Residents call on IDF to provide 'true peace and true calm'

After two days of rockets, army announces ‘return to normalcy’ in south

As a reported ceasefire appears to take hold, Home Front Command says schools, businesses to reopen Wednesday in communities near Gaza

IDF forces seen gathering near the border with Gaza in southern Israel on November 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
IDF forces seen gathering near the border with Gaza in southern Israel on November 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The IDF Home Front Command on Tuesday night removed all restrictions on residents of southern Israel, the army said, declaring a “return to normalcy” as an uneasy reported ceasefire with the Hamas terror group appeared to hold after two days of rocket fire.

Schools will be reopened on Wednesday, as will all businesses and government offices. Farmers will again be allowed to work in their fields.

In a statement to residents, the head of the Eshkol regional council Gadi Yarkoni said: “We’ve had a difficult two days. Two days which are a continuation of life in the shadow of terrorism and a pendulum swinging between emergency and normalcy for eight months straight.”

He said he expected Israeli leaders and the army to “give us true peace and true calm” which would allow the communities to thrive.

“We cannot accept the continued hopeless reality of life under the threat of terrorism that includes fires, balloons and rockets.”

Palestinians walk amidst rubble of a building that was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 13, 2018. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Earlier hundreds of people demonstrated at the entrance to the town of Sderot over Israel’s reported agreement for a ceasefire with Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers, after a 25-hour period that saw over 460 rockets fired at Israeli communities near the Palestinian enclave.

Protesters blocked roads and burning tires, with some chanting, “Bibi go home,” using a nickname for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Confrontations were reported between protesters and policemen.

According to Hadashot TV news, some southern residents planned further demonstrations and road blockages in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to protest the truce.

Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay expressed support for the protesters, saying it was a “justified” response to the government “forsaking” them.

He said the government had failed the south by “neglecting” the issue of Gaza since the 2014 war. “This is not the time for another fragile truce,” he said. “This is the time for a true diplomatic initiative in Gaza, that will lean on the recommendations of the security establishment.”

The scene inside an Ashkelon apartment where a man was killed by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip which hit the building, November 13, 2018. (Times of Israel)

Hamas and other Gaza terror groups said Tuesday they had accepted an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire with Israel. Terms of the deal were not immediately known, and there was no immediate comment from Israel. But a senior Israeli diplomatic official appeared to confirm the reported armistice.

“Israel maintains its right to act. Requests from Hamas for a ceasefire came through four different mediators. Israel responded that the events on the ground will decide [if a ceasefire will go into effect],” the official said, on condition of anonymity.

According to the military, over 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of 25 hours on Monday and Tuesday. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens more, and causing significant property damage.

In response to the rocket and mortar attacks, the Israeli military said it targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, including four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”

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