The Times of Israel liveblogged Friday’s events as they unfolded. For a recap of Thursday’s news, click here.
Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman says that before the ceasefire went into effect at 2 a.m., the military passed a message to Hamas that if it conducted a large-scale rocket attack by Hamas on central Israel, the IDF would retaliate with a massive airstrike on dozens of targets.
According to Zilberman, Israeli jets and other aircraft were kept in the air, hovering over Gaza in the hours before the ceasefire to carry out this threat if necessary.
“But we didn’t need to fulfill our plans. There was no final barrage,” Zilberman says.
IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman says that in the coming hours, the IDF Home Front Command is expected to remove some of its restrictions on daily life in southern and central Israel, some of which have been in place since the outbreak of fighting on May 10.
However, the IDF ground troops and other reinforcements deployed to the Gaza border will largely remain in place over the weekend, Zilberman says.
Army Radio cites unnamed officials involved in the negotiations for an Israel-Hamas ceasefire as saying the truce that entered effect at 2 a.m. has no conditions.
The report comes after the terror group reportedly had demanded that any truce include Israeli concessions in Jerusalem regarding the Temple Mount and/or planned evictions in Sheikh Jarrah.
The officials add that Egyptian mediators will arrive in the coming days to try and lower tensions in Jerusalem.
Ayelet Kaufman, the sister of slain IDF soldier Hadar Goldin whose body is believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza, decries the fact that the ceasefire doesn’t include the return of her brother’s remains and other captives.
“We have been waiting seven years for a phone call that should have come at 2 a.m.,” she tells Army Radio, referring to the time when the truce entered effect.
“They didn’t talk to us, they didn’t even say ‘we tried,'” Kaufman laments, saying the country’s leaders are “unworthy.”
“I feel like we have lost it, that the truth has come out — the emperor doesn’t have any clothes.”
The Israel Defense Forces says it destroyed more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) of defensive tunnels in the Gaza Strip during the past 11 days of fighting and killed some 225 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members, including 25 senior commanders.
In a quantitative review of the campaign, dubbed Operation Guardian of the Walls, the military says it also destroyed hundreds of rocket launchers and related infrastructure and struck a “serious blow” to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad’s rocket production capabilities.
According to the IDF, the military also destroyed dozens of facilities used by Hamas’s military wing, nine of them high-rise towers, including one used by the Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other international media outlets, as well as a number of buildings used by the terror group in its day-to-day governing of the Gaza Strip.
This included 10 government offices, 11 interior ministry branches and five banks, “which managed terrorist money,” the IDF says.
On the defensive side, the military says it thwarted a number of attempted raids, destroyed dozens of anti-tank guided missile teams, and intercepted seven drone attacks and two naval attacks.
The IDF says the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted some 90 percent of the incoming rockets that it was meant to.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will arrive in the Middle East in the coming days to visit Israel, the West Bank, Egypt and Jordan, according to the Walla news site.
The goal of the tour — Blinken’s first in the region since taking office — is to strengthen the Israel-Hamas ceasefire and discuss humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in the battered Gaza Strip.
After 11 days of rocket attacks and airstrikes, Israel and the Hamas terror group have agreed to stop the fighting. Here are some numbers summarizing Operation Guardian of the Wall:
Around 4,000 rockets were fired by Palestinian terror groups at Israeli cities, communities and army bases, hundreds of which landed inside the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces says 90% of the rockets aimed at populated areas in Israel were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.
12 people were killed in Israel, including nine Israelis and three foreign workers — two from Thailand, one from India. Two of the fatalities died of injuries sustained during a rush to a bomb shelter, while the rest died from a direct rocket impact or shrapnel. Additionally, over 350 people were injured.
On the Palestinian side, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has given a death toll of 232, including more than 66 minors, and more than 1,600 injured in thousands of Israeli airstrikes. But some analysts suspect that is an undercount and that more Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters have been killed. The IDF says it has killed 225 members of terror groups.
The Israel military also says some of the Gaza civilian fatalities were killed by the terror groups’ own rockets falling short and exploding in Gaza.
The Israel Police begin reopening highways around the Gaza Strip that had been closed due to concerns that terrorists might fire anti-tank guided missiles at cars driving along them.
The police say the Route 4 highway from Zikim to Yad Mordechai has been opened in both directions, as has the Route 34 highway from Niram to Yad Mordechai.
The Israel Defense Forces announces it is removing nearly all restrictions on movement throughout the country, including communities adjacent to the Gaza border, as the ceasefire appears to be holding after nearly seven hours.
The IDF says schools and other educational institutions will remain closed today in southern and central Israel.
“We ask that you be careful around rocket fragments in open areas,” the military says.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi says he has spoken to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and thanked him for Washington’s “uncompromising support” for Israel during the Gaza fighting.
He also confirms reports that Blinken intends to visit the region soon.
@SecBlinken informed me that he intends to visit the region soon.
I welcomed his decision & told him that we would welcome him warmly & that I look forward to continuing our discussions on advancing regional strategic issues for maintaining Israel's security & regional stability
— גבי אשכנזי – Gabi Ashkenazi (@Gabi_Ashkenazi) May 21, 2021
Various politicians are criticizing the government over the ceasefire with Hamas.
New Hope party leader Gideon Sa’ar calls it “embarrassing,” lamenting that “with the best intelligence and air force in the world, Netanyahu managed to get from Hamas a ‘ceasefire with no conditions.'”
Opposition chief Yair Lapid, who is currently tasked with forming a government but whose chances have been obliterated by the fighting, tweets that “the military succeeded in the tasks it was given, the government failed.”
Religious Zionism party head Bezalel Smotrich, who has demanded that any ceasefire not include any concessions in Jerusalem, says that if the truce is indeed without conditions, the Temple Mount flashpoint holy site should be reopened immediately to Jews.
“Anything else would sadly prove that Hamas was telling the truth and the diplomatic sources lied,” he writes.
Extremist Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir says: “The embarrassing ceasefire is grave capitulation to terror and to Hamas’s impositions. This is a difficult night for the State of Israel and Israel deterrence.”
Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group hails a “historic victory” for the Palestinians after a ceasefire takes effect between Israel and Gaza terrorists following 11 days of fighting.
“Hezbollah congratulates the heroic Palestinian people and its valiant resistance on the historic victory achieved… against the Zionist enemy,” the Shiite jihadist group says in a statement.
Hezbollah, which fought its own devastating war with Israel in 2006 but remains a powerful force in Lebanese politics, has close relations with Gaza’s Islamist ruling terror group Hamas.
The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire went into effect at 2:00 a.m., ending the most serious fighting in years.
Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam, whose city was bombarded almost non-stop with rockets from Gaza over the 11 days of fighting, voices disappointment at the ceasefire, telling the Kan public broadcaster: “We would have wanted Hamas to be eliminated but we know that won’t happen.”
“Right now, what’s important is that Ashkelon gets what it has been promised by the government, and that the shortcomings regarding safe spaces are eliminated,” Glam says. “I’m going to make sure that happens.”
The mayor of rocket-stricken Sderot, Alon Davidi, joins widespread attacks on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government by officials in Gaza border communities over the ceasefire with Hamas.
“I don’t understand why we’re having a ceasefire, there is no reason for a ceasefire,” Davidi tells Radio 103FM. “The prime minister and the government had our backing, there were achievements but this is not something that changes the balance of power.
“It seems like nobody wants to defeat Hamas,” he says. “Israel is restricting itself by only using airstrikes and artillery, through which you never receive a decisive victory. We aren’t looking for war at all costs but the job of the government and the prime minister is to find the formula that will restore normal life.”
Some residents of Israel’s south slam the government over the ceasefire with Hamas, saying the operation in Gaza should have gone on.
“We feel like we’ve gone through it all for nothing,” a man tells Channel 12 news in an interview. “We had achievements thanks to the army, but there is no strategy. What kind of ceasefire is this?”
But there is also optimism. In Ashkelon, the city that was targeted by the most rockets, a man tells Channel 12 that he and his family of four kids have today gone outside their homes for the first time in 10 days.
He says the family had been too scared to leave the house even to throw out the trash, and expresses hope that normal life can now resume.
Israel reopens the Kerem Shalom crossing, renewing the transfer of good into the Gaza Strip after 11 days of fighting ended in a ceasefire.
Many in the international community have urged the crossing’s swift reopening to allow humanitarian aid into the battered Strip.
The Health Ministry says just 33 new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed yesterday, taking the total number in Israel since the pandemic began to 839,281.
There are 565 active cases in Israel, with 61 people in serious condition.
Over 5.4 million people have now received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
The Shin Bet says they have arrested a number of Jewish suspects in connection with the stabbing of an Arab man in Jerusalem last week.
The victim was seriously wounded in the May 13 attack.
The Shin Bet defines the stabbing as having a nationalist motive.
A restraining order is imposed on the identities of the suspects and details of the investigation.
Tensions between Israel’s Jewish and Arab communities had spiraled in recent days, with multiple violent incidents — at times deadly — as police appeared unequipped to handle the most serious internal unrest to grip the country in years.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomes a ceasefire brokered between Israel and Hamas.
“Good that there is now a ceasefire,” Maas tweets, a day after he visited Israel and Ramallah for talks.
“Now we have to deal with the causes, rebuild trust and find a solution to the Middle East conflict,” he says.
Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror organization hails a “historic victory” for the Palestinians in the wake of a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
“Hezbollah congratulates the heroic Palestinian people and its valiant resistance on the historic victory achieved… against the Zionist enemy,” the terror group says in a statement.
The European Union welcomes the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and vows to increase efforts for a long-term “political solution” to resolve the crisis.
“The European Union welcomes the announced ceasefire bringing to an end the violence in and around Gaza. We commend Egypt, Qatar, United Nations, United States and others who have played a facilitating role in this,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says in a statement.
“We are appalled and regret the loss of life over these past 11 days. As the EU has consistently reiterated, the situation in the Gaza Strip has long been unsustainable.”
The statement insists that “only a political solution will bring sustainable peace and end once and for all the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
“Restoring a political horizon towards a two-state solution now remains of utmost importance. The EU is ready to fully support Israeli and Palestinian authorities in these efforts,” it says.
“The EU is renewing its engagement with key international partners, including the United States, and other partners in the region, as well as with the revitalized Middle East Quartet, to this end.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and the head of the Shin Bet Nadav Argaman will make statements to the media at 1 p.m.
The comments will be the first public statements from the premier and the defense officials since the ceasefire came into effect at 2 a.m.
Beijing welcomes the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, saying China hopes there will be a “cessation of violence” and a return to peace talks.
China says the international community now needs to “extend helping hands” to the region, and will commit $1 million in emergency aid and a further $1 million to UN relief efforts for the Palestinians.
It will also provide 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Palestinians.
“China welcomes the ceasefire between both sides in the Palestine-Israel conflict, and hopes the relevant parties will earnestly implement the ceasefire and cessation of violence,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian says at a press conference.
“The international community should promote the resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel, and achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Palestine issue on the basis of the two state solution,” he adds.
The Home Front Command says that all educational institutions across the country will be permitted to operate from Sunday.
The announcement comes hours after the military lifts the majority of limitations on movement and gatherings.
Children in the south and center of the country have been home for a number of days as those areas came under rocket fire from Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanks the Israeli people for its “resilience” during the fighting, in a special statement from the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv. He claims that the Gaza operation’s objectives were “extraordinarily” achieved.
He thanks all officials involved in the military, civilian and public relations efforts during the fighting. Everyone pulled together to ensure Israel’s security, he says.
He says the “only consideration” he had in the operation was “safeguarding Israel’s security” and “defending the lives of its citizens and soldiers,” and says not everything regarding the outcome and impact of the Israeli strikes is yet known to the public, or even to Hamas. “We did daring and innovative things, without getting dragged into unnecessary misadventure.”
He says he didn’t order a ground operation in Gaza because he believed it wasn’t necessary. “Had I believed it necessary, I would have ordered it,” he adds. There will also be criticism, he notes, but we acted “with determination, with wisdom, and with supreme responsibility… I regard it as my responsibility to protect the mothers, the sons, our soldiers and prevent unnecessary loss of life.”
“Therefore, we caused maximum casualties to Hamas while minimizing Israeli casualties,” he says, expressing sorrow for every civilian life lost.
He adds that Israel fulfilled its objective to deal Hamas a “blow it cannot imagine” by destroying the terror tunnel network it built in Gaza and which he says turned into a “death trap,” as well as by being dealt “massive blows” both above ground and underground.
He says the terror group had wanted to carry out many cross-border attacks — including at the tail-end of the operation — but was thwarted by Israel’s subterranean barrier around Gaza, its “iron wall.”
“Every time they approached,” the sensors in the subterranean barrier detected the terrorists, “they were destroyed underground.”
He says Israel destroyed “a considerable proportion” of Hamas’s internal tunnel routes, its “metro,” in which Hamas had invested vast resources. “We harmed more than 100 kilometers” of that network, and turned into “a death trap for the terrorists.”
Above ground, he says Israel killed over 200 terrorists, including 25 senior officials. “And those who didn’t die know today that we can reach them everywhere– above or below ground,” he says, calling it “an achievement no military has ever achieved.”
He highlights the various terror targets — including “nine terrorist towers” — Israel hit. “None of these were innocent buildings,” he says — alluding to controversy over the demolition of a tower where numerous media agencies had offices — but rather “Hamas offices, Hamas command centers, Hamas weapons stores. We hit rocket factories, weapons labs, weapons stores. And we did this with minimal harm to non-involved civilians” — making “extreme efforts” not to harm civilians, steps which he says haven’t been taken “by any country in the world. “The IDF is the world’s most moral army.”
Netanyahu says the entire operation, including the thwarting of Hamas drone and most rocket attacks — via an improved Iron Dome — and thwarting Hamas attempts to attack from the sea has “changed the equation” and caused Hamas to be more careful in the future about attacking Israel. “Most of Hamas’s capabilities have been harmed — far more seriously than Hamas commanders imagined. Hamas thought it could fire on Jerusalem and the cities of Israel, and we would react with business as usual.” Instead, Hamas was pounded for 11 days. “The rules of the game were changed… We changed the equation not only as regards the operation, but also as regards the future. If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a ‘drizzle’ of rockets, it is mistaken. We will respond with a whole new level of force to every instance of aggression against the Gaza-envelope communities or anywhere else in Israel. What was is not what will be.”
Hamas may be bragging as it emerges from the tunnels, he says, “but they realize the destruction they brought upon themselves inside Gaza… they know we set them back years.”
He thanks US President Joe Biden and says their six recent conversations were all friendly and warm, arguing that alongside international criticism and pressure, including in the media, Israel also received remarkable international support from dozens of countries and led successful diplomatic efforts with many global leaders. He says he assured Biden that the operation would stop when its goals were achieved, that Biden “understood this,” and that this is precisely what happened. “Many in the world are capable of distinguishing between Israel, a democratic state that sanctifies life and has the world’s most moral army, and a bloodthirsty terrorist organization that sanctifies death and commits a double war crime: deliberately firing on [our] civilians while using their civilians as human shields.”
He says Israel doesn’t forget captive civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed and the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, and is committed to returning them home, following criticism that the matter wasn’t discussed as part of the truce.
He also promises more aid for Ashkelon and other battered southern communities, even more than they received after the 2014 war. “Ashkelon was hit by 1,000 rockets,” he notes, and needs more protection, and more economic advantages. The southern area thrived after the 2014 war, and will thrive again now, still faster.
“We arrested 1,300 people and dealt with the rioters with a heavy hand,” he says of the eruption of Arab-Jewish violence inside Israel. He repeats his demands to Arab leaders to condemn the riots, claiming it is a “significant minority” within that community. “Nobody will take the law into their own hands — not Arabs and not Jews. Nobody. We are a law-abiding state. And we are one state… We will improve coexistence… so that all Israelis, without exception, will be part of the astonishing success story of our country.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks after Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, and similarly hails the Gaza operation, saying Israel’s military operations “surprised” the Hamas terror group with their intensity. “The job is done, but not completed,” he says of the challenge posed by Hamas in Gaza.
“We achieved all our operational goals,” he says, and “set back the enemy by years.” Hamas “deeply regrets what it chose to do” by initiating this conflict. The military response, he says, had been prepared over months and years. And the Israeli homefront proved “as strong as steel.”
But now that “the military stage is over, it is time for diplomatic action.”
“On the rubble of the homes of the Hamas leaders and of over 100 kilometers of terror tunnels, we must build a new reality,” he says. That “does not mean hasty deals, but long-term processes that will weaken the extremists and strengthen and bring together moderates… There is a chance for peace,” he says. “We must condition development and reconstruction [in Gaza] not only on calm,” but also on the return of soldiers’ bodies and civilians held hostage in Gaza, and on new moves to create “hope, growth and moderation.
“If we don’t act diplomatically, quickly and wisely,” he says, this operation will go down as “simply another round of conflict to be followed by the next one.”
He calls on Netanyahu to not “turn an unprecedented military victory into, heaven forbid, a diplomatic missed opportunity,” saying the matter of the Strip should be strategically and diplomatically dealt with for the long-term.
He says Israeli citizens, especially in the south, deserve calm. And calm, too, he says, is in the interests of the residents of Gaza — “a calm that can yield productive work instead of rocket factories,” a calm to replace the hatred and hostility their leaders nurture. Their leaders hold Gazans hostage, “in poverty and hopelessness,” he says. “It would be good for them to have modern health care, water and sewage infrastructure, and hospitals that do not serve as refuges for terrorists and stores for rockets.”
Regarding the Jewish-Arab unrest in many mixed cities, Gantz offers a message of coexistence, saying education on accepting the “other” needs to strengthen.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi says in a statement from Tel Aviv’s Kirya base that the current operation ended with “very different” results to previous flareups, and that Hamas “made a severe and grave mistake by shooting toward Israel.”
Kohavi, like Netanyahu and Gantz before him, also says the Palestinian terror group was dealt a bigger blow than it anticipated.
“It didn’t read us correctly, and was faced with force it didn’t expect,” he says, adding that the military “made major efforts not to harm civilians” despite Hamas operating in civilian areas.
He says it is not happenstance that Hamas rocket fire tailed off toward the end of the fighting, implying that the blow to Hamas’s rocket launch capacity was extensive.
Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman also speaks, saying that the outcome of the operation could change the reality of the conflict, “depending on what will happen from now on.”
“The rules of the game have changed, and what was is not what will be,” Argaman says. “The Hamas of before this conflict is nothing like the Hamas of the day after.”
Emergency workers have recovered five bodies and rescued some 10 survivors from the rubble of what appears to be a tunnel in Gaza hit by Israeli bombardment, medics and witnesses say.
Israel has said it bombed many kilometers of subterranean passages used by the terror group Hamas.
Raed al-Dahshan, deputy head of Gaza’s civil defense, said they are still sifting through the rubble to find more bodies, hours after a ceasefire ended 11 days of Israeli airstrikes on the besieged coastal enclave.
“The civil defense and the ministry of public works and municipalities are working to clear away the rubble,” he says. “We are continuing to look for the missing under the debris. But it’s tough work because we don’t have the heavy equipment to search, so many injured are dying under the rubble.”
The recovered bodies take the death toll from Israeli airstrikes since May 10 to 243, including 66 minors, the Hamas-run health ministry says.
At least six people have been killed and another 14 wounded by a bomb at a pro-Palestinian rally in a Pakistani city bordering Afghanistan, officials say, the latest violence to hit the restive area.
“It was an improvised explosive device which went off as participants began to disperse,” says Tariq Mengal, a senior local administration official in Chaman, Balochistan province.
A second official confirms the incident and toll.
Thousands of people rallied in support of the Palestinians across Pakistan, hours after a ceasefire was announced between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist terror group which governs the Gaza Strip.
The blast comes just weeks after a suicide bombing in the provincial capital of Quetta struck a luxury hotel where the Chinese ambassador was being hosted.
That attack was later claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
Chaman has long served as a gateway for Afghan Taliban jihadists entering Afghanistan from their alleged shelters in Balochistan, where the group’s leadership council is believed to be based.
Pakistan is fighting several low-level insurgencies in the impoverished province, waged by Islamist, separatist and sectarian groups.
Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest and poorest province despite being rich in natural resources.
Resentment has been fueled by billions of dollars of Chinese money flowing into the region through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — a key part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative — which locals say gave them little benefit as most new jobs went to outsiders.
President Reuven Rivlin spoke earlier this week with the family of three foreign nationals killed in Israel by rockets fired from Gaza, a statement says.
According to the statement, Rivlin spoke on the phone with the husband of Soumya Santosh, an Indian citizen working as a caregiver in Israel, who was killed in rocket fire on Ashkelon.
“I hope you find comfort in the love, the generosity and the kindheartedness she gave to others in need,” Rivlin told the widower.
Santosh thanked the president for his warm embrace and Israel for helping to expedite the transfer of the body to India for burial.
Speaking to the widows of Weerawat Karunborirak and Sikarin Sa-ngamrum, killed when a projectile hit a packing house near the Gaza border, the president expressed his condolences to them and their children and also sent condolences to Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the government and the people of Thailand.
“We weep with you at this tragic loss of life to terrorism. I hope you will find solace in their love and hope for better days,” said the president at the end of the call, according to the statement.
Riots and clashes are being reported in and around the Temple Mount flashpoint holy site, as Muslim worshipers end Friday prayers at its Al-Aqsa Mosque amid calls by the Hamas terror group for a “day of rage” in the capital.
Police reportedly entered the compound after rioters hurled rocks from inside the site, and are using riot control methods, including stun grenades, to quell the unrest.
Though Hamas has halted rocket fire to Israel as a ceasefire takes effect in Gaza, it is trying to keep the unrest going on in Jerusalem, where tensions over the Temple Mount and planned evictions of Palestinians in Shiekh Jarrah caused the fighting to erupt.
The Health Ministry says a total of 2,496 people were treated in hospitals for injuries related to attacks from Gaza and Jewish-Arab unrest during the 11 days of fighting.
Of them, 61 were in serious condition, 171 in moderate condition and 240 suffered acute anxiety attacks.
The figure doesn’t include those treated at the scene or fatalities whose death was pronounced without reaching a hospital first.
An Arab woman in her 50s says she was attacked by two Jewish men in Jaffa.
The woman arrives at Wolfson hospital in Holon with mild injuries, and the police question her and begin an investigation.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reports 15 people injured in clashes between Palestinians and police at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount flashpoint holy site.
Jerusalem Police say that immediately as Friday prayers ended, hundreds of young Muslims began rioting, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at police forces.
Officers were then ordered to enter the site to quell the unrest and disperse the crowd.
The incident comes amid calls by the Hamas terror group for a “day of rage” in the capital. Though Hamas has halted rocket fire to Israel as a ceasefire takes effect in Gaza, it is trying to keep the unrest going on in Jerusalem, where tensions over the Temple Mount and planned evictions of Palestinians in the Shiekh Jarrah neighborhood caused the fighting to erupt.
הסהר האדום הפלסטיני מדווח על 15 פצועים בעקבות העימותים pic.twitter.com/fca709ePSE
— Asael Peled | עשהאל פלד (@AsaelPeled) May 21, 2021
بعد انتهاء صلاة الجمعة في المسجد الاقصى المباركhttps://bit.ly/38tPgFd
Jordan’s electric company has reported large-scale power outages across the Hashemite kingdom due to a malfunction originating in Egypt, according to the official Petra news agency.
The country’s prime minister has arrived at the company’s headquarters to closely monitor the situation, the report says.
A resolution recognizing Hamas as terror group has come before Ukraine parliament, the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency of News reports.
The measure has been submitted by about 80 members of different factions, including the head of the ruling Servant of the People party David Arakhamia.
Hamas is currently digging up the bodies of its operatives who were killed during the IDF’s bombing of the terror group’s “metro” tunnel system, used for transferring weapons and fighters during Operation Guardian of the Walls.
The Hamas-run health ministry in the enclave said that over 320 Gazans were killed in the fighting, but did not specify if that number included terror operatives. The IDF believes it killed over 120 Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters.
בינתיים בעזה החלו לחפור ולהוציא את גופות המחבלים מהמנהרות שצה״ל הפציץ pic.twitter.com/9od8a5emJ4
— צחי דבוש (@TsahiDaboush) May 21, 2021
Japan’s foreign minister has welcomed the ceasefire that took effect Friday between the Islamic militant group Hamas and Israel.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi expresses “respect” for mediation efforts by the United States, Egypt and other countries. He also stressed the need for all involved parties to continue their efforts toward achieving a two-state solution in the Middle East that will bring peace to the region.
Also Friday, hundreds of people in Tokyo, many of them from Muslim countries, gathered outside the Israeli Embassy for a pro-Palestinian rally where people chanted “who is the terrorist?” and “Israel is the terrorist.” Some Japanese residents also joined the protest.
The World Health Organization has tallied “significant trauma needs” in Palestinian areas, where at least 243 people have been killed during 11 days of fighting between Palestinians and Israelis.
WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said a total of 8,538 people had been injured across Palestinian areas during the violence, and 30 health facilities in Gaza had been damaged — with one clinic fully destroyed and another sustaining significant damage. She said damage to infrastructure was impeding the access of ambulances.
The comments to a UN briefing in Geneva come as humanitarian aid workers assessed the fallout from the latest fighting between Hamas militant fighters and Israeli forces.
Fabrizio Carboni, regional director for the Near and Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross, estimated there were “several hundred” pieces of unexploded ordnance strewn about in Gaza and said medical supplies were a pressing need.
Matthias Schmale, Gaza director for UNRWA, the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees, cited a “window” of several hours on Friday during which aid and supplies could be brought in through the Kerem Shalom crossing point into Gaza. Speaking by video from Gaza City, he noted that a central laboratory that carries out testing for COVID-19 had been “made dysfunctional by a massive bomb explosion.”
Alluding to a ceasefire that took effect overnight, he said it “feels like a fragile ceasefire” and lamented the “unbearable and unacceptable cost this has had for the civilian population. And I know that applies to people in Israel, too.”
The Coordinator of Government Operations in the Territories has opened the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings into Gaza for the entry of UN humanitarian aid, including medicine, food and fuel for generators.
The continued operation of the crossings will depend on whether quiet is maintained in Gaza, Channel 13 reports, adding that the IDF will likely reopen the fishing zone next week.
When Israel reopened the crossings earlier this week to let in humanitarian aid, Hamas fired mortar shells toward those bringing it, forcing the IDF to shutter the border once again.
מתאם פעולות הממשלה בשטחים אלוף רסאן עליאן פתח את מעברי ארז וכרם שלום נקודתית להכנסת סיוע הומניטארי של האום: תרופות, מזון, דלק לגנרטורים. בארז נכנסו עשרות עיתונאים זרים. תלוי בהמשך השקט. מרחב הדייג כנראה יתחיל להיפתח בשבוע הבא. היו אמורות להכנס בשלישי אבל חמאס שיגר פצמרים על כרמ״ש pic.twitter.com/R2PcSEVj8K
— Or Heller אור הלר (@OrHeller) May 21, 2021
Claiming victory while sitting in Qatar, Hamas chief says ‘we destroyed project of coexistence with Israel’
Hamas terror chief Ismail Haniyeh hails Hamas’s “victory” in the recent hostilities with Israel, saying it will have a wide impact in the region’s relationship with the Jewish state.
“We have destroyed the project of ‘coexistence’ with Israel, of ‘normalization’ with Israel,” Haniyeh says.
The terror group leader promises that Hamas will enjoy growing regional support following the 11-day conflict.
“What is coming after this battle is not what came before it…you will yet see many [diplomatic] contacts and successes,” Haniyeh says. “We have seen how our nation awoke…to stand behind Jerualem, Palestine and resistance.”
Weighing in on the uptick in attacks targeting Jews mainly by pro-Palestinian activists in the US, UK and elsewhere, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid tweets, “The scenes of antisemitism across the world are horrific and intolerable. We expect every country to protect its Jewish communities and deal with this ugly outbreak of racism with zero tolerance.”
Some 200 Arabs and Jews are protesting together in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in solidarity with several Palestinian families facing eviction orders.
The issue sparked protest at the beginning of the month that snowballed into the conflict in Gaza.
After a series of violent attacks by pro-Palestinian rioters targeting Jews, New York city mayor Bill de Blasio tweets, “Anti-semitism has NO place in our city.”
“There’s no excuse for violence against someone because of who they are. None. We will bring the perpetrators of this vicious act of hate to justice.”
If you have information about this incident, please contact @NYPDHateCrimes IMMEDIATELY.
Anti-semitism has NO place in our city.
There’s no excuse for violence against someone because of who they are. None. We will bring the perpetrators of this vicious act of hate to justice.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 21, 2021
The Anti-Defamation League releases preliminary data revealing an increase in online and real-world incidents of antisemitism in the United States since the most recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas.
“As the violence between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate, we are witnessing a dangerous and drastic surge in anti-Jewish hate right here at home,” says ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement released shortly before the ceasefire was reached. “It’s happening around the world— from London to Los Angeles, from France to Florida, in big cities like New York and in small towns, and across every social media platform.”
The ADL says it has documented antisemitism on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram, with messages including explicit praise for Hitler, promoting tropes about Jewish control and demonizing all Jews.
The group says extreme antisemitic and anti-Zionist content can be found across a wide variety of channels calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, including posts that state: “GAS THE KIKES RACE WAR NOW.”
The ADL says it found more than 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase, “Hitler was right” between May 7 and May 14, 2021.
The group say some of the pro-Palestinian protests in recent weeks featured signs invoking age-old antisemitic accusation that Jews are responsible for killing Jesus as well as Holocaust analogies demonizing Zionists
The ADL says it has also received more reports of possible antisemitic incidents since the conflict broke out in Israel, with 193 reports in the week after the crisis began, up from 131 the previous week.
In videos on social media, hundreds of Palestinians could be seen chanting against Jerusalem Grand Mufti Mohammad Hussein inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque as he sought to give a Friday sermon.
Hussein’s role is sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, which is led by Hamas’s main rival, Fatah.
They could be heard chanting “We are Mohammad Deif’s men” at Hussein, in support of Hamas’s military wing leader.
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, says it organized a convoy of 12 containers of medical supplies that entered Gaza today.
The shipment includes one container of first-aid kits, two containers of 2,000 triple blood bags, saline-glucose solution, one container of fire extinguishers, two containers of antibiotics and other infection-control medications, and 10,000 doses of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are extremely thankful that a ceasefire agreement in the Gaza strip came into effect at 2 a.m. this morning because the human toll there has been huge,” says UNICEF’s Lucia Elmi. “This will allow families to have much-needed respite and allow for the delivery of much-needed humanitarian assistance and personnel to the Gaza Strip.”
A 42-year-old Umm al-Fahm resident was shot dead while in his car in the city, police say.
The man, Tarek Agbaria, was shot to death at close range in front of his children and wife, whom he was returning from the hospital after the latter gave birth, Haaretz says.
He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.
Police believe the shooting was criminally motivated.
Israeli security establishment said to recognize IDF damage to Hamas was less than initially thought
Following this morning’s ceasefire, senior members of Israel’s security establishment tell Haaretz that its strikes on Hamas’s rocket arsenal were less damaging than originally thought.
However, they tell the paper that the operation still deterred Hamas, which deployed fighters across the border with Israel today to ensure that no one there violates the ceasefire.
While prior to the operation, the Israeli intelligence assessment was that Hamas would not want to break the calm that had been holding on the border for several months. However, now security officials believe that the combination of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to cancel the upcoming parliamentary elections, the looming evictions of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and police crackdown on protesters there and at the, Damascus Gate and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, led Hamas to act.
During Operation Guardian of the Walls, the IDF attacked roughly 40 percent of Hamas’s rocket launchers, but found it difficult to hit other sites, particularly due to a lack of intelligence, the security officials tell Haaretz.
The officials add that Hamas has maintained its ability to fire large quantities of rockets at Israel, even after the latest round of fighting.
Roughly 4,360 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel during the operation, about 3,400 of which crossed into Israel.
Joint List MK Ofer Cassif tells Haaretz that police violently broke up a “quiet” protest of hundreds in Sheikh Jarrah against the eviction of Palestinian families there because one of the participants waved a Palestinian flag.
It is not illegal to wave a Palestinian flag in Israel, but police often use it as a pretext for breaking up protests, insisting that it can lead to unrest.
— Yanal Jbareen | ينال جبارين | ינאל ג׳בארין (@JbareenYanal) May 21, 2021
A majority of registered voters in the US approve of US President Joe Biden’s handling of the recent violence between Israel and Hamas, a new poll finds.
The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted on May 14-15, five days before a ceasefire was reached.
Fifty-six percent of registered voters indicated they approve of Biden’s handling of the recent violence, while 44% say they disapprove.
The numbers changed drastically based on age group: 50% of 50-64 year-olds approved of Biden’s handling of the Gaza violence; 56% of 35-49 year-olds approve; and 81% of 18-34 year-olds approve.
Roughly eight in 10 Democratic voters approve of Biden’s handling, along with 69 percent of independents. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans say they disapprove of Biden’s handling of the issue.
The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 932 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
Since the beginning of Operation Guardian of the Walls, the Biden administration took a firm stance in favor of Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas rocket fire. That position held throughout the entire 11-day conflict, but about mid-way through the US picked up its efforts aimed at reaching a ceasefire after giving Israel several days to target Hamas infrastructure.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke on the phone today, a senior Abbas adviser says.
“The president stressed the necessity of stopping Israeli aggression in Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as the Gaza Strip, stopping settler attacks and the reconstruction of Gaza,” tweets senior PA official Hussein al-Sheikh.
According to al-Sheikh, Abbas told Blinken that “a comprehensive political process which ends the occupation must begin now.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards unveil a new combat drone dubbed “Gaza” in a tribute to the Palestinians, the force’s official website reported, hours after a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in the coastal enclave took effect.
The drone was named as “an eternal honor for those who today in (Gaza) stand against the Zionists’ invasion and aggression,” Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami said at the unveiling event, quoted by Sepah News.
The drone is capable of carrying 13 bombs while flying at over 35,000 feet at a speed of almost 350 kilometers per hour (200 mph) for 20 hours, he added.
The Islamic republic does not recognize Israel, and supporting the Palestinian cause has been a pillar of Iran’s foreign policy since the country’s 1979 revolution.
Salami had on Wednesday hailed “the birth of a new Palestine… fighting with missiles” and said Israel was now “broken, frustrated and downcast.”
NEW ???? Iran unveils a new long-range combat drone and names it 'Gaza'. pic.twitter.com/3I0DvLJWtg
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) May 21, 2021
The Guards’ Quds Force commander, Ismail Qaani, had earlier this week reaffirmed Tehran’s support for Palestinians against Israel in a phone call with Islamist faction officials.
According to Sepah News, Salami also unveils a new radar system named “Quds” (Jerusalem) that can “detect stealth aircraft in a 500-kilometer (310-mile) radius and be quickly set up and moved.”
The website showed an upgraded version of an air defense system that in 2019 shot down a United States Global Hawk drone over the Strait of Hormuz after it allegedly violated Iran’s airspace.
The new version can fire “advanced short-range missiles and combat close threats such as cruise (missiles), drones, helicopters and bombs released by aircraft,” Salami says.
Hundreds of Palestinian protesters marched with Hamas flags through the Jabal Mukaber neighborhood of East Jerusalem, police say.
They threw stones and shot fireworks at police, who were forced to use means riot-dispersal measures and arrested two suspects for assaulting officers.
The IDF is still prepared to carry out targeted killings of Hamas leaders, even after yesterday’s ceasefire, Channel 13 reports.
Among those the army continues to target is Muhammad Deif, the leader of Hamas’s military wing.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi speaks with International Red Cross President Peter Maurer after this morning’s ceasefire.
“I thanked him for the cooperation and the commitment to the humanitarian situation at the Gaza Strip,” Ashkenazi tweets.
“I updated him about the efforts that were made by Israel during the days of fighting, to facilitate humanitarian aid into Gaza, and how these attempts were foiled due to Hamas’s attacks on the crossing points and on the aid convoys.”
“Mr. Maurer expressed his appreciation for the IDF’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties and preserve international law. We agreed to enhance cooperation between the ICRC and relevant agencies in Israel in order to promote collaborated civil projects in the Gaza Strip,” he adds.
After halting operations due to rocket fire from Gaza, Lufthansa, Austrian and Swiss airlines all announce that they will be renewing flights to Israel on Sunday, Channel 12 reports.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz dismisses claims by Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman that Operation Guardian of the Walls had been politically motivated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Critics of the premier have noted that the spiraling situation within and beyond Israel proper led Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett to walk out of his talks with Lapid to form a unity government that would replace Netanyahu and instead return to negotiations with Netanyahu.
“I don’t accept this claim,” Gantz tells Channel 13. “I strongly urge everyone to be very careful about where they are infusing political matters.”
Gantz insists that Netanyahu did not act out of political motivations during the conflict. Nonetheless, the Blue and White chairman says he will not again sit in a government with the Likud leader, who he says has advanced no strategic diplomatic efforts to prevent Gaza war after Gaza war in addition to not addressing the growing needs of Israel’s Arab population, which contributed to the outbreak of the recent Arab-Jewish violence.
US Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), two founding co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, and Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK), co-founders and co-chairs of the Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, condemn the uptick in antisemitic attacks, which have been committed by largely pro-Palestinian activists against the backdrop of violence in Gaza.
“As co-chairs of the bipartisan congressional task forces for combating antisemitism, we are alarmed and deeply concerned by the growing number of antisemitic incidents in the United States, Canada and across Europe related to the current violence in the Middle East.”
“These disturbing incidents include individuals in London calling for Jewish ‘daughters to be raped,’ a German synagogue being pelted with rocks, an attack on Jewish diners in Los Angeles, fireworks hurled at a crowd in New York City, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent invocation of the blood libel myth—among far too many others.”
“We call on elected officials, faith leaders and civil society leaders to join us in speaking out against this antisemitic hate, now and always,” the lawmakers say.
Iran’s foreign ministry praises Palestinians’ “historic victory” and reaffirmed Tehran’s support after a ceasefire between Israel and armed groups in Gaza took effect.
“Congratulations to our Palestinian sisters and brothers for the historic victory. Your resistance forced the aggressor to retreat,” spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh says on Twitter, in Iran’s first official reaction to the truce.
The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, and other armed groups in the enclave appeared to be holding Friday, after 11 days of fighting.
“Referendum will be held. Till then, PROUD to support your just resistance,” Khatibzadeh adds.
Iranian officials have previously said that a referendum with the participation of “Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of Palestine as well as Palestinian refugees” on a system of government would constitute a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Israel was “forced to accept defeat” by Palestinian armed groups, after a ceasefire between the Jewish state and militants in Gaza.
“I thank dear and almighty God for the victory and honor bestowed upon Palestinian fighters,” he says in a statement on his official website.
“The continuation of crimes and the ceasefire were both (part of Israel’s) defeat. They were forced to accept defeat,” he adds, noting that Israel was “powerless against the unified rise of Palestine.”
“The readiness of the Palestinian youth and the show of power” by armed groups in Gaza “will make Palestine more powerful by the day and the usurping enemy weaker and more despicable,” he adds.
Police have arrested 26 Palestinians for stone throwing during clashes in East Jerusalem today, law enforcement says.
A police officer is filmed assaulting a journalist after he identified himself during clashes at the Temple Mount earlier today.
Nasseer Atta is seen being shoved and having his shirt torn by an armed officer.
This is my exchange with the #Israeli security forces In al #aqsa mosque in #jerusalem today after I showed then my…
עיתונאים, תראו איך תוקפים את הקולגות שלכם בהר הבית. רמקולים. pic.twitter.com/UniQw4c057
— نير حسون Nir Hasson ניר חסון (@nirhasson) May 21, 2021
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, a Biden-ally, pushes back against the growing narrative that his party is moving to the left on Israel.
“Listening to NPR talking about how the Democratic Party is ‘shifting’ on Israel. Such a tired, lazy take. Democrats believe in a two-state future. Always have. If we’re more critical of Israel, it’s bc their politics have moved, not ours,” he tweets.
Indeed the vast majority of Democratic lawmakers back a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but a growing handful have avoided backing the proposal, such as some of the members of the popular “Squad” of progressive Democrats.
Murphy is the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism.
The NYPD announces that it has made an arrest in a hate crime assault of a Jewish man in Times Square earlier this week.
“UPDATE-23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh was arrested for using a crutch to assault a man in front of 1604 Broadway,” NYPD Hate Crimes Division tweets.
“He’s been charged with hate crime assault 2, gang assault 2, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon,” the department adds.
Police have arrested a suspect who was filmed earlier today shoving an unsuspecting officer to the ground at the Temple Mount compound, leading to cheers from the crowd watching.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 21, 2021
Thousands of people demonstrate in Jordan to celebrate the “victory of the resistance” against Israel, after a ceasefire between the Jewish state and Palestinian armed groups.
Responding to a call by the Muslim Brotherhood, some 10,000 people, according to AFP journalists, gathered in the Sweimeh region near the border with the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Demonstrators carried banners reading: “Jerusalem is the symbol of victory,” “congratulations on the victory of the resistance” and “the resilience of Gaza led to victory.”
Demonstrators carry Jordanian and Palestinian flags and chanted “death to Israel” and “let’s trade the olive branch for the gun.”
In Karameh, an area near the West Bank border, another few thousand demonstrators, many youths dressed in Jordanian and Palestinian keffiyeh scarves burned Israeli flags and chanted slogans against the peace deal.
Karameh is the site of a 1968 battle — fought a few months after the defeat of Arab states by Israel in 1967 — between a combined force of Palestinian fighters and Jordanian army soldiers against Israeli troops, and is symbolic across the Arab world.
In the capital, over 1,000 protesters set off on a march from the Al-Husseini Grand Mosque in central Amman after Friday prayers.
Thomas Nides a lock for Israel envoy role after contender Wexler notified he’s out of running — ToI told
Former State Department official Thomas Nides is all but certain to be the Biden administration’s next ambassador to Israel after the other contender in the running, former congressman Robert Wexler, was notified by a congressional ally of the president this afternoon that he would not be the pick, an ex-US official tells The Times of Israel.
A source familiar with the matter also confirmed that Wexler had been notified that the job would not be his.
Nides had been seen as the initial favorite for the position, but Wexler enjoyed a jolt of support in recent weeks from several lawmakers who reached out to Biden on his behalf, including Congressman Ted Deutch and Senator Bernie Sanders.
Nides, for his part, has close ties with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and former president Barak Obama.
Both he and Wexler have familiarity with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Wexler particularly so, as he is currently serving as the head of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace in Washington.
Nides served as deputy secretary of state for management and resources in the Obama administration before becoming a managing director at Morgan Stanley.
Born in 1961 to a Jewish family in Duluth, Minnesota, Nides is a banking executive and if indeed picked, would bring both government and private-sector experience to the post.
He is the managing director and vice chairman of Morgan Stanley and has served in multiple financial institutions, including Credit Suisse and Burson-Marsteller.
United, Delta and American say they are resuming flights to Tel Aviv after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in violence that had included rockets fired toward Ben Gurion International Airport.
Delta Air Lines plans to operate its first flight from New York to Tel Aviv since early last week on Friday night, with the first return trip on Sunday. Delta will “closely monitor the security situation and will make adjustments to our flight schedules as necessary,” spokesman Morgan Durrant says.
United Airlines also says it expects to resume service Friday night, with a flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Tel Aviv. A spokeswoman said the airline plans to also resume flights from Chicago and San Francisco over the weekend. United halted flights from all three US cities to Israel on May 12.
American Airlines said it plans to restart New York-Tel Aviv flights on Monday.
The truce between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas appeared to be holding Friday, after an 11-day war that left more than 250 people dead, mostly Palestinians.
Washington says that during a conversation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken “underscored the US commitment to working with the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations to provide rapid humanitarian assistance and to marshal international support for Gaza and Gaza reconstruction efforts.”
He also committed to “retaining open lines of communication at all levels.”
US President Joe Biden pledges to help organize efforts to “rebuild Gaza” and says creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel is the “only answer” to the conflict.
Biden also says he had told the Israelis to stop “intercommunal fighting” in the flashpoint city of Jerusalem.
However he stresses “there is no shift in my commitment, commitment to the security of Israel” and adds that until the region “unequivocally” acknowledges Israel’s existence “there will be no peace.”
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