The Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah is reportedly anticipating a large scale Israeli military assault in the wake of the murder of three yeshiva boys, with PA head Mahmoud Abbas attempting to forestall such a move.
According to Sky News in Arabic, Abbas has been conducting “feverish” communications with the United States and other countries, to pressure Israel not to launch a large scale operation. He has reportedly transmitted a message of this nature to Israel through the Americans.
Abbas spoke to several world leaders Monday night, hours after the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers were found, and asked them for help in reining in an Israeli response.
According to Voice of Israel public radio, Abbas intends to convene a meeting in Ramallah Tuesday to discuss the possible measures Israel may take in response to the murders. Abbas is said to be anticipating a firm Israeli demand that the Palestinian Authority end its unity pact with Hamas.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened the Diplomacy-Security Cabinet of ministers Monday evening to discuss the Israeli response to the abduction. An Israeli military strike on Hamas is seen as a virtual certainty, according to reports, but the questions are – how far will the operation go, and will it include a major move against Hamas-controlled Gaza.
A campaign against Hamas would in any case be a continuation of Operation Brother's Keeper, which has been targeting Hamas infrastructures in Judea and Samaria over the last fortnight.
While there is no proven link between the abductors and Gaza's Hamas infrastructure, the fact that there has been an escalation in missile strikes on Israeli civilians from Gaza in the last few days makes it easier for Israel to draw the connection, and wreak punishment on Hamas in Gaza as well.