Israel pledges to respond forcibly to Gaza

Netanyahu to hold security cabinet meeting Sunday

May 4, 2019 23:11
4 minute read.
A ball of fire is seen during Israeli air strikes in Gaza May 4, 2019

A ball of fire is seen during Israeli air strikes in Gaza May 4, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

Israel pledged to respond forcibly to the Gaza attacks as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to hold a security cabinet meeting on Sunday on the weekend’s heavy exchange of fire between the IDF and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

“We will continue to stand against this dreadful terror and will respond forcefully and unwaveringly to any attack on the security of our people,” President Reuven Rivlin said.

"As a tense and worrying Shabbat ends, I am praying for those injured and thinking of those sheltering from rockets in their safe spaces," he said.

“I ask you all, please, to listen carefully to the instructions of the DF Homefront Command which save lives time after time, and take good care of yourselves," Rivlin added.

The United Nations and Egypt worked behind the scenes to restore calm. Over the weekend, Egypt summoned Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders to Cairo for urgent talks on ways of averting a military confrontation with Israel.

Palestinians sources said Egypt was trying to prevent the collapse of the ceasefire understandings reached between the Gaza-based groups and Israel earlier this year.

A senior Hamas official told KAN News that Israel had prevented the transfer of $30 million from Qatar to Gaza, adding that the transfer of the funds could calm the situation.

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said on Saturday night, “I call on all parties to immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months. Those who seek to destroy them will bear responsibility for a conflict that will have grave consequences for all.”

He warned that the violence could destroy any chance of achieving a long term solution to the Gaza crisis and jeopardizes reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas.

“I am deeply concerned by yet another dangerous escalation in Gaza and the tragic loss of life. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all those who were killed, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” Mladenov said.

On Friday, Mladenov met with the Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Thani on the issue of aid to Gaza.

He tweeted, “Very productive meeting with @MBA_AlThani yesterday on implementing [Ad Hoc Liaison Committee] agreements on #Gaza humanitarian relief [and] support the #Palestinian Government. #UN efforts to de-escalate tensions in Gaza, relieve the suffering of people [and] support reconciliation continue.”

After Saturday’s 300 rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza, the European Union issued a particularly harsh response against Hamas and in support of Israel.

“The rocket fire from Gaza toward Israel must stop immediately. A de-escalation of this dangerous situation is urgently needed to ensure that civilians’ lives are protected. Israelis and Palestinians both have the right to live in peace, security and dignity,” the spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement issued to the media.

“Only a political solution can put an end to the violence. Efforts by Egypt and the UN to calm the situation have the European Union’s full support,” the spokesperson said.

The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs released two tweets. The first condemned the rocket fire and spoke of Israel’s right to defend itself. The second called on both Israelis and Palestinians to show restraint.

Cypriot Ambassador to Israel Thessalia S. Shambos tweeted that her country, “strongly condemns the multiple rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip toward #Israel. Indiscriminate targeting of civilians is totally unacceptable. #solidarity with all affected communities. Full support to the critical efforts of #Egypt and #UN to de-escalate the situation,” she said.

Turkey, in turn, condemned Israel, and accused it of targeting the offices of one of the Anadolu news agency during the IDF attacks against Gaza.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted, “Targeting of @AnadoluAgency #Gaza office is new example of Israel’s unrestrained aggression. #Israeli violence against innocent people w/out distinction is a crime against humanity. Those who encourage Israel are also guilty. Will keep defending #Palestinian cause, even if alone.”

Israel Ambassador at the United Nations Danny Danon called on the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to condemn the Hamas attacks.

“The State of Israel has the duty and the full right to do all that is necessary to protect our people and our sovereignty, and we will continue do so at all times,” Danon wrote to the UN.

He called on the UNSC to “take this opportunity to finally condemn terrorism against Israel, designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and support the fundamental right of Israel to self-defense.”

Danon is in Israel with a delegation of foreign ambassadors and plans to take them on a visit to the south.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.

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