Hamas on Sunday confirmed that the various terror groups in the Gaza Strip are coordinating to break the IDF’s attempt to impose new rules of engagement in response to violations of the status quo, Ma’an reported. This new cooperation was borne by Saturday night’s IDF strikes against 18 terror targets and terror infrastructure positions in Gaza, clearly raising the cost of any future attack against Israel, no matter how minor. Saturday’s attacks were in retaliation for a Gaza rocket that landed on the rooftop of a home in Kibbutz Sha’ar Hanegev and, miraculously, did not detonate.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told reporters Sunday that the scale of the Israeli escalation and the targeting of the terrorist sites revealed prior intentions on the IDF’s part, blaming the scope of the attacks on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s need to divert attention from his internal crisis, as he faces police recommendations to indict him for corruption.
Barhoum added that the Israeli military bears responsibility for all the consequences of this escalation, stressing that the various terror groups would not abandon their “duty to defend the Palestinian people and land against any aggression,” and would not allow “the imposition of rules of engagement or new equations on the people of the Gaza Strip.”
Well said, but it isn’t clear how exactly are the Gaza terrorists planning to force the IDF to return to its former policy of more “proportionate” retaliations. Hamas sources claimed that the attacking IAF warplanes were met by anti-aircraft missiles, but Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman suggested in a radio interview Sunday that the missiles in question were “light.”
Liberman told Army Radio, “This is not the first time that Hamas has fired [at attacking warplanes], and we are not talking about anti-aircraft missiles, or anything that should worry us.”
“I hope that we are not facing an escalation, and as far as I’m concerned the event is not over, because we have not yet liquidated the terrorists responsible for yesterday’s terrorist attack,” Liberman said, adding that “there are various considerations related to the timing of blowing up the tunnel last night, but I will not share them in this broadcast.”
According to the defense minister, the very fact that Israeli media are trying to pin the blame on someone for the roadside explosion last week is the essential mistake. There are two clear reasons for the recent escalation in Gaza, “the difficult humanitarian situation stemming from Mahmoud Abbas’ stopping the Gaza Strip budgets, and the fact that Hamas invested some $260 million in rockets in 2017.”