Amid rising tensions and a barrage of rockets being fired on Israel’s southern communities from Gaza, Israel has indicated it is giving Hamas another chance to end the rocket fire in order to pre-empt a major Israeli response.
Since the abduction of three Israeli teens around three weeks ago, rocket fire from Gaza has been steady. Israel has mostly responded cautiously- with airstrikes targeting mainly empty buildings and relatively remote Hamas terror infrastructure.
Many in the Israeli intelligence establishment have speculated that Hamas wishes to avoid an escalation with Israel but at the same time has given the green light to other groups in Gaza to carry out rocket attacks.
Yesterday, a senior Israeli military official in a message to Hamas indicated Israel’s willingness to prevent an unnecessary escalation. The official is quoted as saying “Quiet will be met with quiet,” adding “Israel has no interest in an escalation. If Hamas reins in the shooting now, we won’t act, either.”
The statement indicates that Israel is offering Hamas a final warning to desist before otherwise embarking on a larger operation against it in Gaza. Palestinian sources reported that Israel had issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Hamas through an Egyptian emissary.
An Israeli response will largely hinge not only on whether Hamas itself stops firing rockets and mortars but whether it successfully prevents other groups from doing so as well.
Meanwhile, Israel has mobilized forces along the border with Gaza and a military official said, “We don’t seek escalation, but our job is to prepare for such possibility.”
It is important to recognize that Israel’s preference is for no escalation and that it simply desires peace and quiet for its besieged citizens suffering from constant unprovoked rocket fire. Israel has shown its willingness to exercise restraint. This is a reality all too often unacknowledged in political and media realms when Israel is unfortunately forced to respond to repeated attacks on its innocent civilians.