Rockets fired on Tel Aviv; Netanyahu condemns mosques attack: Israel Update

March 15, 2019

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Two rockets were fired at Tel Aviv from the Gaza Strip—the first time since 2014 that rockets had reached the area. In response to the rockets fired, which did not hit residential areas and caused no direct injury, Israeli war planes hit over 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. In response, Palestinians fired nine rockets at Israeli border communities near Gaza. The growing assumption among Israeli army officials is that the initial two rockets were fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv by mistake, a defense official said. Meanwhile, Israel and Hamas have reportedly agreed to a ceasefire facilitated by Egypt. The Palestinian committee that organizes weekly protests on the Gaza border announced it had decided to postpone Friday's demonstrations in preparation for a larger protest at the end of the month. 


Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin condemned Friday’s terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand, in which at least 49 worshippers were killed. “Israel mourns the wanton murder of innocent worshippers in Christchurch and condemns the brazen act of terror in New Zealand,” Netanyahu said on Twitter. Rivlin wrote that the “murder of people at prayer, in their most holy and sacred place, is a depraved and despicable act. For people of all religions and of none, a red line has been crossed.” Our JCRC shared a statement from the Jewish Council on Public Affairs expressing our condemnation of this senseless act of violence and hatred.


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday asked senior Fatah official Mohammed Shtayyeh to form a new government that would “enhance the culture of peace and support the families of prisoners and martyrs.” Hamas immediately rejected Abbas’s decision to form a new “separatist” government, and said the move would solidify the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas said that it will not recognize the new government. Shtayyeh, 61, is a politician and economic expert from a village near Nablus. He previously served as PA minister of housing and head of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction.


The US State Department changed its usual description of the Golan Heights from “Israeli-occupied” to “Israeli-controlled” in an annual global human rights report. The move came amid intensified efforts by Israel to win US recognition of its claim to sovereignty over the strategic plateau it captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and effectively annexed in 1981. The Golan is regarded internationally as occupied under a UN Security Council resolution passed later that year.


The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif was re-opened to worshipers on Wednesday morning after a bout of fresh clashes at the contentious holy site the day before. On Tuesday, Israeli forces evacuated and closed the compound after a firebomb was thrown at a security post. The Wakf Council announced that it will start "immediate renovation and reconstruction work" at the Golden Gate site, following understandings reached between Israel and Jordan to solve the crisis surrounding the site. The council did not say how long the renovation work would continue. Last month, Palestinians reopened the Golden Gate, which was closed by court order 16 years ago because of illegal construction work there by the Islamic Movement in Israel and Hamas-affiliated activists.


The upcoming Israeli elections can be confusing. With Netanyahu mired in a series of corruption scandals and facing a serious challenge from a new rival, and other politicians maneuvering behind the scenes, it’s a fascinating race that changes by the day. To learn how Israeli elections work, read this guide and watch this video.


Shabbat Shalom,


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


Shep Englander, CEO, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati


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