Surprise surprise. Not. The extension to the 5-day extension to the
schmeasefire ceasefire didn’t last through its full 24 hours before Hamas or one of its proxies or allies started firing rockets at Israel earlier this evening. The first barrages hit the south and the Gaza border area. Later this evening rockets were also launched at the Gush Dan area. I can assure you that with no sirens the sudden booms gave me rather a shock!
The Times of Israel reports:
Thankfully Israel wasn’t taking this lying down, and in contrast to previous times when we have let Hamas get away with a “dribble” of rocket fire, PM Netanyahu ordered the IDF to renew operations:
The rate of rocket fire picked up from then on:
The IDF says it’s currently targeting terror sites across the Gaza Strip in response to the rockets fired in the past hour at the southern city of Beersheba, breaking the 24-hour truce extension agreed upon last night.
There are no immediate reports from Gaza concerning the strikes.
After sirens go off in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, at least one rocket is reported to have exploded in an open area, causing no injury or damage.
The projectile was the fourth fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel in recent hours.
And thus it continued. By 11 p.m. over 20 rockets had been fired at Israel within the hour, including at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem:
Eight rockets were fired at the Tel Aviv metropolitan area in the latest barrage, Ynet reports.
Air raid sirens are going off in Beit Shemesh and the Judeah region.
The IDF Home Front Command instructs communities up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Gaza Strip to open their public bomb shelters as rockets are launched deeper into the country.
Just a short while ago (shortly after midnight local time) it was reported on Channel 10 that the IDF had assassinated (or attempted to) a senior Hamas official – thereby explaining the massive rocket barrage on Israel (though they don’t seem to need much excuse):
A Channel 10 reporter says that prior to the recent massive rocket barrage, Israel tried to assassinate a senior Hamas figure in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood.
Alon Ben-David tweets that Israeli officials refuse to comment on rumors that the target of the assassination attempt was the secretive Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif, who survived several Israeli assassination attempts over the years.
As at the time of writing these words over 50 rockets have been fired at Israel today. Considering the rocket fire only started at 3.30 this afternoon, that’s 50 rockets within 9 hours, i.e 6 rockets an hour, or one every 10 minutes.
Earlier, Hamas in its cynicism had threatened Israel that it had better do as Hamas says – or else:
18:00 For calm, Israel must do as we say’ — Hamas
Hamas spokesperson in the Gaza Strip Mushir al-Masry says, “If Israel wants calm it must accede to the demands and rights of the Palestinians.”
The announcement comes a couple hours after the breaking of the ceasefire, when rockets from Gaza exploded near Beersheba. No Palestinian group has claimed the fire.
Or as the Israeli activist Avi Mayer tweeted:
In normal times we wouldn’t be surprised, but in today’s climate it is certainly gratifying to learn that the US backs Israel’s right to self-defense, firmly blaming Hamas for the breakdown in the ceasefire talks:
“We are very concerned about today’s development and condemn the renewed rocket fire,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf says at a press briefing.
She notes that the US has confirmed that rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, and that “Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza.”
Harf reiterates that the US supports Israel’s right to defend itself against terror attacks from Gaza.
Besides the renewed rocket fire, the Shin Bet said it had foiled a Hamas plan for a coup against the PA in the West Bank (similarly to how it overthrew the PA in Gaza):
Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Monday it thwarted a Hamas coup attempt in the West Bank aimed at toppling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and starting a third intifada uprising.
The Shin Bet said it arrested more than 90 Hamas operatives in May and June, confiscated dozens of weapons that had been smuggled into the West Bank, and seized more than $170,000 aimed at funding attacks. It produced photos of the confiscated weapons and cash and a flowchart of the Hamas operatives who had been questioned, and said they planned a series of massive attacks on Israeli targets, including the Temple Mount, in order to start a widespread conflagration. Indictments are expected to be filed against at least 70 of the suspects.
Abbas said later Monday that the revelation was “a grave threat to the unity of the Palestinian people and its future,” NRG reported.
The Shin Bet said terror cells were set up in dozens of Palestinian West Bank towns and villages — including in and around Jenin, Nablus, eastern Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Hebron.
Many of those recruited for the cells were students studying chemistry and engineering, and academics, according to the investigation.
The Shin Ben said the plot was orchestrated by senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri, who is based in Turkey and enjoys the support of the local officials there.
Detailing what it said was the thwarted bid to topple the PA in the West Bank, the Shin Bet said Monday that Hamas military cells in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, run through headquarters in Turkey, sought to execute a string of attacks against Israel, overthrow the PA, and establish a second front against Israel during Operation Protective Edge.
The leader of the operation, Riad Nasser, a resident of the village Dir Kadis, was recruited by al-Arouri, the head of West Bank operations for Hamas abroad, the Shin Bet said. Al-Arouri was one of the founders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing
The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reported in June that, according to an Israeli security official, al-Arouri was behind the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli teens on June 12.
You’d think the PA would be grateful for Israel’s prevention of what would have been a disaster for both parties. All the PA has to say for itself is that it blames Israel for the breakdown in the ceasefire talks!
Speaking from Egypt, Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the PA delegation to the Cairo truce talks, blames Israel for the collapse of negotiations. He says that Netanyahu recalled the Israeli delegation at 4 p.m., which signaled the end of the efforts for a long-term ceasefire.
He notes that the Palestinians are still talking to Israel through Egypt.
I’ve heard of “saying it with flowers”, but never “saying it with rockets”.
In related news, the IDF also destroyed the houses of the kidnappers of the three teens:
The homes of the main suspects in the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June, were demolished on Monday.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said that combat engineers supported by Border Patrol officers set explosive charges to two houses belonging to Hussam Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha in the southern West Bank and sealed off a home belonging to suspect Marwan Kawasme.
Hussam Kawasme, 40, from Hebron, was arrested on July 11, but both Marwan Kawasme and Aysha have still not been found.
Kawasme’s arrest was made public earlier in August via a court case document, dealing with whether or not his house, or those belonging to the other suspects should be demolished.
The three men, all affiliated with Hamas, are suspected of engineering the abduction and murder of teenage yeshiva students Gil- Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Fraenkel, who were killed shortly after they hitched a ride on June 12 near a Gush Etzion junction.
According to the court document published earlier this month, Hussam Kawasme helped organize the kidnapping and secured funding from Hamas to buy weapons for the other two suspects.
He also helped bury the bodies of the youths on a plot of land he bought months before, the document said.
The IDF said that they carried out the demolitions “as part of the ongoing war against terror and its infrastructure.”
The army said that the demolitions “issue a severe message of deterrence to terrorists and their accomplices – that they will pay a price if they continue their terrorist activities and harm innocent people.”
They added that security forces from the army, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and the police were still looking for the remaining kidnappers.
Stay tuned for more developments. I’m sure we’re in for a bumpy ride.