Full Text Israel Political Brief August 31, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting about ending the Gaza War

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 8-31-14

יום ראשון ה’ אלול תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting this morning (Sunday, 31 August 2014):

“First, I would like to commend our host, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Chairman Yair Farjun and the mayors and regional council chairmen, our friends from the south. It was your leadership and patience that gave us much strength to lead this campaign with responsibility, sagacity and great determination, as well as with considerable vigor, in order to restore security to Israel’s citizens. This was, and remains, our supreme concern.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel, our hand has been extended in peace to those of our neighbors who want peace, and we have always fought vigorously, and with strength, against those who wish to destroy us, while building up our state, our cities and our communities – this is what we have done this time as well. We struck Hamas very hard. The IDF and the ISA killed almost 1,000 terrorists, struck at the heads of the organizations, and struck at their network of tunnels and their terrorist high-rises. We foiled their rocket attacks, and their aggression from land, sea and air. We hit their command centers and delivered blows that Hamas has not experienced since it was founded. At the same time, Hamas withdrew from all of its demands for a ceasefire, with neither time constraints nor other conditions.

I hope that the quiet that has been restored will last for a long time. But we are ready for any scenario both in this sector and in others including – of course – the Golan Heights. We will continue in keeping with our Zionist heritage, to develop our communities and our cities. I use the word develop, not just rebuild, because we have already started to do that.

We will make three decisions. Our first decision will be to assist – with a NIS 1.5 billion five-year plan – Sderot and the communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The intention is not only to rehabilitate agriculture and repair damage which has been done but also to assist industrial, economic and agricultural development, and of course the construction of additional security infrastructures. This is the first commitment and it will be realized today.

The second thing is that this month we will submit a similar package for the development of the cities and communities of the south. We are committed to them, we have always been committed to them. In recent years there has been accelerated development in the south; we want to strengthen it. The Zionist answer to those who seek our lives is not only to rebuff them and overcome them in any campaign but also to develop our state, in this case the communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and in the south, and to develop the Negev as a whole.

The third thing that we will do today is to fill in the gaps. We will start to fill in the gaps that have been created in security. This reflects our understanding about the order of priorities in security is first and foremost. We have done very great things here but this requires us to make a redoubled effort to allow the IDF, ISA and the security arms to continue to efficiently protect the State of Israel.

In the end, we share Education Minister Shai Piron’s view regarding tomorrow’s opening of the school year as scheduled throughout the country. I know that Israel’s children, two million Israeli children and their families, who will be going to kindergarten and school tomorrow, have endured a summer that was not simple, and I know that there is also great excitement and anticipation ahead of the opening of the school year. On behalf of the ministers, I would like to wish all of the children, especially those entering first grade, that they should all have a good, successful and safe year.”

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Full Text Israel Political Brief August 27, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu sums up Operation Protective Edge

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PM Netanyahu sums up Operation Protective Edge

Source: MFA, 8-27-14

MFASummaryNew

There is a realignment of forces in the Middle East based on the common concern with the dangers posed by radical Islamic terrorists. I’d like to see if we can translate this understanding of our common challenges into cooperation and the achievement of peace between Israel and our Palestinian neighbors.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 27 August 2014), at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, issued the following statement:

Upon the establishment of the ceasefire, I can say that there is a major military achievement here, as well as a major diplomatic achievement for the State of Israel. Hamas was hit hard and it did not receive even a single one of the conditions that it set for a ceasefire, not even one. As Prime Minister of Israel, I hold the supreme responsibility for the security of Israel’s citizens and this is what guided my colleagues – Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz – and I during each stage of Operation Protective Edge. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the cooperation and the joint work for the security of Israel’s citizens.

From the first moment we set a clear goal: The goal was to strike hard at Hamas and the terrorist organizations and in so doing bring prolonged quiet to all Israeli citizens. I can say that Hamas was indeed hit very hard. First of all, we destroyed the network of attack tunnels that it built over the years. I would like to make it clear that we introduced the ground force for this goal. When the mission was completed, when the IDF reported to us that this mission had been completed, we pulled the force back in order to deny Hamas the possibility of killing our soldiers or abducting them, goals that it very much aspired to.

We continued to attack from the air. Approximately 1,000 terrorists were killed, including senior terrorists, very senior terrorists from among its top command. We destroyed thousands of rockets, rocket launchers, rocket production facilities and other weapons, arsenals, command and control positions, hundreds of command positions, hundreds. We also foiled, of course, attempts by Hamas to attack us by land, sea and air. Above all, thanks to Iron Dome, we foiled hundreds of attempts by Hamas to kill very many Israeli civilians. This was achieved, inter alia, thanks to a decision I made as Prime Minister, in my previous term, to equip the State of Israel with thousands of interceptors which, of course, blocked the murderous aerial assault by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations.

The blow that Hamas has now taken is unprecedented since it was founded, a very hard blow. I must say that it also took a diplomatic hit. See, Hamas set conditions at the outset for a ceasefire. We accepted the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire, already in the first days, unconditionally and without time constraints whereas Hamas set conditions. It demanded a seaport – it did not get one. It demanded an airport, it did not get one. It demanded the release of the Shalit prisoners, those who were released in the Shalit deal whom we returned to prison following the murder of the three youths, it did not get this. It demanded Qatari mediation, it did not get it. It demanded Turkish mediation, it did not get it. It did not receive any condition. It demanded further conditions. It demanded the rehabilitation of the institutions that we dissolved in Judea and Samaria, it did not get this. It demanded salaries and money from us, it didn’t get them. It did not receive any of the conditions that it set.

We agreed at the outset to one thing – to carry out the humanitarian rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, with supervisory mechanisms and oversight abilities in our hands. This is in order to prevent the entry of weapons or materials that could be used to produce weapons. We have always agreed to this but we did not agree to accept any of Hamas’s conditions and the fact is that this ceasefire was achieved without the conditions that it set.

Moreover, I think that Hamas is also isolated diplomatically. We received international legitimacy from the global community. First of all, we received 50 days for very strong action against the terrorist organizations. This was substantial. I think that we also instilled in the international community the fact that Hamas, ISIS and Al Qaida and other extremist Islamic terrorist organizations are members of the same family. We also instilled the understanding that the long-term goal is the demilitarization of Hamas and the terrorist organizations, the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

All of these are important achievements alongside the realignment of regional forces in the Middle East. The regional change of moderate forces in the Middle East is creating a possible diplomatic horizon for the State of Israel. I think that it contains within it new possibilities for our country. We will certainly try to advance these possibilities in a responsible and prudent manner as we have done up until now.

Will we achieve our goal for prolonged calm? I think it is still too early to say but I can say that the harsh blow that Hamas and the terrorist organizations have taken, as well as our ability, via border controls, to prevent their rearming increase the chances that this goal will be achieved.

I can say that Hamas was surprised by two major things. One, in recent days it was surprised by the strength of our response to the violation of the most recent ceasefire. It thought that we would give in in the end to its conditions – and we did not give in. It thought that it could wear us down. You remember that I told it that it would not wear us down but would instead be hit very hard. I would like to take this opportunity to say that if it resumes firing, we will not tolerate sporadic firing at any part of the State of Israel and how we have responded up until now – we will respond with even greater strength. We are prepared for any possibility.

The second thing that surprised Hamas, Israeli citizens, is your splendid unity. I must say that it simply did not correctly appreciate the unity and strength of the people, and it is a splendid unity. It is the unity of civilian volunteers who helped the heroic IDF soldiers by sending packages, going to every point in person, of the rescue and voluntary organizations such as Magen David Adom and the other organizations, of the kibbutz movement that hosted residents of the south, of the local council heads who also volunteered to do this, and of ordinary citizens who went from place to place including hospitals to help our wounded heroic soldiers.

Our marvelous soldiers – during our visit to an air force base today, the Defense Minister, the Chief-of-Staff and I, I told air force personnel – air and ground crews – what I say to all IDF soldiers: The entire nation owes you its deep gratitude. Your stepping up, your heroism and your dedication, all of these were decisive in the campaign and made major contributions to our present diplomatic and military achievements.

One soldier told me, on one of my visits to the south, would that this unity which gives us so much strength as we go to fight the enemy, would that this unity could continue even after the fighting is over. And I say would that it could, amen, because this is a basic part of our national resilience.

And on behalf of all of you, on behalf of this unity, I would like to send my best wishes for a quick and complete recovery to our wounded soldiers. I visited them, not all of them, but as many as I could, and I was impressed by their strength of spirit. I was impressed by the public’s and their families’ great love for them. Everyone of them is dear to me just as every one of our fallen soldiers is dear to me. And their families, I know their loss and the depth of their pain and sorrow, to the families this evening I say the words that we read a few weeks ago in the haftarah  [from the prophet Isaiah (40:1)], ‘Comfort you, comfort you, My people.’ And comfort may be taken in the strong and united nation that stands here on it land, the Land of Israel, and which is determined to defend our state, the State of Israel, with your support, with your splendid unity. We acted just as we promised all through the operation – with level-headedness and responsibility, with foresight broad enough to ensure your security, citizens of Israel.

Following is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response, in English, to a question from the press:

Question: “If you could just elaborate on the diplomatic horizon for peace that you have mentioned earlier and within that vision, there the potential for the resumption of peace talks?”

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “I think that there is a realignment of forces in the Middle East. Everybody can see that. The realignment is based on the common concern with the dangers posed by radical Islamic terrorists who are sweeping the region with a ring of fire. And many understand that this is a danger to them. As we understand, it’s a danger to us. And many certainly begin to view Israel less than the full, or an enemy than a potential ally in this common battle.

What I’d like to explore is to see if we can translate this understanding of our common challenges into cooperation in common opportunities, and yes including the pursuit and development and achievement of a peace between Israel and our Palestinian neighbors. This obviously cannot happen with the likes of Hamas, who are committed to our destruction. Everybody says you make peace with an enemy. That’s true. But you make peace only with an enemy who decides to go to peace. That’s the most important and fundamental distinction. An enemy who wants to destroy you is not a candidate for peace. An enemy who says I want to put down, I want to end the hostilities, I want to take a new beginning, make a new start, give a new future for our children and our grandchildren, well that’s somebody that we can make peace with. And I hope that we’ll achieve this.”

PM Netanyahu, DM Yaalon and IDF Chief of Staff Gantz at press conference
  PM Netanyahu, DM Yaalon and IDF Chief of Staff Gantz at press conference
  Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

Excerpt from statement by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon:

“Hamas and the other terrorist organizations were dealt a heavy blow during the last 50 days. More than a thousand terrorists were killed, including senior members of the military wing. Terrorist infrastructures were destroyed. We attacked and destroyed weapons, launchers, rockets, homes of commanders, and command and control centers. We struck at the terrorists capabilities, including terrorist tunnels prepared over the course of years. We set Hamas and other terrorist organizations back many years.

Gaza does not look like it looked on the eve of the operation, and it is no surprise that the discourse in Gaza, and within Hamas, is one of anger and frustration. We are talking about a at least ten years of restoration and rehabilitation. When the dust clears over the Gaza Strip, Hamas leaders will have to answer quite a few tough questions following the hard, unprecedented blow inflicted upon them by Israel.

I would like to emphasize, citizens of Israel – do not be impressed by the bragging of Hamas leaders, voiced just after leaving their underground bunkers, their hiding places within civilian structures – hospitals, schools and clinics – surrounded by civilians – women and children – whom they used as human shields.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 17, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting Israel Not Deterred by Hamas’ Threats Will Fight Back Strikes

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PM Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting

Source: MFA, 8-17-14

MFASummaryNew

If Hamas thinks that it can cover up its military loss with a diplomatic achievement, it is mistaken. If Hamas thinks that continued sporadic firing will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken. If Hamas thinks that we cannot stand up to it over time, it is mistaken.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu
  PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Avi Ohayon

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Sunday, 17 August 2014), made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“We are in the midst of a combined military and diplomatic campaign. From the first day, the Israeli delegation to Cairo has worked under clear instructions: Insist on the security needs of the State of Israel. Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings. In the past month Hamas has taken a severe military blow. We destroyed its network of tunnels that it took years to dig. We intercepted the rockets that it had massed in order to carry out thousands of deadly strikes against the Israeli home front. And we foiled the terrorist attacks that it tried to perpetrate against Israeli civilians – by land, sea and air.

If Hamas thinks that it can cover up its military loss with a diplomatic achievement, it is mistaken. If Hamas thinks that continued sporadic firing will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken. As long as quiet is not restored, Hamas will continue to take very harsh blows. If Hamas thinks that we cannot stand up to it over time, it is mistaken.

In the stormy and unstable Middle East in which we live, it is not enough that there be more strength, determination and patience are also necessary. Hamas knows that we are very strong but maybe it thinks that we do not have enough determination and patience, and here it is making a big mistake.

We are a strong and determined people. We have seen this in the amazing revelations of strength and resilience in the past weeks on the part of both our soldiers and our civilians. We will continue to be steadfast and united until we achieve the goals of the campaign – the restoration of quiet and security for all Israelis.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and National Security Council Chairman Yossi Cohen briefed ministers on ongoing developments in Operation Protective Edge and the contacts taking place in Cairo on a diplomatic settlement.

Israel Political Brief August 10, 2014: Israel, Palestinians agree to new 72-hour cease-fire

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Israel, Palestinians agree to new 72-hour cease-fire

Source: JTA, 8-10-14

Israel and Palestinian factions, including Hamas, agreed to a new 72-hour cease-fire…. READ MORE▸

Israel Political Brief November 19, 2012: Khaled Mashaal says Benjamin Netanyahu asked for lull; Israel: He’s lying

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Mashaal says Netanyahu asked for lull; Israel: He’s lying

Exiled Hamas leader claims Netanyahu requested truce, but top Israeli official says his comments ‘about as accurate as Hamas’ claims that it downed F-15 or attacked Knesset’

Source: YNet News, 11-19-12

 

שיגורים, נפילות ותקיפות. יום שישי למבצע "עמוד ענן" (צילום:AP)

Day 6 of Operation Pillar of Defense (Photo: AP)

Israel and Hamas agreed on a ceasefire but still disagree on the implementation phases, the Al-Arabiya network quoted unnamed sources as saying Sunday afternoon.

According to the report, Hamas conditioned the agreement on the immediate implementation of a ceasefire, while Israel wants to implement it in two separate phases – apparently a lull in the first stage and the lifting of the naval blockade of Gaza at a later stage.

However, both sides denied the report and accused one another of spreading disinformation. Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested a truce in the Gaza conflict, but a senior Israeli official said in response that “Hamas’s comments about a ceasefire, alleging that Israel is begging for one, are about as accurate as its claims to have shot down an F-15 (warplane) or attacked the Knesset.”….READ MORE

 

Israel Political Brief November 19, 2012: Israel says prefers diplomacy but ready to invade Gaza

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Israel says prefers diplomacy but ready to invade Gaza

Israel bombed dozens of targets in Gaza on Monday and said that while it was prepared to step up its offensive by sending in troops, it preferred a diplomatic solution that would end Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 19, 2012: Ceasefire Seems Unlikely, After Khaled Mashaal Speech

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Ceasefire Seems Unlikely, After Mashaal Speech

Hamas claims that Israeli is ‘suing for peace,’ but it is Hamas that is the big loser in this war, says an official

Source: INN, 11-19-12

There may be talk going on about a ceasefire, but Hamas is not interested, said Hamas top terrorist Khaled Mashaal. Speaking in Gaza Monday afternoon, Mashal said that there would be no compromises with Israel. “There may be or may not be an agreement, but that is up to Israel,” he said. “There are efforts by Qatar and Egypt, we are meeting with them every day. But we will not accept any Israeli conditions. If they want a ceasefire, let them stop attacking us. The one who started the violence should end it.”

Instead, he said, Hamas expects Israel to surrender to its demands – specifically the ending of the land and sea blockade around Gaza. “We are not seeking to aggravate the conflict and give the Israelis a reason to invade Gaza,” he said. However, he said, Hamas was prepared for a land operation by the IDF….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 16, 2012: Gaza militants use Egyptian-brokered ceasefire to launch 21 rockets into Israel

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Gaza militants use Egyptian-brokered ceasefire to launch 21 rockets into Israel

Source: JTA, 11-16-12

Palestinian militants reportedly fired 21 rockets from Gaza into Israel during a unilateral ceasefire called by Israel to facilitate a visit to Gaza by Egypt’s prime minister….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief October 25, 2012: Informal ceasefire between Israel and Gaza, brokered by Egypt, holding

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Informal ceasefire between Israel and Gaza, brokered by Egypt, holding

Source: JTA, 10-25-12

Israel and Hamas reportedly were observing an informal ceasefire, brokered by Egypt….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief June 26, 2012: Rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel despite truce

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Rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel despite truce

Source: JTA, 6-26-12

Four rockets were fired from Gaza at a Jewish community in the Negev.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two of the four rockets fired at Netivot Tuesday evening. The others landed in open areas and did not cause any damage, according to reports.

On Tuesday morning a rocket fired from Gaza that landed in a kibbutz in southern Israel struck an empty hen house.

The rockets were fired despite an Egyptian-mediated truce between Israel and Gazan terrorist groups that went into effect on Sunday evening.

More than 150 rockets fired from Gaza have struck southern Israel since the cross-border attacks began last week.

 

Terrorists Fire Four Grad Missiles at Netivot

Terrorists from Gaza fire a barrage of four Grad missiles at Netivot. Iron Dome intercepts two of them.
Iron Dome system

Iron Dome system
Flash 90

Terrorists from Hamas-controlled Gaza fired a barrage of four Grad missiles at the town of Netivot on Tuesday evening.

The Iron Dome system intercepted two of the missiles, and the other two exploded in open areas. There were no physical injuries and no reports of property damage.

Despite an Egyptian-brokered “ceasefire” announced by Hamas last week, terrorists from Gaza have continued firing rockets at southern Israel. On Tuesday morning, a Qassam rocket hit a kibbutz chicken barn, causing damage but no physical injuries.

The rocket exploded in the area of Sderot, located less than a mile from northern Gaza….READ MORE

Israel Brief August 26, 2011: Second Ceasefire Broken, Rocket Lands in Israel

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Second Ceasefire Broken, Rocket Lands in Israel

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 8-26-11

A Grad rocket fired from Gaza landed in open land south of Ashkelon on Friday.gaza rocketf alls in ashkelon

Air raid sirens were heard before the rocket hit. No physical injuries or property damage were reported in the attack.

The attack came after the Islamic Jihad announced a new cease-fire agreement in Gaza early Friday morning. The agreement was reportedly brokered by Egypt and the UN.

The cease-fire announcement, made by Nafaz Azam, was unexpected as on Thursday Islamic Jihad had vowed to extend the range of their rocket capabilities, sending projectiles deeper into Israel. The terror group had said that it would triple the number of Israelis affected by rocket attacks.

At least 17 rockets and mortar shells pounded Israel on Thursday evening, just one day after Wednesday’s barrage of at least 21 such projectiles. On Wednesday a 9-month old baby girl was wounded by shrapnel from a rocket.

Most of the projectiles hit hit open areas near Ashkelon and in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. A mortar shell struck the Erez crossing, which is frequently used by Gaza residents seeking to enter Israel for medical treatments, causing extensive damage.

Shortly after that attack the IAF reported a precise hit on a second terror cell seeking to launch a rocket in the area. Gaza sources said two Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed in the airstrike.

The immediate breaking of Thursday morning’s Islamic Jihad ceasefire is no surprise in light of the mass of rockets that struck Israel immediately following the Hamas-led ceasefire announced on Sunday.

Via israelnn.com

Israel Brief August 26, 2011: Gaza Terror Groups Announce New Ceasefire on Israel Rocket Attacks

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Gaza Terror Groups Announce New Ceasefire

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 8-26-11

Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the other terror groups in the Gaza Strip declared another ceasefire with Israel late Thursday night, Voice of Israel Radio reported.

According to the report, rocket attacks aimed at southern Israel’s communities will stop at 1:00 p.m. Israel time on Friday.

The announcement came after at least 17 rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza on Thursday evening. The rockets and mortars exploded in open fields in Eshkol, the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, and south of Ashkelon. The “Color Red” warning siren was sounded in the areas under attack.

Shortly after 7:00 p.m. another rocket was fired that struck near the Erez crossing. The IAF reported that warplanes struck a separate terror cell preparing a launch just before the Erez attack and scored a “precise hit.”

After 10:00 p.m., terrorists in northern Gaza fired yet another rocket at the western Negev city of Sderot. The rocket hit an agricultural facility east of the city.

Thankfully, there were no physical injuries in any of Thursday’s attacks, which came after at least 20 rockets were fired into Israel Wednesday night.

According to Voice of Israel Radio, the announcement of the latest ceasefire was surprising since only several hours before the announcement, the Islamic Jihad terror group criticized Hamas for suggesting that it stop firing rockets.

A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad had been quoted as saying that “whoever calls for a lull while Israeli aggression, including aerial strikes and bombardments of civil and military targets continues – must be living on a different planet.”

The latest ceasefire, however, may not mean much, as the terror groups have declared ceasefires in the past and almost immediately violated them. In fact, the latest round of violence came after Hamas declared a ceasefire on Sunday evening.

The Islamic Jihad used the fact that Israel killed one of its terrorists, who had been planning a terror attack in Gaza, as an excuse to launch a barrage of rockets at southern Israel.

via israelnn.com

Israel Brief August 24, 2011: Israel strikes terrorist as Gaza rockets hit Israel, Egypt

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Israel strikes terrorist as Gaza rockets hit Israel, Egypt

Source: JTA, 8-24-11

An Egyptian woman was injured when rockets from Gaza struck the border town of Rafah, and an Israeli airstrike killed a terrorist operative as cross-border fire interrupted a fragile cease-fire.

Israel’s Air Force targeted the car of a local Islamic Jihad leader in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The early Wednesday morning strike came after the Air Force struck Gaza terrorists preparing to fire rockets into Israel’s south. The dead terrorist leader reportedly was responsible for funding last week’s coordinated attacks on Israeli civilian vehicles.

Later Wednesday, at least two rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel.

A cease-fire reportedly negotiated by Egypt with Hamas and the smaller terrorist groups has been mostly holding despite the small breaches.

Also Wednesday, an Egyptian woman was lightly injured when a rocket fired from Gaza landed in the Egyptian town of Rafah, striking a residential area, and not the desert, as has been the case in the past.

Israel Political Brief August 22, 2011: Palestinian Rockets Fall in Israel After “Ceasefire”

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Rockets Fall in Israel After “Ceasefire”

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 8-22-11
Southern Israeli cities came under rocket fire again for a fifth night despite claims by Gaza terrorists they were committed to a “ceasefire.” rockets ashkelon

Residents in the coastal city of Ashkelon raced for cover as the Color Red air raid siren blared its warning at about 7:40 p.m. local time.

Two medium-range Grad Katyusha missiles, fired by terrorists in northern Gaza, exploded in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council district. Both landed in open areas, although one set off a brush fire in a field that quickly ignited, dry from the summer heat.

Earlier in the day, a rocket struck an empty building in the Eshkol Regional Council district as well. No physical injuries were reported in any of the attacks.

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) terrorist group had announced earlier Monday in a statement on its website that it would adhere to a Hamas-led ceasefire.

However, more than a dozen rockets were fired Sunday night after the so-called truce was imposed.

No Gaza-based group took responsibility for the attacks.

A deadly Grad Katyusha missile barrage on Be’er Sheva Saturday evening left a 38-year-old man dead and eight others seriously wounded. Ofakim was also targeted, as were numerous other southern Israeli cities and communities. Nearly 40 people were hospitalized due to severe anxiety.

Via israelnn.com

Israel Political Brief August 22, 2011: Palestinians announce ceasefire after five-day rocket attacks on Israel

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Palestinians announce ceasefire after five-day rocket barrage

Source: JTA, 8-22-11

Palestinian factions in Gaza appeared to be observing a ceasefire with Israel reportedly brokered by Egypt.

The Popular Resistance Committee, blamed for last week’s coordinated attacks near Eilat that left eight Israelis dead, on Monday announced a “temporary halt of rocket fire,” according to reports.

Hamas reportedly agreed to enforce the ceasefire on smaller Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza.

Israeli officials told reporters that the ceasefire was unilaterally declared by the Palestinians. Still, Israel has not launched any retaliatory strikes on Gaza since midnight on Sunday.

At least four rockets from Gaza were fired at Israel early Monday morning. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and one landed near a public building in Israel’s south, damaging the building.

The ceasefire comes after a five-day barrage of rockets fired from Gaza on southern Israel, to which Israel responded to with retaliatory strikes on sites in Gaza. Twelve rockets were fired at Israel after the original ceasefire was to go into effect on Sunday afternoon.

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