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Hamas Hits Israeli Kindergarten and Synagogue

August 24, 2014

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore.”  (Psalm 125:2)

Hamas rockets are once again pounding Israel.  Hamas began firing again on Israel on Tuesday, violating a temporary truce during the Egyptian-mediated negotiations.

Since then, the news of red alert sirens and bomb blasts are filling Israel’s media, and people are once again living in their bomb shelters.

Israeli kindergarten

The third rocket attack against an Israeli kindergarten occurred on Friday.

What began with three Gaza rockets on Tuesday hitting Be’er Sheva and Netivot escalated to about 70 by 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. 

A civilian home was hit Wednesday afternoon.

On Thursday morning, a 33-year old man who shielded children with his body was seriously hurt in Eshkol.  An empty kindergarten was struck and several cows were also killed when a rocket hit a cowshed.  By Thursday evening, Hamas had unleashed more than 300 rockets.

On Friday, four-year-old Daniel Tragerman was killed when a Hamas rocket landed near his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

Children in a western Negev kindergarten barely escaped injury when a salvo of rockets landed close to their packed Israeli kindergarten.

Three civilians were also wounded when a rocket fired from Gaza directly hit a synagogue in the southern city of Ashdod, causing severe damage.  A 54-year-old civilian in Be’er Sheva was moderately wounded and a civilian in Sderot was lightly injured by Gaza rockets on Friday as well.

Ashdod synagogue directly hit by Gaza rocket

Shortly before evening prayers on Friday, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip made a direct hit on a synagogue in Ashdod, causing significant damage to the building.  Two men, 25 and 26, and a woman, 40, were injured by shrapnel.

Because of the renewed firing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his negotiating team to leave Cairo.

“If Hamas thinks that by a continuation of a drizzle of rocket fire we will make concessions, it is mistaken.  As long as quiet is not restored, Hamas will continue to take very hard blows,” Netanyahu said.

He added that the Israeli delegation at the Cairo negotiations have clear instructions to demand that any agreement will assure the country’s security.

“Only if there will be a clear answer to our security needs will we agree to any understandings,” he said.  

Netanyahu continues to convey the message to the Israeli people that there is a need for patience, that the Gaza operation is not yet completed and that more time is needed in order to achieve the goal of long-term security for the south.  (JPost)

Hamas’ sudden return to violence has several exasperated members of the Israeli cabinet calling for a renewed ground offensive and even the recapture of the Gaza Strip.

Minister Uri Ariel told Israel’s Channel 2 News that “the actions until now did not bring quiet.  It’s clear there is no choice but a ground offensive.”

On Thursday, Communications Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel Army Radio that the resumption of rocket fire from Gaza has Israel considering retaking the territory.

“Will this happen tomorrow?  It’s not certain, since the price for this will be high, but we are closer today to a ground operation than we have been at any point since the start of the operation,” Erdan said.

In a combined overnight mission on Thursday, IDF and Israeli security forces targeted senior Hamas terrorists in the Gazan city of Rafah. The operation killed Mohammed Abu Shamlah, Raed Attar and Muhamad Barhoum, three commanders in Hamas’ military wing.

In a combined overnight mission on Thursday, IDF and Israeli security forces targeted senior Hamas terrorists in the Gazan city of Rafah.  The operation killed Mohammed Abu Shamlah, Raed Attar and Muhamad Barhoum, three commanders in Hamas’ military wing.

As the fighting goes on, Hamas’ supply of rockets continues to dwindle, and Prime Minister Netanyahu is resisting pressure to carry out another ground invasion or to give in to unreasonable Hamas demands.

In response to Hamas’ rockets, Israel has continued with a limited air campaign that has benefited from good intelligence, making it possible to keep collateral civilian deaths to a minimum and reduce international outrage.

On Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces called up 10,000 reservists, who will replace other reserve forces who are being sent home for rest.  The troop deployment near the Israel-Gaza border was also bolstered and placed on defensive alert.

The cabinet approved the measure after the air force carried out an overnight targeted assassination in Rafah of three Hamas terrorist commanders, Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Raed Attar and Mohammed Barhoum.

A senior Hamas leader connected the group with the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June, an incident that helped spark this current conflict.

According to Israel, these three Hamas commanders had been instrumental in the expansion of Hamas military capabilities, including the digging of terrorist tunnels into Israel, training fighters and smuggling weapons to Gaza.

“Hamas terrorists orchestrating attacks against Israel, launching rockets indiscriminately at our civilians and abducting our soldiers will not evade our intelligence and striking capabilities,” said IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.  “This morning’s strike sends a clear message to those responsible for planning attacks:  We will strike those who have terrorized our communities, towns and cities, and we will pursue the perpetrators of abduction of our soldiers and teenagers.  We will succeed in restoring security to the State of Israel.”

The Rafah attack came on Thursday, August 20, a day after Israel attempted to assassinate the top Hamas military leader, Mohammed Deif, in an air strike on a house in Gaza City.

The whereabouts of Deif still remains unknown, but his wife and two children died in the strike.

Hamas admits to murdering Israeli teens

IDF Inforgraphic

The lead up to the present conflict began on June 12th, when two men said to be affiliated with the terrorist group Hamas kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers.

While Hamas leaders applauded the abduction, they denied any direct involvement until last week.

Shabach, the Israeli internal security force, arrested over 500 suspected Hamas functionaries and West Bank officials.

The Gaza Strip launched rockets targeting southern Israeli communities.  After the bodies of the three teens were discovered, Israel launched 34 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

On July 6th, a tunnel was bombed, killing 6 Hamas militants.  The following day, rocket attacks on Israel were increased and Israel commenced “Operation Protective Edge” to put a stop to rocket attacks from Gaza and to wipe out the tunnels.

A July 14th ceasefire proposal presented by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas and the rocket fire continued.

Hamas then proposed a 10-year ceasefire based on several demands, including the releasing of prisoners that had been rearrested, opening up all border crossings, and allowing a seaport and international airport.  Israel rejected this proposal and the fighting continued.  (TNR)

In more recent days the fighting has been suspended by 12-hour and 72-hour truces only to continue when Hamas begins to fire its rockets.  Against this backdrop, truce negotiations have been carried out in Cairo with no clear outcome whatsoever.

Even so, Egypt’s chief negotiator says he will continue to broker a more permanent truce even if the parties are not physically present.

He has a seemingly impossible road ahead as Israel has been demanding the demilitarization of the territory, something rejected by the Palestinians.

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