Once again Hamas and Islamic Jihad are provoking Israel by launching hundreds of rockets at the south of the country.
The latest escalation started after Hamas snipers tried to kill Israeli soldiers who were guarding the Gaza border wounding two of them.
In response the Israeli air force attacked some Hamas-related targets in Gaza killing two terrorists after which hell broke loose.
As of Sunday 6.00 PM approximately 600 projectiles were fired at population centers in southern Israel killing four Israelis while hundreds of others were wounded or treated for shock.
The Israeli military attacked more than 260 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza killing at least 16 Gaza Arabs, among them Hamed al-Khoudary a senior Hamas commander who was responsible for transferring Iranian funds to the various terror groups in Gaza.
Hamas tried to shoot down one of the attacking IAF warplanes by using an armed skimmer-type drone but the attempt failed according to a senior Israeli air force official.
The Israeli security cabinet convened on Sunday afternoon and ordered an escalation of the aerial attacks while media reported that the Golani Brigade was being deployed along the Gaza border.
At the same time, Israel transferred 650,000 liters of diesel fuel for the only electricity plant in Gaza to Hamas.
The convoy of fuel trucks was attacked by Hamas or Islamic Jihad with mortar fire but the delivery nevertheless continued after the drivers returned to their vehicles.
The Israeli government stopped short of mobilizing reservists, another sign it has no intention of launching a decisive ground operation in Gaza to stop the rocket fire once and for all or to bring an end to Hamas rule in Gaza.
Some pundits now claim that the Israeli government doesn’t want to start another war at with the Gaza terror groups at this point of time, because of the coming Eurovision song contest and the upcoming Israeli Independence Day.
The line of thinking of these commentators is that Israel is in need of a ceasefire and Hamas thinks this an excellent opportunity to blackmail the Jewish state into making far reaching concessions such as the release of terrorists held in Israeli jails and the transfer of funds by Qatar, the main sponsor of Gaza.
The already dire economic situation in Gaza continues to worsen with the unemployment rate reaching fifty percent, but this doesn’t mean that Hamas is willing to divert funds from its terrorist activities to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the coastal enclave.
Residents of the southern Israeli towns and cities, meanwhile, are demanding an end to the relentless terror campaign because life has become nearly impossible.
Over the last few weeksm Hamas and Islamic Jihad have also resumed the balloon Jihad against the southern Israeli communities after a long winter, causing a series of fires in the Gaza belt.
The Israeli government, however, is reluctant to launch another ground operation and especially one that would result in the end of Hamas’ rule over the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad warned on Sunday that they are willing to extend the rocket fire to Tel Aviv and other central Israeli population centers after they already targeted the city of Beit Shemesh roughly twenty kilometers west of Jerusalem.
The two Iranian-backed terrorist organizations also declared their readiness to engage the IDF in another war.
Middle East experts and a former IDF counterterrorism expert say that if Israel really wants to restore security to the residents of southern Israel it has a real option to put an end to the rocket fire.
Gal Hirsch, the former NORTHCOM commander of the IDF who pushed for a ground offensive against Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War wrote the following in his book ‘Defensive Shield’.
“Just to make things clear, there is a solution to rocket fire (excepting the use of missile defense shields such as ‘Iron Dome’ YV). We are absolutely capable of overcoming this threat and reducing the number of launches to zero, but it involves a government decision enabling us to achieve control of the area.”
The strategic expert then explained that by not conquering and holding the Gaza Strip, “the firing of rockets will continue for many years.”
This is exactly the situation as it is now and Hirsch correctly pointed to Judea and Samaria where he, as IDF Brigade Commander, was responsible for achieving complete operational and intelligence control in the area after ‘Operation Defensive Shield,’ the IDF operation against the various Palestinian terror groups during the ‘Second Intifada’.
In June last year, Prof. Hillel Frisch of Bar Ilan University wrote an analysis in which he said the only solution for the continuing terror emanating from Gaza was "the complete defeat of Hamas."
After crushing Hamas, the international community and Israel should revisit the Marshall plan for Europe as a means to “facilitate the transformation of a destructive foe into a staunch and healthy ally,” Frisch wrote.
“Only a policy of toughness towards Hamas can induce it to assure stability and quiet in Gaza,” according to the Bar-Ilan Professor.