Palestinian Militants and Israel Trade Heavy Fire
On Monday, the tension between Palestine and Israel escalated in Gaza city with a fiery clash.
Palestinian militants dropped dozens of rockets and mortar shells, while Israel targeted several areas with airstrikes.
So far, Palestinian officials have said at least three have been reported dead and nine wounded in the conflict. Israel reported at least 20 people wounded.
“Around sundown on Monday, militants launched some 100 rockets in less than an hour, the most intense barrage since the 50-day war four years ago. The outgoing rockets, which continued into the evening, lit up the skies of Gaza and set off air raid sirens throughout southern Israel,” writes The Associated Press. “The military said warplanes, helicopters and tanks had struck over 70 militant targets, including military compounds, observation posts and weapons facilities. It also said it targeted a squad that was launching rockets.”
Just a day prior, Israel’s prime minister has said he was doing everything to avoid war.
The clash on Monday ignited after undercover Israeli troops were discovered in Gaza on Sunday. Seven militants part of the Palestinian militant group Hamas died during the raid and one Israeli military officer was found dead.
The U.N. has condemned the violence and has been working with Egypt to stop the fighting.
“The #UN is working closely with #Egypt & all concerned to ensure that #Gaza steps back from the brink. The escalation in the past 24hrs is EXTREMELY dangerous & reckless. Rockets must STOP, restraint must be shown by all! No effort must be spared to reverse the spiral of violence,” tweeted the U.N. Mideast envoy’s office.
However, Israel is ready to increase military action if needed.
“We continue to strike and retaliate against the military targets belonging to terrorist organizations in Gaza, and as for our intentions we will enhance these efforts as needed,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman.
The Israeli Cabinet minister expressed similar sentiments and said that Israel “will do whatever it takes” to defend itself and that “we expect the world to stand with us.”
300 rockets were fired into Israel, 70 were intercepted.
“Rockets continued late into the evening as sirens went off throughout southern Israel. Rocket strikes were reported in Ashkelon and in the town of Sderot, as well as in Netivot where the local religious council building was hit. A rocket also hit a home in Ashkelon causing a fire to break out. Code Red sirens were sounded throughout the south, including in Be’er Sheva,” writes Ynet, an Israeli publication.
Israel hit the Gaza City headquarters of Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV station with a bomb late Monday after sending warning shots. The station has been denounced by Israel because it “broadcasts violent propaganda” and provides “operational messaging” to militants.
Over the last seven months, there has been fighting and protests along the Israeli border. Over 170 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military defending the blockade on Gaza.
“Gaza terrorists are once again attacking Israel with rockets and mortars. We must all condemn these attacks. Israel must once again use military force to protect its citizens. We stand with Israel in its defense against these attacks. Hamas’s actions continue to prove that they do not care about the people of Gaza and they use them for their political agenda… The world is sick of the violence of Hamas and other negative elements in Gaza. This violence is preventing true assistance to the people of Gaza,” said Jason Greenblatt, an advisor on Israel to the Trump Administration.
Author’s note: This has started to escalate rather quickly and is looking more like it could turn into a sustained shooting war.
Editor’s note: The Palestinians have decided to escalate tensions, for reasons unknown at this time. Someone cynical might suspect that this is only one of many coordinated events that will unfold over the next few weeks.