Tuesday, May 9, 2023

In Gaza, Israeli forces assassinated 3 Islamic Jihad commanders, Khalil Bahtini, commander of the northern region, Tareq Izzeldeen in Gaza City, and Jihad Ghanam, secretary of the military council, in Rafah in simultaneous airstrikes. The strikes also killed 10 others, including 4 women, 4 children, and 1 Russian-Palestinian, and injured 20. In the assassination of Izzeldeen, Israeli forces fired 2 missiles at the fifth and sixth floor of an apartment building in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, killing Izzeldeen and his 2 children on the fifth floor and a family of 3 on the sixth floor; 6 were injured. In the assassination of Bahtini, Israeli forces fired 2 missiles at his home in al-Sha’af neighborhood of Gaza City, killing him, his wife and child, and 2 others in a neighboring building, including 1 child; 6 others were injured, including 3 children and 2 women. In the assassination of Ghanam, Israeli forces dropped 3 GBU-19 bombs on his home in Rafah, killing him and his wife and injuring 6 others, including 1 child. Later, and without receiving a response from Islamic Jihad, Israeli forces assassinated 2 members of Islamic Jihad, Wael al-Agha and Saed Farwana, in an airstrike on their car in Khan Yunis; 2 others were injured. Israel called the attacks “Operation Shield and Arrow.” In the West Bank, after the attack on Gaza, Israeli forces raided Nablus, injuring 12 Palestinians with live ammunition, including 1 minor, and injured 90 others with tear gas. Israeli settlers set up tents on Palestinian-owned land in Jaba’. Israeli forces assaulted members of the Hebron Municipality Council who were attempting to reopen an office at risk of being taken over by settlers. Israeli forces also issued a demolition notice for a house and a stop-work order for a school in Maeen. 14 Palestinians were arrested during late-night raids in Yatta, Hebron, al-Mughayyir, Nablus, and Ramallah. (NYT 5/8; AJ, AJ, AJ, AJ, ALM, AP, AX, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, MEE, QDS, PCHR, REU, REU, TOI, TOI, TOI, TOI, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 5/9; AJ, ALM, AX, BBC, HA, MDW, MEE, MEE, MEE, NYT, REU, UNOCHA 5/10; HA, MEE, PCHR 5/11; HA 5/12; HA 5/13; QDS 5/15; UNOCHA 5/19; HA 5/30)

In response to Israel’s attack on Gaza (see above), Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said, “[w]e do not accept that this is an attack specifically directed at the Islamic Jihad. From Hamas' point of view, this is an attack against the Palestinian people, and therefore there will be a proportionate response whose details will be determined by the joint operations room of all factions.” The PA called the Israeli attacks “organized state terrorism.” Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan’s foreign ministries issued statements condemning Israel’s attack on Gaza and Nablus. The UN envoy for the Middle East peace process Tor Wennesland condemned “the death of civilians.” (ALM, ALM, HA, HA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 5/9; WAFA 5/10; MEE 5/11; MDW 5/12)

Following Israel’s attack on Gaza (see above), National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced that his Jewish Power party would return to the Knesset. Ben-Gvir and his party started boycotting the Knesset on 5/3 after what he called a “lenient” response by the Israeli government to the protest that occurred after the Adnan Khader died in an Israeli prison on 5/2. Ben-Gvir called the attack “a nice start” and said it was time for “policy change in Gaza.” The assassinations and larger operation were approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara on 5/5 but were not presented to the security cabinet. (HA, HA, HA, HA 5/9; HA, HA 5/10; HA 5/13)

PA president Mahmoud Abbas met with the Russian envoy for the Middle East peace process Vladimir Safrenkov, discussing recent developments related to the occupation. (WAFA 5/9)

The Committee to Project Journalists issued a report saying that Israel has not held anybody accountable for the killing of 20 Palestinian and foreign journalists since 2001, creating a “chilling effect” on press freedoms. The report said that 15 of the journalists killed since 2001 were killed by Israeli forces while 2 were killed by gunmen in Palestinian presidential guard uniforms. (AJ, AP, HA, MDW, MEE 5/9)

Axios reported that U.S. ambassador to Israel Tom Nides will resign this summer to spend time with his family. (AX, HA, HA, MEE 5/9)