Gaza operation has "changed the equation"

Ceasefire holding despite renewed clashes in Jerusalem


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem November 13, 2019. - Netanyahu saidthat Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza must stop rocket attacks or "absorb more and more blows" as an escalation of violence raged for a second day. (Photo by RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The ceasefire is holding on the Israel-Gaza border, but in Jerusalem, where the current tensions  began, there are renewed clashes. 

After midday prayers finished at the al-Aqsa Mosque “hundreds of people threw rocks and petrol bombs at police officers,” according to Israel Police.

Official Palestinian Authority media gave a different account, claiming that Israeli police “raided the courtyards” of the mosque and started firing. 

While the focal point of violence over recent days has been Gaza, it started in Jerusalem, which is considered a tinderbox. There are fears that an escalation there could quickly spread to the West Bank and potentially also shake the Gaza calm.

Residents of southern Israel cautiously started venturing out today after largely staying indoors or close to their homes for days. Many children’s parks remained closed, as did areas close to the border, which were guarded by soldiers who ensured nobody entered, as an extra security measure. 

But the city’s children, most of whom have left over the last fortnight for safer areas, are expected to return home over the next 36 hours, and schools are expected to reopen on Sunday. 

The military has already lifted emergency measures across the country and airlines are expected to resume regular flights within a few days. Virgin Atlantic is resuming its UK-Israel service on Monday. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that Israel met all aims of its Gaza operation,  "changed the equation” with Hamas, and will be less tolerant of its violence in future. 

“If Hamas thinks that we will tolerate a trickle of rockets, they are mistaken," he stated, seemingly in an attempt to reassure many Israelis who are skeptical about the ceasefire. 

He also said that the Iron Dome missile defence system, which intercepted 90 percent of rockets, was  the game changer in this round of fighting. “Without Iron Dome, we would have had to have a ground invasion of Gaza to stop them firing their missiles and the casualty list would have soared to stratospheric heights,” he said, crediting the system with saving many Israeli lives and — by preventing a ground operation — also Palestinian lives. 

Mr Netanyahu praised the commitment of US President Joe Biden to replenish supplies that the Iron Dome uses to take out rockets. 

Meanwhile, President Reuven Rivlin has been focussing on comforting bereaved families. In his latest calls to those who have lost loved ones, he spoke to the families of the two people killed by a mortar attack on Tuesday. 

Weerawat Karunborirak and Sikarin Sa-ngamrum were both Thai nationals who were spending a stint working in Israeli agriculture “We weep with you at this tragic loss of life to terrorism,” Rivlin told their widow. “I hope you will find solace in their love, and hope for better days.”

While the fighting over the border is over, Israeli politicians are well aware that the outpointing of antisemitism that has been seen as the conflict went on has not waned. Mr Rivlin raised concerns about antisemitism yesterday, and now opposition leader Yair Lapid has taken up the issue. 

"The scenes of antisemitism across the world are horrific and intolerable,” he stated. "We expect every country to protect its Jewish communities and deal with this ugly outbreak of racism with zero tolerance.”

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