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Tense quiet in Gaza border towns after overnight strikes inside enclave

US hints it won’t back Security Council resolution calling for truce * Fight in Congress over response to violence intensifies * ADL offers reward for info on LA antisemitic attack

  • Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces carry out strikes on the Palestinian enclave, early on May 18, 2021. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
    Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces carry out strikes on the Palestinian enclave, early on May 18, 2021. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
  • A woman and child take cover as a siren sounds a warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza strip in the city of Ashkelon, southern Israel, on May 19, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    A woman and child take cover as a siren sounds a warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza strip in the city of Ashkelon, southern Israel, on May 19, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he shows a slideshow during a briefing to ambassadors to Israel in Tel Aviv on May 19, 2021 (Sebastian Scheiner / POOL / AFP)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he shows a slideshow during a briefing to ambassadors to Israel in Tel Aviv on May 19, 2021 (Sebastian Scheiner / POOL / AFP)
  • The Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interceptor missiles at rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel, in the southern city of Ashkelon, May 19, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    The Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interceptor missiles at rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel, in the southern city of Ashkelon, May 19, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • Israelis take shelter in the stairwell of their apartment building as a siren sounds a warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, In Ashdod, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
    Israelis take shelter in the stairwell of their apartment building as a siren sounds a warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, In Ashdod, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
  • Border Police patrol the streets of the central city of Lod after last week's riots. May 19, 2021 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
    Border Police patrol the streets of the central city of Lod after last week's riots. May 19, 2021 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
  • Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 19, 2021 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
    Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 19, 2021 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
  • A woman walks through burnt rubble in Lod on May 19, 2021, as clean-up and rebuilding begin in the central city following riots a week earlier. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
    A woman walks through burnt rubble in Lod on May 19, 2021, as clean-up and rebuilding begin in the central city following riots a week earlier. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
  • Israeli soldiers direct Merkava tanks to firing positions during shelling towards the Gaza Strip, along the border with the Palestinian enclave on May 19, 2021 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    Israeli soldiers direct Merkava tanks to firing positions during shelling towards the Gaza Strip, along the border with the Palestinian enclave on May 19, 2021 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • People inspect rubble of a destroyed building that was hit by an Israeli airstrike early morning, in Gaza City, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
    People inspect rubble of a destroyed building that was hit by an Israeli airstrike early morning, in Gaza City, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
  • A Palestinian child, who was wounded in overnight Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, receives treatment at Al-Shifa Hospital in the Palestinian enclave on May 19, 2021 (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
    A Palestinian child, who was wounded in overnight Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, receives treatment at Al-Shifa Hospital in the Palestinian enclave on May 19, 2021 (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
  • Security forces at the scene where a fragment of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, on May 19, 2021 (Flash90)
    Security forces at the scene where a fragment of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, on May 19, 2021 (Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened. For a recap of Tuesday’s news, click here.

IDF says it dropped 122 bombs last night on Hamas tunnel network

IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman says the military last night carried out another phase in the systematic targeting of Hamas’s network of tunnels in the Gaza Strip.

Zilberman tells reporters that around 10 p.m., 52 Air Force planes dropped 122 bombs in 25 minutes on some 40 underground targets that are part of the so-called “metro” spanning 12 kilometers of tunnels. The targets included weapons storage sites and a command center.

He estimates that at least 10 members of terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were killed.

He says the strikes were concentrated in Khan Younis and Rafah in the southern Strip, from where most of the rockets have been launched at Israeli cities.

Regarding Hamas’s claim that it has been targeting Air Force bases, Zilberman says: “They’re trying, but not hitting.”

IDF says 50 rockets launched in past 12 hours; 10 landed inside Gaza

The military says some 50 rockets have been launched by terrorists in the Gaza Strip over the last 12 hours.

Around 10 of the projectiles landed inside the Strip, the IDF adds.

IDF confirms it tried, failed to kill Muhammad Deif, other top Hamas officials

Hamas military wing commander Muhammad Deif (courtesy)
Hamas military wing commander Muhammad Deif (courtesy)

The IDF officially confirms that it has tried to kill Hamas military chief Muhammad Deif twice since the current fighting erupted last week, and that he escaped unscathed both times.

The military adds that it has targeted at least seven other top Hamas members, some of whom were injured but all of whom survived.

Minister Yoav Gallant, a former IDF general and a member of the security cabinet, tells Army Radio that while Israel has missed several opportunities over the years to assassinate Deif, “the man deserves to die and we will eventually bring him where he belongs.”

US official: Israel must end Gaza campaign for fear of harming Gulf ties

The Kan public broadcaster cites a US official saying Israel must prepare to end its operation in Gaza for fear of harming its relations with the Gulf states it normalized ties with last year — the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — as well as Jordan and Egypt.

The official says Washington also fears a potential incident that could escalate the situation and cause a renewed intense flare-up.

The news comes after reports have indicated a ceasefire will enter effect tomorrow. Both Israel and Hamas have denied signing an official deal.

Hamas sources say IDF claim of attempted hit on Deif is ‘psychological warfare’

Sources in Hamas’s military wing deny Israel’s claim that terror chief Muhammad Deif was last week twice the target of of an IDF assassination attempt.

Gazan journalist Ibrahim al-Madhoun, who is said to be close to Hamas military leaders, cites the sources as saying Deif “is continuing to direct the fighting with complete control.”

“The publication of the attempted assassination is meant for psychological warfare,” they claim, adding that they are “an attempt to repair [IDF Chief of Staff Aviv] Kohavi’s failing image.”

IDF destroys tunnels used to kill, snatch body of soldier Hadar Goldin in 2014 — report

According to the Walla news site, among the Hamas tunnels destroyed last night by the IDF is the specific infrastructure through which the terror group attacked, killed and kidnapped the body of soldier Hadar Goldin during the 2014 fighting.

Goldin’s body is still believed to be held in Gaza for the purpose of a prisoner exchange.

Fire in Petah Tikva building, with several people said trapped

A blaze is raging at a residential building in Petah Tikva, with authorities aware of several people trapped in apartments.

Five fire and rescue teams are operating at the scene.

There are no known casualties.

IDF bombs PIJ weapons manufacturing site in central Gaza

After a series of nighttime strikes in Gaza, the IDF says is conducted another air raid a short while ago that targeted a Palestinian Islamic Jihad weapons manufacturing site.

The military says the bombed site is in Deir el-Balah in the central Strip.

After lull, rocket alarms sound in communities near Gaza

Rocket sirens are heard in Gaza-adjacent communities after a lull of several hours.

There are no immediate reports of impacts or casualties.

IDF launches warning strike at Gaza high-rise, destroying top floor

Palestinian media reports that the IDF has launched a warning strike at a high-rise building in the Al-Karama area of Gaza, ahead of its likely destruction.

According to photos published online, the warning strike has wiped out the top floor of the building, which is now being evacuated.

Hamas health ministry says 219 Gazans killed in current conflict

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says 219 Gazans have been killed since the current fighting began last week.

The ministry says 63 of the dead are minors. It says 1,530 people have been wounded.

Israel has said at least 150 of the fatalities are members of Palestinian terror groups, and that many of the civilian casualties are the result of hundreds of errant Hamas rockets that landed inside the Strip, failing to make it into Israel.

Germany bans three groups close to Hezbollah

The German government says it is banning three groups close to Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, against the backdrop of the current military escalation in the Middle East.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer “has banned three groups that are financing the terrorist organization Hezbollah,” his spokesman writes in a tweet.

“Whoever supports terror will not be safe in Germany… They will find no refuge in our country.”

The interior ministry says searches are currently underway in a number of different regional states in Germany.

According to German media reports, the operations have been carried in the states of Hamburg, Bremen, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein.

Hezbollah is designated a terrorist group by Israel and much of the West.

Israel accuses Chinese state TV of antisemitism over comment on ‘influence of wealthy Jews in the US’

Israel’s Embassy in China is protesting what it describes as “blatant anti-Semitism” on a program ran by the overseas channel of state broadcaster CCTV discussing the ongoing violence in Gaza and elsewhere.

In a tweet, the embassy says “we have hoped that the times of the ‘Jew’s controlling the world’ conspiracy theories were over, unfortunately anti-Semitism has shown its ugly face again.”

“We are appalled to see blatant anti-Semitism expressed in an official Chinese media outlet,” the tweet says.

Spokesperson Erez Katz Volovelsky says the embassy has nothing to add to its tweet and has so far received no reply from CGTN, which CCTV operates for foreign audiences, similar to Russia’s RT.

On the CGTN broadcast yesterday, host Zheng Junfeng questioned whether US support for Israel is truly based on shared democratic values, saying “some people believe that US pro-Israeli policy is traceable to the influence of wealthy Jews in the US and the Jewish lobby on US foreign policy makers.”

“Jews dominate finance and internet sectors,” Zheng said, speaking in English. “So do they have the powerful lobbies some say? Possible.”

Zheng then accused the US — China’s top geopolitical rival — of using Israel as a “beachhead” in the Middle East and as a proxy in its campaign to defeat pan-Arabism.

There is no immediate comment from CCTV.

Rockets damage homes in Eshkol region; no casualties

In the latest barrage of rockets from Gaza, seven projectiles land inside a community in the Eshkol region,

There is damage to homes, but no injuries.

Likud minister says ‘no way to avoid temporarily taking over Gaza’ to disarm Hamas

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, says that in his view, there “will be no way to avoid temporarily taking over Gaza” to disarm the Hamas terror group.

“Nobody will disarm Hamas unless we do it by force,” Steinitz tells the Ynet news site, suggesting what would be a significant escalation of the conflict.

Steinitz acknowledges that others in the government don’t share that view.

“That idea comes with heavy costs; that’s why I understand those who think differently from me,” he adds.

Steinitz says he favors a unilateral ceasefire over a deal with Hamas.

Turkey rejects US claims of Erdogan’s antisemitism

Turkey rejects accusations by the United States that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made “anti-Semitic” remarks in his criticism of Israeli strikes in Gaza, his party’s spokesman says.

“Accusing our president of anti-Semitism is an illogical and untrue approach. This is a lie said about our president,” Omer Celik tweets.

Jewish Agency chief Isaac Herzog announces candidacy for president

Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, February 18, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, February 18, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Jewish Agency chairman and former Labor Party chief Isaac Herzog formally announces his candidacy to become Israel’s next president, ahead of a midnight deadline.

Herzog, whose father Chaim was president, is considered the frontrunner to replace Reuven Rivlin. He will present the necessary signatures of at least 10 lawmakers later today. The vote for the next president will be held among Knesset members on June 2 in a secret ballot.

Herzog says he has taken unpaid leave from the Jewish Agency until after the presidential election.

“My personal family history and years-long public experience have taught me to never take the miracle of the existence of the State of Israel for granted,” Herzog says in a statement.

Rocket alarms sound in Ashkelon

Rocket alarms sound in Ashkelon and in some Gaza-adjacent communities.

There are no immediate reports of impacts or injuries.

Netanyahu briefs 70 foreign diplomats, saying Israel wants end to fighting

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a briefing alongside Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi for over 70 foreign diplomats and ambassadors, saying Israel is trying to “achieve a state of deterrence against Hamas to bring an end to the fighting” but hasn’t ruled out “other options” which he says include conquering Gaza.

The briefing at Tel Aviv’s Kirya military headquarters is attended by diplomats from the United States, the European Union, Russia, China, India, Germany, Austria, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Canada, Italy and other countries.

Netanyahu also says that the origin of the current conflict is the cancellation of the Palestinian elections.

“Hamas used the events of Jerusalem Day and the situation in Sheikh Jarrah to serve its own political interest,” he says, adding that Israel is “doing everything” to minimize civilian casualties.

Israel assessing if conditions right for ceasefire — military source

Israel is assessing whether conditions are right to halt its military campaign against Palestinian terrorists in Gaza but is preparing for “more days” of airstrikes if necessary, an Israeli military source says.

“We are looking at when is the right moment for a ceasefire,” says the source on condition of anonymity.

The source adds that Israel is evaluating whether its objective of degrading the capabilities of Gaza’s Hamas rulers has been achieved and “whether Hamas understands the message” that its rocket barrages toward Israel cannot recur.

Netanyahu: No timeframe for end of Gaza fighting, ‘we’re not standing with a stopwatch’

Briefing foreign diplomats on the efforts to end the fighting in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says: “We’re not standing with a stopwatch. We are taking care of the operation’s objectives.”

No timeframe can be announced for an end to the armed conflict, Netanyahu says.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also speaks, saying that the recently announced International Criminal Court war crimes investigation against the Jewish state will prevent Israel from advancing trust-building steps with the Palestinians.

After 2 workers killed by rocket from Gaza, Thai envoy expresses safety concerns

During a briefing for foreign diplomats, Thailand’s ambassador to Israel tells Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi she is concerned that Thai agriculture workers in fields near Gaza feel unsafe and vulnerable to Hamas rockets.

Two Thai nationals were killed yesterday in a direct hit to a packing house in a community close to the border. Eight others were injured.

The foreign nationals were working in an area without proper fortifications, local government officials said. Alarms don’t always sound there.

Netanyahu replies that he will deal with the matter.

IDF strikes terrorists attempting to launch rockets into Israel

The Israeli military says it struck four Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists attempting to launch rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Activist Miriam Peretz officially announces her candidacy for president

Activist Miriam Peretz has officially announced her candidacy for Israel’s president.

Peretz is a recipient of the 2018 Israel Prize. She lost two of her sons during their IDF combat services.

If elected, Peretz would be Israel’s first woman to serve as president.

Israel Prize winner Miriam Peretz speaks at the Jewish federation’s annual General Assembly in Tel Aviv, on October 23, 2018. (Miriam Alster/ FLASH90)

Israel says Palestinian family of 8 was killed by failed rocket, not airstrike

Israeli military officials say a mysterious explosion that killed eight members of a Palestinian family on the first day of the current round of fighting in the Gaza Strip was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, says the rocket was launched in Gaza and fell inside Gaza and killed “almost an entire family.” Conricus adds that “this wasn’t an Israeli attack.”

Palestinian mourners gather around bodies of members of the Abu Hatab and al-Hadidi families during a funeral procession in Gaza city, on May 15, 2021 (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

A senior military officer says the incident was investigated, and Israel did not strike the Beit Hanoun area where the family members were killed that night.

The officer says a total of 700 rockets — roughly one-fifth of the total launched by Palestinian militants — failed to reach Israel and landed inside Gaza. He provides no further estimates on how many Palestinians have been harmed by errant rocket fire. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity under military briefing guidelines.

Energy Ministry issues recommendations for reaching 2030 renewable energy target

The Energy Ministry publishes for public comment a string of recommendations to enable planning bodies, the Israel Lands Authority, the electricity sector and others to ensure that Israel reaches its 2030 target of generating 30 percent of energy from renewable sources.

The fruit of work by five inter-ministerial work teams, it specifies the need for regulation changes and proposes expanding exemptions from building permits for the installation of solar panels.

The environmental advocacy organization Adam Teva V’Din criticizes the Energy Ministry for its “outdated targets,” noting the Ministry of Environmental Protection has already presented a plan with a target of 46% renewables on the basis of installing panels on roofs and dual-use facilities.

IDF strikes Hamas outpost with tunnel entrance shaft

The IDF says it struck a Gaza outpost with an entrance shaft to a tunnel dug by the Hamas terror group.

EU to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travelers

EU member states agree to reopen the bloc’s borders to travelers who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, European sources say.

Meeting in Brussels, diplomats also agree to increase the level of new cases a country can hit before being declared unsafe — a measure that would open up travel into the EU from more places.

The recommendations will be adopted by EU ministers on Friday, they say. An EU Commission spokesman confirms that the envoys endorsed the update to travel rules.

A waiter serves breakfast at the terrace of Paris’s landmark Cafe de Flore on May 19, 2021, as restaurant and bar terraces reopen (Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

Since March 2020, non-essential travel into the 27-member European Union has been banned, apart from a small number of countries deemed safe because of their low Covid case rate.

PA chief says Israel carrying out ‘state terrorism, war crimes’ in Gaza

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says Israel is carrying out “organized state terrorism and war crimes” in Gaza that are punishable under international law.

In a televised address, he says the Palestinians “will not hesitate to pursue those who commit such crimes in front of international courts.”

Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court launched an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian terror groups during the last Gaza war, in 2014. It has expressed concern about the latest round of fighting.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2020. (Flash90)

Abbas accuses Israel of “brutal attacks on civilians and deliberate bombardment of homes.” Israel says it only strikes terror targets and makes every effort to avoid harming civilians, including by warning people ahead of some strikes.

YouTube removes Israeli ads showing attacks on Israel, citing violent imagery

YouTube has removed Israeli government-sponsored ads on its platform that showed the results of Hamas’s attacks on Israel and stated that “Israel will protect its citizens against Hamas terrorism.”

The platform says the 15-second ads did not comply with its advertising policies.

“We have a company policy prohibiting advertisements with offensive content, including images of violence,” it says.

Fresh rocket barrage targets Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba, Rehovot

A fresh rocket barrage is launched against the south from Gaza, targeting Beersheba, Rehovot, Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Several rockets are said to hit Ashdod and Ashkelon. There are no reports of casualties so far.

More rockets hit southern Israel; some spark fires

Several fires have erupted in southern Israel as a result of rocket strikes, firefighters say. Teams are working to douse the flames.

Fresh rocket sirens sound in Israeli communities north of the Gaza Strip, around the town of Kiryat Malachi.

This appears to be the latest in a series of rocket barrages targeting southern and central Israel over the past half-hour.

Pro-Palestinian hooligans said to attack Jews in Los Angeles

Israelis living in Los Angeles say they were assaulted by pro-Palestinian hooligans last night while dining at a restaurant in the city.

Haim Yisraeli tells Channel 12 dozens of people waving Palestinian flags badly beat diners after asking “who is Jewish.”

“I’ve lived here nearly 10 years and I don’t remember such an incident of violence toward Israelis.”

Aid shipments to Gaza halted due to mortar fire from Strip

Shipments of humanitarian aid bound for the Gaza Strip were again halted today after terrorists in the enclave fired mortar shells at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians says.

The humanitarian aid had been donated by Jordan and included medical equipment for a hospital sponsored by Amman in the Strip, according to the military liaison, known formally as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

While trucks were going through the crossing into beleaguered Gaza, at least three mortar shells were fired toward the terminal “and it was decided to halt the entrance of shipments until further notice,” COGAT says.

File: Israeli trucks carrying diesel fuel enter the Kerem Shalom crossing on the Israel-Gaza border, October 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Israel shuttered the Kerem Shalom Crossing, the main passage for goods into Gaza, last Monday with the outbreak of fighting. It reopened temporarily on Tuesday but was closed again after rockets were fired both at Kerem Shalom and at the Erez Pedestrian Crossing, injuring a soldier assisting in the transfer.

“The terrorist activities of Hamas, which conducted launches, again and again, at shipments carrying civilian aid and medical equipment to the Strip first and foremost harms the residents of the enclave,” COGAT says.

Soldiers living in conflict towns allowed to travel out of uniform

Some soldiers living in towns that have seen Arab violence over the past week were allowed to travel to and from their places of service in civilian clothing, the army confirms.

The soldiers feared being attacked while en route to their bases.

 

Sirens sound in cities in Haifa area as rockets fired from Lebanon

In this file photo taken on May 14, 2021, supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah lift its flags (C) alongside those of Iran (L) and Palestine, during an anti-Israel protest in the southern Khiam area by the border with Israel, facing the northern Israeli town of Metula (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)
In this file photo taken on May 14, 2021, supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah lift its flags (C) alongside those of Iran (L) and Palestine, during an anti-Israel protest in the southern Khiam area by the border with Israel, facing the northern Israeli town of Metula (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)

Sirens have sounded in cities in Israel’s north, in the area of Haifa and its surroundings, including Shfaram, Acre and the Krayot region.

The Israeli military says four rockets were fired from Lebanon.

According to the IDF, one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, one landed in an open field and two landed in the Mediterranean Sea off Israel’s coast.

No direct injuries have been reported following the rocket attack, medics say.

Two people are lightly injured after they fell while running to bomb shelters, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

Residents of the area reported hearing the sounds of explosions in the air, likely indicating interceptions by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

During the past week of combat between Israel and Gaza there have been two other cases in which rockets were fired at the north from Lebanon and one case of rockets from Syria. The rockets fired from Lebanon fell in the sea and in Lebanese territory.

Israel believes such attacks were launched by Palestinian groups.

 

Israeli military firing at source of rocket attacks in Lebanon

The Israel Defense Forces is shelling the area from which four rockets were fired toward northern Israel from Lebanon, the military says.

The IDF says artillery cannons are striking “a number of targets in Lebanese territory.”

According to Channel 12 artillery is being fired on the outskirts of the village of Seddiqine.

TV: Security officials believe Palestinian groups in Lebanon fired rockets

Security officials believe Hezbollah was not involved in the latest rocket fire at Israel, Channel 12 reports.

Rather, Palestinian groups in Lebanon are believed to be behind the attack.

Biden tells Netanyahu he ‘expects significant de-escalation today’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and US President Joe Biden (R). (Flash90/AP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and US President Joe Biden (R). (Flash90/AP)

In a new phone call with Prime Minister Netanyahu today, US President Joe Biden tells the Israeli leader that he expects “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,” according to a White House readout.

“The two leaders had a detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States,” the readout says.

“The President conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.”

Photos of the two Thai victims of yesterday’s rocket attack

Kan news posts photos of the Thai victims of yesterday’s rocket attack in the south, Weerawat Karanborirak, 44, and Sikharin Sangamram, 24.

IDF says it struck Gaza apartment used by Hamas’s cyberwarfare effort

The IDF says it struck a Gaza apartment overnight used by Hamas’s cyberwarfare effort.

They say three operatives were inside at the time, and that the location had been used for cyber attacks against Israeli targets.

Palestinian woman opens fire at troops near Kiryat Arba, is shot dead

A Palestinian woman who opened fire at Israeli soldiers outside the settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, was shot dead by troops.

The assailant pulled out an M-16 and opened fire at the soldiers before being shot.

No Israelis were hurt.

German FM heading to Israel, Palestinian territories for talks

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories for talks tomorrow on the escalating conflict in the Middle East, a ministry spokeswoman says.

“The political talks will focus on the current escalation in the Middle East and the international efforts to end the violence,” the spokeswoman says.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks at the foreign ministry in Berlin, on February 24, 2021 (Michael Sohn/Pool/AFP)

Maas will meet Israel’s foreign and defense ministers as well as President Reuven Rivlin. He will also travel to the city of Ramallah to hold talks with the Palestinian premier.

The visit would be the first by a senior European official to Jerusalem over the latest escalation of violence in the Middle East.

Gantz tells US defense secretary IDF making ‘significant gains’ every day

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks to his US counterpart Lloyd Austin about the latest developments in Gaza fighting.

Gantz told Austin that “with every passing day the IDF is achieving significant gains” against Hamas, according to his office.

In this file photo taken on March 20, 2021 US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin addresses a joint media briefing held in New Delhi. – US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Israel, Germany, Britain and the NATO headquarters in Belgium in the coming week for talks with government and military leaders, the Pentagon announced April 8, 2021. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP)

He also says Israel “will act responsibly both on the security and diplomatic fronts with moderates in the region.”

He thanks him for the American support for Israel.

Woman suffers cardiac arrest while running to shelter in north

A woman suffered cardiac arrest earlier while running to shelter during the rocket attack from Lebanon.

The 43-year-old is in serious condition. Paramedics treated her to restore her pulse and rushed her to hospital.

Nikki Haley criticizes Biden’s call for Israel to de-escalate

Former US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley is criticizing President Joe Biden for pressuring Israel to de-escalate in Gaza,

“It would be unacceptable if one of our allies called for de-escalation if Washington DC were targeted by rockets,” she tweets. “We must stand with Israel against terrorism.”

Lebanon FM quits over Saudi row on TV

Lebanon foreign minister Charbel Wehbe steps down and is swiftly replaced after comments he made irked Saudi Arabia, as cash-strapped Beirut scrambles to avoid a diplomatic fallout with the wealthy Gulf state.

Wehbe said in a televised debate on Monday that the Islamic State group’s rise in the region had been engineered by Gulf states, prompting Lebanese ambassadors in several countries to be summoned.

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Charble Wehbe, speaks to journalists in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, May 19, 2021 (Dalati Nohra via AP)

Lebanon’s leaders have since tried to put out the fire and the 67-year-old announced in a brief statement after meeting President Michel Aoun that he had asked “to be relieved of his duties.”

Hours later, Aoun appointed defense minister Zeina Akar as Wehbe’s replacement, the presidency says in a statement. Aoun asked Akkar — who is also deputy prime minister — “to proceed with her duties as acting foreign minister” as well as her original portfolio.

On social media, Netanyahu depicted as Hitler and other hate

Channel 12 news reports on some disturbing imagery and comments on social media, as platforms are used to spread hatred during the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

One Instagram user has uploaded pictures of Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden as Adolf Hitler, with a Star of David made to resemble the Nazi swastika.

A CNN freelancer was fired by the network in recent days after tweeting that “The world today needs a Hitler.”

He later said: “Glad a single tweet contributed to the #Palestine cause and brought it to limelight with me [losing] my job and the West’s claim of Freedom of expression and human rights!”

Army plans to demolish home of suspected killer of yeshiva student

The military says it will demolish the home of the suspected terrorist in the shooting attack that killed 19-year-old student Yehuda Guetta earlier this month.

Guetta was shot along with two others in a drive-by shooting attack at Tapuah Junction in the West Bank. All three were studying in a yeshiva in the nearby settlement of Itamar.

Yehuda Guetta, 19, was killed in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank (courtesy)

Security forces have arrested Muntasir Shalabi, 47, and have accused him of carrying out the attack.

Shalabi’s family has been informed of the intention to demolish their home in Turmus Ayya. They now have the option to try and appeal the demolition.

Gaza health officials say 227 Palestinians killed during conflict

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reports that 227 Palestinians, including 64 minors, have been killed in the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

Israel asserts many of those killed are terror operatives, and that some were killed by failed attempts to launch rockets at Israel.

The Gaza health ministry also says 1,620 Palestinians have been injured at various levels of severity.

Hamas has tried to send commandos into Israel — army official

The Hamas terror group has tried at least three times to send its commando soldiers into Israel from the Gaza Strip through tunnels that come up to — but do not cross — the border during the current round of fighting, a senior officer in the military’s Southern Command tells reporters.

Israel has prevented all three of these infiltration attempts, twice bombing the tunnels while the Hamas operatives were inside near the Gazan city of Khan Younis and once attacking them before they entered the subterranean passage, the officer says, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israel Defense Forces artillery fires toward the Gaza Strip on May 18, 2021, amid fighting between the IDF and the coastal enclave’s Hamas rulers. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces believes that Hamas is looking to carry out some kind of cross-border attack or other major assault, which it can hold up as a victory over Israel, the Southern Command officer says.

The senior officer says he believes the military’s intelligence capabilities are good enough that the terror group would not be able to conduct a large invasion into Israel without the IDF finding out about it in advance and preventing it, but warns that a smaller operation may be possible.

“I don’t think Hamas can do a major surprise ground operation, but it could do a raid,” he says.

After Biden comments, Netanyahu says determined to continue Gaza op

Netanyahu says that “every day we are hitting more capabilities of the terror organizations, bringing down more terror towers, hitting more weapons caches.”

He does not comment on US President Joe Biden telling him to move towards de-escalation, as per the White House.

He says only that he greatly appreciates Biden’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself, and adds: “I am determined to continue this operation until its goal is achieved — to bring back peace and security to you, the citizens of Israel.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the official state ceremony for Jerusalem Day on Ammunition Hill, May 10, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Hundreds take part in rally for coexistence outside Jerusalem’s Old City

Hundreds of people took part earlier in a rally for Jewish-Arab coexistence along the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

People take part in a rally for peace outside Jerusalem’s Old City, on May 19, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

Miriam Peretz formally submits candidacy for president; Glick withdraws

Miriam Peretz formally submits her candidacy for president.

“Fate ordained that the Knesset’s timetable necessitates me to submit my candidacy today, while rockets sound in the background,” she writes on Facebook.

“But it is just at this time, when our country is riven and divided, that we need unity.” She promises to be a uniting president who will bring Israelis closer together.

Meanwhile, former Likud MK Yehuda Glick, considered a longshot candidate, has withdrawn from the race.

Likud party MK Yehudah Glick in Tel Aviv, September 6, 2018. (Gili Yaari/FLASH90)

IDF to limit number of soldiers allowed to travel out of uniform

The Israel Defense Forces announces that it will be limiting the number of soldiers who are allowed to travel to and from their bases out of uniform, following criticism for the practice.

In light of recent attacks by mobs of Arab Israelis against Jewish Israelis in mixed cities, including one in Jaffa in which an IDF soldier was seriously wounded, growing numbers of soldiers from such cities were permitted to travel in civilian clothing.

Israeli soldiers at a staging area near the Israeli border with Gaza, May 16, 2021 (Avi Roccah/Flash90)

The head of IDF Operations Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva says he is severely restricting the practice, allowing only officers of the rank of colonel and above to give such permission “on a case-by-case basis only,” the military says.

In addition, soldiers with basic infantry training will be permitted to bring service weapons home with them for weekend leave once they’ve received instruction from an officer ranked lieutenant colonel and above.

Gaza terrorists fire some 230 rockets and mortar shells at Israel over 12 hours

Palestinian terrorists fired some 230 rockets and mortar shells from the Gaza Strip toward Israel over the past 12 hours, the Israel Defense Forces says.

Of these, 30 failed to clear the border and landed within Gaza territory, according to the military.

Soldiers operating the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted roughly 90 percent of the incoming projectiles heading toward populated areas, the IDF says.

One person, an IDF soldier, has been injured by rocket fire today, sustaining shrapnel wounds to his arm, and at least 11 more were light injured while running to bomb shelters, medics say.

Security forces at the scene where a fragment of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the southern city of Ashdod, on May 19, 2021 (Flash90)

Rocket fired from Gaza hits home in Sderot; no reports of casualties

A rocket fired from Gaza hits a home in Sderot.

There are no immediate reports of casualties.

Israel blasts UNRWA for claiming it’s blocking aid to Gaza: ‘Simply a lie’

After the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, accused Israel of preventing humanitarian aid from entering the Gaza Strip, the Foreign Ministry lashes out.

“During the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza yesterday, via Kerem Shalom crossing, Hamas deliberately bombed the crossing, resulting in the death of two civilians, and over 10 injured, including an IDF soldier,” it says. “Today, yet again, Hamas’s barrage of mortars halted the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

A truck passes into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering the Strip from Israel on May 18, 2021. (Said Khatib/AFP)

“UNRWA’s claim that Israel is preventing humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza is a cynical misrepresentation and simply a lie,” it says. “This is not the first time UNRWA has chosen to twist the facts and misrepresent events, for the sole purpose of blaming Israel… Israel will continue its efforts to coordinate the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza, taking into account security considerations.”

5 rockets hit Sderot, 65-year-old man moderately hurt

Five rockets have hit the town of Sderot, the local municipality says. Three rockets hit homes and property.

A 65-year-old man has been lightly-to-moderately wounded by one of the rockets.

Revolutionary Guards chief hails rocket attacks on ‘broken, downcast’ Israel

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commander hails the Palestinian terrorists who have peppered Israel with rocket fire in the Gaza Strip’s latest conflict.

“Today we are witnessing the birth of a new Palestine… fighting with missiles,” Major General Hossein Salami says at a pro-Palestinian rally in central Tehran’s Imam Hossein Square.

“A new Israel has also emerged, one that is broken, frustrated, downcast, that has lost confidence in itself,” says Salami, whose country supports the Islamist groups in Gaza firing rockets at its foe.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami speaks during a pro-government rally in the capital Tehran’s central Enghelab Square on November 25, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

The general, who heads the ideological arm of Iran’s military, says the suspension last week of international flights to Israel’s Tel Aviv airport because of rocket fire was “a first.”

“The battle for Palestine is not only one of the Palestinians against the Israelis,” he says, but one that “symbolizes the battle of Muslims against world arrogance,” the Islamic republic’s term for the West.

Ocasio-Cortez drafts resolution to block $735m sale of missiles to Israel

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the winner of a Democratic Congressional primary in New York, talks to the media, June 27, 2018, in New York. Ocasio-Cortez, 28, upset U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in the election. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the winner of a Democratic Congressional primary in New York, talks to the media, June 27, 2018, in New York. Ocasio-Cortez, 28, upset U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in the election. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has drafted a resolution aimed at blocking the $735 million sale of precision-guided missiles to Israel that was approved by the Biden administration.

The joint resolution of disapproval (JRD) is almost certain not to pass given strong support for Israel in both the House and Senate, but the legislation will also spark further debate on the issue of Israel in Congress, where a growing number of Democrats have begun taking a more critical stance against the longtime ally.

“The United States should not be rubber-stamping weapons sales to the Israeli government as they deploy our resources to target international media outlets, schools, hospitals, humanitarian missions and civilian sites for bombing,” Ocasio-Cortez tweets. “We have a responsibility to protect human rights.”

The resolution is being led by Ocasio-Cortez alongside Reps. Mark Pocan and Rashida Tlaib.

President Joe Biden speaks with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich, right, as he arrives at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Detroit, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Times of Israel obtained a copy of a draft of the resolution, which would bar the US from issuing a license for the sale of “Joint Direct Attack Munition variants and Small Diameter Bomb Increment I variants for end use by the Ministry of Defense for Israel.”

Unlike the recent purchase of F-35s by the UAE, which was a foreign military sale, the precision-guided missiles for Israel would be transferred as part of a direct commercial sale, where there is far less opportunity for American oversight.

The Biden administration notified Congress of the sale on May 5 — five days before the Gaza violence commenced. The House has 15 days to pass a JRD before the administration is allowed to move forward with the commercial license. That 15-day window ends tomorrow, further complicating efforts to block the sale. However, if a Senate version of the JRD were introduced in the next day, it would be required to come to a vote in the upper house, even if after May 20.

Congress has never successfully blocked an arms deal through use of the JRD.

Leah Goldin: Israel must not cease fire without return of slain soldiers

Leah Goldin, the mother of slain soldier Hadar Goldin whose remains have been held by Hamas since 2014, says Israel must not agree to a ceasefire with Gaza that does not include the return of Goldin and a second slain soldier, Oron Shaul.

Leah Goldin accuses Israel’s leaders of deceiving and misleading the families for years while doing little to pressure Hamas to give back the bodies.

“Winning [this conflict] means bringing the boys back,” she says.

A composite photo of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul, left, and Hadar Goldin, right.

TV: Israel tells US pressure to reach ceasefire only pushing off truce

Israeli officials have told US leadership that their pressure to reach a ceasefire quickly is only pushing off the possibility of a truce, Channel 12 reports.

Meanwhile, rockets have once again been launched at southern Israel.

Islamic Jihad chief: Battle is costly, but it is only road to freedom

The leader the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group says armed factions in Gaza went into the latest battle with Israel knowing it would be “costly but also knowing that it is the only road to freedom and to protect Jerusalem.”

Ziad Nakhaleh says in a televised speech from Beirut that neither nuclear weapons, warplanes nor peace agreements with some Arab states can bring Israelis security and peace.

Leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group Ziad Nakhaleh in 2020 (video screenshot)

He adds that armed groups in Gaza have “made miracles that you can see with your own eyes and you live them every moment when you run to shelters.”

Nakhaleh is referring to thousands of missiles and rockets that Gaza terrorists have fired toward Israel.

Nakhaleh says that after Israel’s moves that threatened the eviction of dozens of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, “we were in front of two choices, to surrender and to give them everything or fight them over everything.”

Rocket falls in yard of Netivot home, causing damage

A rocket falls in the yard of a home in Netivot, near Gaza, causing some damage. No people appear to have been hurt.

Police are at the scene.

Gaza officials say Israeli strike kills disabled man, his wife and child

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says Israeli strikes have killed seven people including a disabled man, his pregnant wife and their three-year-old child.

The death toll in the Strip has risen to 227 in the conflict that began May 10, it says.

Israel says over half of those killed were terror operatives, and that others were killed by errant Palestinian rockets.

Report: Israeli security officials do not expect ceasefire before Friday

Israeli security officials believe combat in the Gaza Strip will not cease before Friday, Channel 12 news reports.

It says that was the assessment shared during meetings of top brass today.

The seaside promenade is deserted in the central city of Rishon Lezion, on May 19, 2021 (Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

Prosecutors said to indict 170 people so far for riots, 15 of them Jewish

Prosecutors have filed indictments against 170 people involved in inter-ethnic rioting over the past 10 days, of which 15 are Jewish and the rest Arab, Haaretz reports.

Most of the indictments cite racist motives.

Police have arrested 1,319 suspects in the unrest, of which 252 are minors, the report says. The vast majority are Arab, while 159 are Jewish.

Of those arrested, 543 remain jailed.

IDF says it hit buildings central to Hamas’s naval force

The military says it struck two buildings that are central to Hamas’s naval force a short time ago.

One building was in Gaza’s south and one in its north.

File: A military drill by Hamas and other armed Palestinian terror groups on a beach in Gaza City on December 29, 2020. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Ashkenazi to Blinken: Israel must strike Hamas ‘until peace and security restored’

Further senior Biden administration officials again speak with their Israeli counterparts, after US President Joe Biden urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to move toward “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi says he had “another good conversation” with Secretary State Antony Blinke, thanking him for America’s “full backing” of Israel in the ongoing fighting against the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.

“I updated him on the rocket fire from the north,” Ashkenazi tweets, after several rockets were fired from Lebanon earlier today, setting off sirens in the Haifa area and other parts of northern Israel.

He adds: “I noted that Israel must continue to act against Hamas and the terrorist organizations in Gaza until peace and security are restored to the citizens of Israel.”

Ashkenazi says he also thanked Blinken “for his uncompromising support for Israel, including in the Security Council.”

He makes no mention of Biden’s comments to Netanyahu.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan writes on Twitter that he too spoke again with Israel’s Meir Ben-Shabbat and “the Government of Egypt again today about the ongoing crisis.”

“The United States is engaged in intensive diplomacy and our efforts will continue,” he says.

Rocket alerts sound in kibbutzim near Gaza border

Rocket warning sirens sound in Kisufim and Re’im, two kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip.

IDF hits homes of Hamas commanders for storing weapons, ‘military infrastructure’

The Israel Defense Forces says it struck the homes of senior Hamas officials and commanders in Gaza where weapons and other “military infrastructure” used in the ongoing fighting was stored.

It also says it struck three positions used for launching rockets and mortars toward Israel and an “anti-tank [missile] facility” in Sajaiya.

French resolution at UN said to contain no condemnation of Hamas rocket fire

A draft UN Security Security resolution being pushed by France to end the fighting in Gaza does not condemn the rockets fired at Israel by the Strip’s Hamas rulers, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

Senior Hamas official predicts ceasefire in next day or two

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official, tells the Lebanese station Mayadeen TV that he expects a ceasefire in a day or two.

A diplomat from Egypt, which has been working to halt the fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, says officials are waiting for Israel’s response to a ceasefire offer. The diplomat speaks on the condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk, September 18, 2014. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

2 men in UK arrested over attack on rabbi; cops call it a hate crime

Two men have been arrested in the attack of a rabbi near London in what police called a hate crime.

The suspects, aged 18 and 25, were arrested Monday “in connection with a religiously aggravated assault in Chigwell,” a police spokesperson tells The Sun newspaper.

The arrest came a day after the assault of Rabbi Rafi Goodwin near his synagogue. The suspects hurled antisemitic insults at the rabbi, the report says, and allegedly stole his phone.

Goodwin received moderate injuries and was hospitalized.

Shortly after the incident, Goodwin’s community said in an email to its members that it had no indication his assault had been a hate crime.

Yesterday, Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary of the UK government, said the assault of Goodwin was part of a major uptick in antisemitic incidents in the country coinciding with hostilities between Hamas and Israel.

Both suspects are from the east London area of Ilford and are being kept in custody, according to The Sun. The report doesn’t say how the suspects have responded to the allegations.

On the day of Goodwin’s assault, multiple cars displaying Palestinian flags drove through Golders Green, a heavily Jewish part of London. One participant in the convoy shouted “F*** the Jews, rape their daughters” through a loudspeaker, among other chants.

Only Herzog, Peretz gets enough signatures to run for president

As a midnight deadline passes, only Isaac Herzog and Miriam Peretz succeed in gathering the minimum number of signatures from MKs to run in elections for the presidency, which will be voted on by the Knesset’s 120 members in a secret ballot next month.

Organization of American States designates Hamas a terror group

The Organization of American States, an international coalition of 35 countries in North and South America, has designated Hamas a terrorist organization amid Israel’s worst bout of fighting with Gaza’s Islamist rulers in years.

“The recent attacks launched by Hamas against the Israeli civilian population undoubtedly constitute attacks of a terrorist nature,” Luis Almagro of Uruguay, the OAS secretary general, writes in a statement. “Hamas’s terrorist aggression is unlimited and always seeks civilian victims, seeks to escalate conflict dynamics and armed actions, as well as sowing terror among innocent populations, be they Israeli or Palestinian.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Latin American branch applauds the move and points to four member states whose governments have expressed opinions counter to the OAS statement: Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and Venezuela.

“We congratulate Secretary General Luis Almagro for clarifying this to the OAS’ member-states whose foreign ministries which have taken positions of ignorance or partiality,” Simon Wiesenthal regional director Ariel Gelblung says.

The Argentina Foreign Ministry released a statement last week titled “Concern about the situation in Israel and Palestine” expressing “deep concern” over what it deemed a “disproportionate use of force” by Israel as well as the rocket fire from Gaza.

The United States, a member of the OAS, already refers to Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The OAS, headquartered in Washington, is the world’s oldest regional organization, dating back to the First International Conference of American States held in the US capital in 1889.

Rocket alerts sound in kibbutz near Gaza

Rocket warning sirens are heard in Kibbutz Nahal Oz near the Gaza border.

Rocket warning sirens in Beersheba, other southern communities

Rocket warning sirens sound in the southern city of Beersheba and nearby Kibbutz Hatzerim, which is next to an air force base of the same name.

Alerts are also heard in Ofakim and the Bedouin town of Segev Shalom.

Fresh rocket sirens set off in at least 11 Gaza border towns

Fresh rocket sirens have been set off in at least 11 Gaza border towns, including Kiryat Malachi, Kfar Warrburg, Be’er Tuvia, Orot, Kfar Achim, Nir Israel, Masuot Itzhak, Hodaya, Negba and Yad Modechai.

Outrage after reporter on right-wing network laments lack of casualties in strike on Arab Israeli town

A reporter from the right-wing Channel 20 who was covering today’s rocket fire from Lebanon that landed in an empty soccer field in an Arab town says on air, “Unfortunately it did not lead to a lot of deaths.”

The remark from military correspondent Kobe Finkler sparks outrage, with Meretz MK Mossi Raz demanding that the reporter be fired.

“Imagine if Furat Nassar (Channel 12) or Ali Mugrabi (Channel 13) or Suleiman Maswada (Channel 11) had said something like that?” tweeted Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi.

The network issues a statement, saying Finkler had apologized for the comment and panned those using the “human mistake” to attack the network.

US hints that it won’t back French Security Council resolution calling for ceasefire

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield attends a Cabinet meeting with President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House on April 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP/Evan Vucci)
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield attends a Cabinet meeting with President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House on April 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP/Evan Vucci)

The US appears slated to veto a UN Security Council resolution proposed by France calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Asked about the resolution, an official at the US mission told The Times of Israel, “We’ve been clear and consistent that we are focused on intensive diplomatic efforts underway to bring an end to the violence and that we will not support actions that we believe undermine efforts to de-escalate.”

The official declined to comment further.

The Times of Israel obtained a copy of the resolution still being negotiated among members.

The eight point resolution reads as follows:

1. Demands an immediate cessation of hostilities;

2. Calls upon all parties to ensure full respect of international humanitarian law and international human right law, including the protection of civilian population;

3. Calls for the intensification of all efforts to de-escalate and to reach an immediate durable and fully respected ceasefire agreement;

4. Calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance and welcomes the first steps taken in this regard;

5. Calls on member states to support international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza, including through urgently needed additional contributions to UNRWA and through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee;

6. Calls upon member states to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained reopening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel;

7. Urges for the intensification and acceleration of diplomatic efforts and support for a negotiated two-state solution consistent with international law, and in line with relevant UN resolutions where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders;

8. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

The resolution can still be amended and no date has been given for when it will be introduced. The latest version makes no mention of Hamas rocket fire, but does hint at Hamas illicit smuggling of weapons into Gaza. It also does not explicitly criticize either side for the fighting.

A veto in the Security Council is likely something the Biden administration wants to avoid as the president has vowed to take a more multilateral approach to diplomacy and improve ties with longtime allies that were damaged by his predecessor Donald Trump.

The US mission has already blocked three joint statements calling for a ceasefire that were backed by 14 of the 15 Security Council members.

Man in his 50s, teenage girl injured while running to shelter during last rocket barrage

A man in his 50s and a 14-year-old girl were evacuated to Soroka Hospital for treatment for injuries sustained during the rocket barrage fired toward Beersheba less than an hour ago.

The man appeared to have got his hand slammed by the bomb shelter door while the girl fell while running to a shelter. Both sustained minor injuries, according to Magen David Adom.

US secretary of defense pushes ‘de-escalation’ in call with Gantz

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, right, and Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin, center, give US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin a model of the Iron Dome missile defense system at the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel on April 12, 2021. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, right, and Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin, center, give US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin a model of the Iron Dome missile defense system at the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel on April 12, 2021. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

“Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and again urged de-escalation in the conflict between Israel and Hamas,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby tells reporters.

The Israeli readout made no mention of that point, instead highlighting that Austin told Gantz he backs Israel’s right to defend itself.

Democratic and Republican senators block each other’s resolutions on Gaza violence

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on February 25, 2021, examining wages at large profitable corporations. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on February 25, 2021, examining wages at large profitable corporations. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

Republican Senator Rick Scott and Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders blocked each other’s resolutions on the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza.

Scott’s resolution reinforced US support for Israel to defend itself by “whatever means necessary” amid its conflict with Hamas.

Sanders’ resolution called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and for supporting diplomatic efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

They both sought to pass their resolutions by unanimous consent, and because each blocked the others’, neither passed.

French Security Council resolution condemns Hamas rocket fire

Rockets are fired by Palestinian terrorists toward Israel, near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 19, 2021. (Said Khatib/AFP)
Rockets are fired by Palestinian terrorists toward Israel, near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 19, 2021. (Said Khatib/AFP)

The France’s Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire includes a condemnation of Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli civilians.

A version obtained by The Times of Israel earlier this evening only included the “operative paragraphs” and not the “preamble,” which which pans rocket fire and all acts of terror.

The full version includes in its preamble that the council “condemn[s] the indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian areas.”

But one line that will likely upset Israel states that the council “stress[es] that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestinian state.”

The resolution also “recogniz[es] the vital role played by UNRWA in providing humanitarian and economic assistance within Gaza,” referring to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees that Israel claims is corrupt and helps perpetuate the conflict.

The council also “express[es] grave concern at the escalation of violence, in particular, the resulting loss of civilian lives and casualties and recalling the necessity of a proportionate use of force, in line with international law,” in an apparent knock at Israel’s response to Hamas rocket fire.

Two other lines that appear to knock Israeli counterstrikes read as follows:

“Emphasizing that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations, including children, must be protected, in line with international humanitarian law and international human rights law and stressing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians.”

“Emphasizing that civilian and humanitarian facilities, including those of the UN, must be respected and protected.”

The US has indicated that it will not be backing the resolution, which will require nine votes in favor by Security Council members and no vetos from the US or any of the other four permanent members.

Additional information on the content of the resolution can be found in an earlier post.

UNRWA makes urgent appeal for $38m in emergency aid due to Gaza conflict

In this file photo taken on February 2, 2020, a child stands next to a sack of flour as people come to receive food aid from a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) distribution center in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
In this file photo taken on February 2, 2020, a child stands next to a sack of flour as people come to receive food aid from a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) distribution center in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees is urgently appealing for $38 million for emergency needs in Gaza as a result of conflict between Israel and the territory’s Hamas rulers.

The UN Relief and Works Agency says that it is already responding to the humanitarian needs of refugees and non-refugees, including tens of thousands of people who have sought safety in the agency’s schools and emergency shelters.

The agency says the $38 million is needed for an initial 30-day period to respond to a variety of immediate needs in Gaza including food, health care, psychological services, and water and sanitation. It also includes emergency needs in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, for health care, shelter, education, security and protection.

ADL offers $5K reward for info on pro-Palestinian protesters in LA attack on Jews

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators assault Jews at a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles on May 19, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators assault Jews at a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles on May 19, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The Anti-Defamation League announces that it is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who can come forward with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the assault on diners outside the Sushi Fumi restaurant in Los Angeles yesterday.

“We are outraged over reports of this antisemitic assault and thank the Los Angeles Police Department for investigating the incident as a potential hate crime. These acts of hate have no place in our community and we hope this reward will bring about information that will lead to an arrest or arrests and the prosecution of these hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”

Anyone with information about the crime should contact the Los Angeles Police Department at 213-473-0476.

Democratic leadership slams AIPAC for attack ad targeting Ilhan Omar

Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar addresses media after lunch at the Mercado Central in Minneapolis Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, primary Election Day in Minnesota. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar addresses media after lunch at the Mercado Central in Minneapolis Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, primary Election Day in Minnesota. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Democratic leadership is pushing back against an ad campaign launched by AIPAC targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar who had been critical of Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza in response to Hamas rocket fire.

The ad for an online petition features a picture of Omar with a backdrop of Hamas rocket fire.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says, “I don’t agree with Congresswoman Omar’s comments, but it’s very disappointing to see deeply cynical and inflammatory ads twisting her words. As we always respect Israel’s right to defend herself, there must be a serious effort on the part of both parties in the conflict to end the violence and respect the rights of both the Israeli and Palestinian people.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says, “I disagree with the statements made by the members, but attacking them in ads does not advance the goal of increasing support for Israel. AIPAC ought to be making the case to the American people not only for Israel’s right to protect the lives of its citizens, but why they have a moral responsibility to do so and its value as our ally and national security partner.”

138 House Democrats pen letter to Biden calling for Israel-Gaza ceasefire

138 House Democrats have penned a letter to US President Joe Biden imploring him to take decisive action to end the fighting between Israel and terror groups in Gaza.

“Too many people have already died and more will unnecessarily perish if America does not act with the immediacy this violence demands,” the members of Congress write.

“We strenuously urge your administration, at the highest levels, to boldly lead and take decisive action to end the violence,” they add.

The letter is organized by Reps. David Price and Gerald Connolly and co-led by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Peter Welch, Mark Pocan, Alan Lowenthal, John Yarmuth and Lloyd Doggett.

IDF strikes targets throughout Gaza Strip in latest overnight bombing campaign

Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces carry out strikes on the Palestinian enclave, early on May 18, 2021. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces carry out strikes on the Palestinian enclave, early on May 18, 2021. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The IDF is currently striking targets throughout the Gaza Strip, according to the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center, which has been posting footage of the explosions.

US readout of Blinken-Ashkenazi call highlights discussion of ‘efforts to end violence’

The US State Department has released its readout from Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

“The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed efforts to end the violence, which has claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians including children,” it says, highlighting a theme that was not mentioned in the Israeli readout released earlier.

“The Secretary noted that the United States would remain engaged with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and regional stakeholders in the days ahead, and reinforced the message that the US expects to see de-escalation on the path to a ceasefire,” it adds.

Lone Republican to support call for Israel-Gaza ceasefire walks back move

The only Republican lawmaker to publicly back a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza has walked back the position.

A spokesperson for Indiana Republican Todd Young tells Jewish Insider that the congressman “shares his colleagues’ concerns about a premature ceasefire or one that occurs on Hamas’ terms.”

“Hamas’ infrastructure and tunnel network in Gaza is far deeper and more sophisticated than many previously understood… As such, it is clear that Israel needs more time to deal with the threat it is facing. The only way to create an enduring ceasefire is to deal with the threat they are facing and reestablish deterrence by taking out Hamas’ terror infrastructure,” the spokesperson added.

Just three days ago, Young and Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy issued the first and only bipartisan statement backing a quick ceasefire.

US Senators Chris Murphy (L) and Todd Young. (AP/collage)

“Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas’s rocket attacks, in a manner proportionate with the threat its citizens are facing. As a result of Hamas’s rocket attacks and Israel’s response, both sides must recognize that too many lives have been lost and must not escalate the conflict further. We are encouraged by reports that the parties are exploring a ceasefire. We hope that this ceasefire can be reached quickly and that additional steps can be taken to preserve a two-state future,” the senators said.

IDF: 80 rockets were fired from Gaza last night; none launched in last 6 hours

Some 80 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel between 7 p.m. yesterday and 7 a.m. today, with 10 of them falling short of the border and landing within the Palestinian enclave, the Israel Defense Forces says.

According to the IDF, roughly 90 percent of the rockets heading toward populated areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

The IDF conducted a number of overnight strikes in the Gaza Strip, continuing its campaign against Hamas’s sprawling tunnel network throughout the enclave, the military says.

Rocket fire from largely abated overnight, with the last attack occurring just after 1 a.m., targeting the town of Kiryat Malachi and the surrounding area.

No direct injuries were reported in the late-night attacks, save for a man in his 50s who injured himself on a bomb shelter door and a 14-year-old girl who fell while running for cover, medics say.

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