May 6, 2019
Special Edition

In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Gazan Mother and Infant Were Killed by Hamas Explosives, Not Israel - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    The Israeli army said that a pregnant Palestinian woman and her infant niece were killed in Gaza by a Hamas explosive device and not by Israeli airstrikes.
    "Today we can say with certainty, after looking into the event, that they were killed as a result of an explosion of combustible materials during the activation of a Hamas explosive device," the IDF said.

Gaza Fighting Triggered When Palestinian Sniper Attempted to Assassinate IDF Colonel at Border on Friday - Joe Truzman (GroundBrief)
    On Friday afternoon, a Palestinian sniper fired at IDF soldiers stationed at the Gaza border, injuring two.
    Reviewing the video evidence, the target of the attack may have been the commander of the southern Gaza division, Col. Liron Batito, who was seen in a photo taken from Gaza before the attack.

IDF Kills Hamas Terrorist in Targeted Strike (Reuters)
    Israel killed Hamas terrorist Hamed al-Khoudary in Gaza on Sunday in a targeted airstrike on his car, the first such action since the 2014 war.
    The IDF said he was responsible for transferring funds from Iran to armed factions in Gaza.
    See also Israel's Renewal of Targeted Killings in Gaza Sends a Message - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    With the renewal of targeted killings, Israel is making a clear statement: This round of hostilities is different than others prior to it in the manner in which Jerusalem intends to respond to rocket fire.
    His killing has sent a message: Israel's targeted killings policy is back on the table.
    Israel also targeted the private homes of senior Hamas activists, and in some cases the target was the advanced ammunition they hid in their houses.

IDF Thwarts Hamas Cyber Attack - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    The IDF thwarted a cyber attack by Hamas over the weekend. The commander of the IDF's Cyber Division said the attempt was not particularly advanced and "We were a step ahead of them the whole time."
    Once the digital threat was neutralized, fighter jets destroyed the building housing the headquarters of Hamas' cyber unit.

Gen. Amidror: Iran behind Gaza Escalation - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran, through Islamic Jihad - its proxy in Gaza - is behind the current escalation, former Israeli National Security Advisor Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror said on Sunday.
    Amidror traced the current round of massive rocket fire on Israel to Friday, when Islamic Jihad fired on Israeli soldiers patrolling the Gaza border, wounding two officers. Israel responded and killed two Hamas men - and then the rocket barrage began from Gaza.
    Why did Islamic Jihad fire on the soldiers? "The answer is again and again and again - Iran," Amidror said.
    Islamic Jihad is a completely owned and operated Iranian subsidiary. "It was established by Iran, financed by Iran, and does what Iran wants it to do."
    Iran's interest is for Israel to embark on another major operation in Gaza, freeing up Iran to do what it wants unhindered in Syria, Amidror said.

Iran and the Escalation in Gaza - Jacob Nagel (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    In the recent escalation in Gaza, Iran and its allies may have overplayed their hand.
    After sustaining more than 600 rockets and four fatalities, even some of the more risk-averse Israeli officials see little choice but to destroy significant terrorist infrastructure in Gaza in a major retaliation.
    Indeed, there is a growing sense in Israel that the IDF must re-establish deterrence and send a clear message such that the gain/pain equation will be different this time.
    Israel wants all of Iran's proxies - Hamas and Islamic Jihad - to fear another conflict.
    There must also be an understanding that Palestinian terrorist groups do not use this time to build up their military infrastructure for the next conflict.
    The writer, a visiting fellow at FDD, headed Israel's National Security Council.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Palestinians Agree to Gaza Cease-Fire after Firing 690 Rockets and Mortars at Israel
    Palestinian leaders in Gaza agreed to cease hostilities with Israel from 4:30 a.m. on Monday, officials with knowledge of the deal said. An Egyptian official also confirmed the deal. The escalation began Saturday with massive rocket fire from Gaza, drawing waves of Israeli retaliatory strikes that continued throughout Sunday. Four civilians in Israel were killed, as well as 23 Palestinians, including at least nine militants.
        Israel said Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired 690 rockets or mortars, with Israeli air defenses intercepting more than 240. At least 35 rockets fell in urban areas. (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
  • Trump to Palestinians in Gaza: "End the Violence and Work towards Peace" - Zack Budryk
    President Trump on Sunday tweeted: "Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens. To the Gazan people - these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery. END the violence and work towards peace - it can happen!"  (The Hill)
  • Pompeo: "The Israelis Have Every Right to Defend Themselves"
    Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday: "The Israelis have every right to defend themselves. I've seen video...where there have been strikes on homes, civilian populations. These rockets were fired with civilians around them in order to protect from return fire. This is terrible. The Israelis have every right to protect the sovereignty of their nation."  (State Department)
        See also U.S. Condemns Rocket Attacks on Israel
    U.S. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Saturday: "The United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel. We call on those responsible for the violence to cease this aggression immediately. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to self-defense against these abhorrent attacks." (State Department)
        See also Former UN Envoy Nikki Haley Backs Israel's Response to Rocket Attacks
    Former U.S. UN envoy Nikki Haley responded on Sunday to Gaza rocket attacks on Israel: "If this was any other country, the international community would raise havoc. No other country would sit back and take this. Why should Israel?"  (Twitter)
        See also European Leaders Condemn Gaza Rocket Fire on Israel - Raphael Ahren
    "The rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel must stop immediately," a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Saturday. The EU's ambassador in Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, said, "firing indiscriminately against civilians [is] unacceptable." French Ambassador to Israel Helene Le Gal expressed "solidarity with the population in Israel's South."
        The Foreign Ministry in Berlin condemned the "massive rocket fire" on Israel, adding, "There is nothing that could justify attacks on civilians. Israel has the right to defend itself and to protect its citizens." Sweden's ambassador to Israel, Magnus Hellgren, wrote that indiscriminate firing on civilians is "completely unacceptable and can never, never be justified."  (Times of Israel)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

    Israeli Casualties

  • Palestinian Rockets over Israel
    Between Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas launched over 600 rockets and mortars at Israelis from Gaza. Four Israeli civilians have been killed in the barrages, dozens have been wounded, and the lives of many more have been shattered. The terrorists deliberately aimed their rocket attacks at civilian centers and struck homes, a factory, and even a kindergarten and a hospital in the city of Ashkelon. Hamas is committing a crime against humanity, indiscriminately attacking Israeli civilians while operating from within Gaza's population - using Gazans as human shields.
        Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas have carried out hundreds of horrific suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings and ramming attacks, killing and maiming thousands of people in Israel. Both are backed by Iran and have declared their intention to destroy Israel and establish an Islamic caliphate in its stead. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Four Israelis Killed by Barrage of Gaza Rockets on Israel - Almog Ben Zikri
    Moshe Agadi, 58, a green grocer in the Ashkelon market and father of four, died after being struck by shrapnel from rocket fire in the city of Ashkelon on Saturday. Ziad Alhamada, 49, was killed after a rocket hit a factory where he worked in Ashkelon. Moshe Feder, 67, died after his car was hit by an anti-tank missile as he was driving near the Gaza border. American-Israeli Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, 21, was killed by shrapnel from a rocket that landed in the backyard of a building in Ashdod.
        Among those injured were two workers at the Ashkelon factory where Alhamada died, a 30-year-old Thai national, A 45-year-old man in the Bedouin town of Laqiya, a 50-year-old man whose home was hit by a rocket in Ashkelon, and an 80-year-old woman whose house was hit in Kiryat Gat. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Two IDF Soldiers Wounded from Shrapnel near Gaza Border (Jerusalem Post)
        See also 234 Israelis Injured in Gaza Violence - Ilanit Chernick
    Since the start of Saturday's rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, 234 patients have been treated at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, where 17 people are still hospitalized, and at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where 11 people were still hospitalized. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Kindergarten Heavily Damaged by Palestinian Rocket - Judah Ari Gross
    Officials in the Israeli town of Sderot said Sunday that a rocket launched from Gaza on Saturday exploded outside a kindergarten, sending rocket fragments smashing through walls, windows and furniture inside. The kindergarten was empty at the time. (Times of Israel)
  • Rocket Shrapnel Hits Ashkelon Hospital
    Rocket shrapnel hit the oncology wing at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon after the Iron Dome intercepted a rocket over Israeli territory. No injuries were reported. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: Ashkelon Hospital under Fire, Moves Premature Babies to Bomb Shelter (StandWithUs)

  • Israel Responds to Palestinian Rocket Fire

  • Israel Responds to Gaza Rocket Fire - 1 - Yaniv Kubovich
    On Saturday evening, fighter jets attacked the offices of Hamas' intelligence and general security services in a six-story building in the Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City. Before the attack, a smaller missile was fired, known as a "knock on the roof," to warn civilians of an impending attack. Other targets included an underground Hamas rocket production site in the Netzarim area as well as a number of military compounds. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Responds to Gaza Rocket Fire - 2 - Judah Ari Gross
    The Israel Defense Forces said 70% of the incoming rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel from Gaza struck open fields. Of the remaining 30%, most were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Several directly struck homes or landed just outside them. At least two rockets landed in the courtyards of schools, which were empty on the weekend.
        In response, Israel hit a cross-border attack tunnel and flattened an eight-story building used by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The IDF said, "The structure that was attacked was used by Hamas' West Bank task force, which is responsible for directing terrorist operatives in the Judea and Samaria region to create terrorist infrastructure and to pass messages for terrorist activities and for transferring money and logistical support in order to carry out terror attacks against Israeli civilians." The building also housed the offices of the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency, prompting condemnation from Ankara. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Calls on UN Security Council to Condemn Hamas Rocket Attacks - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called on the UN Security Council to condemn the Hamas rocket fire against Israel. "The State of Israel has the duty and the full right to do all that is necessary to protect our people and our sovereignty, and we will continue do so at all times." The UNSC must "take this opportunity to finally condemn terrorism against Israel, designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and support the fundamental right of Israel to self-defense."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: The Current Campaign Is Not Yet Over
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday: "In the past two days we have struck Hamas and the Islamic Jihad forcefully. We attacked over 350 targets and terrorist leaders. The current campaign is not yet over and it calls for patience and discretion. We are preparing for what comes next."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Latest Round of Fighting in Gaza Won't Be the Last - Prof. Eyal Zisser
    Islamic Jihad and Hamas ultimately had to take Ramadan into account as they weighed their costs and benefits of moving forward with the current round of fighting with Israel. They were well aware that the people in Gaza wouldn't forgive them for turning Ramadan into a month-long war of destruction and devastation. At present, Hamas is hostage to Islamic Jihad's whims. It cannot allow itself to be perceived as conciliatory toward Israel and the enforcer of peace and quiet along the border, while its own operatives and members of Islamic Jihad are being killed. The writer is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University. (Israel Hayom)
  • Gaza's Terrorists Are Looking for Trouble - Yoav Limor
    Last November, when over 500 rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza, Israel responded in a controlled manner, avoiding an escalation due to a desire to focus its efforts on the Hizbullah terror tunnels in the north and stormy weather that limited the Israel Air Force's activities.
        This time, however, Israeli officials are of the unanimous opinion that avoiding a sharp response would be seen as fear of taking action. The outcome would be that at any moment, Hamas and Islamic Jihad could renew their fire and blackmail Israel anew. (JNS)
  • Why the Gaza Rocket Fire? Because Hamas Thinks Israel Is Vulnerable to Extortion - Avi Issacharoff
    Hamas decided to launch a controlled escalation of rocket fire into Israel over the weekend, seeking to gain from what it sees as an opportunity to pressure Israel into making significant concessions. Israel will mark Memorial Day and then Independence Day later this week, while it will host the Eurovision Song Contest on May 14-18. Hamas seeks to blackmail Israel in return for quiet during this period. (Times of Israel)
  • When a Dutch Immigrant Family Realized Their House Was Hit
    The Reijnen family arrived in Israel from the Netherlands shortly after the 2014 Gaza war, and chose to live in a kibbutz adjacent to Gaza. On Saturday, Raymond and Mirjam and their three young children stayed close to home "because of all the sirens" and were safely ensconced in the bomb shelter of their home when it was struck by a rocket from Gaza. "Suddenly there was another 'Code Red' [siren], and we heard the rocket hit. It was very loud and closer than usual, and the electricity went out. We looked at one another and realized that the house was hit, actually hit," Mirjam told Channel 12. "We heard lots of things breaking around us."
        After they left the shelter, they surveyed the destruction in their home. "It was hard to breathe, dust was everywhere and a lot was broken. We left the house and haven't returned," she said. The homes of dozens of Israeli families suffered damage from rocket fire from Gaza.
        In Rehovot on Saturday morning, a group of children aged 10 and 11 were playing soccer when sirens blared a warning of an incoming rocket attack. The children were caught on camera lying down in the center of a soccer field. (Times of Israel)
        See also Video: Family Refuses to Be Scared Away by Gaza Terror (StandWithUs)

  • The current flare-up in Gaza is characterized by new methods of warfare used by both sides.
  • Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other smaller terror groups have introduced a new locally-produced rocket which can reach only a few kilometers into Israel but is tipped with a uniquely heavy warhead. These rockets - called Burkan - were first developed in Syria and their warheads usually contain dozens of kilograms of explosives.
  • The terror groups thought the rocket would surprise the residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza border, but due to the rockets' lack of precision, most of them landed in open spaces or failed to make it into Israeli territory altogether.
  • The IDF has attacked almost exclusively what are labeled "power targets." These include multi-storey buildings with military installations, buildings serving as headquarters for the terror groups, and even private homes of the factions' leaders, leaving them without a roof over their heads on the eve of the Ramadan holiday.
  • The IDF also strikes terror cells launching rockets and has killed at least eight terror operatives.

        See also Power Targets: IDF Destroys Houses of Islamic Jihad Commanders
    The IDF destroyed the houses of Islamic Jihad commanders on Sunday morning as Palestinian rockets rained on Israeli communities near Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Destroys Hamas Interior Minister's Office - Tamar Beeri
    On Sunday evening, IDF fighter jets attacked the office of Twafiq Abu Naim, the interior minister and head of the security services of Hamas, in Nuseirat in Gaza, according to the IDF spokesperson. Abu Naim was jailed by Israel in 1991 and released in 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal. (Jerusalem Post)