IDF Mobilizes as Conflict in Gaza Escalates

The last 48 hours in Israel have been critical. The situation began following an Arab protest that turned violent on the Temple Mount at the end of the last week. The situation has since escalated and unbalanced fragile status quo. The violence developed in the run up to Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City during the Six Days War of 1967. A crackdown on Arab demonstrators was met with threats from Hamas and other radical organizations.

The situation escalated quickly when on the 10 May Israeli police closed the Temple Mount to Jews as violence at the holy site escalated. Members of Hamas placed their flag on the top of the al-Aqsa Mosque. On the same day, an ultimatum demanding the withdrawal of the Israeli police from the Temple Mount was issued by extremists. The policemen did not leave the site and in response Hamas launched a large scale rocket strike in the afternoon, which was largely intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

Clashes with Palestinians continued as the Israeli Air Force began the biggest campaign of airstrikes against targets in the Gaza Strip in history. Over 20 people have been confirmed killed by the Red Crescent as a result of the IAF retaliation. In response to these actions, the Palestinians launched rocket attacks again in the evening of 11 May. IDF declared that approximately 480 rockets had been fired from the Gaza Strip by 19:35 local time.

As events unfold into the night, a critical situation has evolved in the city of Lod with violent clashes and reports of gunfire. Arab rioters have reportedly set fire to several synagogues on fire and wreaking havoc in a number of neighborhoods. The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced a state of emergency in the city.

The events mark the first time since the end of the Second Intifada, in 2005, and the 2006 Gaza–Israel conflict that hostilities between the Palestinians and Israelis have reached such critical levels of violence. The tense situation and retaliation by both sides has led to further escalation and the number of victims on both sides looks set to increase. It is hoped that the situation will stabilise and a peaceful solution found before a third Intifada is called and violence escalates further.