Fighting continues between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group in charge of Gaza, as each side “avenges” previous attacks in tit-for-tat escalations. Hamas launches rocket attacks and Israel sends in air strikes. Neither side appears interested in de-escalation. Is war coming to the holy land, or can it be averted?
Hamas claimed to have fired 137 rockets at the Israeli cities Ashkelon and Ashdod over a five-minute period, and another 130 at Tel Aviv and surrounding areas, amongst other targets. Israel’s Iron Dome defense – a network of missile interceptors – took out 200 Hamas rockets, and another 150 exploded before leaving Gaza, the Israeli military explained, but the Palestinian group has launched more than 600.
Hamas issued an ultimatum to Israel, demanding the nation remove all troops from Sheikh Jarrah and Al Aqsa by 6 p.m. local time on Monday. Of course, the conditions weren’t met, and the barrage began once that deadline passed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke briefly Tuesday night about the attacks, saying that the terror organization would pay a heavy price. “We are in the midst of a major campaign – Operation Guardian of the Walls,” he explained. “Yesterday and today, the IDF attacked hundreds of Hamas & Islamic Jihad terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip.” The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) attacked more than 130 targets inside Gaza Monday night, including command centers and other buildings that serve the organizations. Netanyahu claims that multiple senior commanders were killed in the attacks.
According to an IDF tweet on Tuesday, Iyad Fathi Faik Sharir, the commander of the Hamas anti-tank missile unit, was amongst those killed. Additionally, tunnels used by Hamas to get under the security fence were hit, trapping an undisclosed number of operatives underground. Israeli aircraft also targeted rocket sites in Gaza, destroying 150 in simultaneous attacks.
Netanyahu has declared his intent not to stand down. “We will continue to attack with full force,” he said. “We have just finished a consultation and assessment of the situation with heads of the security establishment and we made decisions. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have paid – I tell you here – will pay a very heavy price for their aggression. I say here this evening – their blood is on their heads. Citizens of Israel, we stand united against a reprehensible enemy.”
One Hamas rocket hit a school, injuring three Israelis. One Israeli was killed in an explosion in Rishon LeZion and two more were killed when a house in Ashkelon was hit. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the airstrikes in response to the missile barrage has killed 33 in Gaza, including ten children. Israel’s military, however, said that while it is investigating reports that children were killed, some of those casualties may have been caused by the 150 rockets that exploded before ever leaving Gaza – the blame for which would fall on Hamas.
It’s unclear just how many more will die or be injured before this is over, nor how much property damage there will be. People of Arab descent have also been protesting in several Israeli cities, leading to clashes with police. Dozens have been arrested. Between the escalating rhetoric and attacks and the increase in both protesters and the police response, many more are likely to be hurt – or worse – and more damage seems inevitable.
Meanwhile, back in the States, President Biden is under fire from both major parties for his lack of action. Many Republicans want him to take action against Hamas, while several of the more progressive Democrats demand he take a stand against Israel.
“The Biden administration should strongly condemn Hamas and other terrorists that are exploiting tensions in Jerusalem to carry out rocket attacks against innocent civilians,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) tweeted. “The United States should unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend itself.” House Armed Service Committee member Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) said that Biden shouldn’t have given Palestinians money, and that that cash could have been used to apply pressure for the Palestinian Authority to denounce Hamas or change school curriculums that portray Israel as being evil.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), a long-time supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, claimed the U.S. is enabling the violence by giving Israel foreign aid. Fellow “Squad” member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) accused Israel of terrorist acts in responding to the rocket attacks with force. “Israeli air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism. Palestinians deserve protection. Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don’t exist to protect Palestinian civilians,” she said.
Thus far, the Biden administration has taken no action – and that’s precisely what Israel wants. According to The Daily Wire, Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan talked to Meir Ben-Shabbat, his Israeli counterpart. Ben-Shabbat said that America and the rest of the world should just let Israel handle the situation and stay out of it.
Read more from James Fite.
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