News Digest — 3/18/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

UPDATE: IDF Strikes Over 100 Hamas Targets After Terrorists Fire 11 Rockets Into Israel

After striking over 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday (15th), the Israeli army announced its targets had included a Gaza City building used to plan and command Hamas terror activities, an underground complex serving as a rocket-manufacturing site, and a center for Hamas drone development.

There were no reports of casualties in Gaza.

The Israeli strikes were part of a retaliatory operation after terrorists in Gaza launched a late-night rocket attack on Tel Aviv and fired 9 missiles at Israeli border fence communities.

Hamas had denied responsibility for the initial rocket attack, but after a preliminary investigation, Israel said it had concluded that the militant group was behind the attack.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks launched at the Jewish State from the coastal enclave.



Explosions Heard In Tel Aviv, After Code Red Sounded In Gush Dan

Sirens sounded across central Israel on Thursday night (14th) as Israelis scrambled for cover from rocket fire from Gaza.  

One of the rockets was reportedly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system while the other one fell in an open field.

Residents in the Tel Aviv area reported hearing two explosions throughout the Dan region.

The attacks came as Gaza rulers, Hamas, sought to contain riots by Palestinians in the coastal enclave.  Security experts in Israel speculated that the domestic disturbances could have led the terror group to strike Israel as a diversion.

While Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group reportedly took credit for the strikes on Thursday evening (14th) according to sources in the Strip.

The rocket attack arrived several months after Israel and Hamas teetered on the brink of war in November, when the terror group launched hundreds of rockets at southern Israel.

Rockets have not been launched at Tel Aviv from Gaza since the war between Hamas and Israel in 2014.



Pro-Hezbollah And Iranian Media Report Rockets Over Tel Aviv

Pro-Hezbollah and pro-Iran regime media and social media accounts lit up on Thursday night (14th) as reports of Iron Dome intercepting missiles over Tel Aviv spread online.  It indicated the close attention paid to tensions in Israel between Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza.

Al-Mayadeen, which is generally supportive of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah wrote a story within minutes of the reports of Iron Dome being activated.  “The Occupation admits the Palestinians bombed Tel Aviv,” a headline read. Relying on Israel’s Channel 12 the article noted that booms were heard in central Israel and that bomb shelters were opened.

Tasnim news in Iran specified in an article that two Fajr-5 rockets were fired at Tel Aviv.  The Fajr-5 was developed by Iran and supplied to Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Hezbollah’s Al-Manar news and Shehab news which is supportive of Hamas posted videos and news of the rocket fire.

Palestinian media, relying on Israeli reports, pointed to Islamic Jihad as the one behind the attacks.

The rocket fire came amid inclement weather blanketing Israel and Gaza.

With elections approaching in Israel, there are concerns about Iran’s meddling.  Islamic Jihad is close to Iran and fired rockets last year at Israel during tense times.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Thursday (14th) that Iran must “mobilize all its resources against external enemies – the US and the Zionists.”  His comments could be indicative of a message to threaten Israel. It comes as President Hassan Rouhani wraps up a major trip to Iraq and after Iran carried out a major drone exercise this week.



Hamas Security Forces Disperse Rare Protests Against The Group In Gaza

Hamas-run security forces broke up protests against the terror group in the Gaza Strip on Thursday (14th), eyewitnesses said, cracking down on a rare public show of dissent in the coastal enclave.

Security officials, many in plain clothes, dispersed a demonstration in northern Gaza, where dozens of people were protesting.

Journalists were prevented from filming or taking pictures, an AFP reporter said.

In a separate protest in central Gaza, many people demonstrated and set tires on fire.

Hamas-run police spokesman Ayman al-Batniji said in a statement that “police in the area of Deir Balah had to deal with a group of rioters who closed roads and ignited fires.

The protests had been organized to call for an improvement in the quality of life in Gaza, which suffers from high unemployment, widespread poverty and poor electricity and water infrastructure.

The protests were seen as a challenge to the Hamas terror group, which has ruled the Strip since 2007.

A statement purporting to be from the organizers said the protests were non-political and against the rising cost of living and taxes in the Strip.

Social media posts were accompanied with the hashtag “We want to live,” in Arabic.

The protests ended by Thursday evening (14th) and the situation was calm, an AFP journalist on the scene and eyewitnesses said.



Israeli Group Honors Former U.S. Envoy Nikki Haley With Coin

An Israeli organization has minted a coin emblazoned with the face of Nikki haley, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, to commemorate her defense of Israel in the world body.

The Sanhedrin, a Jewish organization that dreams of restoring the Jewish Temple, where ancient temples once stood in Jerusalem’s Old City, is one of three religious groups behind the Haley coin.

“She supported Israel and she told the truth…that the United Nations’ agenda is to destroy Israel,” Hillel Weiss, spokesman for the group, said Wednesday (13th).  “She acted in a manner that represented Biblical tenets,” he added.

Weiss said Haley’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Human Rights Council and her criticism of what Israel and the U.S. say is an anti-Israel bias at the UN earned her recognition.

His group’s coin features Haley’s face set against the United Nations building with a Jewish menorah on the front, and a stylized rendition of the Jewish Temple on the back.

Haley became known at the UN for her hard line against Iran and her derision of the Human Rights Council.  She often chided the council for focusing singularly on Israeli abuses and neglecting poor records of other states – a stance lauded and echoed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Proceeds from the Biblical coins, will go toward preparations for establishing the third Jewish Temple – an aspiration with explosive implications.



Pennsylvania College Approves Pro-BDS Motion

The student government of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania voted to approve a resolution calling on the school to divest from companies that do business with Israel related to Judea and Samaria, JTA reported on Wednesday.

The vote by the Student Government Organization took place on March 3, and came a month after the resolution was rejected at a similar closed-meeting vote.

The student government at the private liberal arts school held the new vote after deciding it had not received enough input from student groups, according to JTA.

The school’s president, Valerie Smith, and its board of managers have yet to respond to the nonbinding resolution, according to the Swarthmore Phoenix, the student newspaper.

The resolution was proposed by the college’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter.  It calls on the college to divest from seven companies doing business with Israel.

About 240 Jewish undergraduates attend Swarthmore, making up about 16% of the student population there.