Israeli aircraft bombed dozens of sites in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian militants fired rockets at southern Israel early Friday after an attack on the Tel Aviv area dramatically escalated tensions weeks before Israel’s April 9 election.
Israel, Friday, March 15, 2019 —
The rocket launches at Israel’s centre were the first since the 2014 Gaza Strip war. The rockets didn’t land in built-up areas and no casualties were reported on either side.
The timing of this latest outbreak in violence could create a political dilemma for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who convened an emergency session at the Defense Ministry late Thursday after the initial assault. If he is seen as hesitating to strike back forcefully, that could cost his Likud party votes among right-wingers who seek a tough response to attacks from Gaza. A large-scale offensive, however, would entail other risks if Israeli casualties mount.
Israel Defense Forces Took To Twitter To Confirm The Attack
“He’s caught between the need to preserve calm on Israel’s border with Gaza and exposing himself to attacks by his political rivals,” Hugh Lovatt, a policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said before the latest confrontation.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) March 15, 2019
Egyptian intelligence officials who had been in Gaza trying to defuse an earlier round of violence left on Thursday night shortly after the attack. The military blamed the militant Hamas group that controls Gaza for the initial rocket fire. Hamas denied responsibility, as did the other major militant group in Gaza, Islamic Jihad.
About 100 Hamas Targets In Gaza Attacked
Military spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said about 100 Hamas targets in Gaza were attacked in response. They included a naval post that also serves as a weapons-building complex, an underground rocket manufacturing site and a drone facility, the military said. Aerial defenses intercepted three of four rockets fired from Gaza, it added.
Israel and Gaza have been at war three times since late 2008. With Gaza having taken the brunt of the violence, and its economy in a shambles, there is little appetite there for another round.
In the course of nearly a year of Hamas-led protests that have led to the deaths of more than 260 Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers, there have been several serious confrontations that threatened to verge on war, but the sides have stepped back from the brink.
About The Hamas:
Hamas is an acronym of Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah Islamic Resistance Movement. It is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamist fundamentalist organization. It has a social service wing, Dawah, and a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. It has been the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip since its takeover of that area in 2007. During this period it fought several wars with Israel. It is regarded, either in whole or in part, as a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, most notably by Israel, the United States and the European Union. Russia, China, and Turkey are among countries who do not regard it so.
Hamas was founded in 1987, soon after the First Intifada broke out, as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which in its Gaza branch had been non-confrontational towards Israel, refrained from resistance, and was hostile to the PLO. Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin stated in 1987, and the Hamas Charter affirmed in 1988, that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The group has stated that it may accept a 10-year truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders and allows Palestinian refugees from 1948, including their descendants, to return to what is now Israel, although clarifying that this does not mean recognition of Israel or the end of the conflict. Hamas’s military wing objected to the truce offer. Analysts have said that it seems clear that Hamas knows that many of its conditions for the truce could never be met.