11 days of war conclude in ceasefire
May 28, 2021
Since the current round of fighting broke out on May 10, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad had fired nearly 3,500 rockets at Israel, the Israeli military said on May 18. Of those, some 500 have fallen inside Gaza, according to the IDF. Israel’s Iron Dome defense system intercepted approximately 90 percent of projectiles heading for populated areas in Israel.The barrage continued until a ceasefire came into effect on 21 May.
The following is a compilation of articles from JNS and JTA that covered the 11 days of combat:
• Israel says that it has killed dozens of fighters for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions in the fighting, including Bassam Ayisa, one of Hamas’ top five generals in Gaza. Islamic Jihad senior commanders have also been killed in the fighting, according to the Israeli publication Globes. In recent days, IDF strikes have focused on tunnels that Hamas uses to shuttle men and equipment along the border with Israel, destroying long stretches of that network, an IDF spokesperson told Israeli media.
• A 56-year-old Jewish Israeli man died in hospital as a result of injuries he sustained in an assault by Arabs protesters in Lod last week. Yigal Yehoshua was hit in the face with a brick by men who pulled him out of his car in the city’s center.
At least 10 synagogues and 112 homes owned by Jews have been torched partially or thoroughly in the unrest. Hundreds of cars owned by Jews have been set on fire. There have been a series of cases of vandalism and assaults against Arabs by Jews, as well.
• The EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, issued an informal call to end the violence after Hungary, a close ally and supporter of Israel, thwarted the passing of a similar text as an official EU foreign policy document agreed upon by all member states. The text spoke of a “high number of civilian casualties” and a “high number of children and women” killed. “We condemn the rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups on the Israeli territory, and we fully support Israel’s right to defense,” Borrell also said.
• Many thousands of Arab workers across Israel, as well as Palestinians, heeded a call for a general strike issued by several Arab-Israeli organizations and leaders, who cited “attacks on our communities by extremists and settlers” and “the attack on Sheikh Jarrah and the al Aqsa mosque.”
The current conflagration began amid tensions over the eviction of Palestinians from homes in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Cellcom, a major cellphone and communications provider, saw tens of thousands of subscribers leave after they declared a one-hour “protest strike” on Tuesday to “promote coexistence” and to “not let extremists win.” A company spokesperson later said the move’s timing had been “wrong” and that the firm did not mean to associate itself with the strike in the Arab sector.
• Clashes in the West Bank escalated. Three Palestinians were killed there Tuesday during rioting against Israeli troops, according to the Ma’an Palestinian news agency. Two soldiers were lightly wounded, Ynet reported.
• The escalation in Israel is triggering an increase in antisemitic incidents in Europe and especially in the United Kingdom. On Tuesday, Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary of the UK government, said that an assault Sunday on a rabbi near London was among the incidents. The rabbi, Rafi Goodwin, sustained moderate injuries in a beating outside his synagogue on May 16. That day, multiple cars displaying Palestinian flags drove through Golders Green, a heavily Jewish part of London. A participant in the convoy shouted through a loudspeaker: “F–- the Jews, rape their daughters” among other chants.
• Israeli troops on Friday night opened fire on a number of individuals attempting to infiltrate into the country from Lebanon, the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement.
• The Israeli Air Force announced on Tuesday that it had shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle that intruded into Israeli airspace at Emek Hamaayanot, in northern Israel, near the Jordanian border. Its fragments are in the possession of the security forces, the military said in a statement.
• Gaza’s health ministry claims that 12 women and eight children were among those killed in the attacks Sunday. No Israelis were reported dead or injured. One attack on Saturday killed at least 10 Palestinians from one extended family in a refugee camp. In total, 188 people in Gaza and 10 in Israel have been killed in the week-long conflict.
• Israel’s military released video of what it claims to be a bombing of the senior-most Hamas leader’s home in Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza.
• Israel on Saturday also bombed a 12-story building in Gaza City known as a center for journalists covering the region, including some working for the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera. The Israeli military says that Hamas was operating out of the tower; it also said it provided advance notice to the journalists so they could evacuate, and no deaths or injuries occurred in the attack. The AP said it was not aware of any Hamas activity in the building, according to The New York Times. President Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted Saturday: “We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.”
• Biden spoke with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday, urging ceasefire talks. Netanyahu said that the offensive will continue “as long as necessary.”
“The party that bears the guilt for this confrontation is not us, it’s those attacking us,” the Israeli leader said in a televised speech.
In a press conference, Netanyahu said that there is international “pressure,” but Israel is “getting serious backing, foremost from the U.S.”
• A number of leading pro-Israel Democrats — including Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a favorite of the AIPAC pro-Israel lobby — made a rare public statement criticizing Israel, urging the country to be more cautious with regards to civilians in its attacks. “I also believe there must be a full accounting of actions that have led to civilian deaths and destruction of media outlets,” Menendez said in a statement Saturday.
• A dozen Jewish House reps, including Jerry Nadler of New York, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and David Cicilline of Rhode Island, signed a letter expressing deep concern about “Israeli police violence” and urged Israel to abandon its plan to evict Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.
• The U.N. Security Council met to discuss the conflict for the first time. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi bashed the U.S. on Saturday in a call with his Pakistani counterpart regarding the council’s inaction so far.
“Regrettably, the council has so far failed to reach an agreement, with the United States standing on the opposite side of international justice,” he was quoted as saying.
• President Joe Biden on Sunday said the U.S. is working toward achieving “a sustained calm” in the region. American, Egyptian and European envoys are working to negotiate a ceasefire. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated Monday that he will press on with attacks for as long as he feels necessary. “There are always pressures but overall, we’re being backed in a significant manner,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday in a statement.
• A growing number of Democrats have grown frustrated with Biden’s response to the conflict, which they see as too restrained. A group of 28 Democratic senators, led by Jon Ossoff, the Jewish freshman from Georgia, called for an “immediate ceasefire” in a statement on Sunday. Jewish Sen. Chuck Schumer did not sign the statement — he has maintained that Israel is rightfully carrying out the attacks as self defense. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said Sunday that the U.S. is working “virtually non-stop” to negotiate a ceasefire.
• Violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem is flaring up. On Sunday, Israeli police officers shot dead a Palestinian man who rammed his car into a police car in east Jerusalem, injuring six officers, Border Police said. On Monday, troops near Nablus narrowly escaped another car ramming attempt, Kan reported. Over the weekend alone, 30 fires were started near Israeli settlements in the West Bank, according to Kan.
• On his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” May 16, comedian John Oliver lashed out at Israel in a 10-minute segment lambasting what he described as a vastly unequal conflict and tepid U.S. response. Stating multiple times that Israel was committing “war crimes” in Gaza, Oliver also added that its governance over the Palestinians constituted “a form of apartheid,” referencing the existence of a recent report from Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem as proof. Oliver also criticized American politicians for their reliance on the phrase “Israel has a right to defend itself,” and harshly criticized the IDF for a social media post that turned its leveling of a Gaza apartment building into a meme format.
• Influential progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had called Israel an apartheid state on Twitter on Saturday as well.
• Netanyahu to Biden: Israel calls the shots in war with Hamas, Not the U.S.
Christine DeSouza compiled this article from JNS and JTA.