Destruction caused by rocket hit in Ramat Gan (Tel Aviv suburb) (Palinfo Twitter account, May 16, 2021).
Destruction caused by rocket hit in Ramat Gan (Tel Aviv suburb) (Palinfo Twitter account, May 16, 2021).
The rubble of the al-Jalaa Building (Palinfo Twitter account, May 15, 2021).
IDF attack before dawn (QudsN Facebook page, May 16, 2021).
IDF attack before dawn (QudsN Facebook page, May 16, 2021).
IDF attack in Gaza City (Palinfo Twitter account, May 15, 2021).
Isma'il Haniyeh speaking in Qatar (Ma'an, May 15, 2021).
Palestinians riot in Judea and Samaria. Right: Hawwara, south of Nablus. Left: Hebron city center (Wafa, May 15, 2021).
- Operation Guardian of the Walls entered its seventh day. As of the evening of May 15, 2021, 2,652 rockets had been fired into Israeli territory, most of them with a range of 40 kilometers (about 25 miles), targeting the southern Israeli coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashqelon, as well at the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip border. However, there were also several rounds of barrages which reached the Greater Tel Aviv area, the coastal plain and Beersheba. Nine Israelis have been killed by rocket fire; an IDF soldier was killed by an anti-tank missile.
- The IDF continued attacking in response to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, carrying out hundreds of aerial sorties. The IDF also hit several anti-tank missile-launching squads and intercepted armed UAVs sent across the border into Israel. In addition, the IDF attacked Hamas’ “metro,” the system of tunnels it constructed under Gaza City to wage war on Israel.
- The events influenced other areas. In Judea and Samaria Palestinians rioted to show solidarity with the Gaza Strip and nine Palestinians were killed. Lebanon and Syria responded with rocket fire attacking Israel. Lebanese also rioted near the northern border security fence, where a Hezbollah terrorist operative was killed.
- Hamas keeps repeating the Gaza Strip is fighting for the sake of Jerusalem, which unites Gaza with the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and with Muslims around the globe. Isma’il Haniyeh gave a speech where he said their terms for a ceasefire included not only the Gaza Strip, but Jerusalem, the so-called “right of return” and “Palestine.”
- Israel rejects Hamas’ terms and is determined to regain its deterrence against Hamas by continuing to respond to rocket fire with IDF attacks. The Palestinian social networks post pictures of the non-combatant casualties in the Gaza Strip, especially pictures of children who have been killed. Their motive is to be able to claim Israel [allegedly] carried out war crimes.
- During the past few days Israel has been attacked by massive rocket and mortar shell fire from the Gaza Strip. As of the evening of May 15, 2021, 2,652 rockets had been launched at Israel, 1,072 intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system, more than 800 falling in open areas and more than 80 hitting populated areas. So far nine Israelis have been killed by rocket fire; one soldier was killed when an anti-tank missile hit his jeep near the Gaza Strip. About 110 civilians have been injured, and there has been extensive damage to property around the country (IDF spokesman, May 15, 2021). Between 17:00 on May 15, 2021 and 07:00 on May 16, 2021, an additional 120 rocket launches were identified, 11 of which fell inside the Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, May 16, 2021).
- Most of the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip was within the 40-kilometer range and targeted the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip, Ashqelon and Ashdod. A number of times, especially after massive IDF attacks, barrages were fired at Beersheba, the Greater Tel Aviv area and the coastal plain.
- Particularly prominent events were the following:
- At 00:12, May 16, 2021, a barrage of rockets was fired at central Israel, after Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, speaking for Muhammed Deif, the commander of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, announced that at midnight Tel Aviv would be attacked. No casualties were reported. A slight amount of damage to property was reported.
- On the afternoon of May 15, 2021, a barrage of rockets was fired at central Israel. A building in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Aviv took a direct hit which killed one man and damaged four nearly buildings. Forty-eight families had to evacuate their homes.
- On May 15, 2021, a rocket fell near the Arab town of Taybeh, east of Tel Aviv. Near the site Israeli Arabs gathered to show their joy and planted a Palestinian flag in the crater formed by the rocket hit.
A rocket crater with Palestinian flag (Twitter account of Liam Baloum, May 15, 2021).
- On May 15, 2021, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced a rocket hit near hospital in the village of Azzun in the Palestinian Authority (PA) Qalqilya district. The Omar al-Qassam Hospital was one of the hospitals devoted to the treatment of coronavirus patients, with a specially trained staff and modern equipment.
- On May 15, 2021, a mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip fell near the Erez Crossing, through which pass humanitarian cases from the Gaza Strip, especially for medical treatment and hospitalization.
- The Palestinian social networks posted calls reading, “On Sunday and Monday the Jews have a holiday, and just as they destroyed our holiday [Eid al-Fitr], we will destroy theirs [Shavuot], we will attack them and their houses and drive them away, so get ready.”
Right: Iron Dome aerial defense system response in the Judean Hills. Left: Rockets in the sky over Tel Aviv after midnight (Palinfo Twitter account, May 16, 2021).
- The IDF continued attacking terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. From the beginning of the Operation until May 15, 2021, Israel had attacked 650 targets. Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, said “The enemy is carrying out attacks to cause destruction and keep the resistance from fighting. It will not influence the resistance’s capabilities.”
- Israel’s targets have included:
- Compounds and facilities belonging to the infrastructure of the Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) military-terrorist wings: On May 15, 2021, IDF aircraft attacked a PIJ workshop for the manufacture of weapons and rockets in Jabalia, a warehouse for the storage of weapons inside the house of a senior Hamas figure, a stock of weapons in the house of an operative of Hamas’ aerial unit and a number of other weapons storage and manufacturing sites.
- Rocket-launching positions: On May 15, 2021, the IDF spokesman reported an attack on rocket launching positions and underground launchers containing rockets aimed at the center of Israel, ready for launching. The multi-barreled rocket launcher which had been used to launch rockets at Jerusalem on the first day of the Operation was attacked, as were a number of terrorist squads en route to fire rockets at Israel. A Hamas military post housing an anti-tank missile launcher in a house in Jabalia was also attacked (IDF spokesman, May 15, 2021).
- Underground facilities: On the night of May 13, 2021, more than 160 Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked Hamas’ “metro,” the underground tunnel system beneath Gaza City from where senior Hamas military-terrorist figures were waging the war against Israel with no fear of reprisals. A Hamas tunnel shaft inside a hotel in the northern Gaza Strip was also attacked.
- Apartments used as operational centers: Apartments belonging to operatives in Hamas’ naval force and apartments of commanders in the Sabra and Tel al-Hawa neighborhoods of Gaza City and an apartment in Beit Lahia were attacked, all of which were part of Hamas’ terrorist network. Some were used to direct the fighting in previous rounds of escalation (IDF spokesman, May 15, 2021).
- Weapons storehouses: Some of the terrorist organizations’ largest and most important weapons storehouses were attacked, among them one containing paragliders for infiltrating into Israeli territory, and one containing weapons of Hamas’ aerial unit (IDF spokesman, May 15, 2021).
- Houses of senior terrorists: Among those attacked was the house of Marwan Issa, deputy head of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, who was in charge of Hamas’ tunnel project, dealt with Hamas’ ties to Iran and built up Hamas’ commando unit. He also liaised between Hamas’ military-terrorist wing and the leadership. Also attacked was the house of Ayman Nofal, commander of the central Gaza Strip region, responsible for smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip and for directing rocket fire at Israel’s center. On May 15, 2021, the IDF attacked the house of Khalil al-Haya, deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau, in Sajaiya. Also attacked was the house of Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip.
- High-rise buildings: The IDF continued attacking multi-story buildings throughout the Gaza Strip. Several hours before each attack the occupants were warned and given time to leave the building. On May 15, 2021, IDF aircraft attacked the al-Jalaa Building, multi-story building belonging to Hamas’ military intelligence. It was also the location of foreign communications networks (IDF spokesman, May 15, 2021). The attack led to a wave of international criticism. Following the attack on the buildings Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, and Abu Hamza, spokesman for the PIJ’s military-terrorist wing, threatened that the “State of Israel will pay a high price.” The al-Jalaa Building housed Hamas’ military-terrorist intelligence as well as the offices of various media, the PIJ, and Hamas military-terrorist intelligence’s research and development unit, whose operatives were specialists in operating technological equipment against Israel. The unit’s capabilities were used against Israel on a number of occasions in attempts to sabotage and disrupt IDF and civilian activity near the Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, May 15, 2021).
Right: The IDF attack on the al-Jalaa Building in Gaza City. Left: The rubble of the al-Jalaa Building (Palinfo Twitter account, May 15, 2021).
Abu Obeida threatens Israel after it toppled the building (Palinfo Twitter account, May 15, 2021).
The IDF attack on the Mushtaha Building in Gaza City (Palinfo Twitter account, May 15, 2021).
- Rocket and anti-tank missile launching units: On May 15, 2021, IDF aircraft killed three Hamas operatives involved in firing rockets from the al-Bureij refugee camp and Khan Yunis (IDF spokesman, May 15, 2021).
Targeted attack in Gaza City (Palinfo Twitter account, May 15, 2021).
- Hamas administration institutions and buildings: On May 14, 2021, the al-Intaj Bank, which is located across from al-Shifaa Hospital in Gaza City was attacked.
Right: IDF attack on Yarmouk Street in Gaza City (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, May 15, 2021). Left: IDF attack in Gaza City (Palinfo Twitter account, May 15, 2021).
- On May 14, 2021, Salama Maarouf, head of the Hamas administration’s media unit in the Gaza Strip, revealed the initial assessment of the economic damage done to the Gaza Strip since the beginning of Operation Guardian of the Walls. He estimated the damage at $75 million. He said 500 dwelling units and 60 administration offices had been destroyed. One mosque was destroyed and dozens of mosques were been damaged, and he said he estimated the actual damage was greater (al-Quds, May 15, 2021).
- The joint operations room of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip said in an announcement that they had prevented the “scam” the IDF had planned in order to delay the beginning of the ground activity with the objective of causing the deaths of hundreds of military operatives and damage the organizations’ military capabilities. According to the joint operations room their capabilities were not affected and their operatives were not harmed (al-Jazeera, May 14, 2021).
- According to the ministry of health in Gaza, as of 10:30 on May 16, 2021, the number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip stood at 174, with about 1,200 wounded and injured. Among those killed, the ministry of health alleged, were 29 women and 47 children (ministry of health in Gaza Facebook page, May 16, 2021).
Funeral held for Hamas terrorist operatives
- Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, accused Israel of [allegedly] deliberately targeting innocent civilians, medical teams and medical facilities in violation of international law. She also said the ministry had sent a truck containing medical aid to the Gaza Strip, which would enter on May 16, 2021, if Israel allowed (ministry of health in Ramallah Facebook page, May 15, 2021).
Foreign aid for the Gaza Strip
- The electric company in the Gaza Strip announced that the supply of electricity was about to run out, and called for pressure to be exerted on Israel to renew it. The electric company in Khan Yunis said it could provide electricity for between three and four hours because the electric lines and one of the generators were not functioning (al-Mamlaka TV, May 15, 2021).
- Mohammed al-Emadi, chairman of Qatar’s National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, said that as of May 17, 2021, Qatar would begin distributing assistance to the families of shaheeds and families whose houses had been destroyed (al-Quds, May 16, 2021).
Hamas and PIJ Reactions
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, gave a speech at a solidarity rally in Qatar, where he said Hamas was threatening Israel with an intifada following the events al al-Aqsa mosque. He warned Israel “not to play with fire,” and called al-Aqsa mosque a red line. He said the intifada would be called “Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem.” He claimed the military wings of Hamas and the other organizations could reach everywhere and that today the conditions they demanded were related not only to the Gaza Strip but to Jerusalem, the [so-called] “right of return” and “Palestine” (Ma’an, May 15, 2021).
Isma’il Haniyeh speaking in Qatar (Ma’an, May 15, 2021).
- Isma’il Haniyeh spoke with Esmail Ghaani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force, who told him Iran stood side by side with the Palestinian people. Ghaani praised the firm stance of the Palestinians and Hamas’ ability to defend the Palestinian people. He said Iran would continue to support the Palestinian people and the “resistance in Palestine” (al-Alam TV in Arabic, May 15, 2021).
- Hamas’ internal security forces called on Gazans to be especially careful when posting information, pictures and messages relating to Israeli activities and to completely avoid discussing locations of rocket launchers, whether by photographing them, posting them to the social networks, or talking about them on the phone (ministry of the interior in Gaza, May 15, 2021).
- Hamas’ military-terrorist wing launched a campaign on its website asking for digitally transferred donations of $500 (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, May 14, 2021). In response the Saudi Arabian security agency issued an official announcement calling on Saudi Arabians not to respond to unidentified external requests for donations for charity outside the country.
The Palestinian Authority (PA)
- Mahmoud Abbas condemned Israel’s “[allegedly] planned, ugly acts of murder” in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. He said the Israeli government was responsible for the escalation and warned the government not to continue along the path it was taking. He said the PA had appealed to the United States to intervene and stop Israel’s “aggression” to keep it from spinning out of control. Mahmoud Abbas demanded all Jews and soldiers leave Jerusalem [sic] (Wafa, May 14, 2021).
- On May 15, 2021, Mahmoud Abbas held an emergency meeting of the heads of the PA’s security forces for updates on the situation in the Palestinian arena,
Mahmoud Abbas holds a situation assessment with the heads of the PA’s security forces (Mahmoud Abbas’ Facebook page, May 15, 2021).
- On May 15, 2021, Mahmoud Abbas received a phone call from United States President Joe Biden. Mahmoud Abbas updated him on Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip, on the Temple Mount and in east Jerusalem. He claimed there would be security and stability only after the Israeli “occupation” ended. He called on Biden to act immediately to stop Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip. Biden promised the United States would continue helping the PA and donating to UNRWA (Mahmoud Abbas’ Facebook page, May 15, 2021).
- The ministry of health in Ramallah opened a situation room to follow medical conditions in the field during the escalation. Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health said the objective of the situation room was to provide a response for medical needs in Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, and to facilitate the transport of equipment between the various sites (ministry of health in Ramallah website, May 15, 2021)
- Over the past few days there was an increase in the number of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks.
- On May 15, 2021, there was an attempted vehicular ramming attack at a junction south of Hebron. No casualties were reported and the terrorist was neutralized by IDF forces (IDF spokesman, May 15, 2021).
- On May 14, 2021, there was a drive-by shooting at the Te’enim Crossing northwest of Nablus. No casualties were reported. The vehicle drove away (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 14, 2021).
Riots and demonstrations in Judea and Samaria
- Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV issued a call to Arabs in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to confront IDF soldiers at the roadblocks in Jerusalem and other key cities. In Judea and Samaria protest demonstrations were held in many locations. Nine Palestinians were killed during riots. Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, used his Telegram channel to praise the residents of Jerusalem and their “revolution,” and called on them to burn the ground under the feet of the “occupation” (Abu Obeida’s Telegram channel, May 14, 2018).
- On May 14, 2021, PIJ leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah met with Na’im Qassem, deputy Hezbollah secretary general, to discuss recent developments in the Palestinian arena, particularly the “Sword of Jerusalem” campaign. They discussed “the internal Palestinian arena and the firm stance of the ‘resistance’ in the Gaza Strip.” Qassem said the objective of the Hezbollah delegation was to stress that the organization stood alongside the Palestinian “resistance” in its “struggle” against Israel, adding that Hezbollah supported the jihad of the Palestinian people and the “liberation of Jerusalem.”
- On May 14, 2021, IDF tanks fired shells to disperse a number of suspicious Lebanese rioters who had crossed into Israeli territory. The Lebanese vandalized the border security fence, lit fires and then retreated into Lebanese territory (IDF spokesman, May 14, 2021). Hezbollah issued a mourning notice for the “jihad fighter shaheed” Muhammad Qassem Tahan from the Lebanese village of Adloun who had participated in a rally of solidarity with Jerusalem and “Palestine” at the border. Lebanese President Michel Aoun condemned the gunfire targeting the “group of youths” who had held a demonstration and asked the Lebanese foreign minister to send a communiqué to the UN about the attack.
- On the night of May 13, 2021, IDF fighters deployed in ambushes near Metulla identified a number of suspicious figures from Lebanon who made they way to the border security fence and then vandalized it. The fighters carried out standard procedures for detaining suspects, including shooting at their legs. The suspicious figures fled back into Lebanon. An initial investigation of the incident and searches of the area revealed that the group had been organized, left behind suspicious objects which could be IEDs, and acted in a manner that indicated they had intended to enter Israeli territory and carry out a terrorist attack in the town of Metulla (IDF spokesman, May 15, 2021).
Lebanese climb the border security fence in south Lebanon
(Palinfo Twitter account, May 15, 2021).
Lebanese throw stones at the border security fence in south Lebanon
(al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, May 16, 2021).
Rocket fire from Lebanon
- On the evening of May 13, 2021, three rockets were fired from Lebanon towards the sea off the Galilee coast (IDF spokesman, May 13, 2021). Hezbollah denied firing the rockets. “A security source” told MTV that the initial evidence indicated Palestinian organizations were responsible for firing the three rockets. The al-Nashra news website reported that the rockets were probably fired from the town of Qleileh in south Lebanon.
Rocket fire from Syria
- On the evening of May 14, 2021, three rockets were fired into Israeli territory from Syria. Two fell in open areas in Israel and the third fell inside Syria (IDF spokesman, May 14, 2021).
- Egypt continues ongoing contacts for a ceasefire. A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry reported that they were in contact with international actors, especially the United States (al-Jazeera, May 15, 2021). The Egypt revealed it had offered Israel a timeout of a year supervised and coordinated by Egypt. Egypt also asked Israel to stop sending its security forces to al-Aqsa mosque and to stop the targeted killings in the Gaza Strip, stressing it would commit Hamas and the other “factions” not to fire rockets at Israel and to put a complete stop to the rioting, incendiary balloon launching and night harassment unit activities along the Gaza Strip border. So far Israel has refused to accept Egyptian mediation for a ceasefire.
- On May 13, 2021, Hamas said Tor Wennesland, the UN envoy to the Middle East, had contacted Isma’il Haniyeh. According to Hamas, they discussed the most recent developments in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.