The security services of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip have deployed forces along the major roadways leading to the border fence with Israel and across the eastern stretch of the Strip. The move is an attempt by the terrorist organization to prevent an escalation in the scale of hostilities with Israel.
Hamas forces are searching vehicles approaching the security fence to avert any additional rocket fire on Israel.
A Gazan source familiar with organization's movements said there were hundreds of security personnel deployed in the area. The same sources refused to comment on which Palestinian faction was responsible for the rocket fire over the last week, though the IDF has pointed a finger at Islamic Jihad .
- Analysis: Hamas losing control of Gaza Strip
- VIDEO: IAF destroys Islamic Jihad munitions factory
- Twitter suspends Hamas's Qassam Brigades account
Last Friday, after five rockets were fired on Ashkelon, Hamas passed a message to Israel – through Egypt – claiming the organization was not interested in breaking the status quo.
A Palestinian security source told Ynet that all the different factions in the strip met on Saturday. The meet was a Hamas initiative, and the participants were clearly told they must show restraint in order to prevent additional Israeli strikes on the strip.
The meeting concluded with the understanding that all factions will maintain the peace, though a rocket was fired toward Sha'ar HaNegev a mere hours later.
Hamas was furious with the shooters, who were most likely affiliated with Islamic Jihad, and immediately announced that they will resolutely operate against anyone who attempts to launch rockets towards Israel.
Back-channel successThe Gazan source said that at this stage another message was passed to Israel, claiming again that Hamas was not interested in an escalation and its forces would be deployed to prevent future incidents. The source said Israel responded through Egyptian and UN channels that it was also not interested in a military escalation, though it emphasized that the IDF will retaliate for each rocket firing.
The Egyptians clarified to Hamas that the Gazan government cannot give Israel an excuse to attack, and that Hamas must neutralize the factions efficiently. The Egyptians also mentioned that Israel would be obligated to relax its military posture should the rocket firings stop.
The communication between the two sides, through the Egyptian mediator, was intensive and immediate – which could explain the rivals' desire to return to a lull in hostilities. The source added that the diplomatic contacts with Egypt continue on a daily basis. He believed that lone-wolf elements will manage to launch off a rocket from time to time, but expressed hope that Hamas will successfully deter such efforts.
On Sunday there was mounting concerns of an escalation, after an attempted assassination of an Islamic Jihad operative by the Israeli Air Force. The man was heavily wounded, as was a 12-year-old child.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit claimed that the casualty was the man responsible for the rocket fire on Ashkelon over the weekend. The concerns of an escalation led to the deployment of an Iron Dome battery in Ashdod.
Ashdod-area schools which are not constructed to withstand rocket fire were scheduled to be closed tomorrow – leaving 3,500 kids off school until noon.