Only a day after leaving Washington where he was scheduled to deliver a live address to the attendees at the annual AIPAC policy conference and join President Trump for dinner on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke via video link to the conference where he effusively offered plaudits to President Trump, expressed his thanks to AIPAC and emphasized the shared values between Israel and the U.S.
By: Fern Sidman
Netanyahu said: “Thank you, AIPAC. Thank you for bringing together 18,000 proud Americans – and more than 4,000 American students – who stand with Israel. Thank you for working year after year, decade after decade to strengthen the remarkable alliance between our two countries. And I can tell you that alliance has never been stronger.
Thank you for working to strengthen support for Israel on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans alike. That is how it has always been and that’s how it should always be.
Yesterday at the White House, President Trump again made history. He formally recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Now that deserves enormous applause. The Golan Heights is indispensable for our defense. It’s part of our history. When you put a shovel in the ground there what you discover are the ruins of ancient synagogues. Jews lived there for thousands of years and the people of Israel have come back to the Golan.
Israel holds the high ground, and we shall never, ever give it up. It is part of Israel. So on behalf of all the people of Israel, thank you, President Trump and thank you for all the historic decisions you have made.”
Rockets were launched by Hamas terrorists in Gaza soon after Netanyahu left Israel to for Washington on late Sunday. The attacks incessantly continued throughout Monday with Netanyahu addressing the fact that the home of a family of seven in northern Tel Aviv was severely hit by rocket fire, during his appearance in the White house for President Trump’s signing of the US proclamation which officially recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
After launching at least 30 rockets into Israeli territory Monday night, Gaza’s Hamas terrorist leaders said that Egypt had brokered a cease-fire to put an end to the latest round of fighting with Israel. The Iron Dome intercepted several rockets and the rest fell in open areas.
Since Hamas declared a ceasefire on Monday night, attacks on Israel have continued. Launches from Gaza targeted border communities and ended at 3:00 AM. Israeli Air Force strikes also continued through the night, and the latest was around 4:30 AM, according to an Ha’Aretz report.
On Tuesday morning, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israeli army radio “we will continue to exact a very heavy price from Hamas for its attacks on Israeli citizens, and that’s why all rumors and hearsay of a cease-fire are incorrect.”
Erdan says it is clear Hamas seeks a truce, but that Israel will not relent its offensive until the objectives are reached.
Ha”Aretz reported on Tuesday that Palestinian sources in Gaza said that Israel’s condition for a cease-fire include an end to all activities around the border fence, especially the launching of incendiary balloons and the planned Friday protest, which marks the one year anniversary of the “March of Return.”
Although a ceasefire that was ostensibly brokered by Egypt had been reported late on Monday, Ha’Aretz reported that an Israeli official said on Tuesday that no cease-fire agreement has been reached with Hamas. The official added that Prime Minister Netanyahu had instructed the Israeli army to continue striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip as he was en route to Israel from Washington.
The official stressed that Netanyahu, who left for a security briefing at the Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv immediately after returning to Israel, maintained constant communication with Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and other security officials.
“There was no agreement over a cease-fire,” he said, “It’s not over.” The official said Israel’s latest attack on Gaza was at 3:30 A.M. on Tuesday, and inflicted “very harsh blows” on Hamas. “We’re ready to deal even more” blows, he said.
Israel National News reported that a red alert siren sounded Tuesday evening in the Eshkol Regional Council. According to preliminary reports, the rocket exploded in an open area near one of the council’s communities.
According to the IDF, “Following the report on the red color alert in the Eshkol Regional Council, one rocket was identified from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.”
The alarm sounded only fifteen minutes after the IDF issued an official announcement of a return to routine and the lifting of all restrictions imposed on the residents of the Gaza vicinity and Netivot, Ofakim, Ashkelon, Merhavim, Ashkelon, and Bnei Shimon.
Residents of the Gaza periphery who were fed up with routine rounds of fighting left on Tuesday evening to demonstrate at the Sderot Junction (Route 34) in light of the security situation.
INN also reported that White House Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason D. Greenblatt responded to Hamas disinformation of a ceasefire from his Twitter account reflecting official policy, “This is NOT a ceasefire. Sending explosives into Israel is a terrorist action!”
Despite cease-fire disinformation, hostilities continue to spill from Gaza.
Clearly angered by Netanyahu’s policy of continually accepting the bogus and insincere terms of Hamas previous cease fire agreements, Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday slammed Netanyahu and called for crushing Hamas until it could no longer launch rockets and hit Israel.
“Tonight I slept in the Gaza area to feel like a resident of the South, a day after I felt what a resident of Raanana feels. At five in the morning, I experienced an alarm and running with the children to the security room,” Bennett said at the conference.
“The residents of the south have been abandoned for 15 years by the security leaders of the State of Israel, and the two candidates for Prime Minister are busy day and night with embarrassing personal affairs, cell phones, submarines, interrogations, and whining about who gets more press time.
“From here I say, with the arrival of Prime Minister Netanyahu the IDF must be given the order to defeat Hamas, to uproot from Hamas its ability to harm the residents of the south, not to speak of deterrence, but to take the sword to Hamas and break it. There is something to be done and we have to do it.
“After yesterday’s shooting at the center of the country and then massive rocket fire on the south, we felled an empty building and told ourselves that Hamas is deterred and they haven’t seen anything like this for 40 years. Then they rush to beg for a cease-fire from those who caused all the shooting.”
Bennett stressed, “Hamas must be crushed. There is a plan. I introduced it long ago and I ask the cabinet to adopt it.
“Even the strongest army in the Middle East cannot win when the political echelon doesn’t have the courage. The security leadership doesn’t provide security for the south. It’s okay to ask for some time and credit. My plan will also take time until everything is resolved, but the result will be uprooting the source of terror in Gaza.”
On Monday, it was reported that one of the Hamas rockets hit a home in the Israeli community of Sderot causing significant damage but no injuries or casualties.
Prior to the terror group’s latest rocket attack, Israel carried out retaliatory strikes, including one that demolished the office of Hamas arch-terrorist Ismail Haniyeh.
Haniyeh had gone into hiding earlier Monday, fearing retaliation after a rocket fired from Gaza struck an Israeli home and wounded seven people in central Israel. The Israeli military also struck a five-story building in Gaza City that served as “a secret headquarters for the Hamas terror organization” and was used by the Islamic group’s intelligence agencies.
Israeli forces bolstered its troops and rocket-defense systems in anticipation of a new round of heavy fighting with the Islamic terror group.
Israel opened public bomb shelters in most major cities and civil defense authorities canceled sports events and public transportation in southern Israel. The Israeli army said air raid sirens wailed in southern Israel late Monday night, with one rocket fired into the country, but it provided no further details.
“Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate this,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared during a White House meeting with President Donald Trump.
“Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression,” he said. “We will do whatever we must do to defend our people and defend our state.”
Prior to his departure to Israel, Netanyahu said from Andrews Air Force base that “Hamas should know that we will not hesitate to enter and take the necessary steps. The prime minister would not answer reporters questions about the possibility of a full-scale ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, as was reported by Ynet news.
In Beirut, the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah said its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, met Monday with a Hamas delegation led by top official Saleh Arouri. Hezbollah said they discussed the Gaza situation.
Hamas is facing perhaps its toughest domestic test since seizing control of Gaza in a bloody coup from the rival Palestinian Authority 12 years ago. An Israel-Egyptian blockade, imposed to weaken Hamas, combined with sanctions by the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government’s single-minded focus on building up its terror infrastructure, at the expense of Gazans’ basic needs, have all fueled an economic crisis that has left Gaza with an unemployment rate above 50 percent.
Hamas has also been leading weekly violent riots along the Israeli border for the past year to launch covert attacks on Israel, using human shields to attempt infiltrations and airborne incendiary devices to mount a massive terror arson campaign destroying thousands of acres of Israeli fields.
At the White House on Monday afternoon, Netanyahu stood beside President Trump as he signed the proclamation which officially recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The president said it was time for the U.S. to take the step after 52 years of Israeli control of the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Israel liberated the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War but the international community has refused to recognize Israeli’s sovereignty over the territory. During the war, Syria and three other Arab nations attacked the Jewish state.
“Today, aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hezbollah, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel — very violent attacks,” Trump said.
“This should have been done numerous presidents ago,” Trump said.
In a speech earlier on Monday at the AIPAC policy conference, Vice President Mike Pence said the rocket attack “proves that the Hamas terror group is not a partner for peace.”
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