Netanyahu to Hamas leadership: “You can’t hide, not above land or below it.”
As Hamas’s murderous rockets rained down on Israeli civilians for the seventh day in a row, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is intensifying the targeting of terrorist bases and leading operatives inside Gaza.
The IDF targets include “a number of surface-to-surface missile launch sites, terror cells, a Hamas intelligence center, observation posts on land in and at sea off of the southern Gaza Strip, and anti-tank missile launch sites and cells,” the Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.
Among the top Hamas leadership hit in the latest round of counterstrike are the homes of Gaza’s top Hamas leaders, Yahiyeh Sinwar and Khalil al-Hayeh. “Both homes serve as bases for terrorism,” the newspaper Israel Hayom confirmed.
The strikes came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his country’s counter-terrorism measures. “You know and I know no country would tolerate this. Israel will not tolerate this. Israel has responded forcefully to these attacks and will continue to respond forcefully,” Netanyahu told the international audiences in a televised statement on Saturday night.
Addressing the Hamas leadership he said: “You can’t hide, not above land or below it. No one is immune.”
A short while ago, we struck a warehouse containing weapons, located in the house of a Hamas operative in central Gaza, and a Hamas naval weapons warehouse in southern Gaza.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 16, 2021
The Associated Press reported the ongoing counter-terrorism strike against the Hamas top brass:
On Saturday, Israel bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a senior figure in Hamas’ political branch, saying the building served as part of the group’s “terrorist infrastructure.” There was no immediate report on al-Hayeh’s fate or on any casualties.
The bombing of al-Hayeh’s home showed Israel was expanding its campaign beyond just the group’s military commanders. Israel says it has killed dozens in Hamas’ military branch, though Hamas and the smaller group Islamic Jihad have only acknowledged 20 dead members.
Since the conflict began, Israel has leveled a number of Gaza City’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging they house elements of the Hamas military infrastructure.
One of the terrorist targets hit by the Israeli air force included the 12-story “al-Jalaa” building that housed the Gaza offices of the Associated Press and Qatari state-funded Al Jazeera. The Hamas military intelligence was operating out of the complex, official Israeli sources confirm.
The AP, which prides itself on its investigative journalism, apparently had no idea that it had been sharing “office space” with a notorious terrorist outfit all along. “We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” the “horrified” and clueless news agency declared in a statement.
The targeting of the building was criticized by leading U.S. Democrats, including Senator Robert Menendez. “I am deeply troubled by reports of Israeli military actions that resulted in the death of innocent civilians in Gaza as well as Israeli targeting of buildings housing international media outlets,” he said.
President Joe Biden also slammed the strike as he “raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists” during a phone call with Prime Minister Netanyahu, a White House communique said.
The journalists and residents of the building were informed well in advance of the imminent air strike by the IDF — a standard Israeli practice that saves lives, while inevitably warning terrorists as well.
IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman responds to criticism by Biden and Menendez of Israel's strike on a building that housed a number of international media outlets and which the IDF says also held Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad facilities.https://t.co/XmjuPLrRJ9 pic.twitter.com/JSZhBlJ2yr
— Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) May 16, 2021
Biden, UN, and EU pressure Israel for early ceasefire
There are indications that diplomatic pressure from the Biden administration, the European Union, and the United Nations may soon force Jerusalem to cease the ongoing anti-terrorism operation. “Amid growing US pressure, Israel said considering Gaza ceasefire,” The Times of Israel noted on Sunday.
The Jerusalem Post also reported the mounting international pressure:
Israel’s security cabinet was scheduled to meet Sunday afternoon to discuss the continued operation in the Gaza Strip amid growing international pressure to begin working toward a ceasefire with Hamas.
On Saturday, senior defense officials were pushing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to start working toward a ceasefire that would bring an end to the IDF operation. This is based on an understanding that the military has met most of its goals since the beginning of the operation on Monday evening.
Israeli civilians in Hamas’ cross-hairs
While the world mounts pressure on Israel to halt strikes against Hamas, Israeli civilians face relentless rocket barrage from Gaza.
Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and allied terrorist groups have fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel since their offensive began seven days ago. “This was more than half the number fired during 51 days in a 2014 war between Hamas and Israel (…) and more intensive even than Hezbollah’s bombardment from Lebanon during the 2006 war between Israel and the Iran-backed Shi’ite group,” the Reuters reported.
The Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted some 1,000 of them, Israel media confirmed. Despite Iran Dome’s formidable cover many rockets managed to slip detection and landed on Israeli residential areas, killing 10 people and injuring hundreds other.
The murderous rockets continued to rain on Israeli civilians during the Jewish Shabbat and Sunday. “Hamas rocket barrages on southern Israel continued Sunday with almost 300 projectiles launched at Israel from the day before, 120 on Saturday night alone,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
“About 450 failed launches fell in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli TV channel i24News noted. This makes Hamas the biggest threat to the inhabitants of Gaza.
Pro-Hamas Demonstrators Riot in Paris, Berlin
Europe witnessed angry pro-Hamas demonstrations over the weekend, with violent clashes in Paris and Berlin.
“Police in Paris on Saturday fired tear gas and aimed water cannons at protesters defying a ban on marching against Israeli attacks on Gaza, trying to disperse demonstrators gathering in groups of several hundred,” Reuters reported.
“One of the rallies in Berlin [on Saturday] saw a turnout of more than 3,500 people but turned violent when police broke it up (…),” the German public broadcaster DW News reported. “Protesters threw bottles and stones as well as firecrackers at officers, authorities said. Some hit officers and police responded with pepper spray,” the news outlet added.
Calling the weekend protests “mostly peaceful,” the DW News described some of the outbursts: “Some protesters tried to burn Israeli flags, shouted expletives about Jewish people and called for the bombing of Tel Aviv.”
These anti-Israel protests have been accompanied by violent antisemitism in Europe, particularly in Germany. Alarmed by the wave of attacks on the Jewish community in Germany, the Israeli envoy urged Berlin to act. “I urgently request the German authorities to do everything to ensure the security of our community here,” Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff said on Friday.
The German media reported acts of vandalism on at least three synagogues in the countryDONATE
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