Israel media review

Rockets’ red glare: 7 things to know for May 30

Despite the barrages of mortar shells and the counterstrikes, it seems no one really wants an escalation in Gaza, but resolving the situation in the Strip is a difficult task

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Flames from rockets fired by Palestinians are seen over Gaza Strip heading toward Israel, in the early morning of May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Illustrative: Flames from rockets fired by Palestinians are seen over Gaza Strip heading toward Israel, in the early morning of May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

1. Strong words and threats by Israeli ministers to the Hamas terrorist group pepper the pages of the country’s major newspapers and websites after dozens of rockets and mortar shells were fired at the Jewish state from the Gaza Strip last night, forcing thousands of civilians to spend the night under the cover of bomb shelters.

  • Israel Hayom, like Yedioth Aharonoth and Haaretz, places a major emphasis on Israel’s retaliation to the barrage from Gaza, noting that the IDF’s response to the attacks was the most forceful strike on the Strip since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
  • On Tuesday, Israeli aircraft targeted approximately 40 positions in the Gaza Strip belonging to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, after the two organizations released a joint statement claiming responsibility for the dozens of rockets and mortar shells fired at southern Israel throughout the day. A short while later, Israeli warplanes launched a second retaliatory strike, hitting some 25 Hamas targets in Gaza, the army said.

2. But despite the soaring tensions in southern Israel, Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya announced on Tuesday that a “consensus” had been reached in the Strip to “return to the understandings of the ceasefire” during the night. He said that Hamas and other “resistance factions” were committed to the ceasefire as long as Israel, too, was committed to it.

  • While some Israeli ministers such as Israel Katz and Naftali Bennett vehemently denied that a ceasefire agreement had been reached, Haaretz quotes high level — but unnamed — officials who acknowledged that the Jewish state would respect the truce brokered by Egypt, as long as no more rockets would be fired from the Strip.
  • Yedioth offers a nuts and bolts analysis on the volatile truce, delving behind the scenes of the talks between the Palestinian terror groups and and Egyptian officials. Veteran military correspondent Ron Ben-Yishai explains that the Palestinian terror groups agreed to a unilateral ceasefire in the hope that Israel would not attack unless provoked, as the rocket barrages had already achieved the goal of creating an imagined balance of power between the IDF and Hamas in the eyes of the residents of Strip. This balance of power helps shift Palestinian frustration over the dire economic and humanitarian state of Gaza from Hamas to Israel.

3. Ben-Yishai adds that the IDF, well aware of the intentions of the Palestinian terror organizations, took steps to ensure that the situation wouldn’t escalate into a full-blown war.

  • “Israel currently has no good alternative to the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip because there is no one to take power there, and anarchy in the Gaza Strip may spill over onto the Israel side as well,” the Ynet writer explains. “Therefore, the IDF is careful not to use its full force and cause all the damage it can inflict in the first strikes, and the IDF has set for itself a series of ‘escalation steps’ in order to enable that the Palestinian organizations can emerge from the situation without admitting failure.”

4. But if the IDF can’t or won’t topple Hamas, what steps are needed in order to assure that Gaza doesn’t descend into chaos and inflame the entire region in the process?

  • Haaretz’s writers echo senior members of the military in their insistence on rehabilitating the Strip, rather than being dragged into conflict over and over again. “Israeli citizens do not need a military spectacle that is already forcing them into shelters and protected spaces,” the left-wing daily’s editorial says. “The duel must end immediately in order to free up time and place to deal with the basic problems in Gaza.”
  • How to actually deal with these problems, however, is not explained by the paper.

5. In Israel Hayom, some of writers do not share the view of their counterparts in Haaretz, and many of the paper’s contributors demand that Israel enter the Strip and deal Hamas a debilitating blow.

  • Zvika Fogel, for example, says the only real way to end the terror inflicted upon the residents of south Israel is to roll Israeli tanks through the Strip’s security fence and systematically root out members of Hamas.
  • Eran Lerman, a former deputy national security adviser at the Prime Minister’s Office, also asserts that Israel, while uninterested in an escalation, must militarily prove to Hamas and the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad that actions have consequences.

6. Despite the flareup in Israel’s south, there are still many who willingly choose to make the Jewish state their home. One of such individuals is Russian-Jewish billionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of London’s Chelsea soccer club.

  • Abramovich, 51, landed in Ben Gurion International Airport on Monday and received an Israeli identity card under the Law of Return, which allows Jews to become citizens of Israel. The move to Israel comes after Abramovich was unable to extend his visa in the UK amid a diplomatic spat between London and Moscow.
  • As a new citizen, Abramovich is exempt from taxes in Israel on income earned abroad for 10 years, and need not declare the sources of that income for the same period. He will live in a mansion in Tel Aviv’s neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, a former hotel he purchased from Israeli Hollywood actress Gal Gadot, Yedioth reported.

7. While the sirens wailed in the Israeli communities near Gaza, British alt rock band alt-J returned to Israel last night, playing Tel Aviv’s Convention Center.

  • Thousands of Israeli twenty-and-thirty-somethings sang along to the band’s somewhat abstract lyrics, in a semi-psychedelic show filled with bright LED lights and dreamy tunes.
  • “[Alt-J’]s performance manages to be tight and yet allow for meditative wandering through the sounds, as you murmur familiar words while staring at the currents of light moving upon the poles, up and down in varying rhythms, one moment pouring like liquid green letters in the matrix and another beating like thunderstorms,” writes Mako’s Kalya Moore of the concert.

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