The IDF has not retaliated against another Gaza terror rocket attack against Israelis on Friday, an indication it is giving Hamas a chance to prove it can protect the western Negev from rival terrorist organizations.
Friday’s missile strike caused no injuries or damage, and another rocket launch either misfired or was foiled by Hamas forces.
Unlike previous attacks launched shortly after the end of the counterterrorist Operation Cast Lead two years ago, the IDF did not retaliate as Hamas deploys more forces near the Gaza security-separation fence. A Hamas spokesman told reporters that de facto Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh gave “clear and direct orders” to Hamas militia terrorists to maintain calm to avoid stronger Israeli retaliation.
Gaza-based terrorists attacked Israel with more than 20 rockets, missiles and mortar shells in the first two weeks of January, and the IDF retaliated every time, striking Hamas terrorist bases for the first time since the end of Cast Lead.
Hamas may be more concerned about a ‘Cast Lead II” than protecting Israelis, following warnings from Egypt and other countries that Israel will not tolerate a continuation of the escalation in rocket and mortar attacks on civilians and soldiers.
The “ceasefire,” like others in the past, is not expected to hold, Gaza observers told the Chinese news agency Xinhua. "I don't think it will last for too long because there are some smaller militant groups who don't like the idea," Gaza university professor Naji Shurab told the news agency.
Furthermore, Hamas maintains it has not abandoned “resistance”, the Arab code word for rocket attacks, suicide bombings and kidnappings, against Israel. "Hamas leaders' statements are contradictory,” Shurab said. “If the ceasefire lasts for too long, it means that the choice of resistance has been dropped.”
He also explained that Hamas faces a political problem if it maintains calm, stating that “if Hamas imposes calm by force, it will mean that it is losing its legitimacy."
Despite a unilateral ceasefire announced by Hamas after Cast Lead, Hamas and other terrorists groups fired more than 235 missiles, including Grad rockets and mortar shells, at Israeli soldiers and civilians.
It also has deployed an advanced a laser-guided anti-tank missile, obtained from Iran. The same Kornet weapon was used by Hizbullah against the IDF in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Israel intelligence officials estimate that Hamas also possesses yet-to-be used advanced weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles and longer-range missiles that can reach Tel Aviv.