Archive for May 12, 2021

6-year-old critically hurt, 5 others wounded by direct rocket hit on Sderot home

May 12, 2021

Multiple people wounded as fresh violence erupts in Jewish-Arab cities, curfew begins in Lod; 1,200 rockets fired from Gaza; 6 killed in Israel, 65 in Gaza

  • The scene of a direct rocket hit on a building in Sderot, southern Israel, on May 12, 2021 (Sderot Municipality)
    The scene of a direct rocket hit on a building in Sderot, southern Israel, on May 12, 2021 (Sderot Municipality)
  • Rescuers and people gather amidst the rubble in front of al-Shourouk tower that collapsed after being hit by an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City, on May 12, 2021 (Mohammed ABED / AFP)
    Rescuers and people gather amidst the rubble in front of al-Shourouk tower that collapsed after being hit by an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City, on May 12, 2021 (Mohammed ABED / AFP)
  • IDF artillery seen firing into Gaza near the Israeli border with the Strip on May 12, 2021, following heavy rocket and missile barrage fired into Israel, May 12, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    IDF artillery seen firing into Gaza near the Israeli border with the Strip on May 12, 2021, following heavy rocket and missile barrage fired into Israel, May 12, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israeli soldiers near the site of where a jeep was hit by an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza, May 12, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israeli soldiers near the site of where a jeep was hit by an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza, May 12, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Staff Sgt. Omer Tabib, 21, from the Nahal Infantry Brigade, who was killed when an anti-tank guided missile struck his jeep north of the Gaza Strip on May 12, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Staff Sgt. Omer Tabib, 21, from the Nahal Infantry Brigade, who was killed when an anti-tank guided missile struck his jeep north of the Gaza Strip on May 12, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Relatives walk out of the damaged home of Nadine, 16, and Khalil Awaad, a father and daughter who were killed by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in their village of Dahmash, May 12, 2021. (AP Photos/Heidi Levine)
    Relatives walk out of the damaged home of Nadine, 16, and Khalil Awaad, a father and daughter who were killed by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in their village of Dahmash, May 12, 2021. (AP Photos/Heidi Levine)
  • An Israeli man walks past the remains of a rocket fired by the Palestinian Hamas terror group from the Gaza Strip, which was destroyed by Israel's Iron Dome aerial defense system, on May 12, 2021 in Ashkelon (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    An Israeli man walks past the remains of a rocket fired by the Palestinian Hamas terror group from the Gaza Strip, which was destroyed by Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defense system, on May 12, 2021 in Ashkelon (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • Israeli soldiers near the site of where a jeep went up in flames, injuring 2 and killing one, following a direct hit by a missile fired from Gaza, in Netiv Ha'asara, May 12, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israeli soldiers near the site of where a jeep went up in flames, injuring 2 and killing one, following a direct hit by a missile fired from Gaza, in Netiv Ha’asara, May 12, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • A young girl is comforted by her father next to a house damaged by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Yehod, central Israel, May 12, 2021 (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
    A young girl is comforted by her father next to a house damaged by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Yehod, central Israel, May 12, 2021 (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
  • Man carries a Torah scroll from a torched synagogue in the central Israeli city of Lod, following a night of heavy rioting on May 12, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Man carries a Torah scroll from a torched synagogue in the central Israeli city of Lod, following a night of heavy rioting on May 12, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes in retaliation for rocket fire, Gaza City, May 12, 2021 (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
    Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes in retaliation for rocket fire, Gaza City, May 12, 2021 (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
  • Truck driver shelters during a rocket siren near Ashkelon, May 12, 2021 (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
    Truck driver shelters during a rocket siren near Ashkelon, May 12, 2021 (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Wednesday’s events as they unfold. For a recap of Tuesday’s events, click here.

Young Arab man said shot and moderately wounded in Lod

A young Arab man is shot and moderately wounded in Lod, Channel 12 reports.

It is not clear who shot him. He has been taken to hospital.

Jewish man seriously hurt in ‘lynch’ in Acre; Jewish-Arab violence in Haifa, other cities

Violence is once again spreading through Jewish-Arab towns this evening, despite the massive deployment of police and Border Police in such cities to maintain the peace.

In Acre, a Jewish man aged around 30 has been seriously wounded after being pelted with rocks by Arab rioters in what has been described as a lynching. He suffered a head injury.

Meanwhile, Jewish protesters in the city march and call out “Death to Arabs.”

In Haifa, Jews pelted an Arab man in a car with rocks, reports indicate. He accelerated and hit one of the rioters, wounding him.

In Lod, a police car has once again been set alight by rioters. Some unrest has been reported despite the curfew that entered in effect at 8 p.m.

Channel 12 reports Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to send soldiers into cities to keep the peace, but that Defense Minister Gantz is opposed.

At least 20 wounded by rockets in Ashkelon

At least 20 people are wounded in Ashkelon this evening due to rocket attacks, according to multiple reports.

Chief rabbi pans Jewish violence: ‘We must be light unto nations, not opposite’

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef puts out a statement imploring Jews not to turn violent against Arab citizens.

“Innocent Israeli civilians are attacked by terror organizations, the blood runs hot and our hearts are outraged, the scenes are difficult to watch. But we mustn’t be dragged to provocations and to hurting people or harming property,” he says.

He adds that the Torah does not permit one to take the law into one’s own hands. “The work of restoring order must be left to police,” he says. “We must be a light unto the nations, and not, God forbid, the opposite.”

Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak, on March 29, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Blinken calls Netanyahu, affirms support; Russian FM seeks Quartet meeting

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reaffirm America’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.

The State Department says he also repeated US calls for a de-escalation of violence and the Biden administration’s belief that both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in safety and security.

According to the State Department, Blinken also told Netanyahu that as he and President Joe Biden have said in the past, the administration believes Israelis and Palestinians should “enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy.”

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov calls for an urgent meeting of the Middle East Quartet in order to halt violence between Israel and the Palestinians.

Speaking alongside United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Lavrov says: “Today we’ve come to the common opinion that the most pressing task is to convene the Quartet of international mediators — Russia, the United States, the UN and the EU.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia, on April 16, 2021. (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)

Sirens sound again in Ashdod and Ashkelon; Iron Dome intercepts rockets

Sirens sound again in Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Dozens of rockets are launched. Most appear to have been intercepted by Iron Dome.

Home Front Command instructs Ashkelon residents to remain in sheltered spaces until further notice.

Jews riot in Tiberias; Smotrich pans Jewish violence: ‘We are not like them!’

After rioting in Bat Yam, there are also reports of Jewish extremists rioting and attacking Arabs in Tiberias.

Channel 12 reports a vehicle was attacked by Jews, with one person lightly hurt by rocks. A policeman was also hurt while clashing with the rioters.

Far-right MK Bezalel Smotrich urges Jewish rioters to stop the violence.

“My Jewish brothers, stop!” he says. “We are not like them! We mustn’t come to this violence. Self-defense in the face of terror and rioters — yes; unprovoked violence and destruction of property — under no circumstances.”

Islamic Jihad threatens 9 p.m. barrage, ‘a terrifying death’

Islamic Jihad’s armed wing threatens to send another barrage of rockets towards Israel at 9:00 p.m.

“The time of glory,” a picture published by the terror group states, promising “a terrifying death.”

Rockets are launched towards Israel from Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 12, 2021 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Military said to present security cabinet with options for Gaza strikes

As members of the security cabinet meet to consider Israel’s next steps, Channel 12 reports that the military has provided them with various options for upcoming strikes on Gaza, including on various terror figures.

The report says the IDF is asking political leaders for more time to achieve decisive gains against Hamas prior to a ceasefire.

The ministers discuss an Egyptian offer of a ceasefire that Israel rejected. Egyptian officials have made comments to that effect.

Police say 14 sites in Ashkelon hit in rocket attack; empty preschool also hit

Police say they are deployed at 14 sites in Ashkelon following rocket attacks on the city, and in three sites in Sderot. It is not clear whether each of the sites was hit by a rocket.

A rocket also hit an empty preschool in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, causing damage.

A preschool is damaged by a rocket in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, May 12, 2021 (Courtesy)

Channel 12 reports the apartment directly hit by the rocket in Sderot was empty at the time it was hit, as the family had left temporarily due to the ongoing attacks.

Jewish extremists attack, vandalize Arab shops in Bat Yam

Dozens of right-wing Jewish extremists are rioting in Bat Yam, attacking and vandalizing businesses owned by Arabs.

Posts calling for participation in the violence were distributed on social media earlier.

Bat Yam’s Mayor Zvika Brot says police have arrested some of the young men. He says police knew in advance of the plans by the group, and asserts they are not residents of the city.

IDF says it bombed Islamic Jihad team preparing to launch rockets

The Israel Defense Forces says one of its aircraft bombed a Palestinian Islamic Jihad team as it was preparing to launch rockets into Israel from the central Gaza Strip.

“The cell was attacked as it was making preparations for rocket launches at Israeli territory,” the military says.

6-year-old critically hurt, 6 others wounded by direct rocket hit on Sderot home

The scene of a direct rocket hit on a building in Sderot, southern Israel, on May 12, 2021 (Sderot Municipality)

The scene of a direct rocket hit on a building in Sderot, southern Israel, on May 12, 2021 (Sderot Municipality)

A six-year-old boy has been critically injured by a direct rocket hit on a house in Sderot.

The boy’s mother is seriously wounded, a five-year-old is moderately wounded and four others are lightly hurt.

Channel 12 reports that the rocket hit one home in an apartment complex (shown in the main photo) while a piece of shrapnel ricocheted to another home and managed to pierce a fortified room and hit the family.

A photo shows the shrapnel entered through the room’s window. It is not immediately clear how it got through, as the window should be protected by a secured metal barrier. Media speculate that the window either was not closed properly, or not built properly.

Hamas says it fired 130 rockets into Israel in latest barrage

Hamas says it fired 130 rockets at Israel a short time ago, including at the country’s center, in retaliation for a strike on a multi-story building in Gaza City.

The group says its barrage was a response to Israel’s leveling of the al-Shourouk tower.

A view of the latest rocket attacks:

Unrest, clashes reported in Lod ahead of curfew

Reports of several rock-throwing incidents and vehicles being vandalized in Lod, where a police-enforced curfew is set to enter into effect at 8 p.m.

A number of clashes are reported between Arabs and Jews.

3 hurt, one seriously as rocket hits home in Sderot; another hits Ashkelon house

Three people have been hurt, one of them seriously, as a rocket hits a home in Sderot, near Gaza.

A rocket also hits a home in the city of Ashkelon.

Several communities near Gaza lose power after fresh rocket barrage

Several communities in the southern Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council have lost power following the latest rocket barrage from Gaza, a spokesperson for the municipality says.

The spokesperson says the details are being looked into and that the rockets also sparked a fire in one of the regional council’s communities.

Fresh rocket warning sirens sound in Tel Aviv area, southern communities

Fresh rocket warning sirens sound in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area.

Rocket warning sirens also sound in southern communities near the Gaza Strip.

Military issues names and photos of 6 Hamas commanders killed in airstrikes

The military issues the names and photos of six Hamas commanders killed in airstrikes today.

They include weapons production experts, a local “brigade commander” and an intelligence official.

Blinken implores Israel to avoid civilian deaths, backs right to self-defense

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken implores Israel to avoid civilian deaths, even as he defends the Jewish state’s right to attack Gaza in response to Hamas rocket fire.

“I think Israel has an extra burden in trying to do everything they possibly can to avoid civilian casualties, even as it is rightfully responding in defense of its people,” Blinken says, calling images of dead Palestinian children “harrowing.”

“We’re deeply concerned about what we’re seeing there,” he says. “The loss of any civilian life is a tragedy.”

He says he’s asked Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hady Amr “to go to the region immediately to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He will bring to bare his decades of experience, and in particular, he will urge on my behalf and on behalf of President Biden a de-escalation of violence. We are very focused on this.”

On Feb. 26, 2021 Secretary Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, Pool, File)

He also says the US “remains committed to a two-state solution. This violence takes us further away from that goal.”

He adds: “We condemn and I condemn again the rocket attacks in the strongest possible terms. We believe Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live with safety and security and will continue to engage with Israelis, Palestinians and other regional partners to urge de-escalation and to bring calm.”

Blinken adds that there is a clear and absolute distinction between Hamas, which targets civilians while “indiscriminately raining down rockets,” and Israel that is defending itself.

“But whenever we see civilian casualties, and particularly when we see children caught in the crossfire losing their lives, that has a powerful impact.”

#Hamas terror organization’s military wing, Al Qassam publishes video of targeting #Israel|i Jeep near the border with #Gaza

May 12, 2021

IDF says over 1,000 rockets, mortars fired at Israel since Monday evening

May 12, 2021

Huge barrage launched at 3 a.m. amid major strikes in Gaza; emergency declared in Lod, with troops rushed in as synagogues, stores burned by Arab mobs

Israeli firefighters and security forces inspect damage to a house hit by a rocket fired from Gaza on May 12, 2021 ( GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

Israeli firefighters and security forces inspect damage to a house hit by a rocket fired from Gaza on May 12, 2021 ( GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Wednesday’s events as they unfold. For a recap of Tuesday’s events, click here.

Residents of Gaza border communities told to lock themselves in their homes

Residents of a number of communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip have been instructed to immediately lock themselves inside their homes due to an “irregular security incident,” local officials say.

Residents are additionally told to enter the secure areas of their homes.

It appears that security services fear terrorists may have infiltrated into Israeli territory from Gaza.

A similar incident occurred on Monday evening, but was later found to be a false alarm.

Egypt working to mediate ceasefire between Israel, Gaza terror groups – report

Egyptian mediators are working to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza terror groups after nearly two days of escalating violence, Channel 12 news.

However, according to analysts at the outlet, Israel is not interested in ending the fighting until certain military goals are achieved.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 35 Palestinians have died since Monday night, and 233 have been wounded. Israel says many of those killed were terrorists.

A man and his daughter were killed overnight in a rocket strike outside Lod. Their deaths, and that of a woman in a rocket attack on Rishon Lezion earlier overnight, brought the Israeli death toll to five since the start of the hostilities. Dozens of Israelis have been wounded in the violence.

Iran state TV says Holocaust-denier Ahmadinejad to run in presidential race

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) flashes the sign for victory at the interior ministry's election headquarters in Tehran on April 12, 2017. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) flashes the sign for victory at the interior ministry’s election headquarters in Tehran on April 12, 2017. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Iran’s state television reports that the country’s former firebrand president will run again for office in upcoming elections in June.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly marched accompanied by supporters to a registration center at the Interior Ministry where he filled out registration forms.

Ahmadinejad in recent years has tried to polish his hardline image into a more centrist candidacy, criticizing the government for mismanagement.

The Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad has previously been banned from running for the presidency by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2017, although then, he registered anyway. A constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council ultimately disqualified him then.

Khamenei says he will not oppose the nomination of any candidate, although the electoral council may still block Ahmadinejad’s candidacy. In either case, the populist’s return to the political scene may energize discontent among hardliners who seek a tougher stance against the West — particularly Israel and the US.

Iran opened registration on Tuesday, kicking off the race as uncertainty looms over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers and tensions remain high with the West.

IDF says it bombed Gaza home of top Hamas commander used to store weapons

The Israel Defense Forces says it has just bombed the home of a top Hamas operative, Salah Dahman, who used the house to story weaponry for the terror group.

The military releases footage of the strike, showing the missile hitting the building in a densely populated neighborhood, causing a large blast, apparent from the munitions inside.

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Residents of Gaza border communities are instructed to enter bomb shelters and protected areas in the wake of the strike.

Police minister calls for release of Jewish man arrested for killing Arab Israeli in Lod

Minister of Public Security Amir Ohana at the annual Jerusalem Conference of the 'Besheva' group in Jerusalem, on March 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Minister of Public Security Amir Ohana at the annual Jerusalem Conference of the ‘Besheva’ group in Jerusalem, on March 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana calls for the release of a Jewish man who was arrested in connection with the deadly shooting of an Arab Israeli man during protests and riots in the central city of Lod on Monday night.

“The arrest of the shooter and his friends in Lod, who acted in self-defense, is terrible,” says Ohana, who is the minister responsible for policing.

“Law-abiding citizens carrying weapons are a force multiplier for the authorities for the immediate neutralization of threat and danger,” he says.

Ohana notes that detention is not under his purview, but “if that were the case, they would have been released.”

The man was shot and killed and two others were wounded during violence on Monday evening. Some reports said the victims were part of a mob throwing stones and firebombs at Jewish-owned homes and were shot by Jewish residents in what Jewish witnesses said was self-defense.

The statement comes after Ohana declares a state of emergency in Lod and police forces are bolstered on the streets of the city.

According to the Haaretz daily, police are expected to impose a lockdown on the city.

The newspaper says that anyone who violates any “reasonable instruction” from police faces a potential jail sentence.

Ra’am chief Abbas: Coalition talks can resume after violence ends

Mansour Abbas, head of the Ra'am party, gives a press statement after meeting with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on April 5, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Mansour Abbas, head of the Ra’am party, gives a press statement after meeting with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on April 5, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Two days after suspending talks over the potential formation of a coalition amid the escalating violence, the head of the Islamist Ra’am party, Mansour Abbas, says that discussions will resume after the fighting ends.

“It is inevitable that we will return to political talks for the formation of the government after the fire subsides,” Abbas tells the Kan public broadcaster. “We have a real opportunity to play an important role in Israeli politics for the sake of our society.”

Ra’am announced Monday it had suspended coalition talks with the so-called “change bloc,” potentially dooming efforts by the parties to form a government that removes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office.

The party made the announcement amid rising violence in Israel, alongside widescale rocket barrages fired from Gaza toward Israel and retaliatory strikes on the Strip.

Palestinian man arrested after he tried to snatch soldier’s weapon in West Bank

A Palestinian man tries to grab a gun from a soldier near the city of Jericho in the West Bank, the military says.

The Palestinian man is arrested with no Israeli injuries reported, the IDF says.

Police say the theft was thwarted when a passing cop saw the soldier struggling on the floor of a bus stop with the suspect.

The police officer stopped his vehicle and realized the soldier had been attacked with pepper spray in the course of the attack.

Police say the officer intervened in the scuffle and arrested the suspect, who was then taken for questioning.

Sirens heard in Gaza border community of Kerem Shalom

Sirens are triggered in the Gaza border community of Kerem Shalom as terrorists continue to fire rockets and mortar shells into Israel.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Police chief orders ‘significant’ increase of cops in Lod, other cities after rioting

A car set on fire by Israeli Arab residents during riots in the central Israeli town of Lod, on May 11, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/FLASH90)

A car set on fire by Israeli Arab residents during riots in the central Israeli town of Lod, on May 11, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/FLASH90)

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai orders a “significant” bolstering of police presence in the city of Lod and a number of other locations after Public Security Minister Amir Ohana declared a state of emergency.

The order comes after intense Arab rioting broke out in Lod late Tuesday, with three synagogues and numerous shops reportedly set on fire, and dozens of cars set alight.

“We are witnessing a situation we have not seen before in mixed cities and this includes severe violence with a nationalist background, harm to religious symbols and also attempts to harm police officers and close major thoroughfares,” Shabtai says. “The Israel Police is currently facing a series of national missions and we will carry out our duties and restore order.”

According to the statement from police, the declaration of a state emergency gives them “greater freedom of action.”

Arab violence erupted in numerous other cities across Israel alongside reports of Jewish attacks, including in Lod, where a Muslim cemetery was set ablaze.

Attacks were reported on Jewish homes in Ramle, where cars were also stoned. In Acre, a restaurant and a hotel were set ablaze, seriously injuring one man.

IDF says it shot down drone flown into Israeli airspace from Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces says it has just intercepted a drone that was flown into Israeli airspace from the Gaza Strip.

The IDF says air defense soldiers shot down the small aircraft.

The IDF says the aircraft was not a small, quadcopter model like those used by civilians, but a larger unmanned aerial vehicle.

It is not immediately clear if it was armed, the military says.

9 still hospitalized with serious injuries after rocket fire, including girl, 5, in critical condition

There are nine people hospitalized around the country in serious condition as a result of rocket fire, according to a tally by the Kan public broadcaster.

Two people are receiving care at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Be’er Yaakov, four people are hospitalized at Holon’s Wolfson Medical Center, one woman at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center and two people are being treated at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer.

One of the patients at the Wolfson Medical Center is a five-year-old girl who was among the injured when a rocket fell next to a bus in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon on Tuesday evening. She is in critical condition.

Firefighters examine a bus in the town of Holon near Tel Aviv, on May 11, 2021, that was hit by rockets fired from Gaza (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

Zarif travels to Syria to discuss ‘developments’ in Israel and Gaza – report

In this February 23, 2021 file photo, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses a conference in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

In this February 23, 2021 file photo, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses a conference in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif is traveling to Damascus to “discuss developments in Israel and the Gaza Strip,” according to a Lebanese report cited by the Kan public broadcaster.

The Israeli outlet gives no further details.

In widescale airstrikes, Israel hits Gaza police stations, security sites

Smoke rises after a series of Israeli air strikes in Gaza City , early on May 12, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Smoke rises after a series of Israeli air strikes in Gaza City , early on May 12, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

The Israeli Air Force carried out a series of early morning airstrikes early today on the Gaza Strip, destroying dozens of police and security installations, witnesses say.

A wall of dark gray smoke rises over Gaza City and observers in Gaza say this is one of the heaviest Israeli strikes ever.

Hamas says its main police headquarters were also destroyed.

Sirens heard in Gaza border communities

Rocket sirens warn of incoming fire toward the Gaza border communities of Ein HaShlosha, Nahal Oz and Alumim.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

IDF says over 1,050 rockets and mortar shells fired by Gaza terror groups

The IDF says over 1,050 rockets and mortar shells have been fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel since the outbreak of fighting on Monday evening, with 200 failing to clear the border and landing inside the enclave.

IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman says the Iron Dome air defense system had an interception rate between 85 and 90 percent of rockets heading toward populated areas.

In response, the IDF launched strikes on upwards of 500 targets in the Gaza Strip, aimed at Hamas personnel, weaponry and infrastructure, Zilberman says.

5 Israelis killed in rocket barrages, IDF retaliating in Gaza

May 12, 2021

Over 850 rockets crossed into Israeli territory after being launched from Gaza. Several rockets made direct hits on buildings and cars in Israel, killing five Israelis.

IDF successfully targeted a multi-level building used by the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, May 12, 2021. (Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)
The Israeli military carried out waves of airstrikes overnight Wednesday, targeting senior Hamas leaders and destroying their homes after several Israeli citizens were killed in rocket barrages towards the center of the country.
Over 850 rockets crossed into Israeli territory after being launched from Gaza, another 200 fell inside the Hamas-run coastal enclave. Several rockets have made direct hits on buildings and cars in Israel, killing five Israelis.
Two of those killed were Khalil Awad, 52, and his daughter Nadin, 16, Arab-Israeli residents of a town near Lod, who were killed after a rocket scored a direct hit on a car in Lod early Wednesday morning.
The rocket struck Lod as the mixed Jewish-Arab city was shaken by violent riots throughout the night and brought the death toll in Israel up to five since the fighting began on Monday. Two women were killed in Ashkelon on Tuesday afternoon and in the evening, another woman was killed by a rocket that struck in Rison Lezion. In Bareket in the Shfela region, two men in their 50s and 60s were lightly injured from glass shards as a result of a rocket that landed on a house, Israeli media reported.

IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said the barrages towards the center came after the Israeli Air Force targeted senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders, killing them.
More rockets pounded Israel throughout Tuesday night into Wednesday morning with sirens sounding throughout the center of the country and particularly in the South, including Tel Aviv and Beersheba.
In one of the strikes, the IDF said it killed two senior Hamas leaders who were key operatives from Hamas’ military intelligence in a combined operation with the Shin Bet security service. The two men were identified as Hassan Kaugi, the chief of the security department in Hamas military intelligence and his deputy, Wail Issa, the brother of Marwan Issa who is the deputy commander of Hamas’ military wing.
The two were in a high rise building of over 10 stories. Hamas had warned that should Israel target high-rise buildings then they would fire on Tel Aviv, a threat they carried through. According to Palestinian news agency Wafa the residents of the building were warned by the Israeli military to evacuate before it was hit.
The IDF earlier killed three other senior Hamas officials, Bassam Issa, the Gaza Brigade commander, Rafa Salama, the Khan Younis Brigade commander and Mohammed Yazouri, the chief of Hamas intelligence.
The Israeli military also destroyed the homes of three senior Hamas leaders, Bassem Issa, the head of the Gaza City district, Rafa’a Salameh, the head of the Khan Younis district, and Mohammad Yazouri, the head of Hamas’s military intelligence.
The homes were destroyed, Zilberman said, “so when they come back up from their underground bunker they will see they have no home left.”
The Israeli military is continuing to hit Hamas targets, including underground military infrastructure belonging to the terror group. Over 500 targets have been struck in the Strip since Operation Guardians of the Wall began, Zilberman said, adding that there are tens of dead Hamas militants.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 35 people have been killed including 12 children and three woman. Another 233 others have been wounded.
The IDF also overnight began an arrest campaign in the West Bank against Hamas members, Zilberman said. “You know why we are doing that,” he added.
A multi-story building destroyed by the IDF in Gaza on May 12 and said to be the base for Hamas's intelligence units. (IDF)A multi-story building destroyed by the IDF in Gaza on May 12 and said to be the base for Hamas’s intelligence units. (IDF)

“Hamas and Islamic Jihad have paid and will continue to pay,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night. “We are all mourning those killed and praying for those who were injured. We all give our full support to the IDF and Israeli security forces. This campaign will take time.”
Israel has “the right and the obligation to act and will continue to do so,” added Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
The Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility on Wednesday morning for over 100 rockets fired at Tel Aviv and 100 rockets fired at Beersheba. Some 1,000 rockets have been fired into Israel since the beginning of the hostilities on Monday.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, said Israel had “ignited fire in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and the flames extended to Gaza, therefore, it is responsible for the consequences.”
Haniyeh said that Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations had been in contact urging calm but that Hamas’s message to Israel was: “If they want to escalate, the resistance is ready, if they want to stop, the resistance is ready.”

Father and child killed in Lod as Hamas launches another massive rocket barrage

May 12, 2021

Over 1,000 rockets fired at Israel in day and a half of fighting, IDF says; military conducts 500 strikes, killing top intel officers, bringing down buildings used by terror group

The scene of a rocket strike in the city of Lod that killed two people on May 12, 2021 (Magen David Adom)

The scene of a rocket strike in the city of Lod that killed two people on May 12, 2021 (Magen David Adom)

Hamas launched a massive barrage of rocket fire on southern and central Israel in the early hours of Wednesday morning, killing a man and his daughter and sending hundreds of thousands of people, from Tel Aviv to Beersheba, fleeing to bomb shelters.

The large-scale fusillade of rockets was apparently launched in response to the Israel Defense Forces destroying a nine-story building in Gaza City and killing two senior Hamas operatives in a targeted strike.

In response, the IDF launched strikes on upwards of 500 targets in the Gaza Strip, aimed at Hamas personnel, weaponry and infrastructure, Zilberman said.

Police said the victims were a father in his 40s and his seven-year-old daughter. The mother, who was also in the car, was seriously injured.

Lod Mayor Yair Revivo said the dead were members of the Arab community. “Hamas missiles do not differentiate between Jews and Arabs,” Revivo said.

He also appealed to Arab residents to end the protests and called for calm in the city. “The day after we will still have to live here together.”

In Tel Aviv, an 80-year-old man suffered an apparent heart attack while running for the shelter and was in a serious condition, medics said.

Another missile hit a house in the town of Yehud, just north of Ben Gurion Airport. Rescue workers say the family who lived in the house were saved by their bomb shelter. Pictures from the scene showed the house completely destroyed.

A house in Yehud that was hit by a rocket fired from Gaza on May 12, 2021 (United Hatzalah)

According to the IDF spokesperson, Israelis who have heeded the Home Front Command’s instructions and entered bomb shelters have been largely unharmed in the rocket attacks and most of the casualties in Israel were from people who didn’t or couldn’t reach a protected space.

Hamas said it fired over 200 hundred rockets during the assault, claiming it was in response to the IDF destroying a nine-story building in Gaza City.

The army said the building housed Hamas offices, including their intelligence center, their West Bank command and a propaganda department. The IDF warned inhabitants of the building to flee several hours before the attack.

The IDF also said it had killed two senior Hamas intelligence officers in a targeted strike.

“In a combined operation between the IDF and the Shin Bet security service about two hours ago, we eliminated key operatives from Hamas’s military intelligence system,” the IDF said in an early morning statement.

It identified the men as Hassan Kaogi, the chief of the security department in Hamas military intelligence and his deputy, Wail Issa, head of the military intelligence counterespionage department. It said that Issa was the brother of Marwan Issa, the deputy commander of the Hamas military wing.

The IDF spokesman said the military was also targeting the group’s rocket production and storage facilities, underground infrastructure and the homes and offices of Hamas leadership.

The rockets targeted a wide swath of Israel from Beersheba to the Sharon area north of Tel Aviv, the farthest north rockets have been fired yet.

Loud explosions were heard throughout the area as Iron Dome interceptors brought down most of the incoming missiles. The rockets were the second major assault on the Tel Aviv area in a few hours.

Earlier, a woman was killed and dozens were injured on Tuesday evening when Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip pummeled central Israel with a major rocket fusillade, in what appeared to be the largest-ever barrage aimed at the broader Tel Aviv area.

The massive attack caused Israel to briefly suspend flights at its major international airport and cancel schools Wednesday in all areas south of Herzliya.

Rocket sirens blared repeatedly throughout central and southern Israel on Tuesday evening, sending millions of Israelis rushing for shelter, as Gaza-based terror groups fired multiple long-range rockets from the coastal enclave toward Tel Aviv and its suburbs.

The Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza, claimed to have launched over 130 rockets in that volley. There was no immediate statement from the Israel Defense Forces on the number of rockets fired.

In the central city of Rishon Lezion, a woman was killed from a rocket strike. She was not immediately identified.

Rockets also hit the Tel Aviv suburbs of Holon and Givatayim, injuring at least eight people, some of them seriously, police said.

One rocket fell next to a bus in Holon, injuring four people, two of them seriously and two of them moderately. Medics said a five-year-old girl was among the wounded in Holon.

Firefighters near damaged vehicles in the city of Holon near Tel Aviv, on May 11, 2021, after rockets are launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

In nearby Givatayim, fragments of a rocket that was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system hit a house, lightly injuring four people inside, police said. A building in north Tel Aviv was also apparently hit.

Ben Gurion Airport temporarily stopped all air traffic and diverted flights to Cyprus. Flights were resumed less than two hours later.

The Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command had instructed all residents of central and southern Israel to enter bomb shelters during the attacks. The Home Front Command also ordered schools shuttered south of Herzliya Wednesday amid the rocket bombardments from Gaza.

A tank on fire on the Ashkelon-Eilat oil pipeline after a rocket strike from Gaza, May 11, 2021 (Channel 12 screenshot)

Separately, a large tank in Ashkelon belonging to the Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline was hit by a rocket earlier Tuesday and has been on fire for several hours.

Firefighters have been working to douse the blaze, so far unsuccessfully.

There are fears that hazardous materials could be spread by the fire, Channel 12 reported. But the local fire chief said the fire does not pose a danger to local residents, and that firefighters expect to put it out by the morning.

Smoke billows from an Israeli airstrike on the Hanadi compound in Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas terror group on May 11, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Israeli jets earlier on Tuesday evening destroyed a 13-story residential building in Gaza City, in a retaliatory airstrike to the hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza since Monday afternoon.

Prior to the strike, people in the building received several warnings, including phone calls and messages, telling them to leave, and a preliminary “roof-knocking” strike — using a small missile to strike the roof with minimal damage in order to cause all inside to leave before a major raid.

In videos from the scene, the building — which housed offices of several Hamas commanders — can be seen being enveloped in dense smoke before collapsing.

Hamas earlier on Tuesday threatened to launch long-range rockets at Tel Aviv should Israel continue airstrikes in residential areas.

It is not yet clear why Israel targeted the building. Channel 12 reported it apparently served as the home for many terror operatives, including some released by Israel during the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.

After the rocket strikes on central Israel, Israeli forces destroyed the al-Jawharah high-rise in Gaza City, flouting additional threats from terror groups. Hamas and Islamic Jihad had previously said that such demolitions would lead to further rocket fire on Tel Aviv.

Earlier on Tuesday, two women were killed and dozens injured, including two seriously, when Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip fired massive barrages of rockets at southern Israel.

The deaths in Ashkelon marked the first fatalities in Israel in the round of fighting with Gaza terrorist groups that began Monday evening.

A heavily damaged house from rocket fire in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on May 11, 2021 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

The deadly rocket attack directly struck a home where an elderly woman was sitting with her caregiver, 32-year-old Soumya Santosh. Santosh was killed while her elderly charge, 80, was hospitalized in serious condition, according to Hebrew media reports.

Channel 12 reported that the rocket shelter was at least a minute’s run away from the woman’s home and the pair did not manage to reach it in time. The home did not have a fortified room of its own.

According to the Haaretz daily, Santosh is survived by her husband and nine-year-old daughter.

The second victim of the Ashkelon rocket fire was not immediately identified.

A technical issue with an Iron Dome battery during the massive rocket barrage toward the coastal city on Tuesday afternoon prevented some rockets from being intercepted and may have been responsible for the casualties and deaths. The malfunction was repaired and the battery returned to being fully operational shortly after, Hebrew-language media reports said.

The Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon on Tuesday said that it treated 95 casualties, including two seriously wounded and two in moderate condition.

The Hamas-run health ministry said 32 Gazans were killed, including 10 minors, and 220 wounded in the ongoing escalation with Israel. Fifteen Gazans sustained serious injuries, according to ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra. Israel said more than half were Hamas fighters.

IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said a number of those killed in Gaza, including at least three children, were hit by errant rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists, not by Israeli airstrikes.

He said Israel was taking steps to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties, but that they were liable to occur anyway as Hamas deliberately operates within a densely populated area, using the residents of the Strip as human shields.

Hamas, which is officially dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel, took effective control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from the Palestinian Authority in a violent coup. Since then, Israel has imposed a naval blockade on the enclave, as well as stiff control over what can enter the Strip, maintaining that it is necessary in order to prevent terror groups from smuggling weapons into the area.

Fire billows from Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, on May 10, 2021. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Palestinian terror groups have tied the attacks to the unrest in Jerusalem connected to both prayer on the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the pending eviction of a number of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Israel has fought three large operations against Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip since 2008, most recently in 2014 with a 51-day war known as Operation Protective Edge.

Judah Ari Gross and Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report