Reports

“We want to achieve the goals of the operation”: Israeli PM Netanyahu

The tension between Israel and Palestine began in early May 2021. It started with protests and riots in Jerusalem over Israeli Supreme Court’s decision of evicting Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah. The protests erupted quickly. Following this, a violent clash begun between Palestinians and Israeli security forces on the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque which is considered holy for Muslims, located on Temple Mount, which is holy and sacred in Judaism. Stones and projectiles were hurled by the rioters at the police officers who took charge of the situation. According to reports, around 200 Palestinians and some 20 police personnel were injured. After this, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group attacked Israel and fired rockets on May 9, Sunday, forcing Israel to defend itself initially and then to retaliate.

 

It is second week and the clashes seem to have no end as either side is not ready to pull back. As Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group kept bombarding Israel, initially it was seen that Israel defended itself with Iron Dome Aerial Defense System, and then attacked back.

On May 11, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) released a statement in which its spokesperson Jonathan Conricus stated that “Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations have fired dozens of rockets at Israeli citizens in Jerusalem and at communities in Southern Israel.” The IDF spokesperson added that Israel holds Hamas responsible for the attacks and the attacks won’t go unanswered.

According to the Israel Defense Force, every 3 minutes, one rocket was fired by Hamas through Gaza strip into Israel. In a response to it, the operation ‘Guardian of the Walls’ was launched by IDF on May 10. According to IDF, on May 11, they killed 15 Hamas officials and knocked down 130 Hamas & Islamic Jihad terror targets. At late evening on May 11, IDF reported that the commander of the Hamas anti-tank missile unit, Iyad Fathi Faik Sharir, who was in charge of carrying out anti-tank missile attacks on Israel was killed. Hamas kept bombarding Israel with rockets till late night on May 11, mainly Tel Aviv and southern regions of Israel. According to reports on May 12, many were injured and five civilians were killed. The IDF retaliated with airstrikes in Gaza, including strikes on Hamas Headquarters.

On May 12, IDF fighter jets knocked down a 14-storey building in southern Gaza, which housed Hamas military intelligence offices & infrastructure used to communicate tactical-military information after warning civilians in the building & providing them sufficient time to evacuate. On May 13, Israel tweeted about the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders who were neutralized by the IDF.

On May 14, IDF tweeted a thread of tweets about what is exactly happening in Israel. Here is what IDF tweeted:

Late night on May 14, as Hamas fired rockets at Israel, some of the rockets accidentally struck a power line in the Gaza Strip which left about 200,000 people in Gaza without electricity. IDF stated that “Not every rocket that Hamas fires at Israel each its target. Hundreds of Hamas rockets have fallen in the Gaza Strip, some have crashed into power lines. More than 200,000 people in Gaza are without electricity because of Hamas’ rocket fire.” As Barrages of rockets were being fired from Gaza to southern Israel, one of the rockets crashed into the city of Ashdod. In a response to this, Israel knocked down a military intelligence site, rocket launching sites, and 2 terrorist squads.

According to IDF, they also knocked down Hamas’s terror tunnel below a hotel beach that was used to store weapons. In a video message on Friday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I said Hamas will pay a very high price.”

On Thursday, May 15, Israel tightened its grip on Gaza as the IDF issued a statement stating its “air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip”. During his visit to an Iron Dome Aerial Defense System battery in southern Israel, IDF Chief of the General Staff LTG Aviv Kohavi said, “We are defending the citizens of Israel and we will do everything to protect them.” The IDF attacked and knocked down the tower that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets on Saturday. Netanyahu termed it as a legitimate target and also stated that the military intelligence of Hamas was operating inside the building. As Israel continued to knock down multi-storey buildings, they faced questions from around the globe. In an answer to that, the IDF replied, “When Hamas uses a tall building for military purposes, it becomes a lawful military target. All the multi-storey buildings targeted by the IDF were used for military purposes within each building.” Here is what IDF tweeted about it:

Also, a tunnel shaft that was used by militants in Gaza was eliminated by IDF. The tunnel used by Hamas Commanders was located in a densely populated area between a mosque and a kindergarten.

After a week of the launch of the commander operation, ‘Guardian of the Walls’ IDF tweeted about the updates of operation.

On Monday, May 17, IDF attacked the Gaza strip with a huge wave of airstrikes. According to a statement issued by the IDF, the Israeli military knocked down the homes of nine Hamas commanders along with a 15 kilometers tunnel of militants.  Among the houses attacked were the homes of the Beit Hanoun brigade commander, the Beit Haonun company commander, the Gaza City company commander, and the Al-Shati brigade company commander, the IDF says. A home in Shejaiya used by Hamas military intelligence was also targeted, the army adds. A five-storey Hamas-run building of Religious Affairs Ministry was also knocked down.

As the Israeli airstrikes shook the city from north to south for almost 10 minutes, this attack was heavier and on a wider region as compared to the termed as a deadliest single attack in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas militant group in Gaza which killed almost 42 Palestinians. According to reports heavy blasts were carried out on over 150 Hamas targets in Northern Gaza by 450 Israeli missiles. Further, according to reports, three buildings were also flattened due to strikes conducted by the Israel Air Force. IDF issued a statement saying, “IDF fighter jets are striking terror targets in the Gaza Strip.” As the strike also aimed at Hamas’s underground military infrastructure, according to a statement by Israeli army spokesperson’s, “the underground facility collapsed, causing the civilian houses’ foundations above them to collapse as well, leading to unintended casualties.” The IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman started the underground tunnel as a “strategic asset” to Hamas. As warning sirens were again heard in Southern Israel, the IDF retaliated in no time and jets flew over the Gaza strip conducting airstrikes. Several rocket launching pads were attacked in Gaza which were used to bombard Israel and Islamic Jihad commander Hussam Abu Harbeed was eliminated. According to the IDF, Abu Harbeed was the one who commanded the terror attacks on the Israeli military and citizens from the northern Gaza division for approximately 15 years.

After this, the Israeli Air Force attacked the ‘main operation center’ of Hamas’s internal security forces which are located in Northern Gaza. According to IDF, the operation center was a central part of Hamas’ terror infrastructure.

Hamas didn’t stop there and continued to attack Israel. Hamas’s operatives and equipment targeted and bombed Israeli Navy ships by fighter jets. The Israeli military said that attempts to attack Israel from the sea were thwarted. The IDF issued a statement which read, “Several operatives from the Gaza-ruling terror group were spotted today in the north of the Strip with suspected ‘naval diving weaponry’. The vessel was brought down to the beach and was apparently on its way to carry out a hostile sabotage operation toward the State of Israel’s maritime space.” In retaliation, the IDF knocked down the Naval weaponry of Hamas. Militants in Gaza attacked Israel with a barrage of almost 60 rockets in Beersheba and Ashkelon and Israel reverted by striking accommodations of high-ranking Hamas’s commanders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was heard saying “Fire will be met with fire.” “You cannot hide. Not above ground. Not below ground. No one is immune. This operation will continue as long as it takes until we achieve our goal to bring peace and security to all Israeli citizens.” The Israeli PM said in a broadcast message.

He also recently stated that “The directive is to continue to strike at terrorist targets. The IDF is doing well. We will continue to operate as long as needed to restore quiet and security to all Israelis.”

IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman says the military on the night of May 18, IDF carried out another phase in the systematic targeting of Hamas’s network of tunnels in the Gaza Strip. Zilberman stated that around 10 p.m., 52 Air Force planes dropped 122 bombs in 25 minutes on some 40 underground targets that are part of the so-called “metro” spanning 12 kilometers of tunnels. The targets included weapons storage sites and a command center. According to IDF spokesperson Hidai Zilberman at least 10 members of terror groups, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were killed. As per The Times of Israel, another 15 kilometers of Hamas underground tunnel along with a commander of Hamas, Khan Younis were eliminated.

According to IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman, this was the 4th attack on Hamas’s sprawling network of defensive bunkers and passages dubbed “the metro” by the IDF, which already destroyed around 100 kilometers of the tunnel. The attack was conducted in around half an hour at 3:45 am on Tuesday, with some 60 planes, dropping over 100 bombs on some 65 targets the IDF spokesperson. He informed that the purpose of the strike, along with the previous three, is to convince Hamas and its operatives that its underground infrastructure is no longer safe and cannot be relied on.

Recently the IDF released a video that explains how exactly do the Israeli Air Force conducts airstrikes. In the video, it was seen that pilot was not permitted to conduct airstrikes by the command-and-control desk until people from the building moved out. Here is the video.

On May 19, Israel Defense forces tweeted and stated that “Recently, the IDF attacked an observation post with a tunnel shaft of the Hamas terrorist organization. The post is part of the organization’s tunnel infrastructure in the center of the Gaza Strip.”

According to a tweet by Israel Foreign Ministry, 12 Israeli citizens have been killed in the current conflict as of 18 May.

The Times of Israel reported on May 19, that the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry stated that 219 Gazans have been killed since the current fighting began last week. It further reported that 1,530 people have been wounded. While Israel stated that 150 of the fatalities are of members from Palestinian terror groups while many of Gaza’s civilian casualties are due to hundreds of Hamas rockets that landed inside the Strip, failing to make it into Israel.

On May 19, the Israeli Prime Minister made it clear that Israel has no plans to hold on or stop the operation. He said, “We’re not standing with a stopwatch. We want to achieve the goals of the operation. Previous operations lasted a long time so it is not possible to set a timeframe.”

Krushna Patel

Intern, Goa

DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author

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