Posts Tagged ‘Israel Defense Forces’

Israel reopens Gaza crossings as relative calm holds

October 21, 2018

Defense minister says he will consider allowing Qatari-bought fuel into Strip in the coming days, following decrease in border clashes

Protesters near the Gaza Strip border with Israel east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, October 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Protesters near the Gaza Strip border with Israel east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, October 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Israel reopened the crossings into the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, allowing people and goods in and out of the coastal enclave, following a decrease in the amount of violence along the border

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s office said the decision was made in consultation with officials from the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service and the liaison unit to the Palestinians, known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

The defense minister’s office said a decision had yet to be made about allowing a supply of fuel that was purchased by Qatar into the coastal enclave.

“The decision… was postponed at this time and will be considered in a few days, depending on incidents [along the border],” Liberman’s office said.

Israeli trucks carrying diesel fuel enter Kerem Shalom cargo crossing on the Israel-Gaza border, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The defense minister ordered the pedestrian Erez Crossing and Kerem Shalom goods crossing closed last Wednesday, after a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip exploded outside a home in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba and another landed in the sea off the coast of the greater Tel Aviv area.

In response to the rocket strike, the Israeli military launched a wave of air raids, bombing some 20 targets in the coastal enclave, including a border-crossing attack tunnel, the army said.

In the following days, Egypt and the United Nations were said to broker a ceasefire between Israel and the terror group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip — one that neither side officially acknowledged.

However, the past weekend saw a significant decrease in the amount of violence along the Gaza security fence compared to previous weeks, both in terms of the number of people participating in border riots and the intensity of the clashes.

The IDF said a number of explosives and grenades were set off during clashes on Friday and that Palestinians broke through the fence in three locations before immediately returning to the coastal enclave, with soldiers opening fire at the suspects in one case.

However, Israeli defense officials described the demonstrations as some of the quietest since the wave of protests dubbed the “March of Return” began on March 30.

Israeli soldiers taking position during clashes with Palestinian protesters across the Gaza border on October 19, 2018 in Nahal Oz (Jack Guez/AFP)

“Unlike past weeks, most of the rioters remained at a distance and did not try to reach the fence. Hamas acted for restraint on the ground,” the military said.

On Friday and Saturday, Israeli military aircraft also fired warning shots at two groups of Palestinians who were launching incendiary balloons into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, sparking a number of blazes in the area near the coastal enclave.

On Thursday and Friday, leaders of the border protests had told participants to keep away from the security fence and to not behave violently — statements not released in previous weeks.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 130 Palestinians were hurt in the clashes, including 77 by live fire.

The IDF said some 10,000 people took part in the protests. It sent text messages on Friday to residents of the coastal enclave, warning them not to approach the fence, Palestinians said.

Israeli officials believe Hamas has changed its policies regarding the clashes and was working toward curbing violence at the rallies, which have become a near-daily occurrence, Hadashot TV news reported Friday.

Jerusalem believes the terror group is moderating the demonstrations in order to allow Egyptian mediators a chance to strike a deal between Hamas and Israel for a long-term truce in Gaza, the report said.

From L to R: National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman and IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi hold a situational assessment near the Gaza border on October 17, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Since March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have participated in a series of protests and riots that have mostly involved the burning of tires and rock-throwing along the security fence, but have also seen shooting attacks and bombings as well as the sending of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel.

Some 156 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been injured in the clashes with IDF troops, according to AP figures. Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that dozens of the dead were its members. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper on the border earlier this year.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-reopens-gaza-crossings-as-relative-calm-holds/

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Israeli jets strike Gaza after rocket lands in Beersheba

October 17, 2018

Israeli jets struck targets in the Gaza Strip early on Wednesday after a rocket fired by militants in the coastal enclave struck a house in the major Israeli city of Beersheba, the Israeli military said.

Israeli jets had targeted three locations in the Gaza Strip on early Wednesday, but there were no initial reports of casualties. (AFP)

A medical official told Israel Radio that three people were taken to hospital with injuries after the rocket struck the house. Residents in the Gaza Strip said jets had targeted three locations but there were no initial reports of casualties.

Reuters

Writing by Ori Lewis; editing by Darren Schuettler

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Rocket fired from Gaza hits house in Beersheba; no injuries

IDF says it identified two launches from the Strip; one projectile lands in courtyard of home; five people, including a mother and three children, treated for anxiety

Illustrative: Flames from rockets fired by Palestinians are seen over Gaza Strip heading toward Israel, in the early morning of May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Illustrative: Flames from rockets fired by Palestinians are seen over Gaza Strip heading toward Israel, in the early morning of May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at the southern city of Beersheba early Wednesday that landed and exploded in the courtyard of a house, causing serious damage, but no injuries.

The Israel Defense Forces said it had identified two launches from Gaza. One targeted Beersheba located some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Strip. A second rocket was fired out to sea.

Rocket attacks on the city are rare and considered a major escalation. The attack came after Israel’s defense minister warned the military was gearing up for a major strike on Gaza to stop ongoing violence.

Rocket warning sirens blared at 03:40 am and residents reported hearing a loud blast. The rocket landed in the courtyard of a private house. No one was hurt in the explosion but five people were being treated for anxiety.

A Magen David Adom medic said among those treated were a mother and her three children. The woman had lightly hurt her head when she fell running to the bomb shelter when the siren went off, he said, adding that they were taken to hospital.

Emanuel Miller@emanumiller

The site of a strike from which landed in a residential area of Beersheba, . Iron Dome isn’t totally impenetrable. pic.twitter.com/vUBkXJqwep

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Emanuel Miller@emanumiller

A woman and three children were inside this home in when the rocket from slammed into their home. pic.twitter.com/1210PdqRxF

View image on Twitter

This was only the second rocket fired at Beersheba since the 2014 Gaza war. Another rocket struck a field north of Beersheba on August 9 and came as Palestinians fired dozens of projectiles at Israeli communities along the Gaza border.

Most of those attacks are carried out with mortars or short-range Qassam rockets, however, Palestinian terror groups can only reach Beersheba with longer-range rockets, notably the Grad.

Israel Radio said that even though the sirens went off, the rocket was not intercepted by the Iron Dome system because there were no batteries deployed in the area at the time.

Following the attack, the Beersheba municipality announced that schools in the city would be closed for the day.

In an initial response,  Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman ordered the crossings into Gaza closed. Media reports said IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot was cutting short his visit to the US, following the attack,

The attack come as Liberman on Tuesday urged the cabinet to authorize large-scale military campaign against the Hamas terror group in Gaza in light of ongoing riots and violence along the Strip’s security fence.

Joe@Jtruzmah

Sirens wail across Beersheva as Red Alert is activated for an incoming rocket from .

“I’ve held a series of meetings with the head of the Southern Command, the head of the [Gaza] Division, the brigade commanders, the battalion commanders, also with soldiers. My impression is that they all have reached the understanding that the situation as it is today cannot continue,” Liberman said.

According to the defense minister’s assessment, a “serious blow” to Hamas would result in four to five years of calm along the Gaza border — akin to the quiet that persisted from the end of the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, until the start of the current round of clashes in late March, a few limited skirmishes notwithstanding.

Since March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have participated in a series of protests and riots dubbed the “Great March of Return,” which have mostly involved the burning of tires and rock-throwing along the security fence, but have also seen shooting attacks and bombings as well as the sending of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel.

There have also been several flareups that took Israel and Hamas to the brink of war with Palestinians firing rockets into Israel and the IDF responding with airstrikes.

Some 155 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been injured in the clashes with IDF troops, according to AP figures; Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of the dead were its members. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper on the border.

Palestinian demonstrators burn tires as they demonstrate during the “Great March of Return” on the Gaza-Israel border in Rafah, Gaza on October 12, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The riots began as weekly events, but in recent weeks — due to both an internal Palestinian conflict and failed indirect negotiations with Israel — the clashes have become a daily event.

The defense minister said the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and convinced him that a full-scale military action was necessary in Gaza was the rioting that took place along the border last Friday evening, after Israel allowed additional fuel into the Strip that had been purchased by Qatar.

“We have exhausted all other options in Gaza,” Liberman said during a visit to the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza Division headquarters near the Strip.

“Now is the time to make decisions,” he added.

The security cabinet, which approves such military campaigns, met Sunday to discuss the possibility of an attack against Hamas, but ultimately decided to wait until the week’s end in order to give negotiators a chance to convince the group to abandon its current violent tactics.

On Wednesday, the cabinet is due to meet again.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/rocket-sirens-blare-in-beersheba-southern-israel/

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Israeli aircraft said to destroy spying device in southern Lebanon

October 15, 2018

Lebanese media reports ‘heavy overflights’ by Israeli drones near the Litani river; no comment from IDF

The border fence between Israel and Lebanon with the southern Lebanese village of Blida in the background, from the Israeli kibbutz of Yiftah, on January 30, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

The border fence between Israel and Lebanon with the southern Lebanese village of Blida in the background, from the Israeli kibbutz of Yiftah, on January 30, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

Israeli drones struck a spy device in southern Lebanon on Sunday night, according to Lebanese media reports.

The Naharnet news site said the explosion was heard in the southern town of Zrariyeh, near the Litani River, amid “heavy overflights” by Israeli drones.

Lebanese Armed Forces were called to the scene and opened an investigation into the incident, the report said.

Media reports on Sunday also said that Israeli war planes were spotted over the southern cities of Marjayoun and Tyre.

It was unclear whether the alleged spying device was Lebanese or Israeli.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces.

Lebanese officials have claimed to find Israeli listening devices in Lebanon before, including one last year, two in 2015, and two in 2010 that were found hidden in rocks.

Israel withdrew from the so-called South Lebanon Security Belt — a strip of land several kilometers wide along the Lebanese-Israeli border on Lebanon’s side — in a hastily organized operation in May 2000, after maintaining a presence there since the First Lebanon War in 1982.

Last year, the Lebanese army claimed it uncovered two separate Israeli spying networks operating in the country.

In January 2017, security officials said they had apprehended members of an Israeli spy cell made up of a Lebanese citizen, a Palestinian refugee, and two Nepalese women. In May, Lebanese media reported that an Iraqi man was arrested and confessed to providing Israel information about the Lebanese army and government officials.

Dov Lieber contributed to this report.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-aircraft-destroys-spying-device-in-southern-lebanon-reports/

Israel: Man killed while trying to sneak across the Gaza border fence was reportedly a nurse for Doctors Without Borders

August 24, 2018

Military liaison asks for clarification from aid group over connection to Hani al-Majdalawi, killed Monday while firing at troops on border

A Palestinian doctor exits an operating theater in the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tuesday, January 27, 2009. (Illustrative photo: AP/Anja Niedringhaus)

A Palestinian doctor exits an operating theater in the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Tuesday, January 27, 2009. (Illustrative photo: AP/Anja Niedringhaus)

A Gazan gunman killed by Israeli forces during a border clash this week worked for Doctors Without Borders, the military said Thursday.

COGAT, the Defense Ministry body that coordinates government activities with the Palestinians, said it was seeking an explanation from the international aid group.

According to Israel, Hani al-Majdalawi, who was killed Monday in a firefight with Israel Defense Forces troops while trying to sneak across the Gaza border fence, had been a nurse with the organization.

A statement from COGAT said he had opened fire towards military forces with a rifle and threw an explosive device at troops. It cited his brother saying he had used his own money to purchase the gun, indicating he had acted independently.

No soldiers were injured in the incident.

“He who takes part in saving lives should assist in humanitarian activities in the Gaza Strip, and should not take part in terrorism,” COGAT head Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon said in the statement.

There was no response from Doctors Without Border as of early Friday morning.

The group, also known by its French name Medecins Sans Frontieres, says it runs three burn and trauma centers in Gaza.

COGAT said it had reached out “for clarification on the matter.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-says-gazan-gunman-was-nurse-for-doctors-without-borders/

After Hamas rocket hits Beersheba, Israel levels an alleged Hamas HQ in Gaza

August 9, 2018

As high-level security cabinet convenes to discuss violence in south, Palestinian media reports Israeli jets destroy building near Gaza City; sirens sound in south after airstrike

August 9, 2018
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A plume of smoke rises from the remains of a building west of Gaza City that was targeted by the Israeli Air Force in response to a rocket attack that hit southern Israel earlier in the day on August 9, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

A plume of smoke rises from the remains of a building west of Gaza City that was targeted by the Israeli Air Force in response to a rocket attack that hit southern Israel earlier in the day on August 9, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The Israeli Air Force on Thursday evening destroyed a building in the northern Gaza Strip, which reportedly served as a headquarters for the Hamas terrorist group, hours after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave struck just outside the southern city of Beersheba.

Minutes after the Israeli strike began, incoming rocket sirens blared in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, again sending thousands of residents into bomb shelters.

Image may contain: airplane and sky

Israeli fighter jet. FILE photo

There were no immediate reports of Israeli injuries or damage.

The Israel Defense Forces would not immediately confirm the renewed bombing raid in Gaza.

وكالة شهاب

@ShehabAgency

طائرات الاحتلال تقصف “مركز المسحال الثقافي” غرب غزة

The building the IDF destroyed in an airstrike on Gaza, August 9, 2018.
The building the IDF destroyed in an airstrike on Gaza, August 9, 2018.

According to the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news outlet, the target of the strike was a five-story building west of Gaza City in the Shati refugee camp, identified as the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center.

The building was identified by Israeli media as a facility belonging to the Gaza-ruling Hamas terrorist group, reportedly used by its naval commando unit.

Palestinian media reported that nearly the entire structure was destroyed as the Israeli aircraft fired multiple missiles at it.

Eighteen Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli strike, according to Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. The degree of their injuries was not immediately known.

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وكالة شهاب

@ShehabAgency

أصبح أثراً بعد عين.. استهداف طائرات الاحتلال لمركز سعيد المسحال الثقافي غرب مدينة

Video footage from the scene that was posted to social media by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip indicated that the Israeli military used its “roof-knocking” technique, in which planes first drop a low-powered bomb on a building as a warning those nearby of an impending strike.

The attack on the building was one of the IDF’s first strikes on a site deep inside a city in Gaza. Most of the strikes conducted by Israel until this had targeted facilities outside major population centers.

The reported airstrikes came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the high-level security cabinet on Thursday evening to discuss the volatile security situation in the south and decide on a course of action.

It came hours after the rocket hit an open field north of Beersheba, setting off sirens in the southern city for the first time since the 2014 Gaza war and rupturing a purported ceasefire that lasted approximately two hours.

A police officer inspects a crater caused by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip that struck an open field north of the city of Beersheba on August 9, 2018. (Israel Police)

The Grad rocket caused no injuries or damage. Police said sappers were called to the scene to collect and remove the debris.

No Palestinian terrorist group immediately took responsibility for the attack.

Palestinian media reported Israeli artillery strikes against terrorist groups’ positions in the Gaza Strip around the same time as the attack, though it was not immediately clear if these raids were related to the rocket launch.

The attack against Beersheba marked a significant increase in the level of violence from the Gaza Strip. Terrorist groups in Gaza have launched over 180 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel since Wednesday evening; however, these have been mainly directed at communities directly adjacent to the coastal enclave. Beersheba is located some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Gaza.

Police display the remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip that struck an open field north of the city of Beersheba on August 9, 2018. (Israel Police)

That rocket launch came some three hours after terror groups in the Strip declared the current round of violence to be over and two hours after the latest mortar shell had been fired.

“The current round in Gaza has ended. The resistance responded to the enemy’s crimes in Gaza. The continuation of calm in Gaza depends on [Israel’s] behavior,” said an official from a joint command center for a number of Palestinian terrorist groups, notably the Gaza-ruling Hamas, earlier Thursday.

A source in the Hamas terrorist group confirmed the cessation to AFP.

On Tuesday, Hamas had vowed to avenge the deaths of two of its members killed by IDF tank fire after the army mistakenly thought a Hamas military exercise had been a cross-border attack. On Wednesday afternoon, the military warned that it was anticipating a revenge attack by Hamas.

Shortly after the cessation announcement was made at noon, terrorist groups in the Strip launched two fresh attacks, which triggered sirens in the area adjacent to Gaza but appeared to have hit open fields, causing neither injury nor damage.

The site where a mortar shell from the Gaza Strip hit an apartment building and cars in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, August 9, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Throughout Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Gaza terror groups fired over 180 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel, injuring at least seven people and causing damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure throughout the region, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

In response, the Israeli Air Force struck over 150 Hamas “terror sites” in the Strip, the army said. Palestinian officials said a pregnant woman and her infant daughter were killed in the Israeli strikes, along with one Hamas fighter, who was reportedly in a car used by a rocket-launching Hamas cell that was targeted by an IDF aircraft.

A picture taken on August 8, 2018 in Gaza City shows a smoke plume rising following an Israeli air strike. (AFP/ MAHMUD HAMS)

On Thursday morning, Israeli fighter jets bombed two Hamas fighting tunnels along the central Gaza coast, as well as a tunnel opening in the northern Strip and a military facility east of the southern city of Rafah, the army said.

“The wide-reaching attacks that the IDF has conducted caused damage and destruction to some 150 military and strategic targets belonging to the Hamas terror organization, which represent a significant blow to Hamas,” the army said in a statement.

In addition, an IDF aircraft also targeted a terrorist cell launching mortar shells at southern Israel on Thursday morning. The military later released video footage of the airstrike.

The army warned the terror group that it will “bear the consequences for its terrorist activities against the citizens of Israel.”

So far, the military has focused on targeting Hamas infrastructure while largely avoiding casualties, apparently in an effort to prevent further escalation of violence.

A member of the Hamas military police walks through rubble at a site that was hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on August 9, 2018. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS)

However, senior Israeli officials indicated that the country was prepared for a wider confrontation with Hamas.

“Whatever is needed to protect our citizens and our soldiers will be done, no matter what the price will be in Gaza,” Housing Minister Yoav Gallant, who serves on the security cabinet, said Thursday.

“Let’s hope for peace, and let’s be ready for war,” he added.

Earlier in the morning, a senior IDF officer warned that Israel was “rapidly nearing a confrontation” with Hamas in Gaza.

“Hamas is making serious mistakes, and we may have to make it clear after four years that this path doesn’t yield any results for it and isn’t worth it,” he said, referring to the time elapsed since the 2014 Gaza war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (2nd left) meet with top security officials at IDF military’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, early Thursday, August 9, 2018. (Defense Ministry)

In the hours before the security cabinet meeting, Netanyahu held security consultations with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, the head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman, and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

The military was deploying additional Iron Dome batteries in the region in preparation for Hamas possibly increasing the range of its targets. During past wars rockets have reached as far as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Beersheba.

The site where a mortar shell from the Gaza Strip hit an apartment building and cars in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, on August 9, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A large number of additional forces were also deployed to the Gaza area. However, no reservist units have been called up as of Thursday morning, the army spokesperson said.

The renewed rocket attacks came amid a period of heightened tensions along the Gaza border, following months of clashes and exchanges of fire.

Earlier this week, there had been reports of intensive talks between Israel and Hamas for a long-term ceasefire.

Raphael Ahren and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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Over 150 rockets launched into Israel, Israel responds with over 100 air strike on Hamas

August 9, 2018

Army strikes over 100 Hamas targets in response to barrages; Israelis near Gaza sleep in shelters as sirens blare through the night; Hamas says pregnant woman, daughter killed

  • A picture taken on August 8, 2018 in Gaza City shows smoke plumes rising following an Israeli air strike (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
    A picture taken on August 8, 2018 in Gaza City shows smoke plumes rising following an Israeli air strike (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (2nd left) meet with top seucirty officials at IDF military's headquarters in Tel Aviv, early Thursday, August 9, 2018 (Defense Ministry)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (2nd left) meet with top seucirty officials at IDF military’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, early Thursday, August 9, 2018 (Defense Ministry)
  • Damage to a home in an Israeli community in the Gaza periphery following a rocket hit, August 8, 2018 (Israel Police)
    Damage to a home in an Israeli community in the Gaza periphery following a rocket hit, August 8, 2018 (Israel Police)
  • A picture taken on August 8, 2018 shows a fireball exploding during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
    A picture taken on August 8, 2018 shows a fireball exploding during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
  • A police sapper searches the yard of a house the southern Israeli town of Sderot that was hit by a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on August 8, 2018. (Israel Police)
    A police sapper searches the yard of a house the southern Israeli town of Sderot that was hit by a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on August 8, 2018. (Israel Police)

An woman was seriously injured early Thursday morning when a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit a home in the Eshkol regional council near the Palestinian enclave.

According to the Ynet news site the woman was a foreign worker.

Rocket barrages by the Hamas terror group continued throughout the night. The military said over 150 rockets and mortar shells were launched at Israeli communities since Wednesday evening.

Most of the rockets hit open areas. The Iron Dome defense system — which targets only missiles projected to strike communities — destroyed 25 of the rockets.

However, several hit homes and factories in Israeli communities, causing damage. One barrage that slammed into the city of Sderot Wednesday evening injured three Israelis. At least eight others were treated for panic attacks, including two pregnant women who went into labor.

IDF

@IDFSpokesperson

For the last 6 hours, thousands of Israeli civilians living in these cities have been running for shelter as more than 70 rockets were launched at them from the Gaza Strip

In response to the attacks, the Israeli army said it struck over 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight.

The military said its raids targeted training compounds as well as weapons manufacturing facilities and storage warehouses. The air force also targeted one car that the army said was being used by terrorists to launch rockets at southern Israel from the Strip. One Hamas operative was reportedly killed in the airstrike. Unconfirmed reports claimed he was the relative of a senior Hamas commander.

Hamas said a 23-year-old pregnant woman and her infant daughter were killed in another strike. The woman’s husband was reported moderately injured. There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Following the attacks from Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met overnight with senior officers from the IDF and other security services at the military’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, to discuss the situation and decide on a course of action.

According to the Haaretz newspaper, the military was deploying additional Iron Dome batteries in the region in preparation for Hamas possibly increasing the range of its targets. During past wars rockets have reached as far as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beersheba.

Sirens sounded in Israeli communities throughout the night, and thousands of families slept in bomb shelters and protected spaces.

Israel Police officers search for pieces of rockets that were fired from the Gaza Strip and struck the southern Israeli town of Sderot on August 8, 2018. (Israel Police)

Overnight six rockets exploded in Sderot, including two that hit homes and one that hit a factory. Another hit a house in the Hof Asheklon regional council. In all cases the rockets caused damage but no casualties. In addition, a rocket hit a factory in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, breaking through the roof and damaging equipment inside, a spokesperson for the region said. The factory was empty of people at the time of the rocket attack.

Hamas claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attacks, saying it was avenging the deaths of two operatives killed in an Israeli strike the day before — a strike that came in response to what the IDF initially identified as a shooting attack on its forces, but which was apparently an internal Hamas exercise.

“In response to Israel aggression, the Palestinian resistance has launched a large number of rockets in recent hours at the enemy,” a statement by the group said. “There was a promise [to respond] and now it has been fulfilled.”

The United Nations condemned the Hamas rocket fire.

Nikolay Mladenov, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, speaks during a press conference at the UNESCO headquarters in Gaza City, September 25, 2017. (AFP/MOHAMMED ABED)

“I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today’s multiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel,” UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

He called on all sides to step “back from the brink” and restore calm.

“If the current escalation…is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people.”

US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt also condemned Hamas in a tweet. “Another night of terror & families huddling in fear as Israel defends itself,” he said.

“This is the Hamas regime’s choice. Hamas is subjecting people to the terrifying conditions of war again.”

Jason D. Greenblatt

@jdgreenblatt45

Hamas regime again is launching rockets at Israeli communities. Another night of terror & families huddling in fear as Israel defends itself. This is the Hamas regime’s choice. Hamas is subjecting people to the terrifying conditions of war again.

According to the military, among the Hamas positions bombed by the fighter jets was a factory where the terror groups constructs the concrete blocks it uses for attack tunnels and a fully operational tunnel opening near the Gaza coast belonging to Hamas’s naval commando unit.

An IDF aircraft also targeted a car that the military said was being used by a terror cell launching rockets at Israel.

Israeli Air Force@IAFsite

צפו: כלי טיס של חיל-האוויר ביצע תקיפה לעבר רכב ששימש חולית טרור ששיגרה רקטות לעבר שטח ישראל

One Palestinian man was reportedly killed in the strike, 30-year-old Hamas operative Ali al-Ghandour was killed, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

A Palestinian toddler and her pregnant mother were killed in another strike, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Enas Khammash, 23, and her 18-month daughter Bayan were killed in an airstrike in Jafarawi in central Gaza, the ministry said. The husband was moderately injured.

At least six other Palestinians were injured as a result of the IDF strikes, according to the ministry.

The Israeli military said the terror group, with which it was fought three wars in the past decade, would bear the consequences of any further violence from the Gaza Strip.

An aerial photograph distributed by the Israeli military showing what it says is the opening to a tunnel opening along the Gaza coast belonging to the Hamas terror group’s naval commando unit, which the IDF bombed on August 8, 2018, in response to rocket attacks from the Strip. (Israel Defense Forces)

“The IDF sees with severity the terrorist activities of Hamas. The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and is determined to fulfill its mission of defending the citizens of Israel,” the army said in a statement.

Residents of southern Israel were told to remain close to bomb shelters in case of additional rockets or mortar shells from Gaza.

The rocket attacks came amid a period of heightened tensions along the Gaza border, following months of clashes and exchanges of fire. On Tuesday, Hamas vowed to avenge the deaths of two of its members killed by IDF tank fire after the army mistakenly thought a military exercise had been a cross-border attack.

A police sapper searches the yard of a house the southern Israeli town of Sderot that was hit by a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on August 8, 2018. (Israel Police)

On Wednesday afternoon, the military warned that it was anticipating a revenge attack by Hamas after spotting members of the terror group evacuating posts likely to be targeted by Israel in reprisal raids.

Hours later, shots were fired from the northern Gaza Strip at a number of civilian construction vehicles along the border, damaging one of them, the army said.

Damage to a construction vehicle outside the Gaza Strip, which the military says was caused by gunfire from the Palestinian enclave, on August 8, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

In response, an IDF tank shelled a nearby Hamas observation post.

Wednesday’s rocket fire represented a major uptick in tensions along the border, amid intensive talks between Israel and Hamas for a long-term ceasefire.

Such an agreement is meant to end not only rocket launches and shootings from Gaza but also the regular incendiary kite and balloon attacks from the Palestinian enclave that have burned large swaths of land in southern Israel and caused millions of shekels of damage.

Throughout Wednesday, at least 11 fires were sparked in southern Israel by airborne arson devices launched from the Gaza Strip. Israeli firefighters extinguished all of them, according to a spokesperson for Fire and Rescue Services.

Judah Ari Gross and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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Palestinians say 2 killed in overnight in Israeli airstrike in Gaza

July 29, 2018

IDF doesn’t immediately comment on reports it targeted a group of men in Jabaliya

Explosions are seen following Israeli strikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 20, 2018. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Explosions are seen following Israeli strikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 20, 2018. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

The health ministry in the Gaza Strip reported Sunday morning that two Palestinian men were killed by an Israeli airstrike overnight.

The strike took place east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, and hit a group of men who had congregated near a graveyard, Palestinian reports said.

The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately comment on the reports.

Recent weeks have seen the most serious tensions with Hamas since the 2014 war.

On Saturday, Palestinian media reported that an Israeli aircraft targeted a group of Gazans launching flammable balloons from the southern part of the strip. The army said it was unaware of the incident.

Over the weekend, incendiary balloons sparked more than ten fires near communities along the coastal enclave, firefighters said.

Since March 30, southern Israel has experienced hundreds of fires as a result of incendiary devices attached to balloons or kites launched from Gaza across the border into Israeli territory.

Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damage, according to Israeli officials. The attacks have continued almost daily, although there has been a marked reduction in numbers since last weekend, when Hamas said it agreed to a ceasefire.

Israel has been escalating its responses to the arson attacks, in some cases opening fire directly on arson squads instead of sufficing with warning shots as it did in the past.

Incendiary balloons are flown toward Israel during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops east of Gaza City, along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, on July 13, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Also on Saturday, a Palestinian teenager died of his wounds after reportedly being shot by Israeli troops a day earlier, during weekly clashes along the Gaza border, the Hamas-run health ministry said.

The teenager was the third reported fatality from the clashes, with the Gaza health ministry saying a 43-year-old man and 12-year-old boy were also shot dead Friday along the border.

The IDF said around 7,000 Palestinians participated in violent riots in several locations along the border. Protesters hurled rocks and burned tires, and attacked troops with pipe bombs, a Molotov cocktail, and a grenade — all of which did not manage to clear the fence and fell in Gazan territory.

The army said soldiers responded to the violence with less-lethal means as well as live fire in certain instances.

Some time after the protests ended, gunmen fired at IDF soldiers near the border, causing no casualties. In response, the military launched a strike on a nearby Hamas observation post.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinians-say-2-killed-in-overnight-airstrike-in-gaza/

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Israel shoots down Syrian fighter jet that entered Israeli airspace

July 24, 2018

Two Patriot missiles fired at Sukhoi aircraft that penetrated two kilometers into Israeli territory, military says

Smoke trails from two Israeli Patriot interceptor missiles that Israel says shot down a Syrian fighter jet are seen in northern Israel on July 24, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Smoke trails from two Israeli Patriot interceptor missiles that Israel says shot down a Syrian fighter jet are seen in northern Israel on July 24, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Israeli Air Force shot down a Syrian fighter jet that traveled two kilometers into Israeli airspace on Tuesday afternoon, the military said.

“Two Patriot missiles were fired at a SyrianSukhoi -model fighter jet,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

The IDF said the aircraft was monitored as it approached the border with the Golan Heights.

“It penetrated two kilometers into Israeli airspace and was shot down,” the army said.

According to Sky News Arabia, the plane crashed inside southwest Syria, in the Yarmouk Basin, an area still under the control of the Islamic State terrorist group. It was not immediately clear if the pilots ejected before the fighter jet was shot down or what their condition was.

The official Syrian news outlet SANA confirmed that Israel had shot at one of its fighter jets, but said the plane was inside Syrian airspace at the time it was targeted.

According to SANA, Israel fired at “one of our war planes, which are leveling [terrorist] encampments in the Saida region on the outskirts of the Yarmouk Basin, in Syrian airspace.”

A military source quoted by SANA accused Israel of aiding “terrorists” in the country’s southwest, where the Syrian air force has been conducting extensive bombing raids throughout the day against a number of opposition groups in the area.

File: A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber lands at the Russian Hmeimin military base in Latakia province, in the northwest of Syria, on December 16, 2015. (Paul Gypteau/AFP)

It was not immediately clear if the plane was a Sukhoi-22 or a Sukhoi-24, two different types of Russian-made fighter jets in use by the Syrian Air Force, the military said.

The IDF said it had noticed increased air force activity in southwestern Syria, near the border, since the morning.

“We have passed a number of messages, in a number of languages in order to ensure that no one violates Israeli air space,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters.

The spokesman said Israel has been in regular contact with the Russian military, which operates extensively in southwestern Syria, in order to prevent any conflict with Moscow.

According to the military, the fighter jet took off from the Iran-linked T-4 air force base in central Syria, which Israel has bombed in the past, and traveled “at high speed” toward the Golan Heights.

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Conricus said there was no “confusion” about the fact that this was a Syrian fighter jet. In the past, Israel has hesitated in shooting down incoming aircraft out of concerns they might belong to Russia.

Israel stressed that it will continue to enforce the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement, which requires Syria to abide by a demilitarized zone between the two countries

A Syrian fighter jet is seen in flames after it was hit by the Israeli military over the Golan Heights on September 23, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/JALAA MAREY)

This was the first time that Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet since 2014, when another Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jet entered Israeli airspace and was targeted with a Patriot missile.

“Israel has a very clear policy: No plane, and certainly not a Syrian plane, is allowed to enter our airspace” without the appropriate authorization, Israel’s former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told Army Radio on Tuesday.

“Any plane identified as an enemy plane is shot down,” he said.

In February of this year, the Syrian military shot down an Israeli F-16 fighter jet as it was taking part in a bombing raid against an Iranian-linked airfield in central Syria after an Iranian drone penetrated Israeli airspace, according to the IDF. The F-16’s pilot and navigator were injured as they bailed out of the aircraft.

The breach of Israeli airspace and the interception set off incoming rocket alert sirens throughout northeastern Israel, sending thousands of residents rushing to bomb shelters for the second day in a row.

An Israeli man watches the smoke trail of a David’s Sling interceptor missile in the northern Israeli city of Safed after the interceptor was fired toward a Syrian SS-21 missile, on July 23, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Residents of northern Israel reported seeing white trails in the sky.

The Safed municipality told residents that air defense systems in the area had fired interceptor missiles and said there were no special safety instructions in light of the situation.

The alarms could be heard in the Golan Heights and Jordan Valley regions, the army said.

The sirens came a day after Israel launched two David’s Sling interceptor missiles at a pair of Syrian surface-to-surface missiles carrying approximately a half ton of explosives each that appeared to be heading toward Israel, but ultimately landed inside Syria.

The military’s air defense systems that detect and track incoming missiles and rockets are less accurate immediately after a projectile is launched, as they have less information on its trajectory. As the missile or rocket flies, the systems can better predict where it is likely to land.

Monday’s incident, which ultimately turned out to have been a false alarm, was the first known operational use of the David’s Sling system, which was declared operational last year.

The David’s Sling makes up the middle tier of Israel’s multi-layered anti-missile defense network.

In recent weeks, sirens in northern Israel have been triggered by the military shooting down unmanned aerial vehicles entering Israeli airspace from Syria.

On July 13, the Israeli military used an anti-aircraft Patriot missile to shoot down a Syrian army drone that was flying over the demilitarized zone separating Israel from Syria. Two days earlier, a Syrian military unmanned aerial vehicle penetrated some 10 kilometers (six miles) into Israeli territory before it too was shot down by a Patriot missile. The IDF said it had allowed the drone to fly so deeply into Israeli territory as it was not immediately clear if it belonged to the Russian military.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/interceptor-missiles-fired-again-as-sirens-blare-in-northern-israel/

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Hamas announces ceasefire after killing of Israeli soldier near Gaza sparks strikes — Israel says “The gloves are coming off.”

July 21, 2018

Soldier wounded by sniper fire on Friday dies of his wounds; IDF says three Hamas battalion headquarters destroyed in reprisal raids; 3 projectiles fired at Israel, 2 intercepted

A picture taken on July 20, 2018 shows explosions from Israeli bombardment in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.
Israeli aircraft and tanks hit targets across the Gaza Strip on July 20 after shots were fired at troops on the border and a soldier was killed, the army said, with Hamas reporting several members of its military wing killed in the latest flare-up in months of tensions.( AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

A picture taken on July 20, 2018 shows explosions from Israeli bombardment in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli aircraft and tanks hit targets across the Gaza Strip on July 20 after shots were fired at troops on the border and a soldier was killed, the army said, with Hamas reporting several members of its military wing killed in the latest flare-up in months of tensions.( AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

Hamas announced a ceasefire with Israel in the early hours of Saturday morning, after Palestinian snipers shot and killed an IDF soldier on the Gaza border earlier on Friday, sparking the night’s widespread Israeli strikes on Hamas targets across Gaza.

“With Egyptian and UN efforts, [an agreement] was reached to return to the previous situation of ceasefire between the occupation and Palestinian factions,” tweeted Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Israel had no official comment on the ceasefire announcement.

The IDF announced the death of the soldier late Friday night, revealing details on the deadly incident hours after it happened.

“Today, an IDF combat soldier was killed during operational activity near the southern Gaza Strip. During the incident, a terrorist squad shot at IDF troops and the IDF soldier was severely injured. He later succumbed to his wounds,” the army said.

Details of the death were withheld for several hours until the soldier’s family were notified. His name was not immediately published.

Earlier the IDF said Gaza snipers had opened fire on troops, calling it the “most serious incident since the 2014 Gaza war.

In response the Israel Air Force launched a major wave of strikes at Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip on Friday evening.

“At this time our aircraft are carrying out widespread attacks against terror targets belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said, adding that this came after the “serious shooting incident against our forces,” referring to sniper fire at IDF troops during a riot on the border earlier in the day.

A picture taken on July 20, 2018 shows a fireball exploding in Gaza City during Israeli strikes (AFP PHOTO / BASHAR TALEB)

The army said around 60 targets were hit, including three Hamas brigade headquarters in Zeitoun, Khan Younis and al-Bureij. The army said the headquarters were completely destroyed along with “weapons and ammunition stores, training grounds, observation posts, control centers and the offices of the brigade commander.”

The IDF said it also destroyed factories and machinery for the manufacture of weapons, a drone storage facility, an entry shaft to tunnels and “elements for constructing underground infrastructure.”

There were no reports from Gaza of injuries in the strikes.

“The strikes are continuing,” the IDF said, releasing video of the strikes.

Following the strikes, rocket warning sirens wailed in communities around Gaza. At least two projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome system and another fell in an open field, the army said. There were no reports of projectiles falling in Israeli communities or injuries.

The air raids came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at the IDF headwaters in Tel Aviv to join Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the top IDF generals for a security assessment.

The IDF Spokesman Ronen Manelis did not rule out a major ground offensive, but said the IDF was not looking to enter a full-scale conflict. Nonetheless, the fire on the troops at the border was “the most serious incident” since the 2014 conflict, Manelis said, and the IDF’s Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot had spent the years since then ensuring that the army was ready for “whatever response is necessary.”

A picture taken on July 20, 2018 shows smoke plumes rising after an Israeli bombardment in Gaza City.
Israeli aircraft and tanks hit targets throughout the Gaza Strip on July 20 after shots were fired at troops along the border, the army said, with Gaza’s health ministry reporting three Palestinians killed. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi told Hadashot news that Israel was preparing for a massive response on Gaza.

“Last week the air force carried out strikes that were described as the largest since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, we will look back at it after our response now and say it was a joke,” Hanegbi said. “The gloves are coming off.”

“The situation is that Hamas has repeatedly ignored our warnings, both private and public,” Hanegbi said.

Hadashot news analysts said that while Israel’s response would be widespread, it was unlikely to include the entrance of ground forces.

Israelis living close to the Gaza border were told to stay close to bomb shelters, and not to attend synagogues for Friday evening prayers in larger numbers than could be accommodated in protected rooms if Gaza terror groups were to launch rocket attacks.

Reports said that Israeli special forces had been stationed near border communities to prevent possible Hamas attacks through attack tunnels into Israel.

Manelis said that Hamas had spent the past three and a half months carrying out acts of terrorism during mass demonstrations at the border, firing rockets and mortar shells into Israel, and launching arson kites and balloons. Israel had tried to convey to the terror chiefs that it “means business” in demanding that the terrorism stop, but Hamas evidently had not got the message, he told Hadashot TV news.

Manelis noted that the IDF carried out a major drill this week, including simulating a ground incursion to retake control of Gaza, from where Israel withdrew in 2005. Asked whether that was a likely scenario, Manelis said it would be more sensible to wait for the completion of the current military action “over the next few hours.”

He noted that Israel had deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the south and center of the country, and said the IDF was prepared “for all scenarios.”

Times of Israel

https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-soldier-killed-by-fire-on-gaza-border-sparking-wide-scale-israeli-strikes/

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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Hamas and Israel agree to Gaza ceasefire, says Hamas — Israel’s media says Hamas dragging Israel into war

July 21, 2018

The Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip have said they reached an agreement with Israel to restore calm. It follows a day of deadly Israeli strikes after a soldier was killed along the border for the first time in years.

    
A fireball exploding in Gaza City during an Israeli bombardment on July 20A fireball exploding in Gaza City during an Israeli bombardment on July 20

The ceasefire agreement was reached early Saturday, a spokesman for Hamas said.

“With Egyptian and United Nations efforts it has been agreed to return to the era of calm between (Israel) and Palestinian factions,” Fawzi Barhoum told the Reuters news agency.

Israeli officials did not immediately comment on the Hamas announcement, the second such agreement in a week. There was no military activity reported in Gaza in the early hours of Saturday.

IDF soldiers take part in an exercise simulating warfare in the Gaza Strip in July 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF soldiers take part in an exercise simulating warfare in the Gaza Strip in July 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Ceasefire follows day of violence

Israeli forces conducted dozens of airstrikes across the Gaza strip on Friday. Four people were killed — Hamas’ military wing said three of its fighters were among the dead. About 120 Palestinians were reported wounded. Israel said rockets had been fired back into its territory.

Read more: Amid Israel-Hamas violence, Gazans fearful of full-scale war

Teargas canisters fired by Israeli troops fall over Palestinians during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Friday, July 13, 2018 (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

Teargas canisters fired by Israeli troops fall over Palestinians during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, Friday, July 13, 2018 (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

The strikes came after an Israeli soldier was shot dead by Palestinian fire along the Gaza border, the first to be killed there in active duty since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, according to an Israeli army spokesman.

Friday’s violence prompted the United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, to issue an urgent appeal for calm.

“Everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right now!” he wrote on Twitter, adding “Those who want to provoke Palestinians and Israelis into another war must not succeed.”

Nickolay E. MLADENOV@nmladenov

🔴 Everyone in needs to step back from the brink. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right NOW! Those who want to provoke and into another war must not succeed.

Months of clashes

Israel has been toughening its response to incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza over recent weeks.

Read more: Israel shuts cargo crossing into Gaza amid rising hostilities

At least 149 Palestinians have been killed since protests against the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the strip’s dire humanitarian situation broke out at the end of March. Most of them were shot during demonstrations or clashes along the border.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.

https://www.dw.com/en/hamas-and-israel-agree-to-gaza-ceasefire-says-hamas/a-44770164

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