In an unusual move, Hamas did not fire rockets at Israel this week following airstrikes in Gaza late last week. The Israel Air Force strikes hit a weapons facility and weapons storage site in retaliation to earlier rocket and mortar shell attacks by Gaza terrorists against Israeli civilians.
According to reports in the Arab media, the terrorist group’s unusual silence may be the result of infighting – or may signify that a larger-scale clash is on the way, Maariv/nrg reports.
Al-Sharq il-Awsat has reported that Hamas’ armed forced had indeed planned to respond to the Thursday airstrikes with rocket attacks. However, Hamas' political leadership reportedly called off the planned attacks.
Hamas is already facing opposition from rival terrorist groups, including Islamic Jihad and Salafist organizations, but so far appears to have maintained unity within its own ranks. However, the reported dispute between Hamas’ political leaders and its military wing - the Al-Qassam Brigades - could indicate that is no longer the case.
Hamas' political leaders reportedly went so far as to warn that anyone who attacked Israel would be viewed as having worked against the “resistance,” and would be treated as a collaborator with Israel.
However, according to earlier reports, Hamas did respond to last week’s strikes on terror targets, by withdrawing its forces that had been preventing "unauthorized" rocket attacks on Israel by other groups – indicating that while Hamas itself would not respond to the airstrikes with immediate violence, it would not prevent others from doing so.
In terms of why Hamas' leadership would seek to prevent rocket fire, sources in Gaza suggested to Maariv that Hamas is keeping quiet in preparation for a large-scale assault.
“Hamas forces cleared the rocket-launching areas not in order to allow [other] factions to attack Israel, but because the group is planning a major attack of its own,” they claimed.