Israel’s military is considering the possibility of launching a ground campaign in the Gaza Strip as the Israel Defense Forces claim Iran-backed Hamas has fired over 1,500 rockets into Israel since Monday.
An IDF spokesperson said that plans for a potential ground operation in Gaza would be presented to the IDF General Staff for approval on Thursday as Hamas continues targeting two major cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with rockets, according to Times of Isreal. Before Monday, missiles had not been fired into Jerusalem since 2014.
Hamas launched another round of around 100 rockets on Thursday as the violence and attacks continue to escalate.
IDF has launched airstrikes into the Gaza Strip to retaliate against the attacks and confirmed it has killed as many as 16 Hamas figures. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reported that 87 people have been killed since the fighting began, including 18 children. Over 530 are said to have been injured as of Thursday.
Israel’s Iron Dome has intercepted many of the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. Still, Hamas’ attacks into central and southern Israel have reportedly led to the death of at least seven Israelis.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted on Thursday that the IDF has attacked hundreds of targets and will soon surpass 1,000 targets.
"We are continuing to strike Hamas while defending our citizens,” Netanyahu tweeted. “It will take time, but with great decisiveness, both defensively and offensively, we will achieve our goal – to restore quiet to the State of Israel."
Daniel and Amber Pierce, founders of the Glory of Zion Jerusalem and co-authors of a new book, Joy in the War, moved to Israel in 2011 to serve in ministry. The couple shared with The Christian Post how Israelis have learned to adapt to the constant threat of danger and frequent rocket attacks.
“When these things go on in Israel, it’s something the society and community are trained for,” Daniel Pierce said. “They grow up with this, and it’s something that is an unfortunate reality of life there. But there are certain precautions the community takes.”
The Pierces, who now live in Texas and have not been able to return to Israel due to COVID-19 restrictions, remain in close contact with friends and ministry partners in Israel and understand how the situation is often misconstrued.
“We wish so much that Israel would be represented properly,” Amber Pierce said. “I know the devil twists things, but we just want Israel to be represented properly. Israel just has to defend itself and has to make a decision to do what is best for the nation and for the people. If you had over a thousand rockets landing in New York City, we would definitely be doing everything to fight back wherever those rockets were coming from. So, I just think that we want people to pray … and for people to have awareness for what’s really going on and to talk about it.”
Daniel Pierce shared how the conflict is the result of mounting tensions between Arabs and Jews.
Though tensions between the groups are high, Pierce traced this round of violence back to April 24, when a TikTok video went viral showing an Arab hit a Jewish man on a city bus. He also shared how tensions are higher during Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer observed by Muslims, which ended on May 12.
“That began to really stir up the tensions between the Arabs and the Jewish community in Jerusalem,” he said. “Of course, Jerusalem is split almost evenly between Arabs and Jewish. … That also coincided with some decisions made in the court system over a housing district in a neighborhood.”
The conflict was also stirred by a delayed court ruling involving homes occupied by Palestinians in an Old City neighborhood.
The court is deciding whether authorities will evict dozens of Palestinians living rent-free in the homes owned by Jews.
A series of events led to violent clashes on the Muslim-occupied Temple Mount that led to Israeli police intervention this week, where hundreds of rioters and some officers were injured.
Hamas began its attacks on Israel on Monday. A Hamas spokesperson said the attack was in response to Israeli “crimes and aggression” in Jerusalem.
Many have condemned Hamas attacks and supported Israel’s right to defend itself.
Forty U.S. senators led by Republican Marco Rubio of Florida signed a letter Wednesday calling on President Joe Biden to support Israel’s right to retaliate and end sanction relief with Iran, which backs Hamas.
“[Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, who are funded by Iran] … are targeting Israeli civilians and cities, including Israel’s capital Jerusalem,” the letter read. “This is troubling as members of your administration are currently in Vienna negotiating with Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. In light of these recent attacks by Hamas against Israel, the United States should take all steps necessary to hold Tehran accountable and under no circumstances, provide sanctions relief to Iran. This is especially important as Iran is supporting terrorist activity against the United States’ closest ally in the region, Israel.”
The letter pointed out how Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted that Palestinians should unite to “use the tools of their disposal” to attack Israel, which he recently called a “terrorist garrison.”
The U.S. designated Hamas a terrorist organization in 1997, so it is prohibited from providing funds to Hamas. Iran, however, is a financial supporter of Hamas and the U.S. engages in negotiations with Iran and potentially provides billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
“We call on you to immediately end negotiations with Iran, and make clear that sanctions relief will not be provided,” the senators wrote. “Doing so would demonstrate a firm commitment to our closest ally in the region and to our own security interests.”
“The United States must not do anything to enrich Israel’s enemies, such as by offering sanctions relief to a regime that seeks to destroy Israel,” the letter continued. “As a longtime friend of the Jewish state, we also urge you to unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend itself against any and all terrorist attacks.”
Biden spoke to Netanyahu Wednesday and condemned Hamas’ rocket attacks into Israel. He expressed support for Israel’s security and its right to defend itself.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also condemned the Hamas attacks during a press conference Wednesday. He said the administration is trying to achieve de-escalation.
“There is first a very clear and absolute distinction between a terrorist organization Hamas — that is indiscriminately raining down rockets, in fact, targeting civilians — and Israel’s response defending itself,” Blinken said.
“… I think Israel has an extra burden in trying to do everything it possibly can to avoid civilian casualties even as it is rightfully responding in defense of its people,” Blinken continued. “And as I said, the Palestinians have a right to safety and security and we have to all work in that direction. So the single most important thing right now is de-escalation.”
Conservative talk show host Ben Shapiro has criticized the Biden administration for not taking a more heavy-handed response to the violence against Israel.
Blinken tweeted Wednesday that “Israelis and Palestinians deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security, and prosperity.”
Shapiro retweeted and rebutted with a response.
“Then Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the PA should be removed,” he argued. “Hamas and PIJ are terror groups, the [Palestinian Authority]'s Fatah is a terror group, and Mahmoud Abbas is in the 17th year of a four-year term.”
Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org