July 8, 2020

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11/12 Links Pt1: Israel Pounded With Rockets From Gaza After Killing of Islamic Jihad Commander; Islamic Jihad declares ‘We’re going to war,’ after IDF kills its leader


From Ian:

Israel Pounded With Rockets From Gaza After Killing of Islamic Jihad Commander
Israel killed a top commander from Iran-backed Islamic Jihad in a rare targeted strike in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, and terrorists responded by firing rockets at Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv.

In the most serious escalation in months, an Israeli missile attack also targeted the home of an Islamic Jihad official in Damascus, killing two people including one of his sons, Syrian state media said. Israel declined any comment on that incident.

“Israel executed two coordinated attacks, in Syria and in Gaza, in a declaration of war,” Islamic Jihad leader Khaled Al-Batsh said at the Gaza funeral of Baha Abu Al-Atta.

Israeli officials described Al-Atta as “ticking bomb” who was responsible for a string of recent cross-border rocket, drone and sniper attacks and was suspected of planning more.

“We conducted the attack (on Al-Atta) because there was no other choice,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said. “I want to emphasize that we are not looking to further escalate the situation.”

Al-Atta’s slaying, in his home along with his wife, looked likely to pose a new challenge for Gaza’s ruling Hamas faction, which has mostly pursued truces with Israel since a 2014 war.

Who was Baha Abu Al-Ata?

Israel strikes deputy Islamic Jihad chief’s home in Damascus – casualties

Islamic Jihad said that the Damascus home of one of its top officials was attacked by Israel early Tuesday morning. The bombing came minutes after Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu Al-Ata was assassinated by Israel in the Gaza Strip in a targeted killing operation carried out jointly by the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

Syrian state news agency SANA said that two people were killed dead and six others injured after the bombing of the building near the Lebanese Embassy in western Mezzeh, Damascus.

An Islamic Jihad official confirmed that the target was the home of the group’s deputy leader, Akram Al-Ajouri. In a statement, Islamic Jihad blamed the attack on “the Zionist criminal enemy.” It was not immediately clear if Al-Ajouri was among the dead or the wounded.

Al-Ajouri was said to be Abu Al-Ata’s primary contact in the top echelons of Islamic Jihad. The bombing on Tuesday made it seem like Israel was launching a coordinated assault against the Iranian-backed terrorist organization that is mostly based in Gaza but also has headquarters in the Syrian capital.

IDF launches new wave of attacks after 170 rockets fired from Gaza Strip

Israel was preparing for several days of fighting after over 170 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into the Jewish state Tuesday following the targeted assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Leader Bahaa Abu Al-Ata in a precision Israeli airstrike.

In the afternoon, the IDF launched a new wave of attacks against Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip, hitting training bases and the openings to tunnels the terror group had been digging into Israel. The IDF also announced that it was calling up a limited number of reservists to man Iron Dome missile defense batteries as well as to beef up the Home Front Command.

As of 4:30 p.m. Israel time, the IDF was reporting more than 160 rocket launches and over 50 interceptions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after a security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv: “Terrorists think they can hit civilians and hide behind civilians. We showed that we can hit the terrorist with minimal damage to civilians. Anyone who thinks they can hit our civilians and get away with it is wrong. If you hit us we will hit you.”

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said that Al-Ata was the person who tried to undermine Israel’s efforts to reach a ceasefire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “In recent days he was working to perpetrate attacks against Israel,” he said. “We tried to thwart his efforts in different ways without success and we then recommended a targeted killing.”

Kochavi added: “We are not interested in an escalation but we are ready – on the ground, in the air and at sea.”

The IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories closed the Erez and Kerem HaShalom crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and restricted the fishing zone Palestinians can enter off the coast of Gaza.

Khaled-Abu-Toameh: Hamas’s Islamic Jihad Dilemma – Analysis

The Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), whose senior commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata was killed by Israel on Tuesday, has been causing headaches not only for Israel, but also for the Egyptians and Hamas.

The assassination of al-Ata came as a surprise to PIJ leaders, who rushed to announce that their group was now at war with Israel. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip described the assassination as a “big blow” to the group and its military wing, Al-Quds Brigades.

Hamas, meanwhile, seemed to be very cautious in its response to the assassination. By Tuesday afternoon, it remained unclear whether Hamas has officially joined PIJ and other groups in firing rockets at Israel. Hamas is reluctant to engage in a new war with Israel because it knows that would mean the end of its rule, the Palestinians explained.

In recent months, al-Ata was among PIJ leaders who visited Cairo a number of times for talks with Egyptian intelligence officials on ways of preserving ceasefire understandings reached between Israel and the Gaza-based Palestinian factions earlier this year under the auspices of the Egyptians.

The invitation to Cairo came after the Egyptians realized that PIJ and its patrons in Tehran are not too pleased with the ceasefire understandings.

As part of its effort to persuade PIJ to honor the ceasefire understandings, Egypt recently released more than 80 Palestinians who were being held in Egyptian detention. At least half of the detainees were said to be members of PIJ.

Hamas let PIJ terror chief act with impunity; now it needs to control the flames

Now that Abu al-Ata has been eliminated, Hamas faces an acute dilemma. It does not want a major escalation with Israel, given that the situation in Gaza has been getting a bit better: The electricity supply has improved. The Rafah border crossing has been opened to a major influx of trade from Egypt. And Hamas’s image with the Palestinian public is improving, relative to the weakening Fatah. By means of its ongoing demonstrations, riots and confrontations with Israel at the border, Hamas has been able to achieve those slightly eased Gaza conditions where the Palestinian Authority has failed time and again.

The problem is that Islamic Jihad is most emphatically bent on responding — not only to the elimination of Abu al-Ata in Gaza but also to Tuesday’s other action, in Damascus, namely the strike on the home of another Islamic Jihad leader, Akram Ajouri. Ajouri survived, but his son was killed.

If Hamas tries to stop Islamic Jihad at this stage, before the region gets hotter still, it will be accused of collaborating with Israel. But if it allows Islamic Jihad to run wild with massive rocket fire, that is likely to lead to a harsh Israeli response, which in turn will draw in Hamas. And very quickly, Hamas and Israel will find themselves entering a major round of conflict of the kind last seen in the summer of 2014.

The rocket fire at central Israel in the course of Tuesday, needless to say, is no positive signal. It indicates that, for now at least, Hamas is allowing Islamic Jihad to fire. The question is when will Hamas be wise enough to rein the violence in. Doubtless the traditional negotiators — UN emissary Nikolay Mladenov, Qatar’s Muhammad al-Amadi, and of course Egyptian intelligence — will deepen their efforts to calm things down, looking to Hamas to be the responsible Gaza adult stopping the escalation.

But with incidents such as this, it’s always easy to understand how things start, and far harder to see how they can end.

The Gaza strike and what it means for Iran, Hamas and Gantz – Analysis

Ata has been at the top of Israel’s target bank since September, when Islamic Jihad fired rockets at Ashdod while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was addressing a rally of Likud supporters in the run-up to the election. As the rockets were making their way to Ashdod, Netanyahu’s security detail came on stage and – in front of the cameras – quickly escorted him to a nearby secure room.

It was Ata who again last Friday night launched about a dozen rockets into Israel. It was only a matter of time before Israel settled the score with him.

What happens next will depend on Islamic Jihad and Hamas. If Islamic Jihad continues to fire rockets into Israel and Hamas joins the attacks, Israel will escalate its own operation. Since the Gaza war of 2014, the IDF has accumulated an impressive list of potential targets it could strike in the event that this round of violence escalates into a major confrontation.

Then, there is Iran. Jerusalem has been on edge in recent months over the possibility that Tehran will launch an attack against Israel with cruise missiles and killer drones similar to the one that it carried out against a Saudi oil refinery two months ago. Iran’s aggression went without response from Saudi Arabia or the US, and Israel felt that the Islamic Republic might try to do something similar against the Jewish state.

What Israel showed on Tuesday is that it is not simply waiting, and is not paralyzed in fear of what Iran might do. Islamic Jihad’s primary patron is Iran, and most of its financial support comes from the ayatollahs in Tehran. Killing one of its top field commanders in Gaza and striking – allegedly – at the same time in Damascus shows that Israel is willing to take risks to keep its citizens safe.

And then there is the political situation in Israel. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz was updated about the Ata targeted killing just before it took place. He still has eight days before his mandate to form a coalition expires. If Israel embarks on a large-scale operation in Gaza, what will that mean for coalition talks? Can Gantz even negotiate with other parties while rockets are landing and airstrikes are being launched?

Israel/Gaza Escalation: Netanyahu & IDF Chief of Staff Statement

Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff AvivKochavi to nation: Israel not interested in escalation but prepared Incumbent PM Netanyahu says the Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu Al-Ata, killed in the special operation overnight in Gaza, was a ‘ticking time bomb’ situation. “This terrorist fired hundreds of rockets and planned more attacks. He was a ticking time bomb,” Netanyahu said on live television. IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi says, “We are preparing for escalation from the ground, air and sea.”

Honest Reporting: Israel Under Fire

Since the morning, a barrage of rockets has been fired from Gaza into cities all over Israel. Schools and offices around the country have been shut down and rockets have directly hit cars, homes and Israeli highways.

This is Israel’s reality.

Islamic Jihad fires rockets at Israeli civilians

Central Israel a ghost town as terrorists aim rockets at the country

The loud booms echoed as passengers disembarked from the bus to Rishon Lezion.

An interception near Israel’s fourth largest city.

The entire way, the word on everyone’s lips was “rockets.”

The Aharoni family said they were supposed to be meeting their family in the city and going to the beach, but those plans were put on hold.

People wondered out loud whether or not there would be a war.

“Maybe this time, they [the security cabinet] will show more strength with [Naftali] Bennett as defense minister,” one commuter said.
It was like a communal discussion on the bus with the driver even chiming in here and there.

Rishon Lezion’s Central Bus Station was deathly silent. Most stores inside, except the pharmacy, a bakery and grocery store, were closed.

Liberman: I wanted al-Ata killed a year ago, Netanyahu prevented it

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman claimed in an interview with Walla News that he wanted to target kill top Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata a year ago, when serving as Defense Minister, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the one who resisted and prevented it.

“I claimed a year ago that we should have looked for a targeted killing of [al-Ata], then it was the prime minister who forcefully prevented it. It doesn’t matter why, he just did – but it’s better late than never,” Liberman said.

President Reuven Rivlin and politicians from across the political spectrum came out in support of the IDF operation Tuesday morning which killed al-Ata in the Gaza Strip earlier in the day.

“We stand behind the security forces, who have been working for the success of this morning’s operations for a long time,” Rivlin said in a statement. “I know that they, and the Israeli government that approved the operation, have Israel’s security, and only that, in their minds.

“This is no time for political squabbles, and those who do so bring no credit to themselves. It is the time to stop such statements immediately. Israeli citizens – please listen to the life-saving instructions of the IDF Home Front Command and take good care of yourselves.”

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, praised the military for its successful operation and said it was the “right decision.” He added that he had been updated about the strike before it was carried out.

“Blue and White will support any justified action taken to keep Israel safe, and we place the security of our residents above politics,” Gantz said.

Two near-deadly rocket strikes in Israel during barrage

Israel came under heavy rocket fire on Tuesday morning after the Israel Air Force killed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Leader Bahaa Abu Al-Ata in an airstrike.

In the barrage of rockets, there were several near-deadly strikes, but no actual deaths.

A rocket from Gaza landed on Route 4 in Gan Yavne this morning, creating a crater in the road. No one was killed in the incident, but a bus driver caught an up-close view of the explosion and hours later said he was still shaking.

“I was on my way back to Gan Yavne and I was at the intersection,” Daniel Hazan, the bus driver, told Channel 12’s Or Ravid. Suddenly, when I was drinking my coffee, I heard the alarm and did not stop to get out of the bus – and I saw the explosion.”

“I was stressed. I didn’t know how to function,” Hazan added. “Thank G-d no one was on the bus. I drove away, I panicked. After 200 meters I stopped and I saw that the bus was hit by shrapnel: All the windows were shattered. My heart is still pounding – it’s scary. After seeing something like that with your own eyes, you feel more afraid. My body is still shaking.”

In fresh strike, Israel targets Islamic Jihad terror squad in Gaza, killing 1

An Israeli strike targeting Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists in the Gaza Strip killed one Palestinian and wounded several others on Tuesday, the coastal enclave’s health ministry and the Israeli military confirmed.

The strike in the northern Gaza Strip came amid an escalation in violence between Israel and Palestinian fighters in Gaza.

The Israeli military said it targeted two Islamic Jihad terrorists from the group’s rocket-launching unit who were posing an immediate threat. The Gaza health ministry reported one dead and several wounded.

The deceased was identified as 20-year-old Mohammed Hamouda.

Earlier Tuesday, Israel killed an Islamic Jihad commander and wounded seven in a strike in the Gaza Strip, sparking retaliatory rocket fire into Israel from the Palestinian enclave.

Islamic Jihad declares ‘We’re going to war,’ after IDF kills its strongman

Palestinian Islamic Jihad declared Tuesday that it was preparing for war with Israel after the IDF carried out a dawn assassination of one of the terror group’s senior leaders in the northern Gaza Strip.

“These terrorist crimes are aggression and a declaration of war on the Palestinian people, and the enemy bears responsibility for them,” PIJ said in a statement following Israel’s targeted killing of Baha Abu al-Ata.

“The Al-Quds Brigades [PIJ’s military wing] and the valiant resistance, which announced a mobilization [of its fighters] and started to hit back against this aggression and terrorism, will continue to forcefully and courageously defend the dignity of the Palestinian people,” it said.

According to the Al-Quds Brigades, Abu al-Ata, 42, was “one of the most prominent members of its military council and the commander of the northern part of the [Gaza Strip].”

“We are going to war. [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has crossed all the red lines in assassinating Al-Quds Brigades Commander Baha Abu al-Ata. We will respond forcefully,” PIJ Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhala told the Dar al-Hayat Arabic-language news site.

EU condemns ‘utterly unacceptable’ Gaza rocket fire on Israeli civilians

The European Union on Tuesday morning condemned as “utterly unacceptable” the barrage of more than 70 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilian populations throughout the day in retaliation for the Israeli assassination of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander earlier in the day.

“This morning, Israel conducted an operation inside Gaza targeting a senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In response, rockets were fired from Gaza on southern and central Israel,” a statement from the EU foreign service said.

“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” it added. “A rapid and complete deescalation is now necessary to safeguard the lives and security of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”

Foreign diplomats stationed in Israel on Tuesday expressed concern over the spiraling violence.

The European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, said he was “extremely concerned” about the evolving security situation. “A rapid desecalation [sic] is needed, indiscriminate rocket fire is unacceptable. Need to protect all civilians,” he wrote on his personal Twitter account.

PMW: “Death to Israel” song on Hamas TV as terrorists’ rockets strike Israel
Since the early morning, Islamic Jihad terrorists are firing rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilian targets.

Since the early morning, Islamic Jihad terrorists have been firing rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilian targets following Israel’s assassination of senior commander of the Islamic Jihad terror organization in Gaza, Baha Abu Al-Ata. The leader of the Iran-backed terror group was responsible for most of the organization’s terror activity and planned numerous rocket, sniper, drone, and other attacks against Israel.

To show its support for terror against Israel, Hamas’ TV station Al-Aqsa has rebroadcast this song several times today that repeatedly calls for “death to Israel.” The words “DEATH TO ISRAEL” flash on the screen in Hebrew while footage from previous terror attacks and funerals of Israeli terror victims are shown:
Song: “Expel the thieving occupier from the enraged land of Jerusalem,
Rid your house of that one, that Zionist in his humiliation,
Write ‘death, death, death to Israel’ with flowing blood,
And with the bleeding body cause death, death, death to Israel”

Text on screen in Hebrew: “Death to Israel”

Hamas leader Nizar Rayan: “[Remember] Khaibar, Khaibar, O Jews. The soldiers of Muhammad have started to return.”

Visuals: Funeral of Israeli terror victims

Song: “Be red death. Have no mercy on the army of aggression that wears the clothes of the soldier and the settler.”
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), Nov. 12, 2018, March 25 and Nov. 12, 2019]

BBC News avoids the word terror in report on strike on terrorist

Similar wording opened subsequent versions of the article.

Although the information was publicly available by the time the BBC published its report, it did not bother to inform audiences that the PIJ leader “was in the midst of launching a series of attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF troops, including preparations for sniper and kidnapping attacks, killer drone attacks, and preparations for rocket fire throughout Israel”.

BBC audiences of course have never heard of Baha Abu al-Ata was or his terror activities. Following a barrage of rocket attacks by the PIJ on November 1st (which was completely ignored by the BBC), the veteran analyst Avi Issacharoff explained the situation thus:

‘One Doesn’t Cancel a Wedding!’ (Even Under Rocket Fire)

“If you live in southern Israel and were supposed to get married this evening, we are going to be at the “Telya” wedding hall (at Kibbutz Yitzhak, near Even Yehuda), and we invite you to move your wedding to our place tonight.”

The above invitation was written by Moran and Yaniv at the initiation and encouragement of Eitan Sapir, owner of Telya, who says he woke up Tuesday morning to the news of rocket fire in the south and the Red Alert warnings even in Tel Aviv, and realized there would likely be cancellations of weddings by nightfall.

“And that’s not okay,” Sapir said in a telephone interview with JewishPress.com. So I spoke with Moran and Yaniv — they are a wonderful couple, generous, sensitive, very special — and we talked about how we could help those who are facing the terror even on their happiest day.”

Together, the couple and Sapir decided to extend an offer to double the celebration planned for their night, writing on social media, “We are prepared to host an additional wedding and to celebrate with everyone together with the brotherhood and love that has always existed among us in the nation of Israel.

Jordan says it thwarted terror plot against US, Israeli diplomats

Jordanian intelligence foiled a plot by two Islamic State suspects to attack US and Israeli diplomats, as well as US troops at a base in the south of the country, the state-owned al-Rai newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Two suspects, said to be in their 30s and 40s, allegedly planned to ram vehicles into targets, as well as using firearms and knives.

They intended to attack Israeli and US diplomats, and American troops stationed at a base in Jafr, in the south of the country, the report said.

According to indictments filed at the State Security Court, the defendants became adherents of IS ideology and its radical interpretation of Islam after following news reports about the terror group and reading its press releases on the social network site Telegram. The pair also allegedly tried to recruit family and friends into IS.

Over the past year they decided to follow former Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s calls for attacks on targets around the world, prosecutors say, according to the report. They then allegedly obtained money to purchase the vehicles and weapons they planned to use in the attacks.

The trial opened Sunday with both defendants pleading not guilty.

The Palestinian Christmas Show

“The Palestinian Authority has been offering us money to remain silent. They are trying to bribe us so we would remain silent about the crimes of the police.” — Marian al-Hajal, video on Facebook, October 2019.

“We want a civil and humane state based on the rule of law and justice.” — Palestinian Professor Jamal Harfoush, who currently lives in Latin America.

As far as Marian is concerned, the PA police version is nothing but an attempt to cover up for their criminal behavior. She and many Christians want the world to know, particularly on the eve of Christmas, that Christians have become easy prey under the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

As far as PA President Mahmoud Abbas is concerned, it is business as usual. The cries of the Christian family in Bet Jala seem entirely lost on him…. Abbas may be worried about the future of the hefty funding he gets from Christian countries and organizations, if they find out what his police did…. What he seeks is to continue ensuring the success of the Palestinian lie that Christians are fleeing because of Israel.

Will the international community and press continue to swallow — as they have done year after year — the diet of lies that the PA leaders and spokesmen feed them?

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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