Archive for the ‘Hamas’ category

Life in Israel under the shadow of Hamas’s rockets

November 19, 2018


A picture taken on July 14, 2018 shows Palestinian rockets being fired from Gaza City towards Israel

BY Stephen Daisley NOVEMBER 15, 2018 The Spectator

Source Link: Life in Israel under the shadow of Hamas’s rockets

{Civility under fire…absolutely amazing. – LS}

Midway through coffee a soldier came running in. ‘Tzeva adom!’ ‘Red colour!’ Cups clattered, chairs shrieked across slate floor. There is a calm exodus to an improvised bomb shelter — the cafe’s concrete reinforced bathroom. Soldiers at the front, paramedics behind, civilians at the back. Two dozen faces are lit by the insistent flashes of Red Alert, an app that warns of incoming fire. The foreigners quip nervously, the locals tut at the inconvenience. After a few minutes, the all clear is given and diners return to their lunch. It is 1.02pm and another rocket has just hit Israel. 

We are at Yad Mordechai junction, four kilometres from the 1949 armistice line — the border between Israel and Gaza. This is the second time in 30 minutes that we have had to flee from a Hamas rocket. Both times, a public announcement system sounded: the factual tone announcing ‘red colour’ is deemed less psychologically damaging than constant air raid sirens. Iron Dome, Israel’s anti-ballistic defence shield, took out the first rocket; the second got through and hit a house nearby. Israelis say without the Dome, casualties would be much higher and the government would have no option but to launch another full-scale military offensive against Hamas. 

Scores of injured Israelis have been taken to hospitals in the borderland in recent days. On Tuesday morning, Hamas’s rockets claimed their first fatality this week: Mahmoud Abu Asabeh, a 48-year-old Palestinian working in Israel, was killed when a projectile hit his apartment building in Ashkelon. He leaves behind a wife and five children. The tense ceasefire between Israel and Hamas looks likely to survive Sunday’s botched IDF operation inside Gaza, which cost the life of a senior Israeli officer (named only as ‘Lt. Col. M’) and seven Palestinians. The Israelis’ story is that this was a routine intelligence operation gone wrong but there are reports that this was a botched assassination attempt. 

Wherever the truth lies, Hamas exacted its revenge as always on Israeli civilians, targeting them with hundreds of rockets, and prompting a response that has killed seven Gazans, according to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency. Israel’s hawkish defence minister Avigdor Liberman resigned on Wednesday, in what is thought to be an act of political positioning ahead of rumoured elections. 

I travelled to Israel this week as part of a delegation of British journalists invited by the country’s ministry of foreign affairs. With the government picking up the tab, I feared that it might be one of those pointless junkets where diplomats spin the usual lines: Israel the Victim, Israel the High-Tech Eden, and Israel the Only Democracy in the Region. Instead, we have been given remarkable access to police, senior diplomats, policy-makers and politicians. Checkpoints, anti-Arab racism, the Nation State Law — nothing has been off limits. They have pushed back, sometimes hard, but there has been little glossing over Israel’s faults. 

This candour is what makes us insist on visiting the Gaza border as scheduled: here is a chance to test all they have told us. Our planned visit to the Kerem Shalom border crossing is now out of the question, a pity because Kerem Shalom is busy. Israel is sending tankers of fuel and trucks with essential supplies into Gaza. After some pushing, our hosts agree to take us as close to the border fence as possible. We rattle down a highway on which all the other traffic is heading in the opposite direction and, after an hour, arrive at Sapir College, just outside Sderot. Sapir has 8,000 students on its roll — 7,000 Jews and 1,000 Arabs or Bedouins — but today the campus is a shell. The authorities shut it down briefly on Tuesday because it is in range of Gaza, before it was reopened. The building is also a literal shell: the college is surrounded by a forbidding concrete barrier designed to look like the walls of the building. 

Inside the education fortress we meet Zohar Avitan, the director of academic studies, who has been at the college since 1977. A lively-humoured man, his jokes are punctuated by a regular lament about the absence of his students. Avitan speaks of them with grandfatherly affection, especially the Bedouin women he says have to sneak out to classes every day lest their husbands find out. Sapir is to him ‘the wondership — the ship of dreams’, where students can find their way in life. 

Before the second intifada, Sapir had a sizeable contingent of Gazan students and ran courses inside the Strip. ‘This was back when we believed in peace,’ Zohar says. He is sad but he is not bitter. His parents, Moroccan Jews, moved to Israel when he was one and the family lived in a 32-square metre house in Sderot. He is proud of his town, recalling how it was known as ‘the Liverpool of Israel’ in the 1980s for producing a succession of chart-topping artists. 

Zohar is old enough to remember before Red Colour, when air raid sirens sounded through every street of his town. In December, a rocket landed outside his house during the Friday night shabbat dinner, blowing in the windows on the family as they prayed and ate. ‘I forgot what to do but my wife shouted at me to get to the shelter,’ he says, adding with a wry grin: ‘When my wife shouts, you listen.’

The 60,000 Israelis who live in communities adjacent to Gaza could be forgiven for holding a siege mentality but everyone we meet launches one-liners faster than Hamas can fire Qassams. Zohar jokes about two colleagues comparing the time they have to reach a bomb shelter. The man, who lives in Sderot, has 20 seconds while a female colleague from Ashkelon has 40. ‘What do you do with all your free time?’ he enquires. Later, when we are running from the second rocket in Yad Mordechai, Zohar assures us: ‘Don’t worry, the college will give you 20 credits in gymnastics for this.’

Zohar has an old man’s impatience for ideology. ‘This question of who started it. He started it; no, he started it. This is the argument of the kindergarten. We cannot live in the past; we have to build the future.’ The Palestinians, he states many times, are not his enemies. He wants one of his students to become manager of the duty free between Gaza and Israel. ‘That day, we’ll throw Toblerones, not missiles’. 

He takes us into central Sderot. It is a town of 24,000 and lies 800 metres from Gaza. Zohar introduces us to the mayor, Alon Davidi, a forty-something religious man and a smooth, easy political operator. He guides us into the municipality’s security command centre with its wall of CCTV screens and bank of telephonists fielding calls from concerned residents. The atmosphere is wire-taut; Red Alert buzzes with every fresh rocket that lands nearby. Davidi breaks the tension by saying he hopes for peace in Sderot — and continued success for the English national football team. 

I ask him about the psychological effects of rocket attacks. Israeli children living in the border communities report markedly higher mental health problems than the rest of the country. Three of Davidi’s children have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The town runs a number of programmes to help youngsters manage anxiety; his children have a therapy pet, a dog called Mocha. It helps them handle the enduring fear of the next barrage. 

Next we arrive at a bakery in the centre of town. A rocket landed the night before and struck a gas canister, incinerating the back of the shop. The stench of carbon attacks the nostrils. The baker is inside, now baking in the front of his shop because he cannot afford not to work. Out the back, insurance assessors fill out their forms, stony-faced. We drive closer still to Gaza, heading to the Black Arrow memorial that commemorates an earlier, more successful Israeli incursion. We can see the tops of Gaza tower blocks on the horizon but soon we are pulled over by the IDF. At first they agree to let us take pictures then lose patience and order us to move on. 

Ten minutes later we turn into Kfar Aza, a kibbutz directly on the border. As we arrive, some of the soldiers there shake their heads. Idiot tourists. A short walk later, we run out of road. Before us stands the electrified border fence. Only its wire mesh, and 50 metres of agricultural land, stand between us and Gaza. The kibbutzniks still farm the land but Hamas is now sending flaming kites to burn the crops, even as the children of Gaza — but not the children of Hamas — struggle to survive on supplies driven in every week by Israel. The same children have no trauma pets, no ship of dreams. Their rulers put them in front of soldiers, not the other way round. Gaza is 50 metres and yet much farther from here.


Residents of rocket-hit town describe scramble to reach safety of bomb shelters

August 9, 2018

‘You have to choose which of your children you save,’ says a mother of 7 in the southern town of Sderot


Illustrative. Children are seen in a bomb shelter of an apartment building in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on the third day of Operation Protective Edge, July 10, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

By TOI staff August 9, 2018

Source Link: Residents of rocket-hit town describe scramble to reach safety of bomb shelters

{No one should have to live like this. – LS}

Residents of the southern town of Sderot described Thursday the desperate dash to safety as 150 rockets, fired overnight from the Gaza Strip rained down on southern Israel, including one barrage that slammed into the city injuring several people.

There are no more than 15 seconds from the moment the rocket warning siren sounds until a projectile impacts on the city, during which residents have to get themselves — and their families — into bomb shelters or reinforced rooms in their homes.

Volleys of rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night and into Thursday prompting the Israeli Air Force to bomb at least 12 Hamas positions across the Gaza Strip, the military said.

Sderot resident Etti Kramer told Hadashot TV news how she and her husband dashed to get their seven children into their family’s reinforced room as they heard explosions around them.

“I ran and grabbed the baby,” she said. “The rest of the children ran [to the reinforced room] but didn’t arrive in time. We started to hear explosions and we continued getting the children into the reinforced room. You have to choose which of your children you save. I grabbed the baby and the two-year old and ran to the shelter.”

Another resident, Yossi Lok, recounted how his neighbor was injured by a rocket which their apartment building.

Lok said he had retreated to his reinforced room after the rocket siren alert when off.

“I heard a huge explosion and saw a flash of fire,” he said. “The neighbor cried out that he’d been hit. I came downstairs and saw him really badly hurt, covered in blood. His home was on fire because his gas canister had been hit.”

Residents of the southern town of Sderot described Thursday the desperate dash to safety as 150 rockets, fired overnight from the Gaza Strip rained down on southern Israel, including one barrage that slammed into the city injuring several people.

There are no more than 15 seconds from the moment the rocket warning siren sounds until a projectile impacts on the city, during which residents have to get themselves — and their families — into bomb shelters or reinforced rooms in their homes.

Volleys of rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night and into Thursday prompting the Israeli Air Force to bomb at least 12 Hamas positions across the Gaza Strip, the military said.

Sderot resident Etti Kramer told Hadashot TV news how she and her husband dashed to get their seven children into their family’s reinforced room as they heard explosions around them.

“I ran and grabbed the baby,” she said. “The rest of the children ran [to the reinforced room] but didn’t arrive in time. We started to hear explosions and we continued getting the children into the reinforced room. You have to choose which of your children you save. I grabbed the baby and the two-year old and ran to the shelter.”

Another resident, Yossi Lok, recounted how his neighbor was injured by a rocket which their apartment building.

Lok said he had retreated to his reinforced room after the rocket siren alert when off.

“I heard a huge explosion and saw a flash of fire,” he said. “The neighbor cried out that he’d been hit. I came downstairs and saw him really badly hurt, covered in blood. His home was on fire because his gas canister had been hit.”

“We were afraid that there would be more explosions,” he said. “We all got away from there.”

Lok said his home was also hit, a rocket landing on his roof.

“It was lucky there were no residents in the unit,” he said.

“We were with the kids,” resident Asher Pizam told Hadashot. “There was hysteria and pandemonium. We heard a whistle and a hit after several sirens. There was a lot of stress and panic, especially with the children…We hope the government does all it can so we have quiet here.”

In video shared on social media, dozens of parents and children in a Sderot playground could be seen running for bomb shelters as a rocket exploded in the city sending smoke billowing into the air.

One mother can be heard desperately seeking her son, while at the same time trying to calm a young girl by assuring her that there would no more rockets. Children and parents crammed into overcrowded shelters, with some crouching on the ground outside, as they tried to find safety.

Hanita Kohanik, a resident of the city which has suffered rocket fire from Gaza since 2001, spoke to the Hebrew-language Ynet website about the traumatic day-to-day life in the south.

“It is terrible,” Kohanik said. “There is nothing more I can say. It isn’t easy. We are a family of four and a dog, which gets more confused that we do.”

“As far as we are concerned each time the security situation deteriorates — the anxieties resurface,” she continued

Her son, she said, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, and doesn’t leave home.

“The intermittent and sporadic fire are a daily war,” Kohanik said.

One rocket — or possibly shrapnel from an Iron Dome interceptor — damaged a home in Sderot late Wednesday night, police said. At least two rockets struck the city earlier in the day, injuring three people. Two more were injured in attacks Thursday morning. At least eight others were treated for panic attacks, including two pregnant women who went into labor.

Wave after wave of rocket attacks set off sirens throughout the night in the Hof Ashkelon, Sha’ar Hanegev, Sdot Negev and Eshkol regions outside Gaza, sending thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters, where many bedded down with their families.

The rocket attacks came amid a period of heightened tensions along the Gaza border, following months of clashes and exchanges of fire. On Tuesday, Hamas vowed to avenge the deaths of two of its members killed by IDF tank fire after the army mistakenly thought a military exercise had been a cross-border attack.

At least 11 rockets or mortar shells were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the army said.

Hamas claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attacks, saying it was avenging the deaths of the two operatives killed the day before.

The United Nations condemned the Hamas rocket fire.

One Palestinian man was reportedly killed in the strike, 30-year-old Ali al-Ghandour was killed, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

In addition to al-Ghandour, at least six other Palestinians were injured in the Gaza Strip as a result of the IDF strikes, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The Israeli military said the terror group, with which it was fought three wars in the past decade, would bear the consequences of any further violence from the Gaza Strip.

Residents of southern Israel were told to remain close to bomb shelters Thursday in case of additional rockets or mortar shells from Gaza.

Wednesday’s rocket fire represented a major uptick in tensions along the border, amid intensive talks between Israel and Hamas for a long-term ceasefire.

Such an agreement is meant to end not only rocket launches and shootings from Gaza but also the regular incendiary kite and balloon attacks from the Palestinian enclave that have burned large swaths of land in southern Israel and caused millions of shekels of damage.

Throughout Wednesday, at least 11 fires were sparked in southern Israel by airborne arson devices launched from the Gaza Strip. Israeli firefighters extinguished all of them, according to a spokesperson for Fire and Rescue Services.

Adam Rasgon and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

IDF: Hamas Plans to Strike Israel with Exploding Drones

July 17, 2018

Investigative Project on Terrorism News July 16, 2018

Source Link: IDF: Hamas Plans to Strike Israel with Exploding Drones

{If Hamas is successful, it will be their own undoing. – LS}

As Israel moves more Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to its border with Gaza, Hamas terrorists are moving forward with plans to spread their arson-by-air attacks deeper into the country. Israel held an emergency cabinet session Sunday after another Hamas provocation over the weekend. Israel’s military hit dozens of Hamas targets in Gaza after terrorists launched an estimated 200 missiles at Israeli communities on the border.

According to Palestinian media reports, Israel also deployed three drones to strike Palestinians launching incendiary kites and balloons, wounding three terrorists.

“It’s important to emphasize that we have no intention of tolerating this – not rockets, not kites, not drones – nothing,” warned Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman during the cabinet meeting.

For years, Hamas has been diverting resources intended for civilian re-building efforts in Gaza to enhance its military capabilities, including a growing drone program. Hamas, like other terrorist groups, has used drones for a variety of purposes including attacks, reconnaissance, and testing state air defenses. In the past, Hamas hasdeployed several drones to infiltrate Israel and exploited these incidents as propaganda victories. Now Hamas may have found another potential use for drones: to enflame its arson terror campaign.

Looking beyond incendiary kites and balloons, Israeli defense officials believe that Hamas wants to deploy exploding drones to increase the organization’s arson-based terrorist efforts.

According to an Israel Hayom report, Hamas is preparing to mount explosive material on unmanned aerial vehicles to target Israel communities situated deeper into the country. The terrorist group has also already started to affix timers to incendiary aerial devices, to delay their detonation and maximize damage to Israeli land.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan warned that “we are seeing an obvious trend” and that Hamas operatives “are constantly increasing their kites’ range and they are using ‎other airborne devices” which “may even reach Judea ‎and Samaria (West Bank).”

Previous reports pointed to Iran building a fleet of suicide drones for its main terrorist proxies, including Hamas, to assemble and launch kamikaze style attacks. But Hamas also maintains an increasingly sophisticated domestic drone program as well.

Israel’s national security is threatened by several militant groups with established drone programs on its borders, including Hizballah, the Islamic State, and al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria. Even Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) now threatens Israel directly by deploying drones into its airspace to test Israel’s resolve.

Like Iran, Hamas is attempting to create “new rules of engagement” in its war against Israel. The terrorist organization recognizes that Israel’s military will likely avoid direct responses against terrorist cells launching incendiary aerial devices into Israel territory.

Israel’s air force struck several Hamas military targets after terrorists deployed incendiary kites and balloons that caused severe fires in Israeli communities on the Gaza border. Hamas escalated the violence last month by launching 45 mortar shells and rockets at Israel. Similar tit-for-tat incidents have emerged since Hamas began encouraging and planning this new method of arson terrorism during the violent border riots on the Gaza border at the end of March.

Many of these devices continue to land on Israeli territory, sparking destructive fires that burn thousands of acres of crops and natural forest area. Containing the fires is amajor strain on Israel’s resources and significantly disrupts civilians’ lives. Israel has largely relied on firing warning shots at Palestinians launching incendiary devices.

On Sunday, Israel’s security cabinet directed the military to adopt tougher countermeasures against Hamas’ use of arson terrorism. But considerable debate within Israel’s security establishment remains on how to tackle the threat.

In a reportedly heated exchange on Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot challenged Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s push to allow the military to directly target cells launching incendiary aerial devices – a more aggressive policy than the current use of warning shots. Eisenkot allegedly argued that lethal force in this situation is immoral.

Israel has increasingly relied on drones in an attempt to take down incendiary kites and balloons. There may be an emerging “drone, counter drone” struggle between Israel and its terrorist enemies – similar to the dynamic between the United States and global jihadists. To address the wider UAV terrorism threat, Israel has reportedly assassinated key drone experts abroad, while continuing to target enemy UAV storage facilities in airstrikes and intercepting shipments of UAV-related material to terrorist organizations.

UAV terrorism will grow as the technology becomes less expensive and more effective. A sophisticated militant organization should have no issues launching explosives-laden drones. The Islamic State, for example, deployed its first suicide drone attack using a modified commercial UAV.

Amid Hamas’s new provocative strategy, Israel will continue evolving its efforts to counter emerging terrorist threats – including drone-based arson attacks.

The Blame Game

May 17, 2018

Source Link: Legal Insurrection Branco Cartoon

{Yep. – LS}

UN Amb. Haley Walks Out On Palestinian When He Blames Israel for Gaza Violence

May 17, 2018

by Shifra on May 16, 2018 Live Wire

Source Link: UN Amb. Haley Walks Out On Palestinian When He Blames Israel for Gaza Violence

{Of course, Hamas had nothing to do with it…right? – LS}

Remember when Obama’s Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, stood up for Israel?

Yeah, neither to I.

But I do remember her ignoring the deaths of thousands of innocent Syrians, and kicking Israel in the teeth.

Brava to Nikki Haley for standing up for the truth… and walking out when the anti-Israel haters began spewing their lies.

And shame on the MSM for their anti-Israel biased reporting, which served to score Hamas a big propaganda “win.”

Via Daily Caller.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had a simple response Tuesday when Palestine’s Ambassador to the UN blamed Israel for the recent violence in Gaza.

Walk out.

Haley stood up and walked out of the UN Security Council meeting room when Palestinian Ambassador Riyad H. Mansour began his remarks. Tensions were high in the Security Council after nearly sixty Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli forces Monday during rioting on the Gaza border.

Protesters stormed the Israeli border, armed with slingshots, rocks and Molotov cocktails. The protests were in response to the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem.

Haley told the emergency Security Council meeting, “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has. In fact the records of several countries here today suggest they would be much less restrained.”….

As Gaza hospitals suffer shortages, Hamas refuses Israeli medical aid

May 16, 2018


The Israeli army prepares a shipment of medical supplies for the Gaza Strip on May 15, 2018. The Hamas terrorist group, which rules the coastal enclave, later refused to accept the equipment and sent it back.

Two trucks of supplies from the IDF entered the Strip but were returned after ruling terror group saw they were from Israel

By Judah Ari Gross and AP Times of Israel

Source Link: As Gaza hospitals suffer shortages, Hamas refuses Israeli medical aid

{Question: How many Palestinians does it take to screw in a light bulb?  Answer: None….they would rather sit in the dark and blame Israel. – LS}

The Hamas terrorist group on Wednesday refused to accept two shipments of medical supplies for Gaza hospitals, which are struggling with shortages, after seeing they were sent by Israel, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians said.

On Tuesday, Israel facilitated the entrance of eight trucks full of medical equipment into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which reopened earlier that day after it was burned by Palestinian rioters last Friday.

Four of the shipments were from the Palestinian Authority, two from the United Nations Children’s Fund and two were provided by the Israel Defense Forces’ Technological and Logistics Directorate.

According to Israel, the IDF shipments included IV fluids, bandages, pediatric equipment and disinfectants, as well as fuel for hospital generators.

However, on Wednesday morning, after the trucks passed through the crossing, Hamas officials saw that the two shipments from Israel had labels identifying them as coming from the IDF and sent them back, according to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories liaison unit.

“Hamas officials checked the trucks, saw that there were IDF stickers on the medications and said they were not prepared to accept medicine with IDF labels on it,” said a COGAT spokesperson.

The six shipments from the PA and UNICEF were accepted.

The Hamas-led organizers of the Palestinian protests along the Gaza border confirmed that they would not accept medicine “from the murderers of our people,” despite the widespread shortages of medical supplies in the coastal enclave.

The terrorist group accused Israel of “trying to improve its black image” by sending the humanitarian aid.

In the wake of mass riots Monday on the Gaza border, already strained hospitals in the beleaguered coastal enclave have struggled to provide treatment to the more than 1,500 patients that the Hamas-run health ministry says were injured in the clashes.

According to the Hamas ministry, 60 Palestinians were killed along the border on Monday, including several Hamas members who were shot dead in direct clashes with IDF soldiers.

In total, Israeli security forces have identified at least 24 of the people killed as known members of terrorist groups, mainly Hamas and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Israel has not put out its own official death toll, but some have questioned the accuracy of the Hamas-provided figure. For instance, a Gazan doctor told the Associated Press that an 8-month-old baby, who the Gaza ministry said died after inhaling Israeli tear gas on Monday, had a preexisting medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas.

Even before the latest round of bloodshed, Gaza’s health system of 13 public hospitals and 14 clinics run by NGOs had been buckling under persistent blockade-linked shortages of medicines and surgical supplies.

According to the IDF, the two trucks that were turned away contained thousands of units of IV fluid, beds, hospital gowns, IV fluid stands, thousands of bandages and thousands of units of antiseptic chemicals.

“Hamas basically said it would rather get no equipment than get aid from Israel,” the COGAT official said.

On Tuesday, Palestinian officials also refused to allow trucks loaded with goods into the Gaza Strip through the newly reopened Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Shipments of medical supplies, food and diapers arrived at the crossing on Tuesday morning. But officials on the Palestinian side said they could only allow through the medical supplies and sent back 14 trucks full of food and diapers, The Times of Israel learned.

It was not immediately clear why the border officials, who are employed by the Palestinian Authority, would not accept the shipments.

Israel had closed the crossing late last week in order to assess and repair significant damage caused by rioters there last Friday evening.

On Monday night — hours after Gazans again ransacked the facility — the army announced that Israel would be reopening Kerem Shalom on Tuesday.

“Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman approved the recommendation of the Israel Defense Forces and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to reopen the Kerem Shalom Crossing tomorrow,” the army said in a statement.

The crossing, near the Egyptian border, serves as the main entry point for commercial goods and humanitarian aid into the coastal enclave, which has been subject to a strict blockade by both Israel and Egypt for the past 11 years that is meant to prevent terrorist groups from bringing weapons into the Strip.

While the crossing reopened on Tuesday, it will only be able to function at a partial capacity in light of substantial damage caused to the facility, including to the fuel lines — the only way to bring diesel and gasoline into Gaza in significant quantities.

Palestinian rioters set fire to the Gaza Strip’s Kerem Shalom Crossing on May 14, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

On Sunday night, the United Nations said an alternative way of getting fuel to Gaza must be found urgently, warning of dwindling supplies needed to run hospitals, pick up garbage, pump water and treat sewage.

Palestinian rioters ransacked the crossing for the third time in two weeks on Monday, toward the end of the violent mass protests along the border, the army said.

The Israel Defense Forces said around 40,000 Gazans participated in “unprecedentedly” violent riots along the security fence on Monday. The protests, which Israel said were spurred by Hamas seeking to carry out terror attacks, saw multiple cases of shots fired at Israeli troops and several unsuccessful attempts to breach the border.

IDF soldiers responded with tear gas and, in some cases, live fire. Israel faced immediate international backlash and accusations of excessive force. The army maintains that its soldiers adhered to rigidly defined rules of engagement and only used live rounds as a last resort.

Rioters first attacked the crossing on May 4. They broke through the gates and, apparently believing they were in Israeli territory, set fire to the fuel lines, according to Israeli officials. In actuality, they were on the Palestinian side of the crossing.

One week later, another group of some 200 people broke into the Palestinian side of the crossing, following that day’s border protests.

However, according to Israeli officials, the Hamas terrorist group directed this attack on the crossing. Its operatives instructed rioters “what to do, where to go,” a senior COGAT officer told reporters on Sunday.

The rioters again set fire to the fuel terminal. They also torched a specially designed conveyor belt used to bring raw construction material into Gaza and wrecked two other conveyor belts used to transport animal feed.

Israeli and Palestinian officials estimate that it will take at least several weeks to bring the fuel lines and conveyor belts back online.

 

How Hamas Sabotages Gaza’s Economy to Advance Terror Aims

May 16, 2018

by Yaakov Lappin May 15, 2018 The Investigative Project on Terrorism

Source Link: How Hamas Sabotages Gaza’s Economy to Advance Terror Aims

{Reality check. – LS}

Gaza’s dire economic situation is one reason observers cite for the ongoing violent Palestinian protests at the border with Israel. But, Israeli officials say, the blame for the stark economic reality lies with those who control Gaza.

Israel is working hard to prevent the economy of Gaza from collapsing, but Hamas is doing just the opposite, recklessly harming the economic situation of the very people it rules over.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Friday’s Hamas-orchestrated attack on a gas and fuel terminal – the only one that supplies the Gaza Strip – at the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

According to senior Israeli defense officials, Hamas operatives divided rioters into groups and gave them specific instructions on which part of the crossing to attack on the Gazan side – the same side that serves the basic needs of Gaza’s estimated 1.8 million inhabitants.

In what can only be described as utter self-destruction, the rioters, acting on Hamas orders, set fire to a pipeline delivering gas and fuel to Gazans. They also destroyed conveyer belts that send construction material and animal feed into Gaza. The crossing was attacked twice more since then, including during Monday’s mass border infiltration attempt, also organized by Hamas, which resulted in many Palestinian casualties a significant portion of whom were operatives in Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

It will take months for authorities to repair the burned out fuel pipelines. The pipes blazed so hot that they left the concrete roads beneath them in pieces. The Palestinian Authority (PA) had previously constructed the Gazan side of the fuel terminal at a cost of ten mission shekels. Now, the PA will have to decide if it will pay for a new one.

All of this means that the people of Gaza are facing a new, Hamas-engineered, imminent fuel and energy crisis.

The incident is just one of many ways that Hamas cynically and actively harms Gaza’s civilian interests for its own benefit.

Hamas has a financial interest in shutting down Kerem Shalom, since all goods that pass through it are taxed by the PA – Hamas’s bitter rival. Hamas would prefer that goods pass through the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, where taxes go directly to the Hamas regime, and the funds are diverted to the military wing.

But Egypt keeps Rafah closed most days as part of its own blockade of Gaza. Egypt is guided by a deep suspicion of Hamas’s intentions, due to the affiliation between Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

Ultimately, Hamas is keen to increase pressure on ordinary Gazans, so that they vent their frustration on Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In recent days, Hamas has banned Gazan fishermen from heading out to sea, despite Israel widening the Mediterranean Sea fishing zone for Palestinians.

According to Israeli defense officials, Hamas has also systematically prevented Palestinian businesspeople and merchants from crossing into Israel via the Erez pedestrian border crossing.

Israel has provided an increasing number of entry permits to Gazan businesspeople in a bid to encourage Palestinian economic growth. Yet Hamas has thwarted this effort via a checkpoint it has set up before the Erez Crossing.

“As long as people suffer, they can continue with their well-funded propaganda, and shout to the world, ‘come and save us,’ and ‘pour some money into Gaza,'” said a senior IDF official.

The reason Hamas pursues this agenda is simple enough. Whenever it receives money, it must always face the basic question of where to invest it. If it invests in civilian needs, it cannot use that same money for the military wing: to dig tunnels, manufacture rockets, and build weapons, and prepare for war with Israel. So Hamas tries blackmailing the international community into funding Hamas’s humanitarian and economic needs, which would free Hamas to invest purely in its military force build-up.

This situation has not, however, stopped Israel from taking determined steps to improve the Gazan economy. Israel increased the number of pedestrian crossings at Erez by 30 percent in the first quarter of 2018, and most of those crossing – 80 percent of the roughly 10,000 crossings – are made up of Gazan merchants and businesspeople.

The Palestinian Authority is also undermining Gaza’s economy as part of a bid to bring Hamas to its knees and force it into a reconciliation agreement that would see the armed wing disbanded. As part of that pressure, the PA has ceased transferring medicine into Gaza, and has been holding up permits for a number of sick Gazans to travel to West Bank hospitals for treatment.

In response, Israel increased the number of medical-humanitarian journeys from Gaza into Israel, coordinating the movement of 450 ambulances to Israeli hospitals during the past three months alone.

Meanwhile, Hamas continues attempting to use the mail to import items such as drones, uniforms, and dual use items like drills and building materials for its military wing. The Israeli Defense Ministry has intercepted magazine clips, binoculars, and even military boots sewn into large slippers heading into Gaza.

“One of our main challenges is that we have hard, solid intelligence that Hamas is trying to use any humanitarian route to build up its military power, and promote terrorism,” the senior defense source added.

One prominent example of this occurred in April, the official said, when a 65-year-old Gazan woman was given a permit to receive medical treatment at an Israeli hospital. The woman, a cancer patient, arrived at Erez Crossing, where Israeli security found enough explosives in her belongings to blow up four buses.

Israel remains determined to keep Gaza’s economy going and prevent a collapse. It has recently allowed more dual use materials – items intended for civilian use, but which Hamas could use for military means as well to enter the Strip, to assist the civilian population. It also approved 350 new economic projects in Gaza that provide jobs for Palestinians.

Still, the challenge remains. Pipes imported for water treatment plants end up being turned into rockets. Generators designed to help civilian buildings deal with power shortages end up in terror tunnels that are dug in the direction of Israeli communities.

Perhaps the most cynical example of all can be found in the form of medical oxygen tanks that Israel sends to Gaza. “Unfortunately,” the defense source said, “Hamas seized some of these shipments and took them underground, so that [combat] tunnel diggers can breathe freely as they work in tunnels 30 meters underground.”