Photo Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
PM Benjamin Netanyahu receives an operational update from IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and the GOC Air Force at the IAF Control and Attack Center, May 12, 2021

Israel’s Security Cabinet voted Wednesday night to further intensify the military campaign being waged against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza.

The cabinet approved the recommendation of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Aviv Kochavi to escalate retaliatory air strikes on terrorist positions in the enclave, and to begin attacking the symbols of Hamas rule in Gaza.

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Israel Air Force combat pilots commenced intensified air strikes, including for the first time attacks on the Hamas Ministry of Finance and Palestinian Authority Bank branches in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed the cabinet that he had rejected a ceasefire offer raised by Russia on behalf of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz briefed Knesset members.

The prime minister also spoke by telephone with US President Joe Biden Wednesday evening and thanked the president for the American backing for Israel’s right to self-defense.

Netanyahu told Biden that Israel would “continue to take action to strike at the military capabilities of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Seven Israelis have been killed by rocket and missile attacks from Gaza, including Staff Sergeant Omer Tabib, a fighter in the Nahal Brigade who died when his jeep was hit by an anti-tank missile near the Gaza border, and a six-year-old boy in Sderot, whose family bomb shelter was pierced by a Katyusha rocket fired from Gaza.

The IDF Home Front Command has ordered Israelis living near the Gaza border, in the western Negev, Gush Dan, Yarkon and Sharon, and in the Shefelah region to limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people or fewer, and indoor gatherings to 100 people. School was canceled in those regions and employees were told they can go to their workplace only if a bomb shelter is located nearby.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.