Gaza terrorists chose Holocaust Memorial Day to attack southern Israel with a missile that underlined President Shimon Peres’ message on Holocaust Memorial Day that “the journey for justice and freedom is not yet over.”
The rocket exploded in an open area, causing no injuries but interrupting a Holocaust Day ceremony as people scurried to a security shelter. The ceremony continued shortly afterwards.
Residents and police have not yet determined if the explosion cause property damage.
Israel responded “proportionately” last week to two rocket attacks on open areas in Sderot and the surrounding Sha’ar HaNegev region last week. The IDF bombed two terror sites without injuring anyone.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon last week repeated a years-long litany of threats that Israel will not remain silent in the face of rocket attacks.
Judging by last week’s response, Israel has not changed its policy not to upset the international community with “disproportionate” retaliation and instead continues to play Russian Roulette and wait for a Kassam missile, which has no guidance system, to fall in the wrong place at the wrong time.
United Nations “peace process” coordinator Robert Serry underplayed Wednesday morning’s rocket attacks on southern Israel while wagging his finger against any retaliation, which was “proportional” by virtue of two bombing attacks that caused no casualties.
While citing the Kassam rocket attacks on the town of Sderot as “violations of the ceasefire,” Serry added that they “undermine the ‘understanding’ reached between Israel and Gaza on November 21.”
The rockets hit the entrance of Sderot and an open area in the small city, and caused no physical injuries but sent residents into another round of shock.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri ignored the ceasefire violations from the side of Gaza and stated only that the Israeli retaliation broke the truce agreement. “We call on international parties to intervene immediately to end the Israeli escalation and also the violations against the prisoners,” he said in a statement, referring to jailed Palestinian Authority terrorist Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who died this week from cancer.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Israel for the death by not treating Abu Hamdiyeh properly.
Following 3 rocket launches from Gaza on Tuesday evening, the Israel Air Force struck back at targets within Gaza.
This was the first time that Israel has responded with an air assault to the Gaza rocket launches since the Pillars of Defense cease fire. No one was reported injured in the IAF strike.
The Gazan rockets hit in the Eshkol region.
There was also a mortar launched earlier in the day that fell short and landed within the Gaza Strip.
The IDF Spokesperson said,
“The IDF will not accept any attempt to attack Israeli citizens or IDF soldiers, and the IDF has no intention of allowing the return to the situation as it was before Operation Pillars of Defense.
The IDF views the attacks on Israel as very serious, and holds Hamas responsible.”
Earlier in the day police also found the remains of the Palestinian rocket that targeted Israel during President Obama’s visit on March 21.
The Gaza rocket had hit a kindergarten in Sderot. The school was closed and empty at the time for the extended Passover vacation.
Sometimes I feel my passion for Israel exceeds even that of my Jewish friends. As I tell people, it is impossible to be a Christian and not believe that Israel is God’s Chosen Land and that, as God promises in the Bible, nations that bless Israel will be blessed and those that curse Israel will be cursed.
My first trip to Israel occurred nearly forty years ago, in July 1973, just a couple of months before the Yom Kippur War when I was a teenager. I’ve been going back to Israel ever since.
Whenever I visit Israel I venture into the Old City. I go into some of the shops where one can purchase a Palestinian map. In February I had two hundred people I took with me, most of whom were Christians and had never been there before. I wanted them to understand what is unique about this situation.
I got one of these maps and said, “By the way, open the map and show me where Israel is.” And they opened it up and didn’t see it. And I said, “Interesting isn’t it? Somehow Israelis are asked to make peace with a people who even in their published maps refuse to acknowledge even so much as the existence of the Jewish state.”
Israel often gets criticized for the actions it takes to protect its citizens. For example, Israel was and still is pilloried for its construction of the security wall (or fence) but until that security wall was erected it was a common occurrence for people to strap bombs to their bellies and board a bus and kill innocent men, women and children. With the construction of that wall, those acts of terror virtually stopped.
Shall we be critical of those who wish to protect their babies? Shall we condemn those who wish for peace in their neighborhoods, for their children to play in a park, for their wives to visit to a café or supermarket without the fear of being blown up by a terrorist?
We would never tolerate in our own cities what the people of Sderot have been asked to tolerate. I have been to Sderot and have seen the thousands of Katyusha rockets stacked up behind the police station. I can tell you that it is an absolutely sobering experience to understand that people have fear every day that a Katyusha rocket might land on their children’s bedroom, the park where they play, the schools they attend, the synagogues where they worship.
I would ask my fellow Americans, how many Katyusha rockets fired from Toronto into Buffalo do you think it would take before we would demand that our government did something to stop it? Five thousand? Four Thousand? Three Thousand? One hundred? No – just one Katyusha rocket is all it would take. And the Israelis have been asked to let it go after thousands of them.
I say one is enough, and Israelis must quit apologizing to the world and say, “We have a right to a secure and safe homeland – not just for us but for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren; a place that is a safe place, a haven.”
And if anybody wonders why a safe haven for Jews is necessary, they should talk to me. I’ll tell them what I’ve learned from my many visits to Yad Vashem and my experience this past January when my wife and I traveled to Poland. We went to Schindler’s factory and then to Auschwitz and Birkenau. As I stood in the very place where 1.1 million Jews were murdered in cold blood, chills came over me as I realized what had happened there. I prayed, “May the world never forget what happened.”
When I visited the Gush Katif Museum in Jerusalem a couple of years ago, it was a brutal reminder of what happens when politicians make decisions that don’t involve their brains. When you demand that people abandon their homes because you somehow believe you can trust radical Islamic fascists to keep their word and make nice if you’ll make nice, it shows a level of naiveté that makes a Chamberlain look like a Churchill.
It is time we recognize you don’t negotiate with people who do not believe you have a right to exist.
It’s the beginning of the end of Ethiopian aliyah, as 240 Ethiopians alight a plane to Israel Monday afternoon, the first of a series of flights dubbed Operation Dove’s Wings which will take place until the last one in March 2014, marking the end of the state of Israel’s rescue of the Falash Mura – Ethiopians with Jewish ancestry.
Many of today’s olim have been waiting in the refugee camp in Gondar province for years – as many as 10. Last July, amidst outcries from Israel’s Ethiopian community, Israel decided to conduct a last major endeavor to remove the last remaining Jews – and their descendants – from the African country.
The Jewish Agency’s Ibim Absorption Center near Sderot will house up to 600 new immigrants, with a budget of $3.1 million from the Jewish Agency and $1.4 million from the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was scheduled to attend Monday’s event, cancelled his appearance, but Vice Premier Silvan Shalom will attend in his place along with other government officials, dignitaries and philanthropists.
At least twenty Kassam rockets were fired at Israeli civilians in southern Israel late Sunday night, after Israeli Air Force jets struck terror cells in Gaza.
The majority of the rockets landed in the Eshkol Regional Council. No damage or injuries were reported.
Four rockets landed in open areas in the regions of Sderot, Hof Ashkelon, and Eshkol after 9am.
Red alert warning sirens went off throughout the night, with residents being advised to stay within 15 seconds of bomb shelters. Fifteen seconds is the approximate amount of time between the start of a warning siren and the explosion of a rocket.
IAF forces struck two operation centers and a rocket launching site in Gaza earlier Sunday, killing one terrorist.
On Sunday, 7 rockets landed near the heavily-populated cities of Beersheba and Ashekon. School was cancelled for approximately 40,000 school children.
An escalation in rocket fire began last Wednesday, when over 80 rockets and mortars were launched against Israeli civilians from Gaz, damaging eight homes in five Israeli towns. As Israel prepared to ramp up its response to Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees – which claimed responsibility for the attacks – Hamas requested a ceasefire through Egyptian intermediaries.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet passed a plan to fortify all homes between 4.5 and 7 kilometers from Gaza at an estimated cost of $70 million.
The 26-town plan will mean the installation of 1,629 safe rooms in homes as well as the fortification of schools between 7 and 15 kilometers from Gaza. The project is estimated to be completed by the end of 2013.
Sderot Mayor David Buskila has announced that he will not eat again until the government increased the budget of the beleaguered town, well-known landing site of many of Hamas’s rockets launched on civilians from sites in Gaza.
Busika set up a protest tent in front of the Prime Minister’s residence on Wednesday, demonstrating on behalf of his town’s 20,000 residents.
Buskila accused the government of failing to provide more support for Sderot’s recovery, and said the government has come through with just 10 percent of the funding it promised to the municipality.
Sderot municipal employees went on strike on Sunday, rallying in front of the Prime Minister’s office, even before 80 rockets rained down on the region.
On Monday, US President Barack Obama said during a televised debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney that his visit to Sderot in 2007 had moved him to fund the Iron Dome anti-missile battery system.
The Interior Ministry has said it provided funding to Sderot, and that it is up to officials there to put it to good use.
A serious attempt by Gaza terrorists to breach the Israeli border, and the launch of dozens of rockets and mortar shells on the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel on Sunday evening, has led to exchanges of fire on the Israeli border, the slaughter of 15 Egyptian soldiers by Gaza terrorists, and warnings to residents of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom to remain in shelters and lock their doors for safety reasons. Despite fear and concerns for security, a long-time activist for the western Negev region said the attacks come as “no surprise” to residents of the region.
On Sunday night, terrorists broke into an Egyptian military base and stole two armored troop carriers, using them to smash through Israel’s border with Gaza at approximately 8pm.
One jeep exploded as it rammed through the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Israel, but the other made it through, with armed terrorists jumping out and firing at IDF troops. IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai told reporters that the IDF is combing the area to be sure no additional terrorists infiltrated the country, and ruled out any kidnappings of soldiers. According to a report in Al Arabiya, 15 Egyptian soldiers were killed during the theft, with several more wounded.
Egypt responded by launching F-16 attacks on targets in Rafiach (quite possibly in breach of the Camp David Accords), with President-elect Morsi calling for an emergency government meeting with the army.
Egypt has also closed the Rafiach crossing indefinitely.
Earlier in the day, exchanges of fire were reported across the border in the area, with at least 15 shells being launched from tanks on the Israeli side. Sources in Gaza said militants firing at Israeli soldiers were wounded in the exchange.
The Israel Air Force had conducted a surgical strike against a member of the Popular Resistance Committtees terror organization who was traveling on a motorcycle in the city of Rafiah. The terrorist, 19 year-old Eyad Nadi Okel, was eliminated, and another terrorist, 22 year-old Ahmed Sayid Ismayil, was wounded.
The IDF released a statement saying the operation was conducted in cooperation between the army and the Shin Bet intelligence services. Ismayil was accused of involvement in a June attack on the border which killed an Israeli citizen, and the pair was suspected to be planning another attack on Eilat.
While news of the rocket fire on the western Negev made the headlines on every Israeli news website, Director of the Sderot Media Center Noam Bedein said the attacks “were very much expected today” and came as “no surprise” to the residents of the Eshkol region.
IDF soldiers set up road blocks based on intelligence received about the terrorists’ plan to enter Israel in armored vehicles.
“There was a terrorist targeted today, and this is always the response in the past couple years,” Bedein said. “We had this a month ago – a target in Gaza, followed by 120 rockets and missiles from Hamas.” Bedein added that in that attack Hamas’s website stated that all the targets were military installations, when the terror organization was really aiming at civilian areas in the western Negev.
According to Bedein, 50% of the rockets which have been fired on Israel since Operation Cast Lead in late December 2008 and mid-January 2009 have been fired at the Eshkol Regional Council, the area situated closest to the border with Gaza and containing the city of Sderot, a town which suffered greatly and publicly prior to Cast Lead. The second highest percentages have been lobbed at Ashkelon, one of Israel’s largest metropolises, housing over 113,000 Israeli residents as of 2009. Bedein numbered the rockets since the Cast Lead ceasefire on January 18, 2009 at 1604 – not including the rockets launched on Sunday.
And while some would tout the Iron Dome missile defense system as the answer to the worries of residents of Sderot, the measure is totally useless to defend the city. “The Iron Dome protects from a distance of at least 4.5 kilometers from the target. Anything within 4.5 kilometers of the Gaza border is therefore not protected – like Sderot and the western Negev,” Bedein said. “Around 45,000 Israelis cannot be protected by Iron Dome.”
So Sderot has become what Bedein calls the “bomb shelter capital of the world.” He says 6,000 units of bomb shelters have been attached to old apartment buildings, at a cost of NIS 500,000 million – just in Sderot. The tally for the entire western Negev, including new schools enforced against rockets is approximately 500 million dollars.
“Once the alarm goes off, you have just 15 seconds to run for your life,” said Bedein, who lived for 5 years in Sderot as part of his mission to raise awareness for the once beleaguered city.
Though the area has enjoyed a period of respite since Operation Cast Lead, which aimed to halt a nearly ceaseless barrage of Kassam rockets on the town, research done by the social work department at the Sapir Academic college suggests approximately 15,000 people from the Sderot area suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with an estimated 1000 receiving mental health treatment. “Today we actually went to the director of the mental health center in Sderot and she said it is the first time in a decade that they have cases of people being treated for schizophrenia. This is the step after PTSD, because they weren’t treated right the first time, so they are getting worse,” Bedein said. He said that Director Adrianna Katz explained that “It can be quiet for two weeks, and you need just one siren to go off and you go back to the first day you experienced a rocket exploding nearby. Even though people have their daily routine and summer vacation, we’re talking about years of rehabilitation of people in our region.”