Live Updates: Israel and Gaza exchange fire, in the heaviest day of attacks since the 2014 war

By Middle East Affairs
  • An Israeli army spokesperson said, “Hamas will choose in the coming days between the escalation or return to calm.”
  • After Israeli forces killed three members of the Islamic Jihad, in retaliation to a planted bomb on the border fence, an attack from Gaza was expected

In response to the two rocket barrages from Gaza aimed at southern Israeli areas, Israeli forces unleashed more than 35 targets targeted at seven sites of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Gaza first sent 28 mortar shells to southern Israel and it’s settlements, one fell on an empty schoolyard, and then hours later on Tuesday, it shot back again, this time a rocket fell near a school in Sderot.

The Israeli army reported that 114 mortar shells had been fired toward the Gaza strip enclave, and the Iron Dome defense system stopped just 25 .

Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming rockets and artillery shells, fires from southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, May 29th, 2018/Credit : MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP

The IDF has reported that its Iron Dome has intercepted 25 mortar shells.

At 19:07 Jamal Zahalka also said that Israel was responsible for the escalation, “The Israeli government is being pushed into a corner by the non-violent demonstrations in Gaza and is initiating a military confrontation to stop them.”

At 18:53, the IDF told people not to spread rumors on social media, calling claims that that the military had begun full-scale military operation false.

At 18:36 Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke about the events on Tuesday, “an open campaign by terrorist groups with Iranian backing, whose goal is ongoing damage to Israel’s security. We are determined to protect our borders, daily life, and our citizens’ lives, and to destroy those who wish us harm.”

At 18:30 MK Ahmad Tibi said that the Israeli government was responsible for the escalation in Gaza.

“The vast majority of those killed and injured in Gaza in recent weeks were Palestinian civilians, and therefore the Israeli government bears responsibility for the escalation,” said Tibi.

Tibi also called on the international community to intervene on the attacks and the ongoing blockade on Gaza.

He said, “The vast majority of those killed and injured in Gaza in recent weeks were Palestinian civilians, and therefore the Israeli government bears responsibility for the escalation.”

As of 18: 14, Palestinian reports showed that Israel attacked an observation post in the central Gaza Strip.

At 17:45, the Israeli Navy stopped the boats boarded by injured Palestinians seeking medical treatment which left earlier on Tuesday in a demonstration to showcase the international arena of Israel’s more than the decade-long blockade.

At 17:29, Israel instructed diplomats to demand a strong condemnation of attacks on Israel, in-spite having sent more attacks into Gaza on Tuesday.

The Foreign Ministry has called the attacks, “terror attacks”.

Military targets were struck by the Israeli air force after Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to 'respond with great force'
Military targets were struck by the Israeli air force after Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to 'respond with great force'
Military targets were struck by the Israeli air force after Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to 'respond with great force'

At 17: 25, the IDF reported three soldiers hit by mortar wounds, one is with a light injury.

As of 16:51, two Israeli soldiers have been injured in Eshkol near the Gaza-Israel border.

One Israeli soldier has been injured in the Israeli settlement of Sderot , a settler got bruised as he was running to safety, and two others were reported to be in shock.

At 16:30, France joined the conversation and said that it does not support firing mortar shells into populated areas into Israel. The areas in question are settlements taken from Palestinian land. They also offered their “unconditional commitment to Israel’s security”.

The French embassy from Tel Aviv released a statement from the French Foreign Ministry, “France roundly condemns the firing at a civilian population, which fortunately has not claimed victims. France is unconditionally committed to Israel’s security. France condemns the renewed violence, which is inconsistent with a peaceable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A renewal of a credible diplomatic process requires all of the sides to forgo the use of violence.”

France did not say the same thing about Gaza, which is by far more densely populated than the areas in Israel where the shells landed.

At 16:15, Israel’s Defense Minister Lieberman said that “Today at midday, we massively and powerfully attacked terrorist infrastructure, including an additional tunnel, across the Gaza Strip. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have already paid a heavy price and the bill has just been presented to them. We have no intention to let it pass.”

At 16:10, it was reported that the Iron Dome intercepted more than 25 missiles.

At 15:48, Southern Israeli settlements hear rocket sirens

At 15:27, Israel struck Gaza 30 times in seven different locations, in what is being reported as a “terror tunnel”. IDF said that some of the rockets found from Gaza are Iranian made.

At 15: 14, Israel stopped a second barrage of attacks from Gaza in only a few hours.

Right before 15:00 in Israel, rocket sirens went off in southern Israel, the IDF also activated the Iron Dome.

At 13:36 Israel struck Islamic Jihad target in Gaza City.

At 12:52 Israeli air forces attacked targets in Gaza in response to their rocket barrage.

It was reported that at 12:39, Israeli warplanes fired a minimum of 10 missiles at assumed Islamic Jihad targets.

Before that at 12:27, Egypt was reported as having been in talks with Israel, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad leadership abroad in hopes of preventing further conflict in the region. Sources from Gaza responded that if Israeli forces do not kill any Palestinians, then all parties will act with restraint.

12:20 Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted than deleted an hour later, Let the world know: Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip continue to attack Israel. Share the truth!” the image accompanying his tweet reported of 57 missiles when in truth, they were 28 mortar shells fired from Gaza.

Earlier at 11: 50, Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking from a conference said, “The Israeli army will respond with great force to these attacks. Israel will exact a heavy price from anyone who tries to harm it and we view Hamas as having responsibility to prevent these attacks against us.”

Settlers seak shelter from mortars fired from Gaza this morning

At the same conference, he also spoke of Iran’s presence in Syria, “We are not making do with an Iranian withdrawal from just southern Syria. The Iranian missiles have a range that endangers us even if they are in other areas. Iran needs to leave all of Syria. We have not agreed to less than that.”

Before that at 10:52, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and several more top Israeli officials met at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv to discuss the unfolding situation in Gaza.

Before Israel began its strikes on Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Netanyahu had announced that Israel would respond “with great force” to shots from Gaza.

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