JERUSALEM – Hours after IDF commanders completed a surprise nationwide drill earlier this week to prepare for a possible jihadist attack against Israel, Islamic Jihad rocket squads in Gaza fired a volley of Grad and Kassam rockets at the Ashkelon and Netivot areas in southern Israel. Despite no reports of injuries or serious property damage, the attacks by radical elements in Gaza came as no surprise to the IDF or the Israeli government.
For the past week, Israeli media have reported that the civil war in Syria between Shiite and Sunni militias was leading to a religious conflict across the entire Middle East and Persian Gulf. As a result of the domino effects of the Sunni-Shiite hostilities, Hamas, having supported the Sunni rebels battling both Syrian government forces and their Shiite Hizbullah allies (under the command of Iranian generals), forfeited regular financial and military support from Iran in their terror war against Israel.
Additionally, Iran is believed to have ordered its ally, the Islamic Jihad faction, to unleash the rocket attack in order to break the cease-fire brokered by embattled Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. This follows Morsi’s call for Sunni Islamic factions to depose Assad, angering Iran’s Shiite supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. And in an ironic twist, Hamas ordered its militia to prevent Islamic Jihad from firing rockets at Israel – to no avail.
According to Israel’s Channel 10 News, Hamas is on the verge of losing another vital economic lifeline. Egyptian military commanders are blowing up the maze of highly profitable Gazan tunnels along the Egyptian border after determining that Hamas was behind some of the recent violence along Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Due to the ongoing conflicts, Hamas now finds itself engaged in a power struggle with Islamic Jihad and other pro-Iranian terror groups for control of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad tried to claim that their split was sparked by a drug deal gone sour. According to the Times of Israel, Hamas police raided the home of a suspected Islamic Jihad drug dealer last weekend. In the ensuing scuffle between Hamas and the drug dealer, Raed Jundiya, Islamic Jihad said that Hamas police fatally shot Jundiya. Hamas maintains that Jundiya was killed by bullets fired from his own gun. The Times of Israel also reported that during Jundiya’s funeral, a Hamas military van hit a vehicle driven by the head of Islamic Jihad’s military division. An Islamic Jihad statement to Gaza media said that these two incidents sparked the break between the two rival Islamic factions – with Islamic Jihad calling Hamas “traitors.”
IDF commanders have recently altered their combat strategies, since the possibility exists of having to fight terror groups aligned with Iran along the Golan Heights, Lebanese border, Gaza Strip, and perhaps the Sinai Peninsula. With huge protests scheduled against Egypt’s Morsi in the coming days his government could be forced from power, or the Egyptian High Command might once again create a ruling military junta until new elections are held. Israel’s Yisrael Beiteinu leader, former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order an IDF reoccupation of Gaza due to the spiraling chaos inside Gaza.
During the past few days, intense battles have also taken place between the mostly Shiite Lebanese Army and radical Islamic Sunni militias in northern and southern Lebanon. IDF officials believe that these growing battles could provoke Hizbullah to launch a major missile attack or border incident against Israel in order to detract attention from the heavy losses they are enduring on the battlefields in Syria, along with their growing alienation from the Sunni, Druse and Christian populations in Lebanon.Steve K. Walz
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