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Gaza Escalation Continues For Second Night, UN Middle East Envoy Blames Hamas

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Gaza Escalation Continues For Second Night, UN Middle East Envoy Blames Hamas

Building, destroyed by the IDF after the March 26th bombing. Click to see full-size image

On the evening of March 26th and leading up to the morning of March 27th, the exchange between Hamas and Israel’s Defense Forces continued, despite the supposed Egyptian-brokered truce.

According to the IDF, it was Hamas’ fault for firing rockets into Southern Israel and it was simply responding.

In response, the IDF struck “several Hamas terror targets in Gaza.”

The latest report of Hamas rocket fire happening in Gaza was as of 4:00 AM local time on March 27th, and the Iron Dome successfully intercepted the rocket.

Earlier on March 26th, Hamas claimed that the rocket that was launched at 5:00 AM on March 25th, destroying a home and injuring 7 was fired by mistake, due to “bad weather.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called on operatives throughout the Palestinian Authority, in Jerusalem and “the prisoners and in the prisons” to launch a comprehensive attack on all fronts. “We must fight this comprehensive attack in a unified national way and in coordination with the Arab brothers,” he said.

“The cost of any stupidity by the Israeli occupation against Gaza and the Resistance will be higher than its estimates,” a spokesperson for Hamas also threatened. “We are strong and ready for this day, ready to fight, raise deterrence and defend our people.”

According to al-Monitor, “Israel is now convinced that Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, no longer accepts the authority of the political leadership. This is an important conclusion for anyone wanting to understand the complex situation within the Islamic movement, and it should serve as a warning flag for Israel’s defense and political authorities ahead of any future long-term deal.”

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon spoke to the press regarding the situation.

He said that Israel refused to believe that the rocket fire was a mistake and warned of grave consequences if the firings continue.

The Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. says the situation in Gaza “is part of the long-running campaign of violence and terror being waged against our people by Israel.”

Riyad Mansour warned the U.N. Security Council that “today, again, we find ourselves at the edge of the precipice, fearing for the lives of our people as Israeli officials ratchet up their threats of war against the besieged Gaza Strip.”

Mansour, who represents the Palestinian Authority, stressed that “history does not start from firing rockets or doing something that is wrong,” stressing that “the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror.”

He urged the Security Council to “make its voice heard and act to deter further violence and escalation of this serious situation.”

UN Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov also gave a briefing.

According to his statement, following the March 25th single rocket fired into Israel:

“At least 103 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza towards Israel, some of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, while others caused material damage to a house in Sderot or hit uninhabited areas. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) conducted 42 strikes on various locations in Gaza, while some 16 shells were fired by the IDF and the Israeli navy towards the Gaza strip. According to local sources, seven Palestinians have been injured as a result of the strikes. Several buildings were destroyed, including Hamas offices and security buildings.”

Nickolay Mladenov also mostly shifted the blame on Hamas and urged the UNSC to condemn the rocket fire.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, IDF fighter jets launched 66 missiles at 34 targets across the Gaza Strip, including residential buildings and civil facilities, under the pretext of having security service offices underneath or near them.  As a result, 2 Palestinian civilians were wounded due to the scattering glass and bricks following those airstrikes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who cancelled his visit to Washington for the AIPAC conference, actually gave his address over a satellite message.

In his address he said that support for Israel comes from both Democrats and Republicans in the US.

“That is how it has always been and that’s how it should always be.”

On March 25th, “President Trump again made history,” with the recognition of Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights, “Now that deserves enormous applause. “Israel holds the high ground and we shall never, ever give it up.”

Netanyahu vowed that those who want to tear the US and Israel apart “will fail.”

“We must never take anything for granted. Those who seek to defame this great organization, AIPAC … they must be confronted,” Netanyahu said in a response to Senator Ilhan Omar’s criticism.

“So I have a message to all the anti-Semites out there,” he says, naming Iranians, Hezbollah, unnamed British and American politicians, the Charlottesville neo-Nazis and the Pittsburgh shooters among them.

“The Jewish people do not bow down. We stand, we fight and we win.”

He also warned that Israel is prepared to do “a lot more” in Gaza.

“I can tell you we are prepared to do a lot more. We will do what is necessary to defend our people and to defend our state,” he said.

Following Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel and the international uproar, especially from Arabic and Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebanon, Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah also expressed the group’s opinion on the matter.

According to him, this and the earlier recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by Donald Trump created a dangerous precedent and could potentially lead to Trump acknowledging the West Bank as Israeli territory.

“After a period of time, we must expect that Trump will come out and say he recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank,” Nasrallah said.

“When the world allowed Trump to usurp Jerusalem and declare it as Israel’s eternal capital, it opened the door to every violation by the Americans and Trump,” he said. The Golan recognition was a sign of “disrespect” to the Arab world, he continues. “This is a pivotal event in the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he said.

He also said that the decision showed the territory will only be returned to Syria by force.

“Those who are still hesitant must become convinced that resistance is the only choice for the Syrians to recover the Golan, for the Lebanese to recover the Shebaa Farms and the Kfarshouba Hills, and for the Palestinians to get their rights.”

He also mentioned US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who mentioned the group “18 times within minutes during his address.”

“It pleases us that the US administration is angry at us to this extent.”

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