UPDATES 5:00 pm Israel time Thursday:
**At 7:19 am this morning, the area around Sderot was jolted by a barrage of five terrorist rockets fired from Gaza. This latest attempt to kill Israeli men, women, and children was apparently carried out by the Hamas proxy group Magles Shoura al-Mujahddin.
Red sirens announcing incoming rockets were sounded in Sderot and in all of the smaller communities in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. One rocket exploded in the backyard of a house in Sderot; another landed in an open area in the city. Even at this hour, it is not clear where the other three rockets struck.
Already today there are renewed reports of Israelis in the area being treated for traumatic stress, but no physical injuries were reported. Defense Minister has ordered the Kerem Shalom Crossing closed and the Erez Crossing closed except for “emergency cases”.
Unnamed Israel officials offered the ridiculous comments this afternoon that Israel cannot sit idly by while such rocket attacks take place, but that Israel will not react this time because “Obama is in the country.”
**President Obama is now back in Jerusalem speaking to a group of students–after having spent the afternoon with Abu Mazen and the PLO in Ramallah. Here are some excerpts from Obama’s speech to the Palestinans earlier in the afternoon:
“I will not give up on peace between Israelis and Palestinians no matter how hard it is.”
“The core issue right now is how do we get sovereignty for the Palestinian people and security for Israeli people.”
“There should be a future with a Palestinian state in the homeland of the Palestinian people alongside the Jewish state of Israel.”
“The Palestinian people have the talent, drive, and courage to succeed in own their own state. I am confident we can arrive at a destination to advance a vision of two nations, neighbors, having peace, Israelis and Palestinians.”
“We don’t consider settlement activity constructive or can promote peace. Israeli politics is complex, the settlement issue is not going to be solved overnight.”
“The Palestinians must not use settlements as an excuse not to talk. That’s not to say settlements aren’t important. That’s to say if we solve those two problems, the settlement issue will be resolved.”