Islamic Jihad is an omnipresent threat to Israel’s security and the safety of its citizens, so Islamic Jihad is always a legitimate target for Israeli action.

The other day, the IDF arrested Bassem al-Saadi, the leader of the group’s West Bank wing. Not only has he led the long-time efforts to boost the number of Islamic Jihad operatives in the West Bank; according to Beltway publication The Hill, he has also served as a driving force for Palestinian radicalization in the region.

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Islamic Jihad responded to his capture with a sustained rocket attack on Israeli cities. Armed with intelligence of an imminent attack from Gaza, Israel launched punishing airstrikes which devastated much of the PIJ military infrastructure in Gaza and reportedly also killed several of its top leaders.

There are some significant takeaways from this latest exchange of pleasantries. Despite the fact that it fired approximately 4,000 rockets in last year’s war with Israel, Hamas did not join in Islamic Jihad’s fight. Many are attributing that decision to the devastation Israel visited upon Hamas in its 11-day war with Israel last year. Moreover, Hamas has not been able to repair and rebuild the thousands of homes and businesses that were damaged in Gaza, turning the Gaza “street” against Hamas. It seems that international donors have not been satisfied that their support would not end up benefiting Hamas like it has following earlier conflicts.

Not only does Hamas now seem unable to count on foreign compensation for the consequences of its aggression. The New York Times is also reporting that criticism over the current fighting has been more muted in parts of the Arab world than over past Gaza-Israel flare-ups. According to The Times, this highlights the growing acceptance of Israel in the region; combined with some recent economic concessions to Gaza by Israel, Hamas may be encouraged, at least in the short term, to adopt a less aggressive approach.

Maybe. Maybe the isolation of Islamic Jihad will also strengthen Israel’s hand. We remain skeptical about any thought of a real breakthrough, however. Neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad has never disavowed their goal of destroying Israel, and let no one forget: those are facts, not conjecture.

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