Three rockets from Gaza landed in Israel on Tuesday, hours before the latest 24-hour ceasefire is set to expire. The IDF began retaliatory airstrikes against the sites suspected of launching the missiles. Since the end of Operation Protective Edge, Israel has agreed to two three-day ceasefires and another five-day truce.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that he would withdraw the Israeli envoy from Cairo, where officials had been conducting indirect talks with Palestinian officials representing both Fatah and Hamas. Hamas called for the lifting of the Israeli blockade on Gaza, but Jerusalem has yet to achieve any meaningful security concessions from Hamas. Some restrictions, such as an extension of Gaza’s six-mile fishing zone were up for negotiation, but without a formal agreement, Israeli officials indicated only that “quiet will be met with quiet.”
Non-Arab TV stations released videos of Hamas fighters firing rockets from residential areas and close to UN facilities. Hamas tried to restrict access to journalists, intimidating them to not show reports of attacks emanating in Gaza. Meanwhile, terrorists showed al-Jazeera journalists undestroyed tunnels and fortified observation posts near the Israeli border.
According to Islamists on Twitter, ISIS fighter Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi was killed by Israeli forces in Gaza. The post suggests that ISIS has already established a terrorist network in Gaza.
The Israeli government released a video showing shells exploding at Kerem Shalom, a commercial crossing terminal that sends aid to Gaza. Even after the first explosions hit the compound, 30 truckloads of humanitarian supplies were transferred into Gaza; a second round of shelling temporarily closed the checkpoint.
Hamas reportedly executed dozens of tunnel laborers, worried that they could divulge information to Israel if captured. The report claims that some diggers are blindfolded on their way to work to prevent them from recognizing the location of the tunnels.
Hamas released a video on its al-Aqsa TV station showcasing a factory in Gaza where the group makes M-75 rockets to attack Israel. Hamas claims that it can still manufacture long range rockets indigenously.
A screenshot from a video showing Hamas’s rocket factory in Gaza. (Photo: MEMRI)
The Times of Israel reports that Hamas has put hundreds of Fatah members living in Gaza under house arrest. Other Palestinians opposing Hamas have faced violence while the terrorist group clamps down on political decent.
Following Operation Protective Edge, numerous Western media outlets ran news stories questioning the reliability of the civilian death toll in Gaza and Hamas’s statements to the media. The UN and other organizations often rely on the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry to estimate casualty statistics. Jerusalem estimated that 900 militants had been killed by Israel.
On August 5, Israel arrested the Husam al-Qawasmi, the mastermind behind the kidnapping and murder of Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel. According to the prosecutor’s office, Husam collected the weapons and funding used for the attack. Evidence suggests Husam was trying to flee to Jordan with a fake passport. His suspected accomplices, Marwan al-Qawasmi and Amir Abu Aisha, remain at large. On August 18, the IDF demolished the homes of Abu Aisha and Husam al-Qawasmi, and quarantined the house of Marwan al-Qawasmi in Hebron.
In early August, Israeli officials indicted Riad Natzer, the leader in Hamas in the West Bank. Natzer is suspected of raising more than $400,000 for terrorist operations, including building weapons and organizing recruits into cells.
Fatah militant Zakaria Al-Aqra died in a gunfight with Israeli police when security forces attempted to arrest him south of Nablus. Israeli officials suspected Al-Aqra had been involved in shooting at soldiers in the West Bank.
In a crackdown by the Palestinian Authority, West Bank officials arrested five members of Hamas on August 12, including senior Hamas official Abu Ali-Al Rabi.
Iran called for the arming of Islamists in the West Bank, saying that Palestinians should use violence to counter “the Zionist enemy.” Iranian commander Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi proposed that resistance forces in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, and Lebanon, sign a mutual defense agreement.
The Egyptian army killed 60 extremists and arrested another 102 suspects during a security crackdown in North Sinai, according to a statement made by the armed forces on August 8. Government forces also confiscated over 1,400 pounds of marijuana from three cars, the profits of which would have likely gone to the area’s Islamist insurgency.
An American soldier stationed in Sinai with the Multinational Force and Observers Mission (MFO) was injured in early August when gunman shot at their compound.
Following moves from six other European countries, Finland lifted a travel warning against tourists visiting Sharm El-Sheikh in Southern Sinai. Egypt’s tourism ministry has lobbied hard for the travel advisories to be removed after an attack killed three South Koreans and their Egyptian driver last year.
Five policemen and four alleged smugglers died during a shootout in Mersa Matruh, west of Alexandria. Security forces suspected the vehicle was carrying weapons and explosives from Libya into Sinai.
According statistics released by Reuters, gunmen killed 21 members of the Egyptian border patrol in July.
File photo of masked Palestinian protesters hurling stones at Israeli police during clashes in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem, July 3, 2014. (Photo: Times of Israel)
The Israeli government recorded more than 360 violent assaults against Jews last month, roughly doubling the number of attacks during the same time last year. Many incidents involved Palestinian teenagers throwing stones and firebombs, but some more serious cases involved masked gunmen opening fire on nearby civilians.
Al-Monitor detailed a limited rapprochement between Hamas and Hezbollah during the war in Gaza. Hamas politician Ali Baraka appeared with the vice president of Hezbollah’s political office, Mahmoud Qamati, on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar channel near Beirut.
Israeli police announced that a lone soldier from the U.S. had gone missing from the Tzrifin Military base in central Israel. David Menahem Gordon was last seen on Sunday, August 17, but officials caution there has been no evidence of a kidnapping.
In mid-August, the Israeli government announced a new financial aid package for southern Israeli communities affected by Operation Protective Edge. Jerusalem will initially transfer $6.6 million to areas around Gaza, and $3.9 million to the city of Sderot. Over the next few years, over $120 million will be allocated to build new community centers and fortify existing buildings.