Palestinian terrorists fired at least 650 rockets into Israel this past weekend. Although most of the rockets either landed in open fields or were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, the rocket attacks killed at least four Israelis and injured more than 100 others. Israel retaliated with airstrikes against more than 320 key targets that included an attack tunnel, an underground rocket factory, rocket launcher sites and other military facilities used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Gaza’s second-largest terror group and a proxy of Iran. Israel also went after specific militants, including, the New York Times reported, “a man who the Israeli military said had been responsible for large transfers of cash from Iran to Hamas…”
Moreover, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) appears to be preparing for a possible land war by deploying to the Gaza area on Sunday two reinforcement brigades – the Golani Infantry Brigade and the 7th Armored Brigade. Commenting on the deployment of the 7th Armored Brigade, IDF Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said, “An armoured brigade is ready for various contingencies but earmarked for an offensive mission being by definition a mission that goes inside enemy terrain.” The Golani Brigade is considered one of the IDF’s most highly decorated infantry units and has fought in all of Israel’s wars.
The latest outbreak of violence apparently started Friday when Palestinian terrorists, reportedly affiliated with Islamic Jihad, fired upon and wounded two soldiers on patrol near the border with Gaza. Israel as a matter of policy holds Hamas ultimately responsible for not doing enough to contain any terrorists operating from the Gaza territory that it controls. Thus, Israel responded with a strike on a Hamas position, killing two of their militants. Hamas then began launching its barrage of rockets aimed at Israeli civilian population centers. Islamic Jihad fired its own rockets as well. Hamas threatened additional attacks, while Islamic Jihad was even more specific. It threatened to expand the range of attacks to reach a nuclear facility and Ben Gurion Airport. As far as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned, both terrorist organizations are birds of a feather and should be treated alike. “Hamas bears responsibility not only for its attacks and actions, but also for the activities of the Islamic Jihad, and it is paying a very heavy price,” the prime minister said.
Unlike the Obama administration’s record of moral equivalence, the Trump administration wasted no time backing Israel’s right of self-defense against the Palestinian terrorists’ aggressive rocket attacks. “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,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
Even the European Union and the United Nations, who usually skip over the terrorists’ rocket attacks and leap to condemn Israel’s military response, are beginning to edge ever so slowly towards a more honest attribution of responsibility for the onslaught of the violence. The European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, condemned the latest barrage of rocket attacks, declaring that “firing indiscriminately against civilians (is) unacceptable.” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ office issued a statement on Sunday condemning “in the strongest terms the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel, particularly the targeting of civilian population centres.” Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, tweeted on Sunday: “I condemn the continuing launching of rockets from #Gaza.” That is an improvement over his tweet of the previous day, which implied responsibility for the violence on both sides: “#UN is working with all sides to calm the situation in #Gaza. I call for immediate de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months. Those who seek to destroy them will bear responsibility for a conflict that will have grave consequences for all.”
The Palestinian terrorists must bear full responsibility for breaking any “understandings” previously reached between Israel and Hamas with the assistance of Egypt. Hamas was supposed to restrain the violence emanating from Gaza in return for certain Israeli concessions. Israel has taken steps to ease the blockade but is not moving fast enough to suit Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Thus, they started this cycle of violence.
The Palestinian terrorists demand a complete end to all restrictions on movement into and out of Gaza while remaining committed to the Jewish state’s destruction and arming themselves to the teeth. They are also upset over an apparent delay of the transfer of Qatari funds to Gaza that Israel had approved. Israel has blamed Qatar for the delay. As far as removing all restrictions into and out of Gaza and along the Gazan coast, Israel cannot do so for its own survival so long as Hamas and Islamic Jihad remain armed and continue to build up more weaponry with Iran’s help.
As usual, the Palestinians are trying to make the Israelis the villains in the conflict that they started. Amongst the 23 or so Palestinians who lost their lives since the start of the latest round of terrorist rocket attacks and Israel’s pinpoint airstrikes in response were a pregnant mother and her 14-month-old daughter. The Palestinians blamed these deaths on the Israeli airstrikes. However, it was a Palestinian rocket that misfired which caused the deaths of the mother and her young child, according to IDF Lieutenant Colonel Conricus. The Palestinians were “trying to sell a story that isn’t true,” he said. That’s nothing new.
Egypt is trying once again to act as an intermediary and negotiate a ceasefire, with the assistance of UN officials. In fact, Haaretz has reported that the “United Nations, Qatar and Egypt have offered Israel a proposal for a cease-fire,” according to diplomatic sources. Hamas has reportedly asked for such a ceasefire. But Hamas is just trying to play for time, while its partner in terrorism, Islamic Jihad, continues its jihad against Israel and has warned of all-out war. Simply restoring the status quo ante is unsustainable. It’s time for Israel to deal a decisive blow against both terrorist organizations.