Archive for May 14, 2021

Gaza terrorists disrupt funeral of 5-year-old victim of rocket attack

May 14, 2021

IDF said to target homes of senior Hamas commanders as communities in south continue to be bombarded; Shin Bet calls Jewish-Arab violence ‘terror for all intents and purposes’

  • Flames and smoke are seen after an Israeli airstrike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 13, 2021. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
    Flames and smoke are seen after an Israeli airstrike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 13, 2021. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
  • A man inspects damage caused to a building in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, after it was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, May 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    A man inspects damage caused to a building in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, after it was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, May 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Smoke rises following Israeli missile strikes on Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
    Smoke rises following Israeli missile strikes on Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
  • An IDF artillery unit near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, May 13, 2021. (Gili Yaari /Flash90)
    An IDF artillery unit near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, May 13, 2021. (Gili Yaari /Flash90)
  • Rockets (R) are seen in the night sky fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on May 14, 2021, while Iron Dome interceptors rise to meet them. (Photo by ANAS BABA / AFP)
    Rockets (R) are seen in the night sky fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on May 14, 2021, while Iron Dome interceptors rise to meet them. (Photo by ANAS BABA / AFP)
  • Paramedics observe a fire in Ramle, May 13, 2021. (United Hatzalah)
    Paramedics observe a fire in Ramle, May 13, 2021. (United Hatzalah)
  • A home in Ashkelon damaged by rocket fire, which left a caregiver dead and an elderly woman badly injured, Tuesday May 12, 2021 (Lazar Berman. Times of Israel)
    A home in Ashkelon damaged by rocket fire, which left a caregiver dead and an elderly woman badly injured, Tuesday May 12, 2021 (Lazar Berman. Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians check the damage caused after a 15-floor building was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, May 13, 2021. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)
    Palestinians check the damage caused after a 15-floor building was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, May 13, 2021. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

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

One lightly injured after rocket falls nearby in Beersheba

During the last rocket barrage fired by terror groups in Gaza toward the city of Beersheba, one rocket struck near the Route 40 highway.

One person was lightly wounded, according to medics. Police say part of the highway near Goral Junction has been closed as officers secure the scene.

Fresh rocket sirens sound in Beersheba and surrounding towns

Fresh rockets sirens have been set off in Beersheba and the surrounding towns, sending thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters.

WATCH: Dozens of Lebanese rioters break through border fence, briefly cross into Israel

Lebanese protesters demonstrate along their border with Israel on May 14, 2021. (Scren capture/Twitter)

Lebanese protesters demonstrate along their border with Israel on May 14, 2021. (Scren capture/Twitter)

The IDF says its tanks fired warning shots toward a number of rioters who crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory.

The suspects sabotaged the border fence and set a fire in the area before returning to Lebanese territory, the military says.

There are no reports of injuries.

While the IDF speaks of “a number” of protesters, footage from the scene shows dozens crossing into Israel. A handful of the protesters were waving Hezbollah flags.

The incident took place near the Israeli town of Metula.

Gaza terrorists disrupt funeral of 5-year-old victim of rocket attack

As a funeral is held in Kiryat Gat for Ido Avigal — a 5-year-old from Sderot killed Wednesday in a rocket attack — Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fire projectiles at the southern city, forcing mourners to take cover.

The sirens sounded as Ido’s father, Asaf Avigal, finishes a eulogy in which he apologized for not having protected his son, who was killed by shrapnel that pierced through the window of the fortified room where he was sheltering with his mother and sister, both of whom were injured.

Ido Avigal, who was killed in his home in Sderot by a rocket fired from Gaza, May 12, 2021. (Twitter)

The Kan public broadcaster says the timing of the rocket fire was clearly aimed at disrupting the funeral, as Kiryat Gat has not been frequently targeted during the current round of fighting in Gaza, which erupted Monday when the Strip’s Hamas rulers fired rockets at Jerusalem.

Cops arrest 3 suspects after overnight violence in Lod

Police announce the arrests of three suspects over last night’s violence in the Jewish-Arab city of Lod, which the cops say included live fire at officers and the burning of buildings — including synagogues.

“The investigation is continuing,” a police statement says.

More rocket sirens ring out in southern Israeli communities

Rocket sirens sound in numerous communities in southern Israel, including Kiryat Malachi, which the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group earlier claimed to target.

Calling to ‘redeem’ Al-Aqsa, hundreds of Jordanians run toward border with Israel

Hundreds of Jordanians run toward the border with Israel, breaking through a police checkpoint on the Jordanian side, local Jordanian media report.

“With spirit and blood, we shall redeem you, O Aqsa!” the crowd chants, referring to the mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Large numbers of Jordanian security forces appear to be present on the scene.

Thousands of Jordanians also rally in the capital Amman after Friday prayers in protest of Israeli actions in Jerusalem and the current fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers.

IDF said to target Gaza homes of senior Hamas commanders

Israeli aircraft target the Gaza Strip homes of high-ranking Hamas commanders, including the deputy commander of the group’s armed wing, according to Arabic-language media reports.

“Israeli warplanes bombed the homes of the deputy commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Marwan Issa, and commander, Ayman Nofal, in the Al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza City,” Qatar-based Al Araby TV reports.

It is not immediately clear if Issa or Nofal were killed in the strikes.

Gantz urges Facebook, TikTok executives to crack down on social media incitement

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks with executives from Facebook and TikTok, urging them to take a more proactive to removing content that incites violence and terrorism.

“These are measures that will directly prevent the violence that is being intentionally stirred through social media by extremist elements that are seeking to do damage to our country. We are in a moment of social emergency, and we expect your assistance,” Gantz, who is also justice minister, is quoted saying in a statement from his office.

The statement says the executives of the social media firms vowed to “quickly and effectively” address incitement and that they also “relayed their condolences to the Israeli families that have lost loved ones” in the rocket attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.

Meretz MK walks out of TV studio for hosting extremist lawmaker accused of fueling violence

Left-wing Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg walks out of the Channel 12 news studio for hosting extremist MK Itamar Ben Gvir, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc who the police chief has blamed for the “internal intifada” in Jewish-Arab cities.

Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharrar says she would also leave the studio but there is no wheelchair ramp.

Hamas claims responsibility for latest rocket volley

The military wing of the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group claims responsibility for the latest rocket barrage fired at Israel.

The Al-Qassam Brigades say they targeted the southern city of Kiryat Malachi. However, the most northern location that sirens sounded was Kiryat Gat, some 10 kilometers northeast of Kiryat Malachi.

Defense minister meets with IDF chief, other security officials on Gaza fighting

Defense Minister Benny Gantz holds a situational assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and other top security officials “after last night’s attacks and ahead of the continuation of the campaign” in Gaza, his office says.

In this handout photo from his office, Defense Minister Benny Gantz (C), IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi (R) hold an assessment on the ongoing fighting between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip, May 14, 2021. (Elad Malka)

Israeli air, ground forces bombard northern Gaza in heaviest strike yet

May 14, 2021

For 4th night, Hamas fires rockets at central, southern Israel; 87-year-old woman dies after hitting her head while running to bomb shelter; PM vows to exact heavy price from Hamas

An explosion lights the sky following an Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip early on May 14, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

An explosion lights the sky following an Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip early on May 14, 2021. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces launched a massive bombardment on a large number of targets in the northern Gaza Strip shortly around midnight on Thursday, using both ground and air forces, the military said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to exact a “very heavy price” from Hamas, the Gaza-ruling terror group which has fired some 1,750 projectiles at Israel since Monday afternoon.

After initial confusion on the matter, the IDF clarified that it had not launched a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip during the attack, which reportedly lasted over an hour.

The IDF did not immediately identify its targets in the strike, saying it would do so shortly.

Following the Israeli assault, the Hamas terror group launched multiple waves of rocket attacks on southern and central Israel, firing rockets toward the cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba, Yavne and many surrounding communities.

At least one rocket directly struck a building in the city of Ashkelon, seriously injuring a 60-year-old man, Israeli authorities said. Another landed next to a car, damaging it.

Some of the incoming projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and several landed in open areas, where they caused no damage or injuries.

“I said that we would exact a very heavy price from Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. We are doing so and we will continue to do so with great force,” he said. “The last word has not been said and this operation will continue as long as necessary in order to restore the quiet and security to the State of Israel.

According to the IDF, some 1,750 rockets and mortar shells have been fired toward Israel by terror groups in Gaza since fighting broke out on Monday evening, including 190 projectiles launched between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday. Around 300 of the total projectiles launched landed inside the Palestinian enclave, and in at least one case killed a number of children when the rocket hit a school.

The IDF on Thursday said it had so far bombed upwards of 600 targets in the Strip, over 100 of them in the previous 24 hours.

Earlier in the evening, terrorists in the Strip also launched multiple barrages of rockets toward southern and central Israel, at Ben Gurion Airport and the Shfela region, as well as Tel Aviv. Another barrage targeted Ashdod and Ashkelon, with one rocket landing in the latter city.

A firefighter stands over the impact site of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip that hit a building in the city of Ashkelon, injuring a man, on May 14, 2021. (Fire and Rescue Services)

Another round of rockets aimed at the southern city of Beersheva, with at least three projectiles hitting buildings.

The majority of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome air-defense system.

During one of the rocket barrages, an 87-year-old woman died after falling and hitting her head while running to a shelter in Shtulim, near Ashdod, Magen David Adom paramedics reported.

The increased death toll came after a number of reports in local Palestinian media of Israeli airstrikes targeting residential areas. Some of those reports claimed entire families were killed in some cases.

Israel maintains that most of those killed in Gaza were terror group members or, in a few cases, died from errant Palestinian rockets.

Earlier Thursday, Hamas operatives fired rockets at the Tel Aviv area and Beersheba and toward Eilat’s airport, in what the terror group said was an act of revenge for its commanders who were killed in Israeli strikes this week.

A few dozen rockets were fired in the attacks, which triggered sirens throughout central Israel and the northern Negev desert.

Earlier in the day, Israel closed Ben Gurion International Airport to incoming passenger flights, diverting them to Eilat’s Ramon Airport. Hamas said it subsequently targeted that airfield as well.

No sirens were heard in the rocket fire toward Eilat, as the projectile landed in an open area far outside the city, where it caused neither injury nor damage.

The military denied Hamas’s claims — widely echoed by Israeli media — that it fired some 100 rockets at central and southern Israel in the afternoon barrage. Rather, the Israel Defense Forces said, the terror group in fact launched 25 to 30 rockets in the attack.

Hamas also said it had launched a number of “suicide drones,” unmanned aerial vehicles carrying explosive payloads, into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. The military confirmed downing at least two such drones. Channel 12 news reported that the drones appeared to have primitive capabilities and did not seem to represent a serious danger.

On Wednesday morning, the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service conducted a large-scale operation targeting a number of top commanders in Hamas, including the head of its Gaza City battalion and several people involved in its weapons production operations in the Strip, the military said.

Following the Thursday afternoon rocket fire, the IDF hit a number of sites in Gaza, including one the military said served as the main command center for Hamas’s surveillance network.

It was not immediately clear how many Hamas members were killed in the strike, which the IDF said occurred as dozens of people were in the building.

The IDF said it also launched strikes on four “operations apartments” of senior Hamas commanders in Gaza: the deputy commander of Hamas’s Jabalia regiment in the northern Strip, as well as three company commanders in northern and central Gaza.

Smoke and flames rise after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip, May 12, 2021. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

All the apartments were allegedly used to direct recent rocket attacks at Israeli cities.

The military also said it bombed the “operational apartment” of Samer Abu Daka, the head of Hamas’s drone operations, after the drone launches.

The military said the apartment was used for military purposes. It also said the same apartment was targeted in the 2014 war.

The IDF also said it struck a main Hamas rocket production site and a military post of the Hamas naval force in the central Gaza Strip. In addition, a number of other weapons production sites were struck throughout the day, according to the military.

Also Thursday the IDF said it bombed four Hamas cells preparing to launch anti-tank guided missiles at targets in southern Israel over the course of two hours, striking the teams before they could carry out their attacks. The military said it bombed an anti-tank guided missile launcher that had been positioned on an apartment building in the southern Gaza Strip, accusing Hamas of using the occupants as human shields.

Hundreds of the projectiles fired from Gaza have been intercepted by Iron Dome missile defense batteries, according to the military, which refuses to give precise statistics on the matter as they could be used by terror groups to find ways to outmaneuver the system.

The IDF on Thursday said the air defense system had a roughly 90 percent interception rate of projectiles heading toward populated areas. Terror groups have been launching rockets in massive barrages to try and overwhelm the system.

In the most serious rocket attack overnight Wednesday-Thursday, two people were moderately injured by shrapnel and six others were treated for smoke inhalation after a Hamas rocket from Gaza struck in between homes in Petah Tikva shortly after midnight, sparking a fire. The buildings near the fire sustained moderate damage.

On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the Israeli military expanded its targets in the Gaza Strip to include institutions that Hamas uses to rule the Palestinian enclave, notably its treasury and banks, IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said.

In addition, the Israeli Air Force bombed Hamas’s internal security headquarters used in counterintelligence operations, destroyed the home of Iyad Tayeb, a battalion commander in Hamas’s military wing, and killed a squad of Hamas’s naval forces, Zilberman said.

Palestinians assess the damage caused by an Israeli airstrike at the Islamic National Bank of the Hamas terror group in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 13, 2021 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The IDF’s campaign in Gaza, officially dubbed Operation Guardian of the Walls, has so far been conducted primarily by airstrikes, as well as artillery shellings from the ground and the sea, but the military said it was preparing for the possibility of a ground incursion.

Zilberman said plans for a ground invasion would be presented for approval by the IDF General Staff on Thursday, at which point they would be given to Israel’s political leadership for consideration.

The IDF in recent days has deployed additional ground troops — from the Paratroopers Brigade, Golani Infantry Brigade and 7th Armored Brigade — to the Gaza border, sending with them tanks and armored personnel carriers, which could be seen being transported by trucks on highways throughout southern Israel.

On Thursday the army said it was canceling all weekend leave for combat soldiers as it prepared for the possibility of a ground operation. Zilberman said the military had called up 7,000 reservists. Roughly half of those were troops from air defense, artillery and medical units, and half serve in administrative and intelligence positions, Zilberman said.

In the evening, Defense Minister Benny Gantz gave the military approval to call up as many as 9,000 reservists if needed, his office said.

The reservists would come from combat units and command center operators, to serve in the Southern Command, Central Command, and Northern Command so that soldiers regularly stationed there could be sent on other missions, according to his office.

Rockets continue to pummel Israel’s south after night of intense fighting

May 14, 2021

IDF says 2,000 projectiles launched since Monday; bomb shelter requirement lifted for Israelis living near Gaza; 160 aircraft target Hamas tunnels in largest bombardment yet

Smoke rises following Israeli missile strikes on Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Smoke rises following Israeli missile strikes on Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

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

Terror groups have fired 2,000 rockets since start of fighting — IDF

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have fired roughly 2,000 rockets and mortar shells toward Israel since the outbreak of fighting on Monday, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The military says that over the course of Thursday night and Friday morning, an additional 220 projectiles were fired from the enclave, with 30 of them failing to cross the border and landing within the Strip.

According to the IDF, dozens of incoming rockets heading toward populated areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. A number, however, struck within populated areas overnight, one of which seriously injured an Israeli man in his 50s.

Soldier beaten in Jaffa undergoes surgery, still in serious condition

An IDF soldier viciously beaten last night by Arab rioters in Jaffa underwent surgery overnight to treat his serious head injuries, Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital says.

The medical center says three top neurosurgeons were called in to conduct the complex operation and managed to stop the heavy internal bleeding.

The 19-year-old remains hospitalized in an intensive care unit.

IDF says 160 aircraft dropped 450 missiles on Gaza tunnel network

Some 160 aircraft flying simultaneously conducted a massive attack on a network of tunnels dug by the Hamas terror group under Gaza City around midnight in the largest Israeli strike since the outbreak of fighting earlier this week, the military says.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, in this air campaign, which lasted nearly 40 minutes, some 450 missiles were dropped on 150 targets in northern Gaza. The military says it is still working to determine the extent of the damage caused to the underground infrastructure, which IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman says was a “strategic asset” to Hamas.

In addition to the aerial strike, Israeli tanks, artillery cannons and infantrymen on the Gaza border conducted accompanying barrages at Hamas targets that came out during the assault to attack Israeli targets, Zilberman says, clarifying that the ground troops remain on Israel’s side of the border and did not enter the Gaza Strip, despite earlier claims to the contrary by the IDF.

In total, some 500 artillery shells — some flares and explosives — along with 50 tank shells, were fired during this subsequent bombardment. Palestinians in Gaza report that the Israeli strike lasted over an hour and caused a number of casualties, though an exact tally is not immediately available.

Zilberman says the operation is the result of large amounts of intelligence and careful planning.

Hamas ministry says 115 Palestinians dead since start of fighting

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says 115 Palestinians have died in the enclave since fighting started Monday.

It adds that 600 have been injured.

Israel maintains that most fatalities are either members of terror groups or killed by errant Hamas rocket fire that landed inside the Strip.

Fresh rocket alarms heard in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot

Rocket sirens blare in Ashdod, Sderot and the Sha’ar Hanegev region after a night of intense fighting.

Reports say it is a heavy barrage.

There are no immediate reports of impacts or casualties.

IDF lifts order to residents of Gaza-adjacent communities to stay in bomb shelter

The Israel Defense Forces removes a requirement for anyone within four kilometers (2.5 miles) of the Gaza border to remain in a bomb shelter.

This comes five and a half hours after the directive was issued.

The military says people in this area no longer need to remain in bomb shelters, but should stay in close proximity to a protected space, so they can quickly enter if there’s an attack.

IDF shoots down Hamas drone

The IDF says its air defenses have shot down a Hamas drone that crossed into Israel.

“The airforce tracked the drone until it was downed,” the army says.

The incident comes a day after an F-16 shot down an armed Hamas “suicide drone” that tried to enter Israeli airspace.