An IAF aircraft and IDF tank targeted two Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, in response to an earlier attack targeting IDF forces on the Gaza border. No soldiers were wounded but minor damage to a military tractor was reported. No Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for the fire.
Earlier in the morning, the IDF confirmed that a rocket launched from Gaza landed in an open area in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, constituting the fifth such attack against Israel from either Gaza or Sinai since the beginning of February.
These fire exhanges are simultaneous to a heavy debate within the Israeli security establishment on the conclusions of the State Comptroller’s Report on the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. The report argued that the Cabinet had failed to consider a political solution with Hamas in light of the then difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza which precluded any Hamas interests in a conflict with Israel.
On Wednesday evening, IDF Head of Intelligence Major-General Herzi Halevi warned the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the current “situation in the territories may catch fire if the Palestinians feel they have no political horizon. Gaza itself is on the brink of crisis”, making a direct connection between the conclusions of the report and the present challenges in Gaza. Coalition Chairman David Bitan answered that Israel is not responsible for the difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza, only Hamas is, and that said situation did not oblige the PM to a diplomatic solution with the group.
Only a couple of hours ago, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman refuted those claims and opined that those who contend there is a prospect for Hamas to become pacifist is “delusional and unrealistic”. This compounds on his statements of Tuesday following IAF destruction of Hamas positions, when he claimed it was important to send a clear and unequivocal message to Hamas that Israel is serious about its zero tolerance policy regarding rocket attacks on its territory.
“Hamas, as the governing entity in Gaza, is responsible for maintaining the peace, and we expect them to live up to that responsibility. If they fail to do so, they will bear the consequences,” he argued.