Islamic Jihad announces new homegrown rocket: the Buraq-120
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South braces for possibility of renewed fighting after day of truce violations

With rockets targeting Israeli communities throughout the day despite Islamic Jihad’s pledge to hold fire, it remained unclear whether the IDF planned to respond — and if so, how

Rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on November 13, 2019. (Anas Baba/AFP)
Rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on November 13, 2019. (Anas Baba/AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged the events of Thursday, November 14, after two days of intense fighting between Israel and Gaza following the killing of Islamic Jihad terror chief Baha Abu al-Ata.

IDF says Gaza command center, naval training base bombed

The Israeli military says it bombed a number of Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip in response to the recent barrage of rocket fire.

IDF aircraft struck a command center and a military base in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, the army says.

Israeli Navy ships also bombed a training base used by PIJ’s naval commando unit, which was also used to store weapons, the IDF says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Video shows rocket sirens crash wedding party

A video making the rounds of social media shows Israeli celebrants at a wedding in Nes Ziona keeping their spirits up as they crowd into a back room during the latest rocket barrage.

The town, sandwiched between Rehovot and Rishon Lezion some 50 kilometers from Gaza, had not been targeted at all during the day, so events that may have been canceled a day earlier went ahead anyway and the rocket fire caught many off guard.

There are no reports of any injuries or damage from the barrage.

Rocket siren reported in Nahal Oz

Rocket sirens are heard in Nahal Oz.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Sirens sound in Ashkelon

Rocket sirens sound in Ashkelon, as fire appears to persist after midnight following a short lull.

Rockets fired at Ashkelon, Ashdod area

A volley of rockets is fired toward the southern Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod.

Warning sirens wailed in both cities and surrounding communities.

At least one rocket is intercepted over Ashdod by the Iron Dome system.

IDF says widespread sirens before midnight caused by single rocket

The IDF says rocket fire from the Gaza Strip that triggered sirens from Ashdod to Rehovot shortly before midnight, and appeared to be a massive barrage, was actually just one rocket.

The IDF says the rocket was intercepted over Israel, but its trajectory, together with shrapnel from the interceptor, set off multiple warnings.

Palestinians say 1 killed as air force targets rocket launching squad

Palestinian sources say one person was killed and several others were injured as the air force targets a cell of rocket launchers in central Gaza.

There is no confirmation from the IDF.

Rocket sirens sound in Ashkelon and Beer Ganim

Rocket warning sirens are sounding in Ashkelon and Beer Ganim in southern Israel.

Palestinian TV says toll in strike on central Gaza goes up to 4

Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV reports that the toll from an Israeli strike in central Gaza has gone up to four people, including a minor and two women.

The report says the strike hit a home in Deir al-Balah. Earlier reports said the air force targeted a squad of rocket launchers.

There is no confirmation of the toll from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry and no comment from the IDF.

 

Gaza ministry confirms 4 killed in suspected Israeli strike

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says the bodies of four people killed in a suspected Israeli strike on Deir al-Balah in central Gaza have arrived at a hospital.

The ministry says 10 others were wounded.

The deaths bring the toll on the Palestinian side to 30 in the latest round of fighting, according to the ministry figures. Israel says most of them are terrorists.

Palestinians say toll in central Gaza strike rises to 6

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says the toll in a suspected Israeli strike in central Gaza rises to 6 dead, with 12 injured.

There are no immediate details on the identities of the dead.

This takes the toll in Gaza to 32. Israel says most of them are terrorists.

The IDF has not commented on the strike.

Rocket warning sires sound in Gaza border communities

Rocket warning sirens are sounding in the communities near the Gaza Strip border.

Sirens are going off in Sha’ar Hanegev, Sdot Yam, Eshkol and in the Lachish area.

Palestinians say six killed in Gaza strike from single family

Palestinian sources say the six people killed in a suspected Israeli airstrike on a house in the Gaza Strip were from a single family.

Reports say the dead included parents and their children.

There is no comment from the IDF.

Egypt calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza fighting

Egypt is calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as the violence shows no signs of abating.

An Egyptian official tells Israel’s Kan public broadcaster that Cairo is calling on Islamic Jihad to stop firing rockets and return to peaceful protests along the Gaza border.

The official says Israel must end targeted killings and refrain from shooting protesters.

Egyptian sources say ceasefire to go into effect at 5.30 a.m

Egyptian sources tell Israel Radio that Israel and Islamic Jiahd have agreed to a ceasefire to end two days of fighting that will go into effect at 5.30 a.m.

An official say Islamic Jihad has agreed to stop firing rockets and will ensure protests along the Gaza border are peaceful.

Israel agreed to halt targeted killings and committed to stop shooting protesters along the fence, the report says.

There is no official confirmation.

Islamic Jihad source confirms ceasefire agreed

A senior Islamic Jihad official confirms that a ceasefire with Israel to end the Gaza fighting has gone into effect at 5.30 a.m.

There is no confirmation so far from Israel.

Rocket warning sirens sound in southern Israel

Rocket warning sirens are sounding in southern Israel despite reports a ceasefire has been reached.

The sirens sound in communities to the north of Gaza and residents report hearing an explosion.

The IDF says it is investigating the incident.

Rocket warning sirens sound in southern Israel despite reported ceasefire

Rocket warning sirens sound in southern Israel despite reports a ceasefire has been reached.

Sirens are heard in communities bordering the Gaza Strip.

IDF lifts restrictions on whole country with exception of Gaza border area

In light of the reported ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the IDF’s Home Front Command updates its instructions.

After consultations with government ministries and local authorities, the IDF lifts restrictions on schools, gatherings and work from the whole country with the exception of the Gaza border area.

Mladenov says UN, Egypt worked to prevent war, coming hours are ‘critical’

UN Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov says the UN and Egypt worked to prevent the situation between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from escalating into a war.

“The coming hours and days will be critical. ALL must show maximum restraint and do their part to prevent bloodshed. The Middle East does not need more wars,” Mladenov tweets.

Israeli official: We achieved Gaza objectives, more than 20 terrorists stopped

An Israeli official says that Israel has achieved its operational objectives in Gaza including the destruction of Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s infrastructure in the enclave, and the “thwarting” of more than 20 terrorists.

“Israel gave nothing. Whoever hurts us will be hurt back. There is no policy change,” the official says.

“Israel has achieved the objectives of the operation. Islamic Jihad was significantly damaged, we destroyed many infrastructures and over 20 terrorists were thwarted.”

A senior Islamic Jihad official confirmed that a ceasefire with Israel to end the Gaza fighting went into effect at 5.30 a.m. although sporadic rocket fire continues.

Security restrictions lifted on most of south, schools open

The Home Front Command lifts security restrictions on much of southern Israel, with the exception of the Gaza periphery and Lachish region.

This means schools are set to open in southern cities like Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba as a tense calm returns to the country after two days of rocket fire.

Security officials will make a decision on the Gaza envelope region in the coming hours, the Home Front Command says.

IDF: Islamic Jihad rocket commander killed in strike on Gaza house

An IDF Arabic-language spokesperson says Rasmi Abu Malhous, a senior Islamic Jihad commander, was killed in the overnight strike that targeted a house in Deir al-Balah and claimed the lives of six members of the same family.

Avichay Adraee confirms the death and tweets a photo of Malhous, who was apparently the head of the terror group’s rocket unit.

FM says Israel will continue policy of targeted killings

Israel intends to continue its policy of targeting Gaza terrorists with deadly strikes, says Foreign Minister Israel Katz, in a warning that comes just a few hours after a ceasefire to end the latest round of Israel-Gaza fighting was announced.

“Israel will harm anyone who tries to harm it,” Katz tells Army Radio.

The fighting began when Israel killed an Islamic Jihad terror chief in Gaza early on Tuesday, setting off a barrage of rockets and a two-day round of violence. Early Thursday, an Israeli military spokesman says another Islamic Jihad commander was killed overnight, apparently along with five members of his family, shortly before the truce went into effect.

— with agencies

Israel Railways waiting for green light to resume southern line

Israel Railways says it has yet to receive IDF authorization to resume its train route from Ashkelon to Beersheba.

As a result, no trains are currently traveling to Sderot, Netivot and Ofakim.

IDF confirms ceasefire, dubs Gaza fighting Operation ‘Black Belt’

The Israeli army confirms a ceasefire has been reached with terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF names the two-day bout of fighting, in which two Islamic Jihad commanders were killed and its terrorist infrastructure was targeted, Operation “Black Belt.” The fighting saw some 450 rockets fired at Israel in 48 hours.

Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry puts the death toll at 32; Israel says most of the dead were terrorists.

The military says it has swiftly achieved its objectives in the fight, having struck a “harsh blow” to the Islamic Jihad’s weapon capabilities.

The army will now focus on the threat posed to Israel’s north by Iran-backed proxies, adds the IDF.

IDF eases some restrictions in Lachish but schools still off

The IDF Home Front Command says residents of the Lachish region may go to work and there are no security restrictions on large gatherings.

Schools in the area will remain closed, however.

Lapid, Liberman lambaste ceasefire, say more fighting just a matter of time

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Blue and White MK Yair Lapid are criticizing the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Islamic Jihad.

“The goal of every terror organization is to disrupt daily life,” Liberman, a former defense minister, tells Army Radio. “And here again we saw a minor organization shut down one-third of the country. Today, too, it’s clear to all: The next round [of fighting] is only a matter of time.”

“The compromise with Islamic Jihad is not good,” tweets Lapid. “It’s not good because it will lead to the next round [of fighting]. It’s not good because if you give Islamic Jihad achievements after firing 400 rockets, in the next round Hamas won’t be able to sit on the sidelines. It’s not good because again nothing has changed.”

“The deterrence is nonexistent,” adds Lapid. “The residents of the south don’t feel safe. The exceptional intelligence and operational achievement of the (justified) assassination of Abu Al-Ata remains an isolated incident that doesn’t change the public perception,” he says, referring to the Tuesday dawn IDF strike that killed an Islamic Jihad terror chief.

 

Bennett says rules of game in Gaza have changed, terrorists should live in fear

New Defense Minister Naftali Bennett says Gazan terror leaders should fear Israeli attack under the “new rules of the game” in Gaza.

“The new rules of the game are clear, under which the IDF will act entirely freely,” says Bennett. “A terrorist who tries to harm the citizens of Israel can’t rest well at night, not at home, not in his bed, and not in any hiding place.”

Deri: Hamas refusal to join fight encouraging for long-term truce

Cabinet minister Aryeh Deri says Hamas’s apparent refusal to join the Islamic Jihad-led rocket fire against Israel is encouraging for ongoing diplomatic efforts to secure a long-term ceasefire with the Gaza-ruling terror group.

“We are in the middle of a process of reaching understandings with Hamas, and you see that it is interested [in securing an agreement with Israel] because it didn’t join the fighting,” the Shas leader tells the Ynet news site.

“We have no interest in continuing [the fighting],” says Deri as a ceasefire takes hold. “They [Islamic Jihad] didn’t enter this in order to open a new round [of conflict].”

IDF: Islamic Jihad homes legitimate targets, used to store weapons

The Israeli military is defending its attacks on private homes in the Gaza Strip during two days of fighting with Islamic Jihad fighters.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus tells reporters that Islamic Jihad commanders used their homes to store weapons, making them legitimate targets.

Eight members of a single family were killed in one airstrike. Conricus says he doesn’t have information on that incident but that terrorists used their families as human shields.

He says: “All of our operations were measured, proportionate and focused only on military assets belonging to the Islamic Jihad.”

Palestinian officials say 34 people were killed, including at least 18 members of the terror groups’ armed wings. Among the six children killed were a pair of 7-year-olds; three women were also among the dead.

with agencies

Minister: Israel offered no concessions to Islamic Jihad in exchange for truce

A senior minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party pushes back against criticism of the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, saying no concessions were made to the Gaza terrorist group.

Responding to Blue and White MK Yair Lapid’s rebuke on Twitter, Gilad Erdan writes: “There were no concessions and you know it. [Islamic] Jihad wanted a ceasefire and it received no commitments in exchange. ”

He calls the Israeli military activities “proactive, deadly and deterring.”

As Gaza violence winds down, Gantz and Liberman meet for coalition talks

Blue and White chair Benny Gantz and Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman begin a meeting to discuss coalition negotiations at Kfar Hamaccabiah in Ramat Gan.

The meeting was originally set to take place on Tuesday but was postponed due to the escalation in Gaza.

Gantz has just six days left to form a coalition.

Raoul Wootliff

Sirens wail in southern Israel despite ceasefire

Rocket alert sirens are triggered in the Gaza-adjacent region and Netivot, despite the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza terror groups.

5 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, 2 intercepted

The army says five rockets were fired at Israel in violation of a ceasefire.

Two of the projectiles are intercepted by the Iron Dome, according to the IDF.

No reports of injuries or damage in fresh barrage

Medics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service say there are no reports of injuries in the renewed rocket bombardment from Gaza on the south.

No damage is immediately reported.

President hails Israeli resilience, says country not seeking war

President Reuven Rivlin says Israel’s willingness to reach a ceasefire agreement underlines its commitment to calm the situation.

“The State of Israel has again proved in this round of fighting that it will not stand idle when our citizens’ security is threatened. On the other hand, we made it perfectly clear that we are not interested in escalation and that the response to quiet will be quiet,” says Rivlin.

“I want to express my support for all Israeli citizens, who have again shown their resilience and willingness to follow instructions. It is this resilience that allows our security forces to do their vital work as professionally as possible, as they did this time. My thanks and appreciation, on behalf of all Israelis, to our soldiers and their commanders, members of the security, intelligence and rescue forces.”

Liberman seeks backing from all Blue and White leaders of president’s unity plan

Concluding a meeting with Yisrael Beytenu chair Avigdor Liberman, Blue and White head Benny Gantz says that he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is charging toward elections” and does not really want to negotiate over forming a unity government.

“We just finished a good meeting where we analyzed the situation,” Gantz says of his sit-down with Liberman, which was postponed from Tuesday due to the escalation in Gaza. “We do not want to see elections and will make every effort until the last minute.”

“To the best of my judgment, Netanyahu is keeping the bloc and is charging toward elections,” he says, referring to the Likud leader’s 55-MK strong right-wing and religious allies, who have insisted on negotiating together.

On President Reuven Rivlin’s unity plan that would allow Netanyahu to serve as PM but temporarily stand aside if indicted, Gantz says he “prepared to consider any option that will uphold my principles in terms of indictment.” Liberman has demanded Blue and White fully accept the plan, which, although not Rivlin didn’t explicitly say it, would also see Netanyahu serve as prime minister first.

Standing next to Gantz in the lobby of the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Ramat Gan, Liberman, hinting at disagreements within the Blue and White leadership, says, “What is missing for me is a clear announcement from all the leaders of Blue and White that they are accepting the president’s plan.”

He says that, “From Netanyahu we heard that clearly ‘no’ — he will not accept the full plan as I proposed. Here I didn’t hear no but I also didn’t hear ‘yes’ in a positive way. It’s sorely missing.”

The two say they have scheduled to meet again early next week.

Raoul Wootliff

Minister: If Islamic Jihad behind latest rocket fire, Israel must respond

A Likud minister says the Israeli air force must retaliate if the rocket fire aimed at Israel earlier today in violation of a ceasefire is determined to have been carried out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.

“If the fire at Netivot was carried out by Islamic Jihad, we must respond with IDF strikes,” Ofir Akunis tells Army Radio. “That we agreed to a ceasefire doesn’t mean that we have to leave the field open to their mad whims.”

Tense quiet returns to south after bombardment

A fragile calm returns to southern Israel, several hours after five rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip.

There is no claim of responsibility for the latest barrage.

Sappers called to Netivot daycare over possible rocket shards

Police sappers are called to a daycare facility in the southern city of Netivot after reports that rocket fragments are found there.

Police say the daycare was empty of children at the time of the rocket fire earlier today.

Experts are examining the scene.

 

Ashdod mayor downplays latest rocket fire, says truce still on

Citing the IDF Home Front Command, Ashdod Mayor Yechiel Lasry says the recent rocket fire was “isolated” and doesn’t undermine the truce between Israel and Gaza terror groups.

“The fire in the past hour was isolated, and does not violate the ceasefire agreement with Islamic Jihad,” he assures residents in a Facebook post, urging them to keep on with their daily routines.

Video shows crater in Eshkol region from rocket

A video circulating on social media shows the impact site of a rocket attack in an open area in the Eshkol region, adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

Roads reopen along Gaza border as truce (apparently) sticks

Roads that were closed to traffic in the Gaza border area for security reasons have been reopened.

Students at Tel Aviv University protest IDF activity in Gaza

Arab Israeli students at Tel Aviv University protest against Israeli military activity in Gaza.

The demonstration attracts dozens of students.

Arab Israeli students protest against the bombing of the Gaza Strip at the Tel Aviv University on November 14, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli Arab students protest against the bombing of the Gaza Strip at the Tel Aviv University on November 14, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli-Arab students protest against the bombing of the Gaza Strip at the Tel Aviv University on November 14, 2019. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** אוניברסיטה
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Bennett huddles with security chiefs at Defense Ministry HQ

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett meets with the IDF chief of staff, Shin Bet security chief, the heads of the IDF Home Front Command and Military Intelligence, the deputy defense minister and other senior defense officials at the army headquarters in Tel Aviv for an update on Gaza, according to a statement from his office.

He receives a briefing on the security situation and thanks those involved in the so-called Operation Black Belt for their efforts, the Defense Ministry says.

Israel reopens Gaza crossings as ceasefire holds

Israel has decided to reopen all land crossings for the Gaza Strip and to again allow Palestinian fisherman to work up to 15 nautical miles from the shore, an Israeli official says.

This decision was made in light of a security assessment by top Israeli defense officials following two full days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.

Judah Ari Gross

IDF eases restrictions on Gaza border areas

The IDF Home Front Command has decided to immediately remove all safety restrictions on the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip and the nearby Lachish region, the army says.

Judah Ari Gross

Netanyahu invites Liberman for Sunday meeting

With the fighting in Gaza ostensibly over, Netanyahu invites Liberman to a meeting on Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. to discuss the coalition stalemate.

Liberman does not immediately comment on whether he’ll attend.

Major roads reopened in Lebanon after 2-day closure

Lebanese troops reopened major roads around Lebanon Thursday after a two-day closure triggered by a TV interview with President Michel Aoun in which he called on protesters to go home.

The roads linking Beirut with the country’s south and north were opened shortly before noon Thursday, as well as others around the country.

Aoun’s comments had led to anger and renewed blockage of roads by demonstrators.

A fire fighter extinguishes burning pipes and tires set ablaze by anti-government protesters blocking the highway at the southern entrance of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, on November 14, 2019 (Ibrahim CHALHOUB / AFP)

Protesters have been holding demonstrations since October 17 demanding an end to widespread corruption and mismanagement by the political class that has ruled the country for three decades.

— with AP

Amid ceasefire, trains resume operations between Ashkelon and Beersheba

Israel Railways says it is resuming regular train operations between the cities of Ashkelon and Beersheba in light of the return of calm to the south.

The line had been closed since Tuesday due to the threat of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu: Goals of Gaza operation achieved in full, our enemies got the message

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the goals of the operation in Gaza “were achieved in full.”

In a statement the prime minister says, “The aim of the operation was to carry out a targeted killing of an Islamic Jihad commander. He was taken out alongside dozens of terrorists and dozens of important Islamic Jihad infrastructure… Our enemies got the message: We can reach anyone.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint press conference with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (not pictured) in Jerusalem October 28, 2019. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool/AFP)

The premier also commended the “exceptional achievement of our defense system that worked well,” in reference to the Iron Dome anti-rocket array.

Report: Intel on planned massive salvo on Tel Aviv led to nixing of work Tuesday

The rare and drastic measure taken by authorities Tuesday to cancel work and school in central Israel following the assassination of a top Gaza terrorist leader was taken due to intelligence pointing to an expected massive rocket barrage targeting the region, Haaretz reports.

Sources involved in the decision-making process tell the paper that at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, about two hours after the IDF hit on Islamic Jihad’s Baha Abu al-Ata, the military got word of plans for major salvos on the Gush Dan region, which includes Tel Aviv, just as residents were headed to their places of employment and study.

A snap decision was made to cancel work and school in order to prevent civilians from being caught in a hailstorm of rockets while in transit, they say.

Tel Aviv’s Ha’Bimah Square almost empty of visitors after the IDF closes schools and temporarily stops non-essential work in the city (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Erdogan says Turkey won’t dispose of Russian S-400s

Turkey is willing to purchase US-made Patriot air defense systems but will not agree to dispose of the Russian S-400 system it has already bought, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

Speaking to reporters on board his plane on his way back from a meeting with Donald Trump in Washington, Erdogan says the US president is engaged in “sincere efforts” to resolve disputes between the NATO allies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a joint press conference with the Hungarian prime minister in Budapest on November 7, 2019. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP)

Turkey took delivery of the Russian S-400 system this year, dismissing warnings from the United States that it poses a threat to NATO security. As a result, Washington suspended Turkish participation in the multinational F-35 fighter jet program.

— AP

Peretz: Labor has reached ‘dramatic’ coalition agreements with Blue and White

Labor-Gesher chief Amir Peretz says his party has reached “dramatic agreements” with Blue and White in coalition negotiations.

He says these would include a significant rise in the minimum wage; an end to employment of workers in the public service as independent contractors rather than full employees; free public education from infancy; a plan to help end the housing crisis; and full funding for a government plan to combat violence against women.

All well and good, but with less than a week left for Blue and White to form a coalition, and with the party seeming no closer to clinching it, it is unclear if these agreements will have much significance.

L to R: Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, Labor chief Amir Peretz and Gesher head Orly Levy-Abekasis in a meeting, November 14, 2019 (Facebook photo)

Rocket sirens sound in Gaza periphery after hours of calm

Incoming rocket sirens sound in Israeli communities outside the Gaza Strip, shattering hours of calm following an announced ceasefire agreement between Israel and terror groups in the coastal enclave.

The alarms can be heard in the communities of Be’eri, Nahal Oz, Kfar Maimon, Tushia and Alumim.

The military says it is investigating the matter. There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

— Judah Ari Gross

Army says rocket launched from Gaza shot down by Iron Dome

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip is shot down by an Iron Dome interceptor missile, the army says.

The rocket triggered sirens in Israeli communities near the Gaza border, hours after a ceasefire was declared between Israel and terror groups in the coastal enclave.

— Judah Ari Gross

IDF brass meet mayors in south, thank them for remaining ‘resilient’

Top IDF officers thank the heads of Israeli communities that were targeted the most by rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip over the past two days, lauding them for abiding by safety precautions and remaining “resilient” during the fighting.

The army says during the meeting with local mayors, Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Gaza Division commander Brig. Gen. Eliezer Toledano updated the mayors on the current situational assessment, ongoing defensive operations and thanked them “for their close cooperation in general and for the past few days in particular.”

Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, third from left, Gaza Division commander Brig. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, third from right, and other top officers meet with mayors from Israeli communities near the Gaza border who were targeted by rocket fire over two days, on November 14, 2019

The commanders “noted their great appreciation for the responsible conduct of residents of the area in abiding by IDF Home Front Command instructions and the resilience that they displayed during the days of fighting,” the military says in a statement.

— Judah Ari Gross

IAF completes Blue Flag 2019 drill, with 4 other air forces

The Israeli military announces the completion of Blue Flag 2019, an exercise in southern Israel involving the air forces of four other countries.

The US, Italy, Germany and Greece took part in the 10-day drill while six other countries participated as observers.

“Some 70 war planes of six different types participated in the exercise, most of them from foreign air forces,” the army says. Cargo and refueling planes as well as helicopters and unmanned aircraft also took part.

The aircraft “flew 19 day and night sorties” under various scenarios over the 10 days of the drill.

Islamic Jihad to give ‘important’ statement at 8 p.m.

The spokesman for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Abu Hamza will deliver an “important address” at 8 p.m. tonight, the terror group says.

There are no immediate further details.

Judah Ari Gross

‘Multiple victims’ reported in school shooting near Los Angeles

California police are hunting for a gunman after a shooting broke out at a high school north of Los Angeles, with “multiple victims” confirmed.

“This is an active shooter situation. The suspect described to be a male Asian, black clothing is outstanding,” the local sheriff’s department tweets, as police swarm the area in Santa Clarita, 40 miles north of Los Angeles.

“There are multiple victims injured in this shooting at Saugus High School,” the city of Santa Clarita tweets. No details are immediately available on their condition.

— AFP

Rivlin to meet with party leaders as political gridlock endures

President Reuven Rivlin is planning to meet in the coming days with political party leaders to try and find a way out of the current political impasse, Channel 12 news reports.

Among the Knesset members the president plans to meet, with six days until Blue and White’s mandate to form a government ends and no coalition in sight, are ultra-Orthodox leaders as well as the Arab parties that make up the Joint List, the report says.

Communities near Gaza cancel school studies Friday

The Israeli communities closest to the Gaza border preemptively cancel school for Friday in light of the ongoing threat of rocket fire from the Strip, following multiple breaches of an announced ceasefire.

“The decision was made out of concern for the students and teaching staff,” the communities say in a joint statement.

File: Children go to school in Sderot. (Anna Kaplan /FLASH90)

Earlier, the IDF Home Front Command announced it was removing all safety restriction on the area, allowing studies to resume and businesses to reopen.

“We are in touch with the IDF and are assessing the developments [of the situation],” the communities say.

— Juda Ari Gross

Hundreds said to protest ceasefire in northern Gaza

Several hundred people are demonstrating in the northern Gaza Strip against Islamic Jihad’s ceasefire with Israel and calling for continued rocket attacks on Israel, the Ynet new site reports.

There have been several rockets fired since the ceasefire went into effect early this morning.

PM to Liberman: Are you willing to endanger Israel with gov’t leaning on Arabs?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a public call to Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman to clarify his stance on a minority government supported from outside by the Arab majority Joint List party.

“Will you and your faction vote against a government that leans on the support, or abstention, of MKs from the Arab Joint List, that you have defined as a fifth column?” he says in a statement.

Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman speaks at a faction meeting at Neve Ilan west of Jerusalem, September 22, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

“I want to know the truth. Are you really willing to endanger Israel’s security and form a government dependent on [MKs] Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh? Enough with these dangerous games. Give a clear-cut answer: yes or no?”

Islamic Jihad announces new homegrown rocket: the Buraq-120

The Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, announces that it has added a new rocket to its arsenal.

The terror group says the new rocket is called Buraq-120 and asserts that is “totally Palestinian manufactured.”

It says that it will reveal “all the details about the rocket” in a video it will release soon, noting it was used in the latest escalation of violence with Israel.

— Adam Rasgon

Syrian troops begin deploying along border with Turkey

Syrian government forces started deploying today in areas close to the Turkish border in the country’s northeast as part of an agreement reached between Russia and Turkey, state media reports.

News agency SANA says troops are deploying between the towns of Jawadiyeh and Malkiyeh, also known as Derik, while state-run TV says Syrian border guards will be positioned at six points near to the frontier.

Illustrative: Syrian government soldiers ride in the back of a truck with national flags as they deploy for the first time in the eastern countryside of the city of Qamishli in the northeastern Hasakah province on November 5, 2019. (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

The deployment is part of a ceasefire deal brokered by Moscow last month along much of the northeastern border that seeks to clear the area of the Kurdish fighters who were key US allies in the fight against the Islamic State group. Since the agreement was reached, Russia and Turkey began joint patrols along a narrower strip directly on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Turkey began a major military offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria last month, capturing dozens of towns and villages.

— AP

One killed in school shooting near Los Angeles

One female was killed in a school shooting near Los Angeles, hospital officials say.

The suspect is in custody and has been taken to a hospital for treatment, while at least three others were injured in the shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Los Angeles.

“One female deceased patient. Two critical male patients. One male patient in good condition,” the nearby Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia tweets.

— AFP

Odeh: Does anyone feel more secure after decade of Netanyahu rule?

Joint List head Ayman Odeh responds to the prime minister’s claim, in his appeal to Avigdor Liberman earlier, that a government based on the support of his party would endanger the security of Israelis.

“Forget Liberman. After a decade of Netanyahu rule, does anyone feel more secure?” he tweets.

Pelosi says Trump sought to ‘bribe’ Ukraine

US President Donald Trump bribed Ukraine by withholding aid until Kyiv committed to investigating his political rival, the top congressional Democrat says after the first impeachment hearings yield “devastating testimony” against Trump.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says testimony provided Wednesday by two witnesses, including a US envoy to Ukraine appointed by Trump himself, was damning because it “corroborated evidence of bribery” by Trump in his actions regarding Ukraine.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference in the House Visitors Center at the US Capitol November 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

The comments signal that Democrats believe the evidence that emerged from the first public hearing of Trump’s impeachment inquiry was strong enough to back their argument that Trump abused the power of his office to advance his political interests.

— AFP

Islamic Jihad unveils new rocket with dramatic video, says it used it this week

The Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, reveals what it says is a new rocket that it has added to its arsenal.

In a video released on the website of the Al-Quds Brigades, operatives are seen assembling the rocket named Buraq-120.

In a statement, Al-Quds Brigades spokesman Abu Hamza says the rocket is “totally Palestinian manufactured.”

Text that appears in the video claims the Buraq-120 was used in the latest escalation between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip between Tuesday morning and Thursday; it also contends that it hit the city of Hadera in central Israel.

The IDF did not report on a rocket hitting Hadera during the last round of fighting.

The terror group says its fighters “still have their fingers on the trigger” and that it is monitoring developments in both the West Bank and Gaza.

Report: Justice officials hope to decide whether to charge PM within 10 days

Justice officials are hoping to reach a final decision on whether to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges in three separate cases within 10 days, Channel 13 reports.

The network also reports that senior prosecution officials believe the charge of bribery against Netanyahu in Case 4000 — the most serious charge facing the premier — should remain in the indictment.

There have previously been reports that the attorney general is considering removing the bribery charge, leaving only the fraud and breach of trust allegations against the premier in the case. Bribery is a much more serious charge, though fraud and breach of trust, if proven, can also entail jail time.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, June 4, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Man seriously wounded in Arab town, apparently shot by policeman

A 41-year-old man has been shot in the northern Arab town of Tamra, and is in serious condition.

Media reports claim he was shot by a police officer.

According to Ynet the man hit his wife’s vehicle with his car and officers were called to the scene. He was shot during an attempt to arrest him.

The incident is being investigated.

Incoming rocket sirens once again blare in Sderot area

Incoming rocket sirens sound in the town of Sderot and the surrounding area, in what appears to be a fresh violation of a ceasefire between Israel and terror groups in the Strip.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

— Judah Ari Gross

Army says 2 rockets fired from Gaza intercepted by Iron Dome

Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel are intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, the army says.

The incoming rockets triggered sirens in the southern town of Sderot and surrounding communities.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage caused by fragments of the intercepted rockets.

— Judah Ari Gross

Ashkelon also said to cancel school tomorrow over rockets

Joining Gaza periphery communities, the city of Ashkelon will also cancel school on Friday due to the ongoing intermittent rocket attacks emanating from Gaza, Channel 12 reports.

Liberman to PM: Promise no third election under any circumstances

Avigdor Liberman reacts to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call that he make clear whether he will allow the formation of a government leaning on Arab MKs.

“Mr. Prime Minister, before you demand promises from me, promise to the people of Israel that you won’t take Israel to an election for a third time in a year under any circumstances,” he says.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) with then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman at a joint press conference on May 30, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He also claims it is Netanyahu who has had “close relations” with the Joint List’s Ahmad Tibi.

Elizabeth Warren welcomes Gaza ceasefire, urges end to rockets, blockade

Leading Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren welcomes the Gaza ceasefire and calls for an end to Palestinian rockets and the Israeli blockade on the Strip.

“I welcome the Gaza ceasefire. Dozens were killed in Gaza, and hundreds of rockets fired at Israel,” she tweets.

Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a town hall event on October 18, 2019 in Norfolk, Virginia. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP)

“We must work to end rocket attacks on Israel, eliminate the Gaza blockade, and solve the humanitarian crisis so that all Israelis and Palestinians live in security and freedom.”

Netflix to fix Holocaust documentary after Poland complains

Netflix says it will add information to a Holocaust documentary on Nazi German death camps that Poland said “rewrites history” because it features an “incorrect” map.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki earlier this week called on the popular US streaming and production website to correct the “terrible mistake” that he believed had been “committed unintentionally.”

A map featured in “The Devil Next Door” documentary wrongly shows death camps built by Nazi Germany during World War II inside the borders of modern-day Poland that were established only after the end of the war.

— AFP

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Islamic Jihad announces new homegrown rocket: the Buraq-120

The Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, announces that it has added a new rocket to its arsenal.

The terror group says the new rocket is called Buraq-120 and asserts that is “totally Palestinian manufactured.”

It says that it will reveal “all the details about the rocket” in a video it will release soon, noting it was used in the latest escalation of violence with Israel.

— Adam Rasgon