a “great victory.”
“This great victory proves again that the will and determination of our brave soldiers inside the prisons of the enemy cannot be defeated,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas.
For its part, Islamic Jihad Resistance movement hailed the jailbreak as a victory, stressing that “the struggle the Israeli enemy is long and open.”
The six escaped from Gilboa Prison, near the Sea of Galilee in what is being billed as the country’s worst prison-break. Authorities deployed drones and helicopters to the areas and the army set up checkpoints.
Five of the six are members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, and four are serving life sentences for planning deadly attacks against Israelis. Another, Zakaria Zubeidi, is a commander in the terror wing of the Palestinian political party Fatah, and was awaiting trial for more than two dozen crimes including multiple terror attacks during the Second Intifada.
The Times of Israel reports:
Evoking scenes from the iconic prison film The Shawshank Redemption, upon searching the men’s cell, investigators found the opening — just large enough for a grown man to pass through — dug into in the floor under the sink of their bathroom. It was not immediately known how the man dug through the concrete and metal rebar floor, when even metal spoons are not allowed into the cells, though the prison service has long dealt with extensive and at time even elaborate smuggling operations into its facilities.
Prison officials said the men had not tunneled their way out of the prison but had instead dug their way into an existing gap and used that to escape. The men exited through another tunnel into a road on the south side of the prison.
The Israel Prison Service believes the men had outside help, communicating with allies outside through a cellphone they smuggled into their cell.
The military also put checkpoints in place throughout the Jenin area.
The men were spotted walking along the road near the prison at around 3 a.m., prompting at least one man to call the police.
“I just passed by the prison and I saw some suspicious people walking around. Maybe you should tell them to do a patrol or something,” the man told police, according to a recording of the call that was shared on social media.
The man said the suspicious men appeared to be walking east from the prison, toward Beit She’an and the Jordanian border.
Islamic Jihad officials said the escape marked “an utter failure for the occupation army” and was a “strong slap to the Israeli military and the whole Israeli system.”
The Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group hailed the escape as “a brave and heroic act,” the Times reported.
“[This is] a victory for the will and determination of our heroic prisoners, and a real challenge to the Zionist security system, which the occupation boasts as being the best in the world,” Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum said in a statement.
#AceNewsReport – Aug.06: In a post-Trump world, Iran continues to be emboldened: “Iran’s incoming President Ebrahim Raisi has promised to take action to lift harsh sanctions imposed by the United States.” “Iran says US agreed to remove 1,040 sanctions from Trump era in nuclear talks,” Times of Israel, June 23, 2021:
#AceDailyNews says on Thursday Raisi takes office as president as Khamenei calls for ‘competent, jihadi, intelligent, courageous management’ and promises to lift sanctions, improve public trust,” by Maziar Motamedi, Al Jazeera, August 3, 2021:
But Raisi has ordered the killing of thousands in mass executions and the torture of pregnant women. But he calls himself a ““Iran’s president-elect says he won’t negotiate over missiles,” Associated Press, June 21, 2021:
Iran has been celebrating its “victory” and vision in the face of Biden’s impotent leadership. This is only the beginning. Raisi threatened in his speech that “he will enact that change based on revolutionary tenets outlined by the supreme leader.”
Today, our dear country is thirsty for valuable service & it needs competent, jihadi, intelligent, courageous management that can use the manifest and hidden capabilities of the nation, which are much greater in scope than the problems, for constructive work and endeavor.
I thank the Omniscient, Omnipotent God Who helped Iran again with His grace & benevolence, to be honored in the test of elections. Our esteemed nation displayed the authority of its vote over the country’s affairs with its honorable presence in complex, difficult circumstances.
Tehran, Iran – Iran’s incoming President Ebrahim Raisi has promised to take action to lift harsh sanctions imposed by the United States and bridge the gap with dissatisfied Iranians but said he will not tie the country’s future to the West.
After being officially endorsed on Tuesday by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as Iran’s eighth president, the 60-year-old signalled that he will continue talks to restore the country’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers from which the US unilaterally withdrew three years ago.
“We will certainly be after lifting cruel sanctions, but we will certainly not make the people’s livelihoods and the economy conditioned, and won’t tie it to the will of foreigners,” he said during his speech at the televised ceremony in the capital, Tehran, which was also attended by other top officials and military commanders.
A sixth round of negotiations with deal signatories in the Austrian capital ended in June, after which Iran signalled that talks can only continue after Raisi assumes office this week.
Enrique Mora, the European Union’s top representative in the Vienna talks, is expected to attend Raisi’s inauguration on Thursday, a move heavily criticised by Iran’s regional rival, Israel.
While there are expectations a day may be set to resume the talks following Raisi’s swearing-in, rhetoric by Iran and the US over the past week has suggested the two countries’ demands are at odds and both may need to make major compromises for the talks to lead to an agreement.
Focus on corruption, economy
Raisi will also take power days after the US, the United Kingdom and Israel accused Iran of targeting an oil tanker linked to an Israeli businessman with a drone, killing two crew members, including a British and a Romanian national.
Iran has rejected the allegations, saying it would “respond decisively” if other countries decide to attack its interests.
In his speech on Tuesday, Raisi said the people of Iran wish for a change in the status quo, and that he will enact that change based on revolutionary tenets outlined by the supreme leader.
“The people have called for a government that would make up for their damaged trust, return that trust and bridge the gap between the people and the government,” he said, while also pledging to fight corruption….
Raisi’s victory in the controversial June 18 presidential elections was also a central talking point during Tuesday’s ceremony.
Raisi said the people created a “glorious spectacle” on election day, sending a message of support to the Islamic Republic and calling for justice and an end to inequality and corruption.
According to official figures, turnout was 48.8 percent, the lowest in any presidential race since the 1979 revolution that birthed the theocratic establishment. Also for the first time since the revolution, the share of void votes was the second-largest after Raisi, who won by a landslide.
The election cycle was also marked by the wide disqualification of reformist and moderate candidates, several of whom protested against their disqualification but encouraged the people to vote nevertheless…..
#AceNewsReport – Aug.05: Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Sunday that the United States and United Kingdom, respectively, now believe Iran was likely responsible for last week’s drone strike on an oil tanker in the Arabian sea.
#AceDailyNews says Blinken & Rabb join force with Israel and vows ‘collective response’ to Iran’s attack on oil tanker
“U.S. and U.K. blame Iran for drone strike on oil tanker,” by Barak Ravid, Axios, August 1, 2021:
Why it matters: The United States and Britain now join Israel in accusing Tehran of being behind the July 29 attack off the coast of Oman. Iran has denied involvement.
Driving the news: The merchant tanker, “Mercer Street,” was hit twice. The first attack didn’t cause any damages but the second strike hit the rooms of the crew.
Two people were killed, one Romanian national and one British national.
“Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region,” Blinken said on Sunday.
Between the lines: The ship was owned by a Japanese company but was managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime. Israeli officials have alleged this was the reason the tanker became a target.
Israel and Iran have traded attacks at sea over the last 18 months. Israel attacked numerous Iranian vessels, which were transferring oil and allegedly weapons to Syria. In recent months, Iran has begun to retaliate by allegedly attacking ships owned by Israeli businessmen.
What they are saying: On Sunday morning, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry denied Iran had any connection to the attack.
“There is no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior,” Blinken said. “These actions threaten freedom of navigation through this crucial waterway, international shipping and commerce, and the lives of those on the vessels involved.”…
#AceNewsReport – July.12: The 12 petitioners are demanding that the structures be removed. They also want the military “seizure order” in the area to be lifted, and that an investigation be opened against the officials and entities that allegedly helped establish the outpost – the defense minister, Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank and the Shomron Regional Council.
#AceDailyNews says Palestinians claiming land at illegal outpost take Israel’s deal with settlers to court and under the deal, the outpost’s structures are to remain intact and the settlers may return if the land is deemed state-owned acording to Haaretz News Agency
The petitioners say they hold the rights to the land on which the outpost’s buildings and infrastructure have been built. In the petition that was submitted Thursday, some of them attached property-tax documents as proof of their ownership of the land.
A contemporary aerial photograph of Evyatar showing the area of a military base from the 1980s (red), a 2018 seizure order (green) and the area of the current takeover.
About two-thirds of the West Bank’s land is not registered in any land registry, as the registry process has been halted by the Israeli occupation. Instead, there are property-tax books that the Ottoman and British authorities used for collecting taxes.
Israel, however, does not recognize the tax books as proof of land ownership; instead, it demands proof that the land was cultivated by its alleged owners.
The petitioners have aerial photographs from the ‘80s showing that the land at Evyatar was cultivated for farming. Later, to set up a base there, the army issued a seizure order that stopped Palestinians from working their land.
The petitioners say that even after the army reduced its presence in the area at the end of the ‘90s, it left facilities and infrastructure there and continued using it, while soldiers stopped Palestinians from reaching the land, claiming that it was a closed military area.
An aerial photograph from the ’80s at Evyatar, whose name is written above in Hebrew. Local Palestinians say the photo shows that the land is their agricultural land.
The petition says that in 2018 the army issued another seizure order for a larger area that was in effect until July that year. The area of the Evyatar outpost is larger than the area covered in both seizure orders, the petitioners say. They say they have never been notified that the military’s hold on the area has ended or been canceled.
Also, some of the petitioners are owners of farming land near the outpost, and since its establishment they have been driven off their fields by the army or settlers, they say.
Before the agreement with the settlers was signed, two lawyers for the petitioners asked the attorney general not to approve it. The two attorneys, Sliman Shahin and Alaa Mahajna, never received a response from the attorney general’s office.
“The new government is continuing its predecessors’ policy with a vengeance, encouraging the culture of taking over Palestinian lands in the West Bank,” Shahin said. “With this agreement the state is enlisting the army as a trustee for the squatters to protect the illegal structures at the outpost.”
Mahajna added: “In Evyatar’s case, the government intervened on behalf of the squatters and forced an unprecedented, corrupt mechanism that spits in the face of the law. The government has signaled to the settlers that it’s possible to act like the West Bank is the Wild West.”
#AceNewsReport – July.12: The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the demolitions have also left the villagers with no baby milk powders, clothes as well as personal hygiene products. They also have no fodder and water for their livestock.
#AceDailyNews says at least 70 Palestinians, including 36 kids, displaced as Israel demolishes homes in West Bank community: OCHA and the UN office said in a statement that the so-called Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) has confiscated food consignments and detached structures, leaving the residents with no food and water following Wednesday’s demolitions.
Thursday, 08 July 2021 4:37 PM [ Last Update: Thursday, 08 July 2021 4:56 PM ]
OCHA said its representatives, members of various non-governmental organizations and diplomats tried to access Humsa al-Baqai’a on Wednesday, but Israeli forces refused to let them do so on the grounds that a military operation was underway.
Some 11 of the structures demolished or confiscated had been provided by the international community, the UN office pointed out.
It highlighted that the Jordan Valley, which makes up 60 percent of the occupied West Bank, is classified as Area C – meaning it is under full Israeli military control.
OCHA said Israeli authorities have carried out military training in the community since 2012, and temporarily displaced local residents. The UN agency has so far recorded more than 50 such incidents.
On 23 February, Lynn Hastings, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, called on Israeli authorities to “immediately halt all further demolitions of Palestinian homes and possessions, allow the humanitarian community to provide shelter, food and water to this most vulnerable group and these people to remain in their homes,” after visiting Humsa al-Baqai’a community following a mass demolition campaign.
OCHA stressed that international humanitarian law requires an occupying power to protect the population of the territory it occupies, ensure its welfare and well-being, and respect its human rights. Any destruction of civilian property by the occupying power is prohibited as well.
Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley are subjected to demolitions by Israeli authorities who claim they lack building permits, despite the fact that the Tel Aviv regime does not provide such permits to Palestinians.
Moreover, Israel orders Palestinians to demolish their own homes or pay the demolition price to the municipality if they refuse to tear down their houses. Palestinians as well as the international community consider Israeli demolition politics in the occupied territories illegal.
Humsa residents threatened with arrest if do not leave their lands:
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported on Thursday that after evicting residents of Humsa al-Baqai’a community, the Israeli forces have threatened to arrest them if they do not leave their lands and destroyed homes, and move elsewhere.
According to the report, which quoted Mutaz Bisharat, a local official with Tubas governorate, Israeli occupation soldiers threatened the residents, who stayed on their lands despite the demolition of their homes and structures, that they would be arrested if they do not evacuate the area.
He added that the soldiers have set up roadblocks to prevent anyone from reaching that area to help the community rebuild their destroyed homes.
Israeli soldiers have transferred the community’s belongings to another area, where they also intend to force the residents to live.
#AceNewsReport – June.29: In the “What Have You Done For Us Lately” Department, Israel has just completed tests of its new high-power laser system that, installed on a civilian aircraft, can shoot down drones. It promises to be what is called a game-changer.
ISRAEL: High-Powered Laser System A ‘Breakthrough’ The story of this remarkable advance is here: “ Israel successfully downs targets using airborne laser system,” by Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2021:
The Defense Ministry has successfully carried out a series of interceptions to shoot down drones with a powerful airborne laser system installed on a civilian light aircraft….
During the trials that were carried out over the sea, the high-powered laser fired from a civilian Cessna plane destroyed the unmanned targets at differing ranges and altitudes.
According to the Defense Ministry, Israel is perhaps the first country in the world to have been able to use such laser technology on an aircraft to intercept targets in an operational simulation….
The fully automated energy system uses the laser to destroy a target while flying above the clouds, he said, adding that the “powerful and precise system” can intercept the target “regardless of weather conditions.
Once a target passes through the area of interest, the system can be directed at any part of it with very high accuracy. It locks on and remains locked on until the target is downed….
The ground system will also be able to destroy targets at a range of eight to 10 km. with a 100 kW laser, Rotem said. The ministry is aiming for an operational system by 2024 to be deployed at the Gaza border area for shooting down rockets, he said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz congratulated MAFAT, Elbit and the IAF on the technological breakthrough.
“Today, you have brought us closer to yet another important milestone in the development of the multitiered defense array of the State of Israel, and it is significant both in terms of cost effectiveness and defense capabilities,” he said.
“The laser system will add a new layer of protection at greater ranges and in facing a variety of threats: securing the State of Israel while saving costs of interception,” Gantz said. “I am confident that Israel’s defense industry will succeed in this important development program, and I will work personally together with the entire defense establishment to ensure its success.”
The Defense Ministry hopes that the airborne system will further increase the effectiveness of Israel’s air defenses against existing and future threats. It is expected to complement Israel’s multitiered air-defense array, which includes the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile interceptors….
The lasers can cover a much wider area and lock onto, and then destroy, unmanned vehicles passing through that area. The cost of firing a laser beam for an interception will cost around $2000. Meanwhile, the price of launching an Iron Dome interception missile is between $40,000 and $60,000. Consider how may tens of millions of dollars the IDF spent on Iron Dome missiles in the recent war against Hamas; Hamas aimed 4300 not-very-expensive rockets at Israel; about 600 fell short, leaving 3700 that entered Israeli airspace; Iron Dome missiles managed to intercept 90%. The cost of such a defense is becoming an increasingly urgent issue as large-scale attacks become more frequent and the expense of interception skyrockets.
The laser system will potentially save the IDF hundreds of millions of dollars; it is also more precise in its targeting, and can lock onto a target much closer to its launch, as compared to the Iron Dome.
Israel keeps providing evidence of how creatively it responds to every military challenge its enemies present. In three years, it will have ready an anti-missile and anti-drone system that will cost 1/20th of what such a defense does at present. And Israel will share this laser beam technology – as it always has done with its every military advance in the past – with the U.S.
Be afraid, Ismail Haniyeh and Yahyah Sinwar. Be afraid, Hassan Nasrallah, Ebrahim Raisi and Ayatollah Khamenei, be very afraid. Once those Israeli weapons scientists focus their attention on building new weapons systems, there seems to be no obstacle they cannot in time overcome. Now they’ve reached the “breakthrough” of laser-beam weapons, capable of being fired both from the ground and from civilian light planes flying above the clouds. What’s next to come, from the creative geniuses at Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit Systems, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems? We are on the edge……..
#AceNewsReport – June.29: While Biden has been signaling weakness to Iran over the nuke deal, this development bears watching. Predictably, Iran accused the U.S. government of “working with Israel and Saudi Arabia to repress Iran’s freedom of expression.”
“Promoting terrorism” was cited as a reason for the asset seizure. Also seized was “a Palestinian-directed broadcast and an Arabic-language religious and cultural channel….the web domain of Iran’s Al-Alam news network and that of Al-Masirah, a Yemeni TV station controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi insurgency.”
Iran has become increasingly aggressive and openly hostile to America, making overt demands about a nuclear deal which would involve the dropping of all sanctions. The hardline, murderous incoming Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has also “declared that Iran will not agree to restrictions on its ballistic missile development or its support for terrorism throughout the region as a condition to the resumption of the nuclear deal.”
“US takes down Iran-linked news sites, alleges disinformation,” by Isabel Debre and Eric Tuck, Washington Post,June 23, 2021:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — American authorities seized a range of Iran’s state-linked news website domains they accused of spreading disinformation, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday, a move that appeared to be a far-reaching crackdown on Iranian media amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
The Justice Department said 33 of the seized websites were used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union, which was singled out by the U.S. government last October for what officials described as efforts to spread disinformation and sow discord among American voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election. T
The U.S. says three other seized websites were operated by the Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group, Kata’ib Hizballah, which more than a decade ago was designated a foreign terrorist organization. The group is separate from the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group whose news websites remained operational.
The website domains are owned by U.S. companies, but despite the sanctions, neither the IRTVU nor KH obtained the required licenses from the U.S. government before using the domain names, according to the Justice Department.
#AceNewsReport – June.16: The counterstrike, which happened Tuesday evening in the U.S. and early Wednesday morning local time, targeted Hamas military compounds, according to the IDF.
Israel launches airstrikes on Hamas after balloon attack, IDF Says but the targets were used by Hamas’ Khan Yunis and Gaza Brigades for “terror activities,” according to the IDF: Authorities on both sides said there were no injuries, the Times of Israelreported.
“The Hamas terror organization is responsible for all events transpiring in the Gaza Strip, and will bear the consequences for its actions,” the military said in a statement. “The IDF is prepared for any scenario, including a resumption of hostilities, in the face of continuing terror activities from the Gaza Strip.”
The violence comes just three weeks after a cease-fire halted 11 days of fighting that marked the worst clashes between the IDF and Hamas militants since a small-scale war in 2014.
Israel’s fragile coalition government gets first test, launches airstrikes on Hamas: The violence comes just three weeks after a cease-fire halted 11 days of fighting
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett‘s coalition government, just three days into its term, responded to an incendiary balloon attack from Hamas by launching airstrikes into the Gaza Strip.
Bennett, the right-wing leader who was once former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, has said that he would approachballoon attacks with the same seriousness as if they were rockets.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli Defense Forces said it targeted Hamas infrastructure. About 20 fires broke out in southern Israel as a result of the balloon attack, the report said.
The New York Times, citing Palestinian news, reported that one of the Israeli strikes caused damage to at least one property, but there have been no confirmation of any casualties.
The paper reported that Israel had been on edge after the new government approved a “far-right Jewish march to pass through Palestinian areas of Jerusalem on Tuesday night.”
Hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists, some chanting “Death to Arabs,” paraded in east Jerusalem in a show of force that threatened to spark renewed violence.
The violence comes just three weeks after a cease-fire halted 11 days of fighting that marked the worst clashes between the IDF and Hamas militants since a small-scale war in 2014.
The Post reported that Hamas called for a “Day of Rage” to counter the march. Palestinians consider the march, meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem in 1967, to be a provocation. Hamas called on Palestinians to “resist” the parade, a version of which helped ignite last month’s 11-day Gaza war.
Yair Lapid, the alternate prime minister who will serve as foreign minister for the first two years of the government’s term, said those shouting racist slogans were “a disgrace to the Israeli people.”
“The fact that there are radicals for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is abominable and unforgivable,” he said.
Israel says it carried out air strikes in Gaza overnight after Palestinians launched incendiary balloons from the territory, in the first major flare-up since an 11-day conflict last month.
The Israeli military said it targeted compounds belonging to Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza.
The incendiary balloons sparked 20 fires in southern Israel on Tuesday.
Hamas said they were a response to a march by Israeli nationalists in occupied East Jerusalem.
There were no casualties on either side and calm had been restored by Wednesday morning.
In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its fighter jets had hit military compounds operated by Hamas in Khan Younis and Gaza City.
It said “terrorist activity” took place in the compounds, and that the IDF was “prepared for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities, in the face of continued terror acts from the Gaza Strip”.
A Hamas spokesman said on Twitter that Palestinians would continue to pursue their “brave resistance and defend their rights and sacred sites” in Jerusalem.The IDF said the strikes were carried out in response to the “arson balloons launched from Gaza into Israel” on Tuesday.In recent years, militants have frequently sent balloons and kites carrying containers of burning fuel and explosive devices over the Gaza border. The devices have caused hundreds of fires in Israel, burning thousands of hectares of forest and farmland.
Incendiary balloons are commonly used by militants (image from 15 June)The air strikes were the first carried out under Israel’s new government, which took office on Sunday, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 years in power. Naftali Bennett, the new prime minister, is a right-wing nationalist who heads a coalition of eight parties spanning the entire spectrum of Israeli politics.
A reminder of a fragile ceasefire by Rushdi Abu Alouf, BBC News, Gaza CityThe recent air raids lasted for only 10 minutes, but they were enough to remind the city’s residents, who are trying to recover from the aftermath of the recent fighting, that the ceasefire is fragile. It is not only the sounds of explosions that remind people of the war here. You only have to drive your car or walk the streets to witness the scale of destruction that has befallen the city. Tons of rubble still block the main roads in the heart of Gaza. A local street vendor, Abu Muhammad, sells nuts on a small cart in the Rimal neighbourhood, which was subjected to the largest strikes in the previous round of violence. He told me: “We can no longer tolerate more wars, the coronavirus pandemic stopped our work for many months, and the last war caused a great loss, I could no longer feed my six children.” A neighbour, who lives near a Hamas military site that was hit in the latest strikes, told me by phone it was scary watching new plumes of smoke rising.What happened at the Jerusalem march?The Jerusalem Day flag march is an annual event that marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem – home to the Old City and its holy sites – in the 1967 Middle East War. Palestinians see it as a provocation.At Tuesday’s event, hundreds of mostly young, nationalist Israelis danced, sang and waved Israeli flags in front of the Old City’s Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Muslim Quarter. They later entered through another gate to reach the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.EPAThe marchers agreed not to enter the Old City through the Damascus GateIsrael Foreign Minister Yair Lapid criticised a group of marchers that were filmed chanting racist slogans.”The fact that there are extremists for whom the Israeli flag represents hate and racism is abominable and intolerable,” said Mr Lapid. “It is incomprehensible how one can hold an Israeli flag in one’s hand and shout ‘Death to Arabs’ at the same time.”More than 30 Palestinian protesters were injured and 17 people arrested as Israeli police cleared areas of East Jerusalem ahead of the march, firing stun grenades and rubber bullets.Originally, the flag march was supposed to take place on 10 May. But it was interrupted by Hamas militants in Gaza firing rockets towards the holy city, which led to the 11-day conflict.ReutersPalestinians protested against the march, which they said was a provocationAs soon as a ceasefire took hold, the organisers asked for the march to be rescheduled. It was due to take place last Thursday, but it was cancelled by the organisers after Israeli police rejected the proposed route, citing security concerns.An amended route that avoided passing through the Damascus Gate was later approved by the new Israeli government, though the leader of the Arab Islamist Raam party in the coalition said it should have been called off.The Palestinian Authority’s prime minister warned that there could be “dangerous repercussions”.Why was there a conflict in Gaza last month?The conflict began after weeks of spiralling Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem which culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews.Hamas began firing rockets into Israel after warning it to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes from Israel on Gaza targets.Two children from Gaza City and Israel describe their experience of the Israel-Gaza conflictAt least 256 people were killed in Gaza, according to the UN, and 13 people were killed in Israel before an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect on 21 May.The UN said at least 128 of those killed in Gaza were civilians. Israel’s military said 200 were militants; Hamas’s leader in Gaza put the number of fighters killed at 80.More than 16,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed or damaged in the conflict, along with 58 schools and training centres, nine hospitals, 19 clinics and vital infrastructure, according to the UN.
#AceNewsReport – June.15: The eight parties, including a small Arab faction that is making history by sitting in the ruling coalition, are united in their opposition to Netanyahu and new elections but agree on little else:
ISRAEL: Knesset approves new coalition, ending Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s unseated long-term leader as Naftali Bennett, the head of a small ultranationalist party, was sworn in as prime minister after a narrow 60-59 vote in parliament but if he wants to keep the job, he will have to maintain an unwieldy coalition of parties from the political right, left and center after he’s rise to Israel’s new PM
Benjamin Netanyahu has lost his 12-year hold on power in Israel after its parliament voted in a new coalition government.
Right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett has been sworn in as prime minister, leading a “government of change”.
He will lead an unprecedented coalition of parties which was approved with a razor-thin majority of 60-59.
Mr Bennett will be prime minister until September 2023 as part of a power-sharing deal.
He will then hand power over to Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid, for a further two years.
Mr Netanyahu – Israel’s longest-serving leader who has dominated its political landscape for years – will remain head of the right-wing Likud party and become leader of the opposition.
During the debate in the Knesset (parliament), a defiant Mr Netanyahu promised: “We’ll be back: After Netanyahu sat silently during the vote. After it was approved, he stood up to leave the chamber, before turning around and shaking Bennett’s hand. A dejected Netanyahu, wearing a black medical mask, briefly sat in the opposition leader’s chair before walking out.
They are likely to pursue a modest agenda that seeks to reduce tensions with the Palestinians and maintain good relations with the US without launching any major initiatives:
Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, remains the head of the largest party in parliament and is expected to vigorously oppose the new government. If just one faction bolts, it could lose its majority and would be at risk of collapse, giving him an opening to return to power.
The country’s deep divisions were on vivid display as Bennett addressed parliament ahead of the vote. He was repeatedly interrupted and loudly heckled by supporters of Netanyahu, several of whom were escorted out of the chamber.
Bennett’s speech mostly dwelled on domestic issues, but he expressed opposition to US efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. “Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” Bennett said, vowing to maintain Netanyahu’s confrontational policy. “Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action.”
Bennett nevertheless thanked President Joe Biden and the US for its decades of support for Israel. Netanyahu, speaking after him, vowed to return to power. He predicted the incoming government would be weak on Iran and give in to US demands to make concessions to the Palestinians.
If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way,” he said: Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said the new government will likely be more stable than it appears:
Even though it has a very narrow majority, it will be very difficult to topple and replace because the opposition is not cohesive,” he said. Each party in the coalition will want to prove that it can deliver, and for that they need “time and achievements.”
Still, Netanyahu “will continue to cast a shadow,” Plesner said. He expects the incoming opposition leader to exploit events and propose legislation that right-wing coalition members would like to support but can’t — all in order to embarrass and undermine them.
The new government is meanwhile promising a return to normalcy after a tumultuous two years that saw four elections, an 11-day Gaza war last month and a coronavirus outbreak that devastated the economy before it was largely brought under control by a successful vaccination campaign.
The driving force behind the coalition is Yair Lapid, a political centrist who will become prime minister in two years, if the government lasts that long. He called off a planned speech to parliament, instead saying he was ashamed that his 86-year-old mother had to witness the raucous behavior of his opponents. In a brief speech, he asked for “forgiveness from my mother.”
I wanted her to be proud of the democratic process in Israel. Instead she, along with every citizen of Israel, is ashamed of you and remembers clearly why it’s time to replace you,” he said: The new government is expected to win a narrow majority in the 120-member assembly, after which it will be sworn in. The government plans to hold its first official meeting later this evening:
It’s unclear when Netanyahu will move out of the official residence. He has lashed out at the new government in apocalyptic terms and accused Bennett of defrauding voters by running as a right-wing stalwart and then partnering with the left:
Netanyahu’s supporters have held angry protests outside the homes of rival lawmakers, who say they have received death threats naming their family members. Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service issued a rare public warning about the incitement earlier this month, saying it could lead to violence. Netanyahu has condemned the incitement while noting that he has also been a target.
His place in Israeli history is secure, having served as prime minister for a total of 15 years — more than any other, including the country’s founder, David Ben-Gurion: Netanyahu began his long rule by defying the Obama administration, refusing to freeze settlement construction as it tried unsuccessfully to revive the peace process. Relations with Israel’s closest ally grew even rockier when Netanyahu vigorously campaigned against President Barack Obama’s emerging nuclear deal with Iran, even denouncing it in an address to the US Congress:
But he suffered few if any consequences from those clashes and was richly rewarded by the Trump administration, which recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, helped broker normalization agreements with four Arab states and withdrew the US from the Iran deal.
Netanyahu has portrayed himself as a world-class statesman, boasting of his close ties with Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has also cultivated ties with Arab and African countries that long shunned Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians:
But he has gotten a far chillier reception from the Biden administration and is widely seen as having undermined the long tradition of bipartisan support for Israel in the United States: His reputation as a political magician has also faded at home, where he has become a deeply polarizing figure. Critics say he has long pursued a divide-and-conquer strategy that aggravated rifts in Israeli society between Jews and Arabs and between his close ultra-Orthodox allies and secular Jews.
In November 2019, he was indicted for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. He refused calls to step down, instead lashing out at the media, judiciary and law enforcement, going so far as to accuse his political opponents of orchestrating an attempted coup. Last year, protesters began holding weekly rallies across the country calling on him to resign:
Netanyahu remains popular among the hard-line nationalists who dominate Israeli politics, but he could soon face a leadership challenge from within his own party. A less polarizing Likud leader would stand a good chance of assembling a coalition that is both farther to the right and more stable than the government that is set to be sworn in.
#AceNewsReport – June.13: AP is either abjectly incompetent or complicit with Hamas’ genocidal jihad against Israel. Gilad Erdan would have been closer to the truth if he had told Pruitt and Phillips that he knew AP was not a news source, but a propaganda arm for the hard-Left and the global jihad, and would treat it accordingly. Instead, he kept up the pretense that he was dealing with a news organization.
Ambassador Erdan said: “AP is one of the most important news agencies in the world and Israel doesn’t think that AP employees were aware it was being cynically used in this way by Hamas for a secret unit.” They weren’t aware? They’re supposed to be reporters. And they didn’t even know that jihad terrorist activity was going on in their own building?
Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Gilad Erdan visited the Associated Press headquarters in New York where he met with President and CEO Gary Pruitt and Vice President of International News Ian Phillips. During his visit, Ambassador Erdan reaffirmed that Israel upholds the importance of press freedom and ensures the safety of journalists wherever they are reporting.
Ambassador Erdan reiterated that the multistory building housing the AP in Gaza, which was destroyed last month in an airstrike, also housed the facilities of Hamas’ military intelligence, its R&D department and a tech unit.
“The unit was developing an electronic jamming system to be used against the Iron Dome defense system,” said Ambassador Erdan, officially informing for the first time why Hamas’ operation in that building posed such an imminent threat to Israeli civilians and was prioritized by the IDF.
Ambassador Erdan added that “AP is one of the most important news agencies in the world and Israel doesn’t think that AP employees were aware it was being cynically used in this way by Hamas for a secret unit.”
The ambassador went on to assure the news agency that “Israel did everything it could to make sure that no employees or civilians were hurt during this important operation.”…
‘The leaders of Hamas will get together to divide among themselves the money that will be poured into Gaza’
“Vienna-Based Syrian Journalist Thaer Al-Nashef: Hamas Uses Civilians As Human Shields; Hamas Leaders Split Gaza Rehabilitation Aid Among Themselves,” MEMRI, May 25, 2021:
Syrian journalist Thaer Al-Nashef, who is currently living in exile in Vienna, said that the Hamas “media machine” and Iran have exploited events in Jerusalem and Gaza in order to garner Arab sympathy over other Palestinian factions and to further Iranian interests in the Vienna nuclear negotiations. He made these remarks in a show that aired on Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) on May 25, 2021….
Thaer Al-Nashef: “Hamas has declared victory over Israel, just like Gamal Abd Al-Naser declared victory over Israel, even though he lost the Sinai Peninsula in its entirety, the Egyptian army was completely destroyed, and thousand of Egyptian soldiers were killed. At the same time, Hamas ignores the civilians it used as human shields in the Gaza strip by shooting useless missiles, a third of which fell on the people in the Gaza strip, instead of Israeli cities. Hamas claims that it has hit Israeli military targets, but that is a complete lie because the entire world saw in the media that Hamas’s missiles targeted Israeli civilians.
“Did Muslims in Sarajevo, Tirana, Bosnia, and Africa rally to support Hamas, and those behind it, like the regime of the Mullahs in Iran? Those who rallied were Arab crowds frustrated with the autocracy of the Arab regimes, [crowds] whose sentiments were riled up by Hamas, exploiting the events of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, that were instigated by Hamas and those who stand with it by provoking the Israeli police.
“Thus, the Arab public was mobilized by the media machine of Hamas and those behind it – the Iranian regime. All this was done in order to raise the popularity of Hamas among the Palestinian public, at the expense of other factions like Fatah, and other factions, and in order to revitalize Iran and polish its image in the region, after it was tarnished by its crimes in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Iran is exploiting what happened in the Gaza Strip in a big way for the sake of its interests in the nuclear negotiations that are conducted here in Vienna.
“It is certain that Hamas will not conduct a discussion about what happened in the Gaza Strip and they will not hold each other responsible. The leaders of Hamas will get together to divide among themselves the money that will be poured into [Gaza] now just like they did after the wars of 2009 and 2014. Hamas’s wealth grows with every war. Billions [of dollars] are deposited in the bank accounts of the leaders of Hamas.”
#AceNewsReport – June.01: Although Biden stated that Israel has a right to defend itself, his administration has bent over backwards to send the message to Palestinians that America under Biden supports the Palestinian cause — which is jihad for the eradication of Israel:
WASHINGTON: Biden’s plan to open separate Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians violates US law Biden’s plan for a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians blatantly violates US law,” by Mark Meadows and David Milstein, New York Post, May 26, 2021:
The White House lived up to its promise to send Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the Middle East to “rebuild ties” with Palestinians. In fact, it exceeded expectations, with a pledge by Biden to ask Congress to donate $75,000,000 to the Palestinians. It didn’t stop there. Blinken formally announced the decision to reopen the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem during a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. But to do so isn’t legal according to the article below, which was written by Mark Meadows, chief of staff to former President Donald Trump, and David Milstein, who served as special assistant to the US ambassador to Israel.
A Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem violates the Jeruslem Embassy Act that Trump activated in 2017. The Act recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and calls for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city.
As presidential candidate, Joe Biden was asked if he would reverse President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Biden promised, “I wouldn’t reverse it.”
But candidate Biden also proposed re-opening the US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, which had merged with the Jerusalem embassy in 2019.
Now Team Biden is moving forward with the latter initiative. On May 25, Secretary of State Antony Blinken formally told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Washington would seek to reopen this diplomatic mission. The move contradicts Biden’s campaign promise not to renege on the recognition of Jerusalem, since a pair of missions in the same city undercuts Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital. It also breaks the Jerusalem Embassy Act that sought to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem no later than 1999 — a law Biden voted for along with 92 other senators.
The 1995 law states that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city, in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected. … Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.” In 2017, on the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification in the Six Day War, the Senate unanimously voted to reaffirm the act and called upon the US to “abide by its provisions.”
Former President Donald Trump fulfilled the will of the American people, as expressed by Congress, by relocating the embassy in 2018. In February 2021, the Senate also adopted an amendment by a 97-3 vote to “make the US Embassy in Jerusalem permanent, effectively preventing it from being downgraded or moved out of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.”
The Biden administration’s intent to reopen a separate diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital and the location of the US Embassy, would be a violation of US law, wrongly signaling that Washington supports dividing Jerusalem.
If implemented, this could signal the return to a misguided diplomatic arrangement, under which the US ambassador to Israel historically lacked jurisdiction over the eastern part of Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza. Instead, a US consul general led a separate diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, who had jurisdiction over those geographic areas. The consulate general didn’t even report to the US ambassador to Israel, but directly to the State Department, often sending conflicting reports to DC.
The diplomatic mission included the US consulate general’s official residence, located in the western part of Jerusalem, thus resulting in the US having a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, despite that the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
The Trump administration’s decision to merge the US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians into the US Embassy in Jerusalem remedied the prior arrangement and implemented a key aspect of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which requires that the US Embassy in Jerusalem include the ambassador’s official residence.
Reopening this separate diplomatic mission to the Palestinians would therefore render the US government noncompliant with American law…..
#AceNewsReport – May.31: A train passenger in Austria asked a couple of fellow passengers to stop denying the Holocaust and engaging in antisemitic rhetoric about Jews and Israel:
AUSTRIA: Passenger beaten for complaining about Holocaust denial,” by Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA, May 27, 2021 (thanks to the Geller Report):
It didn’t go well: One of the passengers punched him in the face.
The incident happened on May 21 near Amstetten, a city located 70 miles east of Vienna, the Heute newspaper reported Wednesday.
The alleged assailant, whom witnesses said looked Middle Eastern, was speaking about Israel to a fellow passenger, who also looked Middle Eastern and was wearing a kaffiyeh, an Arab headdress that in Europe is also called a “Palestinian shawl” and is commonly worn at pro-Palestinian events.
According to the Heute report, the conversation, which was replete with antisemitic statements, veered into Holocaust denial, which is illegal in Austria. The 32-year-old victim, who was not named, asked the other men to stop making antisemitic remarks but was ignored.
Before exiting the train, one of the passengers hit the victim three times in the face, wounding his lip. Police are looking for the two men, who left the train after the assault….
#AceNewsReport – May.23: Israel is losing out. They’re losing the media war despite their connections. The tide is turning,” the Pakistani foreign minister told CNN anchor Bianna Golodryga:
NEW YORK: CNN anchor flies into rage after Pakistani FM says Israelis control media: ‘During a live interview with CNN on the latest Israeli war, Qureshi was accused of “invoking an anti-Semitic slur” after he simply said Israelis “control the media,” and have influential “connections”.
Saturday, 22 May 2021 10:15 AM [ Last Update: Saturday, 22 May 2021 12:31 PM ]
An apparently outraged Golodryga, who is Jewish herself, put aside her supposed journalistic impartiality, pouncing on the remarks to accuse Qureshi of anti-Semitism.
The journalist followed the statement asking for clarification on what their connections were. “Deep pockets,” he replied, adding later, “they are very influential people. They control media.”
Golodryga went on to accuse the FM of making an anti-Semitic remark, to which he responded, “Well, you see, the point is, they have a lot of influence. They get a lot of coverage. Now, what balances that is the citizen journalist who has been reporting, sharing video clips, and that has jolted people, and woken up people, and people who were sitting on the fence are today speaking up.”
Golodryga then took her inquisition to the next level, asking if the FM would condemn the anti-Jewish sentiment that is allegedly taking hold due to the Israeli violence in Palestine.
According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, 248 Palestinians were killed in the new Israeli offensive, including 66 children and 39 women, and at least 1,910 were injured.
Golodryga repeated her accusation later as she tweeted a clip of the interview, saying, “I had planned to speak with Pakistan’s foreign minister about paths towards a peaceful resolution between Israel and Hamas. Instead, he began the interview by invoking an anti-semitic slur.”
The interview prompted a chorus of support for the Pakistani foreign minister, while pro-Israeli voices cast scorn at his remarks.
Journalist and talk show host Fereeha Idrees defended Qureshi.
“He didn’t even utter the word ‘Jew’ or even made a feeble reference to it. All he said was media is controlled by Israel,” Idrees wrote on Twitter.
Idrees pointed out that during the recent aggression, Israeli jets had leveled a high-rise building in Gaza that housed the offices of several media outlets, including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
#AceNewsReport – May.21: More than 230 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s brutal attack which started on 10 May, including 65 children. A further 1,700 were injured, while many thousand lost their homes. Twelve Israelis were also killed.
CEASEFIRE: Palestinians celebrate as ceasefire goes into effect over Gaza: Mosques across the Gaza Strip hailed a “victory” and prayers could be heard across the enclave as a ceasefire took hold in Gaza at 2am local time (11pm GMT), bringing to an end to 11 days of the fiercest bombing campaign the Strip has come under since 2014 with at least 230-Palestinians killed, including children and nearly 2,000 injured’
The Cabinet unanimously approved the ceasefire unanimously; Time designated for the start of the ceasefire: 02:00 at night – subject to understandings between Hamas and Egypt. https://t.co/gyZ3k4nGwG
Palestinians carry a model of Dome of the Rock as they gather for a celebration after “mutual and simultaneous” cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas took effect at 2 am Friday (2300GMT Thursday), ending the 11-day conflict, in Rafah, Gaza on 21 May 2021. [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]May 21, 2021 at 10:39 am
Palestinians could be seen dropped to the floor in prostration by way of thanks to God. Celebrations reverberated across the besieged Strip, in the occupied West Bank and in Jerusalem, where fireworks were set off, cars lined the streets with drivers honking.
Many worshippers heading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for morning prayers also prostrated in thanks for the safety of their brothers and sisters in Gaza.
The truce took hold after the Israeli cabinet agreed to the “mutual and unconditional” ceasefire proposed by Egypt.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad also confirmed the “mutual and simultaneous” agreement.
Commiting on the ceasefire, UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres said: “Israeli and Palestinian leaders have a responsibility beyond the restoration of calm to start a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict.”
He added that the UN was ready to help both parties return to “meaningful negotiations” on a two-state settlement.
ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ suggests Biden brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, avoids crediting Egypt
ABC News praised Biden for ‘walking a fine line throughout’ his ‘first big foreign policy test’
8 hours ago
ABC’s “World News Tonight” heavily implied that President Biden was responsible for the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas when it was actually Egypt that brokered the truce.
“Tonight, breaking news as we come on the air. Israel and Hamas agreeing to a cease-fire. President Biden speaking just moments ago,” ABC News anchor David Muir began the program. “After 11 days of relentless rockets and missile attacks, a truce now set to take effect just a short time from now. President Biden, who put increasing pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden talking just a short time ago.”
Muir told viewers that “we knew” that President Biden told the Israeli Prime Minister that he “wanted to see a significant de-escalation in the Israeli operation.”
ABC News correspondent Matt Gutman, who was reporting from Tel Aviv, read a statement that was released by Hamas saying a “mutual and simultaneous ceasefire in the Gaza Strip” had been reached. However, Gutman scrubbed the first part of that sentence from the official Hamas statement, which read, “We were informed by our brothers in Egypt that an agreement had been reached.”
After reiterating Biden’s push for a “significant de-escalation,” Muir brought on ABC News White House correspondent Mary Bruce to talk about the “delicate dance” that Biden endured and the “quiet diplomacy” that was enacted.
“David, this was the first big foreign policy test for this president and Biden walked a fine line throughout,” Bruce told Muir. “He was facing growing pressure from his own party to take a tougher stance on Israel and you seemed to see the president nod to that tonight in his remarks, saying, quote, ‘I believe the Palestinians and Israelis deserve to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy.’”
“Now, White House sources I’ve talked to feel that this all shows Biden’s approach to diplomacy working. He laid low in those first few days, trying to rely heavily on that quiet, intensive, behind-the-scenes diplomacy, and then upped the public pressure on Israel in just the recent days,” Bruce explained. “He and prime minister Netanyahu have a relationship, they understand how each other work. Biden took an increasingly serious tone, I am told, and made it clear to Israel that it would not be in their interest if this continued.”
However, as NewsBusters news analyst Nicholas Fondacaro pointed out, ABC’s report made no mention of Egypt’s critical role in the ceasefire.
Reversely, CBS and NBC gave credit to Egypt.
“The truce follows last-minute negotiations led by Egypt after days of what the White House has called quiet intensive diplomacy,” Norah O’Donnell of “CBS Evening News” told viewers.
“Israel’s security cabinet said it unanimously approved the Egyptian initiative for Israel and Hamas to simultaneously stop their attacks, starting in just minutes,” NBC News correspondent Richard Engel said in his report on “NBC Nightly News.”
#AceNewsReport – May.21: American officials have privately urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides to wind down his country’s operations against the Gaza Strip… At the start, the person familiar with the situation said, Israel appeared on the verge of pushing forth with a ground invasion, a move that could have led to significantly more bloodshed and possibly a longer conflict. U.S. influence was important in preventing a ground operation, the person said:
WASHINGTON: ‘Biden Admin Pressuring Israel to End Campaign Against Hamas Terrorists: U.S. officials are confident their mostly behind-the-scenes intervention helped avert an early Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip’
1. Pressuring Israel behind the scenes into accepting a Hamas “cease-fire” which just means restarting this conflict when the terrorists get more Iranian rockets to shoot off.
2. Accusing Israel of “destabilizing the region” which as everyone knows is very stable.
3. Supporting the UN’s campaign against Israel out of one side of its mouth while promising to support Israel out of the other
Wind down, that is to say, bail out Hamas. Also bail out Hamas, literally.
That being said, the Biden administration and others already are looking at ways to send in humanitarian assistance to Gaza, a densely packed seaside territory of 2 million people.
How much of that “humanitarian assistance” will go to Hamas? Assume that plenty of it will in one way or another.
On Monday, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, conveyed a sense of urgency when he warned that the longer the conflict drags on, the more it risks destabilizing the region.
“It’s in no one’s interest to continue fighting,” Milley said.
This is a region with multiple civil wars and insurgencies, in which Iran’s proxies are bombing Saudi Arabia out of Yemen, Syria’s Shiite government is bombing the Sunnis, Turkey is in the midst of a prolonged campaign against the Kurds, Iraq is on the verge of another civil war, Libya is in a permanent state of civil war…and I could go on. But it’s the Israelis who are destabilizing the region because of a brief campaign against Hamas terrorists.
And, oh yes, don’t expect the Biden administration to back up Israel on the Hamas building bombing.
Israel’s operations drew heightened criticism in recent days after its armed forces leveled a building that housed several media offices, including that of The Associated Press. Israel – which warned people to evacuate the building about an hour before striking it – has said it has shared information with the United States showing that Hamas based some of its assets in that facility.
The person familiar with the situation confirmed that Israel has shared some classified intelligence with America about the building, but declined to characterize it other than to say it suggested the Hamas presence was significant, including involving operational activity. The United States has told Israel that it should share more information publicly about this intelligence.
Netanyahu says no to Biden’s call for ceasefire amid continuing Hamas rocket fire
The barrage of rocket fire targeting Israel’s civilian population continues as Biden is calling on Israel for a ceasefire, only to be met by a determined “no” from Netanyahu — a short answer of logical reason for a weak and blind leader. Since “Hamas and now terrorists in Lebanon are ignoring Biden’s calls for calm,” it is unreasonable for anyone in his right mind to advise Israel to stop defending itself. Israel needs to put an end to jihadist bullying once and for all as it engages Operation Guardian of the Walls.
One wonders: if Iran started bombing America, would Biden sit by and allow it? In fact, there is no sovereign nation on the face of the earth that would allow a hostile enemy to rain a steady barrage of rockets on its citizens, without taking defensive action. Israel is a sovereign nation with the duty to protect its country and citizenry, not to listen to the dictates of outsiders.
The Israel Government Press Office gave a thorough and brief summary of this latest round of violence HERE.
“BREAKING: Netanyahu Says No to Biden’s Call for Ceasefire,” by Katie Pavlich, Townhall, March 19, 2021:
Netanyahu says he is “determined” to continue operations against Hamas until Israeli’s goal is met.
President Joe Biden is calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “de-escalate” with Hamas terrorists in Gaza as the Iranian backed organization continues its attacks on innocent civilians.
“President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu today. The two leaders had a detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States. The President conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,” the White House released about a call between Biden and Netanyahu Wednesday morning.
Hamas and now terrorists in Lebanon are ignoring Biden’s calls for calm…..
#AceNewsReport – May.19: It is no secret that Erdogan sympathizes and maintains close contacts with the radical Islamic terrorist organization Hamas. Nevertheless, the Turkish public has recently won the impression that the government is pursuing a course of rapprochement with Israel. Despite the many harsh words Erdogan regularly directs at Israel, talks have recently become more frequent again. Trade is also on the rise, with exports to Israel increasing steadily in recent years:
TURKEY: Erdogan hits out at Israel as Mideast conflict grows as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is taking advantage of the escalation between Israel and Hamas to present himself as an Islamic leader and score political points at home: While many heads of state and government are as diplomatic as they can be regarding the growing Israeli-Hamas conflict, urging both sides to de-escalate, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken a very different tack.
As so often in the recent past, the Turkish president has called Israel a “terrorist state” and “immoral.” Erdogan has been following up daily with more verbal attacks on the Israeli state and its allies. The United States recently reacted by condemning Erdogan’s remarks. On Tuesday, Erdogan lashed out at Austria for hoisting Israeli flags on government buildings in Vienna. “I curse the Austrian state,” the Turkish president said.
Erdogan appears to be using the Israel-Hamas conflict to score points on the domestic front
Ankara has indeed been making efforts to normalize relations with Israel, said Sinan Ulgen, director of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM). “The escalation and tensions in East Jerusalem could not have come at a worse time for Turkey,” he concluded.
Ulgen and many other observers even believe that the Turkish government was aiming to play a mediating role between Israel and the Palestinians — there were regular talks with the Israeli Knesset (the Parliament), as well as with the Palestinian leadership. In September 2020, representatives of the two leading Palestinian organizations, Fatah and Hamas, met to settle the 15-year dispute between the two organizations — with the Turkish government as mediator.
The West Bank has seen several protests over the current conflict
“Active mediation between Hamas and Israel and establishing a dialogue would be an initiative that would have many benefits for Turkey,” Ulgen said. But now that Erdogan has launched an anti-Israel campaign, he says, it will be difficult to continue the process.
“In these circumstances, where tensions have reached the highest level, it seems impossible to start new peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” says Oytun Orhan of the Ankara-based Center for Middle Eastern Studies. “It is simply not possible at the moment to take a neutral position in the current tensions.”
Ankara wants leadership role in Muslim world
Ankara could not be further from taking a mediating role at the moment. The Turkish government seems to have a very different task in view. In an address to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which includes 56 Muslim countries, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu emphasized Turkey’s status as a role model. “The Islamic community (ummah) expects leadership from us,” he said. What he meant was taking consistent action against the Israeli government, which, according to the Turkish foreign minister, is forging ahead with “ethnic, religious and cultural cleansing.”
Turkish foreign policy analyst Aydin Sezer said he was not surprised that the ruling Islamic conservative AKP party is pouring oil on the fire. Erdogan always tries to satisfy his party’s Islamic base, he said. “The government had to react this way (in this conflict) — mainly for domestic political reasons.” The normalization of relations with Israel did not go down well with the AKP base, Sezen added.
Turkey wants a leadership role in the Muslim world, says Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu
Isolated on the world stage
The Turkish president often uses religious or nationalist rhetoric to mobilize his core supporters. Polls show that Erdogan and the AKP are facing a decline in popularity. Members of the opposition and critics accuse him of using harsh rhetoric and polarization to draw attention from problems like government failure in managing the coronavirus pandemic and the long-running economic crisis.
Even if the Turkish government’s Islamist rhetoric appeals to the AKP’s main supporters, the question is whether the Muslim world wants Turkish leadership at all. Its bilateral relations are difficult not just with Israel — Turkey is currently isolated in the entire Middle East. Arab countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also turned their backs on Ankara.
After a night of Israeli air strikes on areas across the Hamas-run enclave, Israel’s military said Gaza militants fired about 60 rockets towards Israeli cities overnight, down from 120 and 200 the two previous nights.
A Palestinian sponge factory in northern Gaza was hit in a Monday morning air strike and firefighters battled to quell the blaze, which sent plumes of smoke into the air.
One Palestinian was killed in an air strike later in the morning, medics said.
After rockets were fired from Gaza at the Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon, Israeli jets bombed what the military said were 15km of underground tunnels used by Hamas.
It also struck nine residences belonging to high-ranking Hamas commanders, the military said.
With the sounds of Israeli bombardment continuing throughout the morning, Gaza residents rushed to bakeries and drug stores to stock up on essentials.
BBC Middle East: Israel launches new strikes on Gaza as calls for ceasefire grow
59 minutes ago: Homes and buildings destroyed in Israel and Gaza
The pre-dawn raids on Gaza were some of the heaviest seen since the fighting began a week ago.
Israel said it hit facilities belonging to the militant group Hamas and several commanders’ homes, but main roads and power lines were also damaged.
There were no immediate reports of casualties following the strikes.
People in Gaza have told of their fear. “I was getting ready to die. I had to be at peace with it,” Najla Shawa, a Palestinian humanitarian worker and mother of two, told the BBC.
Describing previous air strikes over the weekend, she said: “People we know [were killed], people we work with… ordinary people, professional people, young and old.”
The Israeli military said more than 50 warplanes conducted a 20-minute attack on the Gaza Strip shortly before dawn on Monday.
They struck 35 “terror targets” and destroyed more than 15km (9.3 miles) of an underground tunnel network belonging to Hamas, it added.
The military also said it had hit the homes of nine “high-ranking” Hamas commanders. Israeli soldiers also fired artillery from positions near the Gaza border.
ReutersIsrael said the air strikes hit Hamas targets, but homes and other buildings were also damaged
The fighting began after weeks of rising Israeli-Palestinian tension in occupied East Jerusalem that culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas, which controls Gaza, began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes.
Israel says more than 3,000 rockets have been fired into the country over the past week.
On Monday, rocket warning sirens sounded again, in several areas around southern Israel. One rocket hit an apartment building in the city of Ashdod and several people were reportedly hurt.
Palestinian officials in Gaza, meanwhile, said the overnight strikes had caused widespread power cuts and damaged hundreds of homes and other buildings.
“Slept for 3 hours – we are physically safe but had one of the [most] difficult nights,” one resident wrote on Twitter.
The overall death toll in the territory now stands at 198, including 58 children and 34 women, with 1,230 injured, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Israel says more than 130 militants are among the dead – but Hamas has not recognised this.
International calls for a ceasefire have continued to mount.
Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said on Monday that his country was “going to great lengths to reach a ceasefire… and hope still exists”.
The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday, and Secretary-General António Guterres warned that further fighting had “the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis”.
He pleaded for an immediate end to the “utterly appalling” violence.
How likely is a ceasefire?
By Paul Adams, BBC diplomatic correspondent
Is Israel’s military operation in Gaza, dubbed “Guardian of the Walls”, nearing its conclusion?
Not obviously. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attacks are continuing with “full force” and will “take time”.
In a news conference on Sunday, he admitted there were “pressures” but thanked US President Joe Biden, in particular, for his support.
Mr Biden’s envoy, Hady Amr, has been in Israel since Friday, discussing the crisis with Israeli officials.
Since the US, like Israel and many other countries, regards Hamas as a terrorist organisation, Mr Amr will not be meeting one of the two warring parties.
Any messages for Hamas will have to go through traditional interlocutors, such as Egypt or Qatar.
Local reports suggest Hamas has been offering some kind of ceasefire for several days, only to be rebuffed by Israel, which clearly wants to inflict as much damage as it can on the militants before the fighting is finally brought to a close.
These episodes follow a familiar pattern: Israel presses home its undoubted military advantage until the international outcry over civilian casualties, and a deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, demand that the operation end.
In Israel’s estimation, we have not reached that point yet.
The Israeli strikes followed Palestinian rocket attacks targeting the southern Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon just after midnight on Monday.
Ten people, including two children, have been killed in rocket attacks on Israel in the past week. Israeli officials say they have seen the highest ever concentration of rocket attacks in that time.
The country’s Iron Dome defence system is said to have intercepted 90% of the rockets. But some have caused damage to cars and buildings, including the Yad Michael synagogue in Ashkelon, where a hole was blasted through the wall just before a Sunday evening service for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.
ReutersIsrael says more than 3,000 rockets have been launched by Palestinian militants over the past week
Officials in Gaza said Sunday had been the deadliest day of the flare-up so far, with emergency workers spending the day trying to rescue people from under debris.
The UN has also warned of fuel shortages in Gaza which could lead to hospitals and other facilities losing power.
EPARescuers in Gaza have spent much of the day searching through the debris of the strikes
Lynn Hastings, UN deputy special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process, told the BBC that she had appealed to Israeli authorities to allow the UN to bring in fuel and supplies but was told it was not safe.
The UN Security Council has been unable to agree on a public statement in recent days and none was forthcoming after Sunday’s meeting.
The United States – a strong ally of Israel – is said to be the hold-out, believing it would be unhelpful in the diplomatic process.
President Biden has publicly backed Israel’s right to self-defence, but he has said his administration is working with all parties to achieve de-escalation. “My hope is that we’ll see this coming to conclusion sooner rather than later,” he said of the fighting last week.
Timeline: How the violence escalated
The worst violence in years between Israel and the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip has seen dozens killed. It follows a month of spiralling tensions before open conflict broke out. Here is what happened in the lead-up to the fighting.
13 AprilImage caption Israeli police officers detain a young Palestinian man at the Damascus Gate Image copyright by Getty Images
Clashes erupt in East Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israeli police.
Palestinians are angry over barriers which had been placed outside the Damascus Gate entrance to the Jerusalem‘s Old City preventing them from gathering there after prayers at the Old City’s al-Aqsa Mosque on what is the first night of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Palestinian discontent had been stoked earlier in the day when President Mahmoud Abbas called off planned elections, implicitly blaming Israel over voting arrangements for Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
Hamas – Mr Abbas’ Islamist rivals who control Gaza and were running in the elections – react angrily to the postponement.
Violence around Damascus Gate and elsewhere in East Jerusalem continues nightly.
Rockets are fired from Gaza at Israel, which responds with air strikes after a relative period of calm between Israel and the Palestinian enclave.
Clashes spread to the mixed Arab-Jewish port city of Jaffa, next to Tel Aviv.
In Jerusalem, Jewish youths, angry over a spate of filmed assaults by Palestinians on Orthodox Jews posted on the TikTok video-sharing app, attack Arabs and chant anti-Arab slogans.
23 AprilImage caption Israeli security forces clash with Palestinians outside the Damascus Gate Image copyright by Getty Images
Hundreds of ultra-nationalist Jews shouting “Death to Arabs” march towards Damascus Gate in protest at the Arab assaults on Jews. Clashes erupt at the site between Palestinians and police trying to separate the two groups, injuring dozens of people.
Violence between Arabs and Jews spreads to other parts of the city.
Militants fire dozens of rockets at Israel from Gaza, drawing retaliatory air strikes.
President Abbas’ Fatah faction and Hamas condemn the looming threatened eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem by Jewish settlers ahead of a planned court hearing. Hamas calls on Arabs to form “human shields of resistance” there.
In the days that follow, police and protesters repeatedly clash at the site as it becomes a focal point for Palestinian anger.
Militants in Gaza begin sending incendiary balloons into Israel over successive days, causing dozens of fires.
Two Palestinian gunmen are shot dead and a third is wounded after opening fire on Israeli security forces in the northern West Bank. Israeli authorities say the group planned to carry out a “major attack” in Israel.Image caption The al-Aqsa mosque has been a frequent flashpoint for violence Image copyright by Getty Images
Later on after Friday prayers – the last of Ramadan – major clashes erupt at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, injuring more than 200 people. Israel’s police force says it used “riot dispersal means”, firing rubber bullets and stun grenades after officers came under a hail of stones and bottles.
A second night of violence erupts in East Jerusalem after tens of thousands of worshippers prayed at the al-Aqsa mosque for Laylat al-Qadr, the holiest night of Ramadan.
Police and protesters clash at Damascus Gate, with police using water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas against crowds of Palestinians, some throwing stones.
More than 120 Palestinians and some 17 police are injured.
Israel’s Supreme Court postpones the hearing on the Sheikh Jarrah case following calls to delay it because of the growing unrest. Tensions remain high though and more clashes take place between Israeli police and Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and at Damascus Gate.
Early morning clashes break out between police and Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, where crowds throw stones and officers fire stun grenades.
Palestinian anger has been inflamed by an annual Jerusalem Day march planned for later in the day by hundreds of Israeli nationalists to celebrate Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967.
The march is due to pass through predominantly Arab parts of the Old City in what is seen by Palestinians as a deliberate provocation. It is rerouted at the 11th hour, but the atmosphere remains volatile with more than 300 Palestinians and some 21 police injured in the violence at the holy site.
Hamas issues an ultimatum to Israel to “withdraw its soldiers… from the blessed al-Aqsa mosque and Sheikh Jarrah” by 18:00. When the deadline passes without an Israeli response, rockets are fired towards Jerusalem for the first time in years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the group has “crossed a red line” and Israel retaliates with air strikes, killing three Hamas fighters.
A continuing exchange of rocket-fire and air strikes quickly escalates into the fiercest hostilities between the two sides since they fought a war in 2014.
#AceNewsReport – May.17: At least 139 people have been killed in Gaza and nine in Israel since the fighting began on Monday:
Thousands protest in London over Israel-Gaza violence: ‘The organisers of the protest called on the UK government to stop allowing what they described as “Israel’s brutal violence against and oppression of the Palestinian people” Demonstrators marched to the Israeli embassy chanting “free Palestine” It comes after the worst week of violence in Gaza and Israel since 2014.
11 hours ago
By Jo Couzens BBC News
Israel says dozens of militants are among the dead in Gaza, while Palestinian health officials say nearly half are women and children.
It came after weeks of spiralling Israeli-Palestinian tension in occupied East Jerusalem which culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas – the militant Islamist group which rules Gaza – began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes.
On Saturday, an Israeli air strike on a refugee camp in Gaza killed 10 people, while a Palestinian rocket killed a man in Israel.
The demonstration in London has been organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Stop The War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Muslim Association of Britain.
A spokesperson for the organisers said: “It is vital that the UK government takes immediate action.
“It must stop allowing Israel’s brutal violence against and oppression of the Palestinian people to go unpunished.”
They said the bombardment of Gaza “which is killing civilians including children is a war crime”, adding: “The UK government is complicit in these acts as long as it continues to offer Israel military, diplomatic and financial support.”
At the scene
James Waterhouse, BBC News reporter
From the outset, it has been clear how high passions are running among the thousands who have turned out in central London.
A river of protesters flows along Hyde Park towards the Israeli embassy in Kensington.
Every once in a while, a red or green smoke flare is set off, which is met with cheers and waving Palestinian flags which match the colours.
Their intended destination is sealed off down a private road, but that does not stop people chanting “free Palestine” and a minority climb scaffolding on Kensington High Street.
They essentially want Israel to stop air strikes and for the UK government to step in.
But as US negotiators call on both sides to calm things, few here think it will be resolved any time soon.
Addressing the crowds at the rally, Husam Zumlot, Palestinian ambassador to the UK, said: “This time is different. This time we will not be denied any more. We are united. We have had enough of oppression.
“Today we are saying enough, enough with the complicity. Thank you for standing with us.”
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott also spoke to those gathered outside the embassy.
Ms Abbott said: “We must remember we are part of an international movement. This is a worldwide movement for justice.
“Palestinian people are having their land seized… and they are now being killed in their homes. All of this is illegal.”
In a BBC interview, the former Israeli ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, defended Israel’s actions in Gaza.
“I don’t want to see any innocent bystanders hurt, let alone children. I don’t want to see Israeli children or Palestinian children caught up in the crossfire,” he said.
“But Hamas says Israel has no right to exist. So, we’re only talking about deterrence, about strength, about them understanding that it’s not in their interest to shoot rockets into Israel,” he added.
“And we want to come out of this conflict with them understanding that clearly, and then have a sustained period of quiet. Ultimately, that’s good for Israelis, and that’s good for the residents of Gaza, too.”
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the ongoing violence was “deeply concerning and must end”.
“There is never any justification for targeting innocent civilians. Both sides need to de-escalate and offer hope to their peoples, which can only come through political dialogue.”
The Metropolitan Police said a small minority of protesters had thrown objects of police, and warned that enforcement action “will be taken where necessary against those who breach Covid regulations”.
There have also been pro-Palestinian demonstrations in several other European capitals.
In Paris, riot police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse a rally held despite a ban by authorities.
#AceNewsReport – May.16: airstrikes on Gaza City flattened three buildings and killed at least 26 people Sunday, medics said, making it the deadliest single attack since heavy fighting broke out between Israel and the territory’s militant Hamas rulers nearly a week ago:
Israeli strikes kill 26, topple buildings in Gaza City: An additional 50 people were wounded from the attack: Israel appears to have stepped up strikes in recent days to inflict as much damage as possible on Hamas as international mediators try to broker a cease-fire. But targeting the group’s leaders could hinder those efforts. A U.S. diplomat is in the region to try to de-escalate tensions, and the U.N. Security Council is set to meet Sunday: Associated Press: 25: mins ago
The Gaza Health Ministry said 10 women and eight children were among those killed, with another 50 people wounded in the attack. A rescuer could be seen shouting into a hole in the rubble. “Can you hear me?” he called out. “Are you OK?” Minutes later, first responders managed to pull a survivor out and carried him off on an orange stretcher.
Earlier, the Israeli military said it destroyed the home of Gaza’s top Hamas leader, Yahiyeh Sinwar, in a separate strike in the southern town of Khan Younis. It was the third such attack in the last two days on the homes of senior Hamas leaders, who have gone underground.
The latest outbreak of violence began in east Jerusalem earlier this month, when Palestinians protested attempts by settlers to forcibly evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes and Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint located on a mount in the Old City revered by Muslims and Jews. Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, triggering the Israeli assault on Gaza.
The turmoil has also spilled over elsewhere, fueling protests in the occupied West Bank and stoking violence within Israel between its Jewish and Arab citizens, with clashes and vigilante attacks on people and property.
At least 181 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 52 children and 31 women, with 1,225 wounded. Eight Israelis have been killed, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier.
The military said Sunday it struck Sinwar’s home and that of his brother Muhammad, another senior Hamas member. On Saturday it destroyed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a senior figure in Hamas’ political branch.
Hamas’ upper echelon has gone into hiding in Gaza, and it is unlikely any were at home at the time of the strikes. Hamas’ top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, divides his time between Turkey and Qatar, both of which provide political support to the group.
Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group have acknowledged 20 fighters killed since the fighting broke out Monday. Israel says the real number is far higher and has released the names and photos of two dozen alleged operatives it says were “eliminated.”
An Egyptian diplomat said Israel’s targeting of Hamas political leaders would complicate cease-fire efforts. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door negotiations, said Cairo is working to broker an end to the fighting. A U.S. diplomat has also been dispatched to the region and the U.N. Security Council is set to meet Sunday.
The Egyptian diplomat said the destruction of Hamas’ rocket capabilities would require a ground invasion that would “inflame the whole region.” Egypt, which made peace with Israel decades ago, has threatened to “suspend” cooperation in various fields, the official said, without elaborating.
Hamas and other militant groups have fired some 2,900 rockets into Israel. The military said 450 of the rockets had fallen short or misfired, while Israeli air defenses intercepted 1,150.
The interception rate appeared to have significantly dropped since the start of the conflict, when Israel said 90% were intercepted. The military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Israel has meanwhile carried out hundreds of airstrikes across impoverished Gaza, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians and has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.
Israel has leveled a number of Gaza City’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging they contain Hamas military infrastructure. On Saturday, Israel bombed the 12-story al-Jalaa Building, where the office of The Associated Press was located. The building also housed the TV network Al-Jazeera and other media outlets, along with several floors of apartments.
“The campaign will continue as long as it is required,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. He alleged that Hamas military intelligence was operating inside the building.
Israel routinely cites a Hamas presence as a reason for targeting certain locations in airstrikes, including residential buildings. The military also has accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields, but provided no evidence to back up the claims.
The AP has operated from the building for 15 years, including through three previous wars between Israel and Hamas. During those conflicts as well as the current one, the news agency’s cameras from its top floor office and roof terrace offered 24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surroundings.
“We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement. “This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”
In the afternoon, the military called the building’s owner and warned a strike would come within an hour. AP staffers and other occupants evacuated safely. Soon after, three missiles hit the building and destroyed it, bringing it crashing down in a giant cloud of dust.
“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” Pruitt said. “We are shocked and horrified.”
He said the AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was engaged with the U.S. State Department to learn more.