The Israeli Defense Forces launched a series of airstrikes in Gaza after the latest round of rocket attacks launched by militants in Gaza streamed toward Israel. Tensions are rising in the area as Israel called up some of their reserve Air Force, Intelligence and Special Forces units.
Things began badly on Monday when Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv, several Israelis were injured when a rocket hit their house. Israel responded with air attacks on several Hamas military targets.
Then on Tuesday night, around 9 p.m. Israel’s air raid sirens sounded in the southern half of the country when Hamas militants launched a rocket supposedly at the Eshkol Regional Council. Israel quickly responded with a series of blistering air attacks.
Hamas then countered with a barrage of rockets launched toward the southern city of Ashkelon. However, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad denied responsibility for the rocket barrage and blamed it on “rogue elements” in the Gaza strip.
Meanwhile, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov urged the United Nations Security Council in a rare move on Wednesday to condemn Hamas’ provocations in Gaza.
“A new conflict will be devastating for the Palestinian people, it will have consequences for Israelis, who live in the vicinity of the Gaza perimeter, and it is likely to have regional repercussions. This is why I ask you all today to join the United Nations in condemning the continued indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas towards Israel. Such acts of provocation only dramatically increase the risk of escalation and ultimately damage our collective efforts to support the people of Gaza and intra-Palestinian reconciliation. We must also call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint as the situation remains extremely tense.”
The IDF was having any of the talk about “rogue elements” and put the blame squarely on Hamas and held them solely responsible.
“The Hamas terror organization bears responsibility for everything in and around the Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement. “The IDF is determined to continue protecting the Israeli citizens and is prepared for a variety of scenarios.”
The Israeli Air Force blasted sites of Gaza’s Hamas rulers and the smaller Islamic Jihad group. The targets included a multistory building in Gaza City that reportedly had served as a Hamas military intelligence headquarters and the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Hamas reported seven casualties in the strikes, all civilians.
This is a dangerous time in the region. We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of the March of Return protests, which began March 30, 2018. During these protests along the border between Gaza and Israel, 190 of the Palestinians were killed and even more wounded in the past year. Now, the terror group hopes to draw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to the border to riot and try to breach the security fence with their most hated enemy. The goal is to ease the blockade but it has thus far been unsuccessful.
But Hamas didn’t plan on what unfolded just a week ago. Palestinians protested in the streets against Hamas, blaming the terror group for the dire plight the people are in right now. And they were cracked down on badly, Hamas men fired into the crowds, and beat up and arrested countless others.
As Hamas is encountering its worst problem in the 12 years that they’ve been in power, the blockade by Israel and Egypt, sanctions by the Palestinian Authority, and terrible governmental mismanagement by the Hamas leadership have left the region in tatters. Unemployment is running north of about 50 percent.
Also happening in Israel is the upcoming election where Benjamin Netanyahu is locked in a very tight race for re-election. With the election right around the corner on April 9, a new war in Gaza with Hamas could prove to be devastating for his reelection bid. He’s is getting criticism from both supporters and opponents for failing to contain Hamas.
But the savvy Netanyahu also knows that he can’t back down either. He raced home from the United States after the initial rocket attack and has made it clear that Israel will not stand for more.
“Hamas needs to know that we will not hesitate to go in and take all necessary steps, regardless of anything, any date, other than Israel’s security needs,” he said.
He later added, “I can tell you, we are prepared to do a lot more,” he said. “We will do what is necessary to defend our people and to defend our state.”
Palestinians weren’t taking any unnecessary risks after the air strikes, staying at home and indoors. Businesses and shops were closed, schools didn’t open. And if they needed a reminder, it was reported that despite the calm, Israeli drones stayed overhead, waiting for the next rocket launch and ready to pounce.
So with the Egyptian delegation in Gaza in long sessions with Hamas, they’ll try to hammer out something longer than just a ceasefire, but in reality, the peace will only be temporary here for quite some time.
As Israeli troops mass on the border, neither side wants another large scale protracted war, but it seems that their both being thrust into one anyway.
File Photo of Israeli tanks on the Golan Heights: IDF