Throughout March 25th and the night of March 26th, the exchange between Israel’s Defense Forces and Hamas continued for the 2nd day, despite an Egyptian-brokered peace deal.
IDF claimed that Hamas had launched upwards of 30 rockets from Gaza into Israeli territory by 10 PM local time on March 25th. The number surely went up by the morning of March 26th, but there was no official data with specific numbers. According to the IDF, the Iron Dome intercepted several rockets and the rest fell in open areas.
Also according to the IDF it attacked 15 targets in the northern Gaza Strip including a Hamas compound belonging to Beit Hanoun and a compound belonging to Islamic Jihad in the town of Beit Lahia. The attack was in response to alleged Hamas aggression and not a sign of Israeli one.
It should be reminded that, despite MSM reports this was not the beginning of the escalation. The actual start was when on March 23rd the Israeli Air Force struck two Hamas outposts in the southern Gaza Strip. This was in response to several charges allegedly being hurled over the fence, according to the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson.
This also continued on March 24th when Hamas allegedly threw explosive devices and incendiary balloons into Israeli territory. In response IDF tanks shelled Hamas outposts.
The IDF’s twitter account also provided an update on the struck Hamas targets and vows that Israel was there to stay.
In the past decade, Hamas has turned Gaza into a base for attacking Israel.
Breaking news: Israel isn't going anywhere.
In response to Hamas' recent aggression, we have just targeted the offices of Hamas' Internal Security Service in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/xrnbfz07rL
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) March 25, 2019
We have just targeted Hamas' secret military intelligence HQ in Gaza.
The context for this strike: Last night, Hamas fired a rocket 75 miles into Israel. The rocket destroyed a house and wounded seven people, including children.
We will defend our homes. pic.twitter.com/AIWV1tn8V2
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) March 25, 2019
The mentioned aggression is a rocket fired by Hamas into Israeli territory which hit a home and injured 7 on the morning of March 25th. As a response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would cut short a visit to Washington, Israel sent troop reinforcements to the Gaza border and Hamas leaders went into hiding.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) March 25, 2019
Regardless, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israeli army radio “we will continue to exact a very heavy price from Hamas for its attacks on Israeli citizens, and that’s why all rumors and heresay of a cease-fire are incorrect.”
הירי לשרון | תיעוד מרגע האזעקה והנפילה
(צילום: ברק וויס) pic.twitter.com/6cbfxvVRIX
— החדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) March 25, 2019
The Israeli Army said it is ready for a major escalation in the case of a high number of casualties.
In Beirut, the powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, met Monday with a senior Hamas delegation. Hezbollah said they discussed the Gaza situation and “Israeli aggression.”
This escalation is precisely what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs, his biggest competitor in the upcoming election is former Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff Gen. Benny Gantz.
Gantz harshly criticized Netanyahu for the deteriorating security situation and called on him to fly back to Israel immediately, which he did.
However, before urgently returning to Israel, Netanyahu held a press conference with US President Donald Trump.
In it he condemned Hamas’ attacks.
“Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate this,” he declared during a White House meeting with President Donald Trump.
“Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression,” he said. “We will do whatever we must do to defend our people and defend our state.”
Israel opened public bomb shelters in most major cities and civil defense authorities canceled sports events and public transportation in southern Israel.
Also on March 25th, Trump officially signed a resolution recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israeli territory and not an occupied area. This, expectedly prompted a negative response from the international community.
President Trump will sign a proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“We do not want to see another attack like the one suffered this morning north of Tel Aviv.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 25, 2019
A regular US ally, Saudi Arabia denounced the US decision to recognize the Golan Heights.
“Attempts to impose fait accompli do not change the facts,” a statement by the Kingdom’s press agency said. It said the Golan Heights was an “occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions.”
“It will have significant negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East and the security and stability of the region,” it said.
The Saudi Press Agency report described Monday’s declaration as a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law.
The U.N. Security Council in a December 1981 resolution called Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights “null and void and without international legal effect” — and the UN said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres adheres to council resolutions.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that Guterres’ position remains unchanged despite President Donald Trump’s formal recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Guterres said in a report on recent activities of the UN peacekeeping force on the Golan Heights that he was “gravely concerned” at escalating tension there between Israel and Syria.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the US had “ignored international law” by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Lebanon said the decision by President Donald Trump to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory undermines any efforts to reach a fair peace and further isolates Israel.
Lebanon’s foreign ministry said that the Golan Heights are “Syrian Arab” territory and “no country can falsify history by transferring” land from one country to another.
Syria said President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights makes Washington “the main enemy” of Arabs, and the Damascus government is calling the US decision a “slap” to the international community.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry called the decision a “blatant aggression” on its own sovereignty and territorial integrity. The ministry says the U.S. move represents the “highest level of contempt for international legitimacy.”
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said in an interview with Lebanese Mayadeen TV that that the Trump administration is acting against the basic interests of the American people and imposing coercive measures throughout the world.
He also said that Syria has the right to employ an armed struggle to free the occupied Golan Heights.
Interviewer: According to the Syrian statement, [Syria] supports the retrieval of the Syrian Golan by all possible means.
Faisal Mekdad: Of course.
Interviewer: What are the limits of these “means”?
Faisal Mekdad: There are no limits. I’m saying this in all honesty. The Syrian leadership is discussing all these issues. We believe in achieving security and stability in the region, but this will not be at our expense.
We have the right to employ peaceful means, as well as armed struggle in all its forms, in order to liberate the Arab lands. The Syrian Arab Army is now trained and ready for any challenge, and this is what scares Israel, especially now, after the achievements of this great army, which have astonished the entire world.
Iraq also totally rejected Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights. “Iraq considers the Golan Heights an occupied Syrian territory and it should be placed under the Syrian sovereignty pursuant to (U.N.) Security Council resolutions,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali al-Hakim said, stressing that his country is opposing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights “under any circumstances.”
Russian Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that recognition of Golan Heights as Israeli territory does not change Moscow’s stance on the matter.
“Nothing has changed, either before or after. Our principled stance and assessments have been provided on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website,” he stressed.
In a phone call between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Russia warned that “US’s intention to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights would lead to a serious violation of international law, impede the Syrian settlement process and aggravate the situation in the Middle East.”
The EU also refused to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. A spokeswoman for EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, Maya Kosyanchich, said in a statement: “The European Union, in accordance with international law, does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories it occupied since July 1967, including the Golan Heights, and does not consider them as part of Israeli territory.”
Internally in the US, Vice President Mike Pence condemned any acts of “anti-Semitism” in the US Congress.
Anti-Semitism has no place in the Congress of the United States of America. At a minimum, anyone who slanders those who support this historic alliance between the US & Israel should never have a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives. pic.twitter.com/R9csw7pKdp
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) March 25, 2019
He blasted Democrat Ilhan Omar, because she claimed that Congressional support for Israel reflected “allegiance to a foreign country.”
“Recently, a freshman Democrat in Congress trafficked in repeated anti-Semitic tropes, alleged congressional support for Israel reflected an allegiance to a foreign country, said that Israel had – and I quote – ‘hypnotized the world.’ And she accused Americans who support Israel of being bought off with campaign contributions,” Pence said, adding: “Anti-Semitism has no place in the Congress of the United States of America.”
“Anyone who slanders those who support this historic alliance between the United States and Israel should never have a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives.” He received a standing ovation.
Pence also accused eight Democratic presidential nominees of “boycotting” this year’s conference. And repeated a widely discredited story about an Israeli soldier single-handedly destroying 60 Syrian tanks during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
This all followed the UN adopting a report which alleged that Israel’s killings along the Gaza strip “may” amount to war crimes.
— HRC SECRETARIAT (@UN_HRC) February 28, 2019
The independent Commission of Inquiry, set up last year by the UN’s human rights council, said Israeli forces killed 189 people and shot more than 6,100 others with live ammunition near the fence that divides the two territories.
The panel released a statement concluding that it had found “reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognisable as such.”
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