On Monday November 12 and Tuesday November 13, 2018, in a 25-hour period, more than 400 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel.
This is the biggest flare-up in tensions in that area since 2014, when there was a war between Israel and Hamas (the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip). That war has been called the “2014 Gaza War,” “Operation Protective Edge,” and “2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict,” and it lasted around seven weeks, ending in a cease-fire. That cease-fire has been tenuously in place since then.
But this past spring, a lot went down in the area: Israel killed protestors in Gaza, Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Ivanka Trump showed up, and it was just all awful. Read our explainer.
What’s happening now, however, is unrelated to the spring. Well, it’s generally related in the sense that all conflict in Israel-Palestine is related, but, you know.
What started this flare-up?
During an Israeli operation into the Gaza Strip on Sunday night (November 11), an Israeli soldier, Lt. Col. M, was killed. The Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement that the operation “was not intended to kill or abduct terrorists, but to strengthen Israeli security. The force waged a heroic and very complex battle and was able to exfiltrate in its entirety. We salute the bravery of Lt. Col. M. and his peers.” His identity is being kept anonymous.
The special operation yesterday was not intended to kill or abduct terrorists, but to strengthen Israeli security. The force waged a heroic and very complex battle and was able to exfiltrate in its entirety. We salute the bravery of Lt. Col. M. and his peers.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 12, 2018
According to the IDF, the operation was “of the utmost importance to the security of Israel” and remains classified. After this Israeli soldier died — or possibly during — there was a skirmish between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters.
According to JTA, “Israeli drones bombed Hamas targets near Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Sunday evening. The incident reportedly began when Israeli special forces on the ground in Gaza walked into an ambush and got in a firefight with Hamas forces, the public broadcaster Kan reported.”
Seven Palestinians were killed, including Nur Barake, the deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam. (The New York Times reported, “Mr. Baraka’s responsibilities included digging attack tunnels and firing rockets into Israel.”)
Basically: It was supposed to be a routine operation, but it went wrong. Reportedly, “the mission’s goal was surveillance, not an assassination. Such missions, usually aimed at installing surveillance equipment, are extensively planned and are considered at a low risk of exposure and confrontation.”
But, since their cover was blown and it went wrong…
Staring Monday, Hamas fired 400+ rockets into southern Israel over a 25-hour period. More than 100 were injured, and one was killed: Mahmoud Abu Asbah, 48, a Palestinian from Halhoul, in the West Bank, working in Israel, was the only fatality of the conflict.
Israel’s Iron Dome defense system intercepted over 100 of the rockets. The videos are wild (granted, these are from the IDF’s official Twitter, but still):
OVER THE LAST HOUR: 80+ rockets fired from #Gaza at innocent Israelis. The Iron Dome intercepted several of them. We are currently striking terror targets in the Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/a27pPb6oJe
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 12, 2018
Red alerts went off throughout southern Israel…
Just now. All these places are communities in which people live in. Children.
Over 300 rockets fired at southern Israel in the past few hours.
What would any country in the world do?!#IsraelUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/ewKXhmjthX
— Dan Poraz (@PorazDan) November 12, 2018
Israel retaliated, bombing over 100 targets in Gaza.
Following the 25 hours of bombing, a cease-fire was agreed upon between Israel and Hamas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the cease-fire, even though all members of his government didn’t agree to it. Netanyahu said, “I hear the voices of the residents of the south. Believe me, they are precious to me, their words penetrate my heart. But together with the heads of the security forces, I see the overall picture of Israel’s security, which I cannot share with the public. I wish I could share with the citizens of Israel everything I know, but with the security of Israel, it is mostly hidden from view. Our enemies have pleaded for a cease-fire, and they know very well why.”
Disappointed in the cease fire — calling it a “capitulation to terror” — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdot Liberman resigned. He said, “We are buying short-term calm for long-term harm to security.” He called for new elections, since Netanyahu’s majority in the Knesset has become precarious (61 seats out of 120).
Hopefully the cease-fire will hold.