THIS STORY WILL BE UPDATED AS EVENTS UNFOLD
Tension mounts as life crawls to a standstill in Israel’s southwestern region bordering the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces have declared much of the surrounding area a closed military zone. Gatherings of over 300 people have been banned by the southern home front command and all rail service in Israel’s south has been halted. All after-school activities in the region have been cancelled.
It isn’t only the areas in Israel adjacent to Gaza for which precautions are being taken. Bomb shelters in Tel Aviv, Rishon Lizion, Beer Sheva and other cities have been opened. The landing strips at and flight patterns around Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport have been changed.
What ignited today’s dramatic developments?
HAMAS ROCKET SLAMS INTO CIVILIAN HOME IN CENTRAL ISRAEL
A rocket from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip slammed into a private home in the 850 person village of Mishmeret in central Israel at 5:30 this morning. The house was destroyed and seven people were injured, including a three year-old, a six month-old, a 12 year-old girl and a 60 year old woman. The family’s dog was killed.
Mishmeret is about 13 miles from Tel Aviv.
Rockets aren’t supposed to land in central Israel. With the two rockets launched from Gaza that rocked Tel Aviv less than two weeks ago, and this morning’s attack, Israel is forced to respond in a dramatic and decisive manner.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the family whose home was struck barely made it to the bomb shelter in time.
“If we had not gotten to the bomb shelter in time, I would now be burying all my family,” said the homeowner. “They would all have been dead if we didn’t do what we had been supposed to do.”
The siren went off at approximately 5:20 a.m. Israeli Police Spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld said that the family had less than 45 seconds to race to their safe zone.
The rocket that struck the Mishmeret home was filled with deadly shrapnel in order to increase the damage inflicted by the rocket alone, according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Israeli reservists are being called up and extra armored brigades have been deployed to the Gaza Border, and hundreds of additional infantry have been deployed there.
CRISIS CAUSES NETANYAHU TO LEAVE U.S. AND RETURN TO ISRAEL
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the United States on Sunday. He was to meet with President Donald Trump on Monday, followed by an appearance at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and then a formal dinner hosted by President Trump on Tuesday.
Instead of following his planned schedule, Netanyahu will leave for Israel immediately after a formal meeting with Trump. The Israeli Prime Minister is also currently the acting Foreign Minister and Defense Minister.
Just prior to their meeting, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu held a joint press conference. Flanking the two heads of state were Spokesperson Sarah Sanders, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, U.S. Amb. To Israel David M. Friedman, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice-President Mike Pence.
Trump began the press conference by denouncing the “horrific Hamas rocket attack” this morning and “recognizing Israel’s absolute right to defend itself.”
The President was referring to Israel’s impending response to the attack from Hamas-controlled Gaza, but he used it also to segue into the need for strength and security provided to Israel by its position in the Golan Heights.
TRUMP SIGNS OFFICIAL PROCLAMATION THAT U.S. RECOGNIZES ISRAELI SOVEREIGNTY OVER THE GOLAN HEIGHTS
Briefly recounting the history of Israel’s vulnerability when the Golan Heights was in Syria’s hands and then its security following its acquisition in a defensive war, the President warned of the many dangers looming in the region. Those dangers include, of course, Iran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah.
The Israeli Prime Minister took most of his time to expound on the important promises made and promises fulfilled by Trump, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ending the calamitous Nuclear Iran Deal and imposing severe and crippling sanctions on Iran, and now recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the strategic Golan Heights.
Netanyahu placed Trump in the pantheon of great non-Jewish leaders who have protected the Jewish people, such as Cyrus the Great, Lord Balfour and Harry S Truman, thanking him profusely for his great friendship to the Jewish State.
When the talking was over, President Trump signed the proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
As the press conference ended, Israel’s military response in Gaza was just beginning. The two leaders left for their meeting after which Netanyahu will return to Israel to oversee the continued Israeli response.
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