Dec 26, 2019

Israel strikes back after Gaza rocket forces Netanyahu's evacuation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on after lighting a Hanukkah candle at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in the Old City of Jerusalem on Dec. 22. Photo: Sebastian Scheiner/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

After local media reported a rocket fired from Gaza forced the evacuation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, the Israel Defense Force tweeted it' "struck a number of Hamas terror targets in Gaza" in response.


Why it matters: The developments come after Netanyahu promised supporters that he'd "convince President Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and all settlements on the West Bank if he wins Thursday's primary to lead the Likud Party." per Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13, writing for Axios.

Details: The IDF said it used its air defense system, the Iron Dome, to intercept the Gazan rocket fired into southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, 7.5 miles from the coastal Palestinian enclave. There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

  • Israeli fighter jets and helicopters conducted multiple strikes against Hamas early Thursday local time, per AP, which notes "no casualties were reported as the sites have been empty."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper: Netanyahu promises Trump's backing for Israeli sovereignty over settlements

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Netanyahu declares victory in Likud primary as Israel heads for third elections

Supporters hold up banners as thousands of people attend a rally against the Netanyahu indictment on November 26, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he had won a "giant victory" in the primary race for leadership of his ruling Likud Party Thursday night, the AP reports.

Why it matters: If the early results hold, it would be the first hurdle cleared by the embattled prime minister as Israel heads for its third elections in less than a year. Netanyahu, who is seeking to maintain immunity after being indicted last month on corruption charges, pledged to convince President Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and all settlements in the West Bank in a last-ditch campaign promise ahead of Thursday's primary.

Go deeper: Israel heads for third elections with Netanyahu weakened by indictments

Keep ReadingArrowDec 26, 2019

White House opposes Israel's West Bank annexation prior to release of peace plan

Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Benny Gantz. Photos: Sean Gallup/Getty Staff, Jack Guez/Getty Contributor

The White House is opposed to Israel's moves to annex the West Bank prior to the release of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, senior U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that he wants Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to vote on the annexation of the Jordan Valley as soon as next week, but the White House position dramatically reduces the chances of that happening.

Go deeperArrowJan 22, 2020

Gantz changes course, calls on Trump to release Middle East peace plan

A banner for Gantz (right) near one of Netanyahu and Trump ahead of September's elections. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Benny Gantz, leader of Israel's Blue and White Party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's top political rival, backtracked today on his request that President Trump not release his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan before Israel's March 2nd elections.

Why it matters: This removes a major obstacle to the plan's release. The shift seems to be based on a calculation that if Trump were to release the plan in coordination with Netanyahu, and against his wishes, Gantz would appear to lack influence in Washington.

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020