As of this hour, Gaza-fired rockets continue to pound Israeli communities. Fire crews are currently attempting to extricate a critically-injured man trapped under rubble following a direct missile in the Israeli city of Rehovot just after 6 PM. Five others, including a woman in her sixties who suffered a head wound, have been treated by medics at the scene.
By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner
Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations are making every effort to attain viable terms for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group in Gaza, as cross-border fighting persists. And while the United States has reportedly signaled Israel to end Operation Shield and Arrow and reach a ceasefire; for the time being, there is no immediate end in sight.
According to a number of sources who spoke to TV7 on condition of anonymity, the main hold up in a truce is contingent upon Palestinian insistence that Israeli halt targeted assassinations of PIJ leaders. In what may have been a response to that demand, Israeli Air Force fighter jets launched a pre-dawn attack on an apartment in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis. It was confirmed a short time later that PIJ Rocket Unit Commander Ali Ghassan Ghal, was killed in the strike along with two other terror operatives.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a press conference last night, during which they expressed continued resolve to level heavy blows to the Iranian-proxy group.
“We are still in the midst of a campaign. At this very moment, our forces are fiercely attacking the Gaza Strip and exacting a heavy price from the terrorist organizations,” said the Israeli Premier.
After revealing that a “new equation” has been created due to newly-integrated technological and operational capabilities that provide unprecedented intelligence over the pinpointed location of terrorist hideouts that has helped facilitate the successful elimination of over 120 terrorists in recent months, Netanyahu reiterated, “Whoever harms us, whoever sends terrorists against us, will pay the price. This principle, that whoever attacks us and tries to attack us will pay the price, was significantly strengthened today in Operation Shield and Arrow. We say to the terrorists and whoever dispatches terrorists: We see you everywhere. You cannot hide. We will choose the time and place to attack you. We will choose, not you.”
Outlining further successes of Operation Shield and Arrow, Defense Minister Galant said, “in light of our preemptive maneuver, which included strikes of launching pads, including rockets that were installed there, hundreds of rockets that were directed toward the state of Israel were struck. Terror cells who were preparing to fire Anti-Tank missiles toward Israel, for the purpose of harming our citizens and soldiers on the front lines, were also eliminated. All of this rendered this murderous organization, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, absent any real answer or response.”
One of the key reasons for the refusal of the Islamist Hamas organization to join the fight relates to broad considerations not directly related to Gaza.
The Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group, another Iranian proxy, is believed to have been pressuring Hamas since the Gaza rulers unilaterally fired 34 rockets from Lebanon at Israel on 7 April – without Hezbollah consent or knowledge. Senior intelligence officials, also speaking to TV7 on condition of anonymity, said Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah is apparently concerned that if Hamas joined forces with the PIJ, Israel would respond by targeting Hamas infrastructure in Lebanon – which would likely draw reaction by Hezbollah.
Israeli officials have not ruled out such a possibility, which would enable the defense establishment to deal a decisive blow to Hezbollah aimed at diminishing Iran’s hold over the Arab Republic, as well as its attempts to establish a front against Israel.
“We are prepared to continue to act also in the Gaza sector, against the Islamic Jihad, also against any other factor that may try to challenge us, and also against other threats that may yet evolve. We are holding in our hands a very powerful tool; We will activate it when necessary, we will not hesitate of activate it if it would be clarified that someone is trying to challenge our presence in this place, to harm our citizens, or to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel,” underscored Defense Minister Gallant, adding, “A reality in which Israeli children could be harmed is unacceptable to me and I won’t allow it. Therefore, any such scenario will face a response. Tonight’s response was both surprising and lethal; We know how to copy and duplicate it to other places, and we know how to activate it as much as deemed necessary in every sector and target which constitute a threat.”