GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The sound of thunder mixed with that of Israeli bombing on March 11. Gazans could no longer tell when the sky was exploding and when a bomb was exploding.
Social networking sites were filled with posts combining the fear of a new war with the joy of rain, following a military escalation between Israel and the Palestinian resistance factions. The escalation began on March 11, after an Israeli airstrike assassinated three members of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, in the southern Gaza Strip. The Al-Quds Brigades responded by launching an operation they called "Breaking the Silence" on the evening of March 12, during which they fired 130 rockets and shells at Israeli cities.