‘Special Situation’ Declared For Southern Region

The government declared a “special situation” on Tuesday in the southern region within 25 miles of the Gaza Strip. This is a legal decree which gives the authorities latitude to act to safeguard public safety during an emergency.

Train service was disrupted as the Home Front Command ordered Israel Railways to shut down between Ashkelon and Sderot. The trains will begin and end their journeys at Ashkelon station until further notice.

The Israel Airports Authority announced that arrivals and departures at Ben-Gurion Airport were subject to change due to security considerations. Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov Airport was closed for takeoffs on Tuesday evening.

Tourism was starting to feel the effect of the crisis. The Israel Hotels Association reported only a small number of cancelled bookings; but the number of new bookings has dropped precipitously since the escalation in the south.

The Yerushalayim municipality announced Tuesday evening the opening of public bomb shelters across the capital and gave emergency instuctions: “In the case of a siren or explosion, residents should go to the closest protected area within 90 seconds and close all doors and windows and stay indoors for 10 minutes,” the statement read. “All residents are asked to continue to listen to instructions from the Home Front Command. As of now, all municipal events will take place as scheduled.” Tel Aviv and cities in the south are likewise making their bomb shelters ready for immediate use.

U.S. President Barack Obama called for Israelis and Palestinians alike to exercise restraint in the extremely volatile atmosphere since the murder of three Israeli teenagers and a Palestinian teenager.

In an op-ed in Haaretz, Obama called it a “dangerous moment” for the region where a vaunted U.S. peace effort recently collapsed. Writing in emotional terms, he said he couldn’t imagine the pain suffered by the parents of the three Israeli teens, but was also heartbroken by the senseless murder of a Palestinian teenager who many suspect was killed as payback.

“All parties must protect the innocent and act with reasonableness and restraint, not vengeance and retribution,” Obama said.

The European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, said on Tuesday the EU would like to “express its unreserved solidarity with the citizens of Israel.”

Speaking at a conference on peace talks, the ambassador condemned the “indiscriminate shooting of rockets against civilians [that] can never be a legitimate response, no matter what your grievances.”

Netanyahu was expected to be on the phone with world leaders to explain Israel’s position and enlist their support.

The BBC published a brief expose on Tuesday of Palestinian propaganda, saying that  many of the graphic images that are being shared on social media, purporting to show destruction from IDF raids in Gaza, are falsely dated.

“Over the past week the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack has been used hundreds of thousands of times, often to distribute pictures claiming to show the effects of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza,” the BBC wrote. “A #BBCtrending investigation has found that many of these images are not from the latest conflict and not even from Gaza. Some date as far back as 2009 and others are from conflicts in Syria and Iraq.”