Israel Crisis Update: November 13, 2019
Here are the major developments:
- More than 250 rockets have been fired at Israel by Palestinian Islamic Jihad since 6:00am Tuesday, Israel time.
- Despite a six-hour lull overnight, the rockets resumed early Wednesday morning.
- Sirens have continued to sound across the south, and have also been heard in a number of locations near the Jerusalem - Tel Aviv highway corridor.
- Some 60% of rockets fell in non-populated areas (or fell short, landing inside the Gaza Strip).
- 90% of those rockets headed towards population centers were successfully knocked out of the sky by the Iron Dome Defense System.
- Forty-eight Israelis have been hurt by rocket fire or by falls when running to a shelter (mostly sustaining light or moderate injuries) and at least 25 people have been treated for shock.
- In response to the rocket fire, the IDF carried out three waves of retaliatory attacks on Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets.
- In the attacks, Israel reportedly hit dozens of Islamic Jihad sites across Gaza, destroying infrastructures and weapons stockpiles as well as killing 12 terrorists (according the Palestinian Ministry of Health).
- Among other targets hit by the IDF were a facility that develops long-range rockets, as well as naval vessels belonging to the terrorist group.
- According to an unnamed Israeli military source, the IDF has a “rich data bank” of additional potential Islamic Jihad sites that it can continue to hit.
- For photos and further details about the IDF strikes, see here.
- Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, less than 24 hours in his new position, appeared on Israeli television saying that “We are sending a strong and clear message to our enemies, on all fronts: Whoever plans to attack or harm Israel by day, should never be sure that they will make it through the night.”
- Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “We are not bent on escalation, but… will respond to every attack against us, and respond very sharply. Islamic Jihad would do well to understand this right now, instead of when it will be too late. I believe that Islamic Jihad is starting to internalize this message. They understand that we will continue to strike them without mercy. They understand that Israel is very strong and that our will is very great. We are determined to fight to defend our country and if they think that these barrages or these strikes will weaken us or lessen our determination, they are mistaken. Therefore, they have but one choice – to stop these attacks or take more and more blows. The choice is theirs.”
- According to reports, Israel sent a message to Hamas saying that if the terror group stays out of the current fighting, it would be not be targeted by the IDF. This is a seemingly different approach than the one that Israel has taken in the past, where the IDF had stated that it holds Hamas responsible for everything that occurs in the Gaza Strip. From all accounts, both sides are keeping to this understanding, and there has been no direct conflict between Hamas and Israel in this round of fighting. (In fact, some commentators have suggested that Hamas is even encouraging the current fighting as a way of curtailing the strength of its rival, Islamic Jihad).
- While the IDF says that it does not want the situation to escalate into a broader military operation inside the Gaza Strip, there has been a small increase in troop deployment along the Gaza border fence with a limited number of companies and battalions.
- The IDF’s Home Front Command continues to impose restrictions:
- All schools and kindergartens south of Tel Aviv remain closed.
- In the south, all places of work, other than “essential services,” have been shuttered.
- In the Tel Aviv region, school has resumed, but non-essential places of work are only permitted to open if they have a designated shelter or protected place that can be reached by workers within 90 seconds.
- Economic damage to industry – mainly as a result of lost working time - after just one day of conflict, has been assessed at $80 million.
- JFNA’s Israel office continues to operate under emergency protocols and is in close touch with relevant Israeli government branches, our partners, and individual federation representatives on the ground.
- JFNA’s Israel office attended a meeting yesterday afternoon of the Emergency Coordination Roundtable (known by its Hebrew acronym, “Rahel”) at IDF military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
- JDC is in the middle of a process of reaching out to municipalities in the South to asses needs. JDC has also opened the Virtual Center for Independent Living, which is a hotline for elderly residents living alone who may need special help, advice or counseling during the current emergency situation. The hotline was established with the support of a Jewish Federations grant. In addition, the JDC Ashalim program has recently trained social workers who work with families at risk, to provide special care during emergency situations and crises. The social workers are provided with a special emergency kit, which has proved – over the last 24 hours - to be extremely effective.
- The Jewish Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terror (supported by Jewish Federations) has already provided immediate emergency assistance to families whose homes in the south have suffered direct hits. Within hours of yesterday’s attacks, the Agency’s Amigour subsidiary sent construction teams to repair homes hit by rocket fire, in coordination with the Ministry of Finance.
- The Jewish Agency has also provided assistance to 6,500 new immigrants in absorption centers and 5,000 seniors in assisted living facilities in areas affected by the current crisis. At the same time The Agency is in talks with local municipalities in the south discussing the possibility of respite days for residents of the affected areas.
- The Israel Trauma Coalition’s resilience centers continue to experience a significant increase in emergency calls. The Natal and Eran hotlines are operating at full capacity, 24 hours a day, and are currently reporting a 40% increase in call volume. Over 50% of calls are coming from the center of the country, 20% from the South and 15% from the North. Most calls are from anxious parents seeking guidance as to how to speak with their children about the situation. ITC instructions that provide recommendations on how to help children cope in times of crisis have been widely disseminated.
As always, JFNA’s Israel office remains in close touch with Israeli government authorities and our partners and is very closely monitoring the situation.
Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons