While Hamas men did not necessarily fire the missile, there is no doubt that the ambush was planned a week ago, after Hamas and other groups (including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees) declared that they will carry out a revenge attack for the assassination of a terror cell planning to abduct Israelis in the Sinai.
The various organizations, headed by Hamas, also declared that the nature of their response for the surgical strike will be different than it was in the past, and indeed, they waited for five days, and opened fire after assuming that the IDF and area residents are less alert and do not expect such attack.
Another indication that the strike was deliberate was the fact that the missile fired at the bus was merely the opening shot for additional mortar barrages, and the firing of rockets as well, targeting western Negev communities.
Yet the gravest element, as noted, is the deliberate firing of an anti-tank missile on a civilian bus. Hamas and Islamic Jihad possess Russian made anti-tank missiles that have a range of more than six kilometers (roughly four miles) and a devastating effect. Hamas also has homemade anti-tank missiles with a smaller range but equally destructive potential.
IDF to exact painful price
What’s almost incomprehensible here is the fact that such missiles, intended for use against a prominently military target, would be fired at a civilian target, and deliberately so. Even if this bus was fortified, it would not have been able to withstand such attack.
The IDF will have to exact a very painful price from Hamas and the other terror groups following this violation of international law, and there is no doubt that Gaza Strip residents will also be suffering. If we judge by the sounds of explosions emerging from Gaza already, the response is already underway.
The escalation in the area is expected to continue the following day, and may also include rocket fire at major southern cities such as Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod.
Hamas is attempting to impose new rules of play, whereby Israel will not be allowed to carry out assassinations of its members. Yet Israel intends to make it clear to Hamas that it will continue to stage surgical strikes, and that every Hamas attempt to deviate from international law will be met with a very harsh response.
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