BEIT LAHIA, GAZA – MARCH 25 : Palestinians inspect a vehicle, damaged after an alleged airstrike by Israel in Beit Lahia, Gaza on March 25, 2019
Israeli warplanes continue to strike Gaza City Tuesday despite reports of a ceasefire, Anadolu reports.
According to witnesses, the Israeli bombardment targeted a post belonging to the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, in the town of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip, causing a huge fire at the nearby Omar bin Abdulaziz Mosque.
It was also reported that Israeli warplanes and artillery units are continuing to strike a large number of agricultural areas in southern, northern and central Gaza.
The Israeli army confirmed that its warplanes had carried out 15 bombardments in the Gaza Strip.
The army stated that the attacks were carried out in response to rockets launched from the Gaza Strip on Monday.
Hamas announced late Monday that Egypt had managed to secure a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza-based resistance factions. Neither Israel nor Egypt has officially confirmed the reported ceasefire arrangement.
On Monday morning, rocket fire emanating from Gaza reportedly left seven Israelis injured.
Israel responded by pounding Hamas positions across the Gaza Strip, to which Palestinian resistance factions responded in turn by firing rockets at two Israeli cities located near the Hamas-run coastal enclave.
The Israeli army has reportedly deployed missile-defence batteries in several locations across the country while sending two additional infantry brigades to the Gaza-Israel buffer zone.
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett (L) speaks as he and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (R) give a statement at the Knesset in Jerusalem on 19 November, 2018
Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have called for the bombardment of the Gaza Strip to be intensified after a night of heavy air strikes on the territory. The duo – who co-lead the New Right (Hayemin Hehadash) party after breaking awayfrom the Jewish Home party in December – have long called for Israel to up its attacks on the besieged enclave.
Speaking at a meeting of residents in Kibbutz Alumim, an Israeli community located near the nominal border fence, Bennett appeared to advocate the bombing of civilians and targeted assassinations when he said, “Bombing an empty building and then feeling good, as if this is what is deterring Hamas, is nonsense, it does not work.” He added that he expects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give the Israeli army an order to cut Hamas capabilities.
Netanyahu, who is also Israel’s Defence Minister, yesterday cut short his two-day trip to the US to deal with the situation in Gaza. He vowed to “manage [Israel’s] operations up close.”
Bennett also called reports of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire “embarrassing”, saying that he would do all he could to stop it from happening. “There is no country in the world that would not exact a price for rockets fired at its citizens and there is no country in the world where the blood of its citizens is as disregarded as [in the situation] we have seen in recent days,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, Bennett’s long-time ally Ayelet Shaked also used the ongoing crisis in Gaza as an opportunity to air her views. “Hamas is simply not afraid of us,” she told right-wing Israeli newspaper Arutz Sheva. “The very fact that there are missiles aimed at the entire State of Israel without hindrance is something we must not accept.”
Shaked praised Bennett’s hawkish approach. “Minister Naftali Bennett has had a very consistent position for years that we need to stop being afraid and stop containing […] but rather dare and win. We can deter Hamas. It is only a matter of making the decision to do so.”
Israel’s Justice Minister also criticised Netanyahu’s approach to the enclave, which many on the right wing consider weak. “We [she and Netanyahu] disagree on the general approach. We must not contain and pay Hamas protection money. They have to be afraid of us. They have to be deterred and we should not allow this rampage to happen.”
This criticism of Netanyahu’s approach to the Gaza Strip has been a favourite topic of right-wing politicians for some time. In November, the same disagreement led then Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman to resign his portfolio, leaving Netanyahu to take over the reins himself.
Speaking at the time after a botched operation by Israel left seven Palestinians and one Israeli dead and resulted in a series of overnight strikes on Gaza, Lieberman said: “What happened yesterday in terms of the ceasefire […] is submission to terror. What we are in effect doing is buying short term quiet [in Gaza] and the price will be difficult for [Israel’s] security in the long term.”
This criticism has reached fever pitch as Israel’s General Election draws closer. Commentators have speculated that the threat of another offensive against Palestinian civilians in Gaza could actually be of benefit to Netanyahu’s re-election bid on 9 April, giving him an opportunity to prove that he can be tough on Hamas, which is the de facto government in the Strip, having won the last election in 2006.
The Times of Israel pointed out yesterday that, weeks before Israel’s 2009 and 2013 elections, the government launched its 2008 and 2012 military offensives against Gaza after being spurred on by “appeals for a strong retaliation” to alleged rocket fire. If the same happens again, with the election two weeks from today, Israel could face a “khaki election” in which the country goes to the polls during wartime.
Days Of Palestine [ West Bank ] – The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped last night and at dawn Tuesday nine Palestinian citizens during campaigns in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
According to local sources in Birzeit town, an Israeli special force stormed the campus of Birzeit University and rounded up three students identified as Tawfiq Abu Arqoub, Hamza Abu Qara, Uday Nakhla.
In Jerusalem, the IOF raided homes in Hizma town and kidnapped a teenager called Mahmoud Salahuddin and another citizen.
Two other citizens identified as Abul-Ezz Rabea and Abu Mishaal Rabea were taken prisoners during an IOF campaign in Abu Dis town in east Jerusalem.
Another citizen identified as Amer al-Ajlouni was kidnapped from his home in al-Khalil.
The IOF also stormed Sebastia town in Nablus and handed activist Qutaiba Azem a summons for interrogation from the Shin Bet.
The Arab electronic armies insult and curse Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a daily basis for being the only one to express his rejection of the new American position on the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights is an occupied Arab territories and neither the international community nor international law recognise Israel’s sovereignty over it, and consider such sovereignty an illegal, criminal, military occupation.
The Arab regimes no longer care about the Arab land. Instead, the media outlets in the Gulf have been busy talking about Detective Mueller’s acquittal of US President Donald Trump more than these outlets addressed the US position on the occupied Arab territories. The irony is that these Arab regimes themselves have constantly condemned the Russian and Iranian presence in Syria, calling it a violation of the sovereignty of an Arab country, while they have and continues to remain silent on the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, and the American position on this occupation. It is as if the Iranians are foreigners while the Israelis are the indigenous people.
Some Arab regimes have reached a level of disregard and shame that no one expected. We have even started to miss the statements and speeches that the Arab regimes presented to their peoples because Trump is currently enslaving Arab rulers, silencing them. He has even banned them from protesting for show or issuing fake statements in order to distract and pacify their people. The problem, however, is not with the Arab regimes, as they have been exposed and have over the past years raced towards Israel in order to please Netanyahu and resort to him for help to confront their people. What is important here is the analysis of the new American position on the Golan Heights and what the Trump administration is doing regarding our Arab region and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The American administration is currently completely changing the legal status of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is liquidating the major issues of dispute, unilaterally, without any negotiations. It is clear that it is also implementing the “deal of the century” in practice before announcing its terms. This also applies to the refugee and Jerusalem issues, which is something that was clearly understood by the King of Jordan during his last visit to Washington. This is why he returned to Jordan and made a surprising speech in which he angrily expressed his commitment to his position on occupied Jerusalem and rejected any change.
The US is currently violating international law and providing absolute support to Israel in confiscating Arab territories, including the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. This is evidenced by the fact that during 2018, illegal and illegitimate settlement activity reached a peak in the West Bank, reaching over 480,000 settlers. This is the largest number since 1967, meaning that the West Bank no longer exists, as it is distributed amongst a Separation Wall, Jewish settlements and military checkpoints. Between all of this, there are small Palestinian communities. Israel took advantage of the new American administration and exploited the tensions in the Arab region. It also benefited from the regimes that have no legitimacy in the region because these regimes were forced into Israel’s embrace in order to remain in their positions. Therefore, Trump and his son-in-law supported settlement activity in the West Bank and made the decision to move their embassy to occupied Jerusalem. Now they are recognising the annexation of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Meanwhile, the Arabs are silent or preoccupied with insulting Erdogan through their electronic armies, on which they spend millions of dollars.
The bottom line is that the Arab reality is very miserable and shameful. While no Arab ruler has dared to condemn America and say that the Golan Heights is an occupied Syrian Arab territory, Erdogan alone has done it. Why are the Americans doing this? The answer is simple: they are actually liquidating the Palestinian cause and ending contentious issues gradually, without any negotiations and without consideration for any Arab or Palestinian party.
The Israel army has deployed two infantry and armored divisions to southern Israel, and has begun a limited call for reservists in the intelligence and air defense corps, following rocket fire on central Israel Monday morning, a military spokesman said.
Brigadier General Ronen Manelis alleges that a rocket was fired from Hamas operatives, from a military post in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and had a range of 120 kilometers.
Though default Hamas rockets are little more than hollow tubes stuffed with dynamite, and not equipped with guidance systems, Israeli forces claimed, on Twitter, that a homemade rocket traveled 75 miles, destroying a house in Tel Aviv.
(Video courtesy Ma’an News Agency.)
These developments come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would respond strongly to rockets that were fired from Gaza, PNN reports.
According to Israeli media Netanyahu “spoke to the IOF Chief of Staff, head of the Shin Bet and head of Intelligence and that he sees this as a criminal act against the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu said : ”We will respond forcefully,” adding that he will return to Israel almost immediately, following rocket fire that hit the Sharon region Monday morning.
Netanyahu met with President Donald Trump on Monday and boarded a plane to Israel.
Islamic Jihad leader Ziad NaKhaleh said, on Monday morning, in a press statement: ”We warn the enemy against any aggression on the Gaza Strip. Its leaders must understand that.”
There are reports, in Gaza, that the offices of Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh have been hit. The Israeli army confirmed the attack.
A Hamas official, who asked not to be named, told AFP , “No one from the resistance movements, including Hamas, has an interest in firing rockets from the Gaza Strip towards the enemy.”
He added that the same message had been conveyed to Egypt, who intervened to broker a ceasefire and prevent Israel from launching another war on Gaza, after tensions escalated last year.
Only a few hours after Hamas denied that it had launched a rocket toward Tel Aviv, the Israeli military began striking the besieged Palestinian territory.
Israeli forces detained an elderly Palestinian man from inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, in occupied East Jerusalem, and banned a youth from entering the holy site, on Monday.
The head of the Public Relations office, at the Islamic Endowment Department, reported that the Israeli police detained an elderly man after he had performed prayers at the al-Rahma Gate (Gate of Mercy) area, inside the compound.
Israeli settlers had raided the compound via the Moroccan Gate, under armed military security.
Additionally, Israeli authorities banned a Palestinian youth, identified as Jihad Qaws, from entering the compound for one week. Qaws said that this ban comes after his last ban of 6 months had just finished.
Israeli intelligence also summoned a Palestinian youth, identified as Majed al-Juba, and informed him of the possibility that his ban from entering Jerusalem City could be renewed for 6 months. Al-Juba’s previous ban of 1 year ended on Monday, before he was informed of the possible renewal.
According to Ma’an, Al-Juba was also banned from entering the West Bank for an entire year, which would end next Wednesday.
Undercover Israeli soldiers infiltrated, on Tuesday at dawn, into the campus of Birzeit University, in Birzeit City, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped three students from their dorms.
Media sources said the undercover soldiers kidnapped Hamza Abu Qare’, Odai Nakhla and Tawfiq Abu ‘Arqoub, before taking them to an unknown destination.
In related news, Israeli soldiers invaded the al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah, before storming and ransacking several homes and shops.
The soldiers conducted violent searches of the invaded properties, and confiscated surveillance equipment and recordings.
Israeli forces continued to pound Gaza with bombs late Monday night and into Tuesday morning, including the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya in Gaza City.
After the Israeli military began its bombardment campaign, dropping close to 100 bombs in the first three hours of Monday evening, Palestinian resistance forces retaliated, firing around 30 homemade shells across the border into Israel, causing no injuries.
Israeli authorities opened public bomb shelters for Israelis living in border towns near the Gaza Strip. Palestinians living in Gaza, numbering nearly two million people, have no bomb shelters.
Following the attack on Haniyya’s office in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, Israeli forces levelled a three story building in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City. The Israeli army issued a statement that “This is a secret headquarters of the Hamas terror group, which is used by the internal security, central intelligence and military intelligence branches of the group”.
But local Palestinians dispute that claim, saying that the building houses the al-Multazem Insurance company.
The Mosque of Omar Ibn Abdel Aziz in Beit Hanoun was hit by an Israeli bomb, destroying most of the building.
Egyptian officials have been talking with Israeli and Palestinian leaders since Monday evening to try to negotiate a ceasefire. Twice during the night, Hamas officials in Gaza have declared their willingness to adhere to a ceasefire, and to convince all the Palestinian resistance factions to adhere to a ceasefire, if Israeli forces would cease their bombing of the Gaza Strip.
But shortly after each of these declarations from the Palestinian leaders, Israeli bombs continued to rain down on Gaza, with truckloads of Israeli missiles being seen driving toward the border, and hundreds of reservists being called up by the Israeli military to deploy to the Gaza-Israel border – giving every indication that the Israeli government has no intention of negotiating a ceasefire, but is instead preparing for a wider-scale assault on Gaza.
No Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli bombardment, but at least eight have been injured, including two children.
The Israeli bombardment of Gaza followed the firing of a rocket from Gaza toward Tel Aviv – for which no Palestinian resistance group claimed credit – wounding eight Israelis, including three children.
That followed two days of Israeli attacks against non-violent protests in Gaza in which three Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire, and nearly two hundred were wounded.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cut short his visit to Trump in Washington DC, during which Trump unilaterally declared US support for the Israeli annexation of the Syrian territory known as the Golan Heights by military force – despite the fact that such forced military annexation is a direct violation of international law.
Netanyahu is running for re-election on April 8th – despite his recent indictment on corruption charges. Among his opponents are right wing candidates who claim that the far right Netanyahu is ‘too soft’ on Hamas.