Israel-Hamas Escalation in Gaza
By: Alex Fishman Translated from Yedioth Ahronoth (Israel).
Something different, with hugely volatile potential, has been happening in the last few days in the Gaza Strip.
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Something different, with hugely volatile potential, has been happening in the last few days in the Gaza Strip, writes Alex Fishman. Rocket fire began Monday on Israel and became a constant attack on the southern settlements, but Hamas has not committed any such acts against Israel for a whole year. What exactly happened?Publisher: Yedioth Ahronoth (Israel)
Unusual and explosive
Author: Alex Fishman
First Published: June 20, 2012
Posted on: June 21 2012
Translated by: Al-Monitor
Over the course of an entire year, Hamas didn’t take responsibility for violent acts from the Strip against Israel, nor did it actually carry out any such acts. It didn’t even take part in the last significant round of fire this past March. But now, in the last day, not only has Hamas fired Qassam rockets at Israeli communities, it has also rushed to take loud and clear responsibility for doing so.
Israeli has also acted unusually against Hamas in recent days. After the Islamic Jihad terrorist who entered Israel killed IDFsoldier Netanel Moshiashvili on June 1, the Israel Air Force responded by bombing Hamas targets. In the past, the air force hit these types of targets as a signal to the regime in Gaza to take responsibility. Except that this time it didn’t fire on symbolic targets — for example, tunnels — but rather “hard” targets, like missile and rocket depots.
In Israel, these unusual air strikes didn’t receive much special attention. Hamas, for its part, restrained itself, out of the understanding of the unwritten “rules of the game, which 'permit'” Israel to extract a price for the killing of a soldier. However, Hamas was surprised by the weight of the Israeli response, and from the military targets that were hit.
Grad rockets from Sinai on the Negev, along with Monday’s attack on the fence along the Egyptian border prompted the IAF to attack Hamas targets in Gaza again. Since the beginning of the week, these attacks have killed 11 people in the Strip. This time, from Hamas’ perspective, Israel broke the rules — Hamas did not feel responsible for the recent attacks from Sinai, even Israel didn’t blame the group for the attack. Global Jihad took open responsibility for the attacks, but still, Israel again attacked “hard” Hamas targets in Gaza.
Hamas is well aware of the nature of the targets that the air force attacked, and the extent of the damage they caused. This is what prompted it to break the year-long “fast” it had imposed on itself.
For now, Hamas is launching Qassam rockets and has announced that it is firing at military facilities alone, not at civilians. But a very explosive situation could make Hamas choose to turn last night’s death of a girl — whether the result of Israeli fire or, as the IDF spokesperson claimed, erroneous Hamas fire — to grounds for lighting a larger blaze. On Israel’s end, a Border Police officer was wounded, which could cause Israel to fan the flames.
Within Hamas’ military wing and the more extreme Islamic groups in Gaza, there is no shortage of people who would be happy for this fire to be fanned. The potential of the explosion is huge — and the coming hours are critical.
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