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Hamas militants Photo: AFP
Hamas militants Photo: AFP
 
 

Low key escalation

Analysis: Despite recent rocket attacks on Israel, Hamas not interested in full-blown conflict

Roni Shaked
Published: 10.10.12, 23:59 / Israel Opinion

The Hamas rulers of Gaza do not shed a tear when Israel takes out global jihad terrorists. This was the case Sunday night when the Air Force targeted two terrorists in Rafah, only this time 11 passersby, including women and children, were also injured – two of them critically. Monday's rocket and mortar barrages, launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, were a response to the injuries incurred by Palestinian civilians.

 

Islamic Jihad pushed for a response. Over the past few weeks the terror group's leaders have been pressing Hamas to end the unofficial ceasefire with Israel and reinstate the "respond to every targeted killing" policy. So far Hamas has been able to restrain Islamic Jihad, but on Monday, as a result of the civilian injuries, Jihad announced that it would act independently. Hamas had no choice but to join in.

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The rocket attacks were a joint Hamas-Islamic Jihad effort carried out, according to a statement co-signed by both terror groups, in response to "continuous and repeated enemy crimes against our defenseless people." The global jihadists who were killed were not even mentioned. Hamas and the global jihad-affiliated groups are fierce enemies, and the Islamist group's security forces in Gaza fight them relentlessly. Hamas deems these terror groups a threat to its rule in the coastal enclave. Moreover, Egypt is demanding that Hamas operate against these groups due to their links to fundamentalist terror groups based in the Sinai Peninsula.

 

Despite the fact that it took part in Monday's assault, Hamas made certain its response would not lead to major escalation. The terrorists did not fire any Grads, but mostly rockets and mortars that were aimed at open areas and the outskirts of Israeli communities. Hamas has no interest in resuming the fighting with Israel, as it is preoccupied with building relations with the new government in Cairo and trying to prove to the Muslim Brotherhood that it is a stable and responsible ruler. This is why Hamas took part in Monday's attacks, but in a cautious and measured manner.

 

The IDF also avoided a response that could have resulted in a serious escalation of violence. The aerial bombings in response to the rocket fire focused on open areas in Gaza, causing a lot of dust and noise, but no casualties. Both sides do not want to fan the flames at this juncture. This round of violence has likely ended, but it must be remembered that one rocket landing in the wrong place can quickly lead to a resumption of the fighting, in full force.

 

 

 

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