A new confrontation with Gaza is “a matter of time,” say defense officials.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Following Hamas’ launch of two rockets at Beer Sheva in the early hours of Saturday morning, Israel security sources said that it is only “a matter of time” before another operation will have to be launched against Gaza to protect Israel’s citizens.
Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip sat out last week’s violent confrontation between the smaller Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Israel, during which over 450 rockets were launched at the Jewish state.
Security sources appear to differ as to the reason Hamas fired on Israel. According to Israel Hayom, sources say Hamas decided to act after it saw that PIJ had “scored points” on the Arab street due to its attacks on Israel.
However, Israel’s Channel 13 cites Israeli security officials who say that Hamas was against the rocket fire, which was carried out by rogue Hamas terrorists unhappy with the ceasefire.
Regardless of the motive behind the attack, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are clearly moving toward a rapprochement after a tense period.
Hamas released a statement saying that its head, Ismail Haniyeh, had called PIJ Secretary- General Ziyad Nakhleh and agreed to “strengthen cooperation, coordination and consultations” between the two organizations given their shared purpose in wiping out the Jewish State.
Several PIJ officials made peaceful overtures as well after their organization had fiercely criticized Hamas last week for not joining in the rocket fire.
“This is a temporary crisis… No one can harm the relation between the brothers in blood and weapons. We share the same goal,” said one senior terrorist, Ahmed al-Mudalal.
In another side of warming relations between the two groups, members of the family of assassinated terrorist Baha Abu Al Ata, along with other PIJ members, apologized to a senior Hamas official who was threatened by PIJ gunmen when he came to pay a condolence call to the family.
Israel’s security assessment of all these gestures is that “The situation is fluid, another round is a matter of time, and can be seen on the horizon.”
The IDF also reverted to its usual mantra when reacting to attacks from Gaza, saying, “The Hamas terror organization is responsible for everything done in the Gaza Strip and that emanates from it, and it will be the one to bear the consequences for acts of terror against the citizens of Israel.”
This assignment of responsibility had been conspicuously absent during last week’s violence when Israel drew a sharp distinction between Hamas and Islamic Jihad and warned Hamas to stay out of the fight.
In the 2:00 a.m. attack on Saturday morning, the Iron Dome defense system shot down the projectiles aimed at Israel’s main southern city, but four people were lightly injured running to shelter and another five were taken to hospital due to shock.