Israel Air Force hits dozens of targets in Gaza.
PA president calls U.S. & European leaders to pressure Israel to show restraint.
Israel bombed dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, striking at Hamas after finding the bodies of three missing teenagers — Gil-ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frenkel — whose abduction and killing it blames on the Palestinian Islamist group.
Israel’s security cabinet, which held an emergency session late on Monday and was due to meet again on Tuesday, was currently split on the scope of any further action in the coastal enclave and Judea and Samaria, officials said.
Also on Monday, a Hamas man was shot dead when he threw a grenade at forces carrying out an arrest raid in the West Bank hours after the discovery of the bodies.
Tensions have soared since the bodies were found, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blaming Hamas and warning that the militant organization “will pay” while terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza have stepped up rocket attacks, drawing Israelis retaliatory strikes and risking a wider conflict.
Meanwhile, Hamas officials in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have gone into hiding, bracing for whatever response Israel decides upon, Hamas official Izzat Al-Risheq told Saudi news outlet Al-Arabiya.
The terrorist group’s fears appear to be well founded. An Israeli senior defense official said “Hamas suffered heavy blows over the past two weeks. Many of the institutions they used to mastermind terror plots against Israel were shut down and their officials have been arrested. We will continue to pursue them and make them pay dearly.”
The Palestinian Authority is also concerned about an Israeli response. The PA leadership in the Ramallah held an emergency meeting that lasted throughout the night. Arab media outlets reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a series of calls to senior officials in the U.S. and Europe and asked them to pressure Israel to refrain from taking aggressive and wide ranging punitive measures against the Palestinian populace in Hebron and the West Bank entire. Abbas reportedly also spoke with leaders in Arab states and senior officials in the Arab League.
Preparations are underway in the Gaza Strip for a possible IDF attack and Hamas’ leadership has ordered its members to clear out headquarters and bases all throughout the Gaza Strip. Terrorist group Islamic Jihad stated that they will respond harshly to any Israeli acts of vengeance.
Al-Risheq stressed that Hamas’ political leadership was not aware of the group’s involvement in the kidnapping and murder of the teens. “Planning operations and carrying them out is made by the military wing leadership alone,” he said.
Hamas warned Israel against a strong IDF response in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, saying that a fierce Israeli action could destabilize the region to the point that the understandings achieved in Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 would fall apart. In such a scenario, they claim, another round of fighting between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas is possible.
Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum responded to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statements accusing Hamas responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the teens. “The person responsible for the deteriorating security situation in the region is Netanyahu and his policies,” he said. Barhoum refused to answer questions regarding the group’s involvement in the kidnapping saying “the movement has decided to remain silent.”
The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Hamas leadership in the West Bank did not issue an official statement regarding the discovery of the bodies. A senior official in Abbas’ office told Israel Hayom that Abbas still stands behind his statements from last week, when he said that the Palestinian reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas would be put on hold and the unity government disbanded. “In effect, the reconciliation agreements have not been upheld for more than two weeks and he unity government barely operates.”
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=18529