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Dear WIZO NSW members,

In the past few days Israel has once again been subjected to rocket attacks in the South, targeting Israeli villages. WIZO World President Esther Mor’s email below clearly states the situation as it has been, and stands.

Esther Mor:

“First and foremost all WIZO Day Care centres are safe and functioning as usual, and it is has been quiet since 5am. It is important to understand that along our Southern border, there are daily incidents monitored and contained by the IDF.

The past month or so, has seen incendiary kites being sent from the Gaza Strip across the border. The kites set fire to wherever they land and farmers have sustained loss of crops and income as a result. Others worked around the clock to harvest wheat and other crops to minimise damage. In addition, the past month there have been violent demonstrations at the border.

Yesterday (Tuesday 29 May), Palestinian militants launched over 130 rockets and mortars towards Israel throughout the day and into the early hours of today (Wednesday 30 May). They were countered by Israeli tank fire and air strikes, “the largest IDF retaliatory attack” since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.

The airstrikes hit 55 militant targets in the Palestinian coastal enclave, including a cross-border tunnel under construction. Most of the projectiles were either intercepted by Israel’s advanced Iron Dome missile defense system or landed in empty lots and open fields. In one case, however a home was directly hit but no one was injured. The IDF is not disclosing exact locations that were hit in Israel for strategic and security reasons. Hamas and Islamic Jihad took joint responsibility for the attacks.

One rocket exploded in a KINDERGARTEN YARD in one of the Kibbutzim, about an hour before it was scheduled to open for the day, damaging walls and scattering debris and shrapnel around the playground; However, educators and professionals met with parents last night and told them that to minimise the trauma, it is important to maintain the children’s daily routine and they should send them to the kindergarden as usual today.

“Red Alert Sirens” blared regularly throughout the day and night but they weakened at day break, Israeli schools in Sha’ar HaNegev, Eshkol, Sdot Negev and Ashkelon Coastal regional councils are open and operating normally, 75% percent of the children and youth showed up at school.
The pro-Iran Islamic Jihad militant group said late last night that an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement had been implemented, “Palestinian factions will abide by calm as long as (Israel) abides by it,” Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab said.

This morning, ministers in the security cabinet said that they were not aware of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire agreement between Israel and militant groups operating out of the Gaza Strip

“We haven’t reached an agreement with Hamas, not even an informal agreement,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said outside a school he visited in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council. “We will act according to Israel’s interests. What the other side decides will determine its fate.

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz: “Israel does not hold ceasefires. Our rules of engagement have changed. I won’t be surprised if Hamas realises that, and we may indeed be facing a calm, just as soon as they stop firing. Israel doesn’t have anything to do in Gaza.”

Residents in the Otef Aza regions call for a stronger IDF response, saying yesterday’s actions were too moderate; that the Government should not agree to a ceasefire, and that there should be much more deterrence.’ Since 2014, many Israelis have settled in the South, taking into account that security difficulties would, from time to time, be part of their lives. Along with all the residents in the southern regions, they are adamant and determined to weather the current storm. They are prepared to miss sleep at night, as long as it “applies to the people of Gaza as well”. They are proud steadfast Israelis and the whole of Israel is supporting them wholeheartedly.

Various international leaders have condemned the day’s events, with the US calling for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting set to take place this afternoon (Wednesday 30 May) – defending Israel and condemning Hamas.

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations’ special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said he was deeply concerned by “the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants from Gaza towards communities in southern Israel.” This is a refreshing, albeit long overdue, change in tone, as far as the UN is concerned.

I would also like to take this opportunity to put the record straight in regard to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Funds designated to rehabilitate Gaza are being used to build terror tunnels, pay the salaries of shayeed families and terrorists. Furthermore, as the Fatah-Hamas feud deepens, some months ago, President Mahmoud Abbas made a statement that he had decided to take “legal, national and financial measures” against Hamas (who control Gaza) to “protect the Palestinian national project.” This was followed by the Palestinian Authority paying salaries to its West Bank employees only, but not those in the Gaza Strip. This only incites an already discontented population, who erroneously take their frustration out on Israel.“

Warm regards,

Esther Mor
President World WIZO

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