A tense calm prevails in Israel today as Islamist militants in Gaza have paused cross-border rocket attacks after 3 consecutive nights.
Israeli Security Cabinet adopted a decision to retaliate powerfully if there is a resumption of Palestinian rocket-fire. Based on operational recommendations from IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the staged plan authorizes wide-scale attacks on the Hamas-controlled territory if attack on Israeli territory persist.
“We made decisions in preparation of any scenario,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the Security Cabinet meeting, adding that, “I suggest that our enemies not test us.”
The Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Gaza-based terror groups claimed the recent missile barrage came in solidarity with Islamist riots in Jerusalem during ongoing observance of Ramadan, which began 13 April. Dozens of Palestinians rioted and burned tires along Israel’s security fence with Gaza last night, while 2 Israeli policewomen were hospitalities for injuries in clashes near the Lions Gate entry to the Old City of Jerusalem when Arab youth hurled furniture and other objects at the force.
Netanyahu underscored that, “the police and the security forces in Jerusalem are working to maintain public order and ensure freedom of worship,” while vowing “We will fully enforce the law.”
Israel has been conveying messages calling for a de-escalation of hostilities to Hamas through diplomatic channels.
Minister of Defense Benny Gantz announced on Twitter that he held talks with the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland. The top Israeli defense chief said he ““expressed the urgency of the immediate cessation of violence from Gaza and reiterated Israel’s unyielding commitment to protecting its citizens & sovereignty.”
Meanwhile, Head of the Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) for Gaza, Colonel Iyad Sarhan, issued a direct appeal to Gaza residents in an Arabic message posted on the Almunasseq Facebook page and YouTube account of the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
“The blessed month of Ramadan is intended to be a time for families; and yet, Hamas has chosen a course to the detriment of the Gaza Strip and rather than invest in improving the civil and economic situation,” said Col. Sarhan, “Its leadership chose the path of escalation, thus harming you, the people of Gaza, first and foremost.”
He also explained that Israel closed down the Gaza fishing zone – that significantly contributes to the enclave’s economy and welfare – in response to 3 days of violence from the terror organizations, while emphasizing it would not be reopened until the full restoration of calm.
Gaza fisherman Darwish Al-Assi seemingly concurred, telling Reuters that “Closing the sea affects us very much, fishermen live day by day. If we go out fishing we eat, if we don’t go fishing we will die of starvation.”
The Islamist Hamas organization nevertheless remained defiant over the closure.
“All such crimes and violations will not dissuade the Palestinian people from continuing their struggle and all forms of resistance to defend Jerusalem, Al Aqsa Mosque and their rights and freedom at any cost,” insisted Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.