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Intel: Why Netanyahu can’t go too far in responding to Hamas rockets

Palestinian policemen loyal to Hamas stand guard at the site of a Hamas-run insurance office after it was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem - RC1FD529B5A0

The Israeli army’s response to the latest Hamas rocket attack that injured seven people in central Israel has remained limited despite political pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to punch back ahead of next month’s elections. Israel bombed Hamas bases overnight and fired missiles at the office of the militant group’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh. But public calls for a more aggressive response remain unfulfilled; instead, an Egypt-mediated cease-fire is reportedly under discussion.

Why it matters: The Israeli government’s response to attacks from Gaza are a major issue in the April 9 legislative elections. Netanyahu is running on his reputation as a proven statesman who can best defend Israel against its enemies, but he risks looking weak with a tepid response to provocations. His main opposition, the Blue and White party, includes three former army chiefs and a former security minister, and is well placed to capitalize on any loss of trust in Netanyahu’s record on national defense.

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