On Sunday the IDF sent an elite commando unit on a raid into the southern region of Gaza at Khan Yunis. At present we do not know the reason for the raid. The IDF has denied that it was an assassination attempt, which can ordinarily be handled from the air by a drone or helicopter. Whatever the reason, they claim it was for a very important target. However, the unit was detected by the Hamas terrorists and a firefight ensued, during which 7 Palestinians and one Israeli were killed. He was a Lieut. Col. probably a Druze officer. Another Israeli was injured. The air force was called in and the unit was extracted without further casualties. The Hamas members killed included Sheikh Barakeh a leading commander in the Izzadin al Qassem military wing of Hamas in charge of the tunnels in the southern Gaza district. His car was destroyed with him and his assistants inside.
The timing of this incident was bad because a limited calm (hudna) had been in effect on the Gaza border due to negotiations mainly spearheaded by Egypt. These had resulted in Hamas withdrawing the daily demonstrations away from the Israeli border and Israel agreeing to allow a sum in cash (m$15 million) being driven into the Gaza Strip from Israel. This was sent from Qatar in order to pay the salaries of Govt. workers, that the PA under Pres. Abbas is refusing to pay in order to bring pressure on Hamas to negotiate a deal with Fatah that runs the PA.
Few would believe that Israel carried out the raid to deliberately undermine the calm. But, as a result of the raid and the deaths of a leading Hamas commander, Hamas and its allies have fired ca. 460 rockets into Israel in 24 hrs. One hit an apartment block in Ashkelon killing one person, who turned out to be an illegal Palestinian, and in another incident an army bus was hit and burnt, just after 50 soldiers exited from it. About 100 have been injured as well as significant property damage.
This breakdown of the temporary calm has now raised the prospect of war. PM Netanyahu left the commemorations of WWI in France and flew back to Israel. He has had meetings with his security staff, and decisions were made. Meanwhile the Egyptians and the UN are busy trying to avert a new war. But, Netanyahu has warned that the Israeli response will be “an iron fist.” How many times can he threaten this without losing credibility and Israeli deterrence? But, the IAF pummelled Hamas in Gaza, flying ca. 150 sorties and the Hamas radio/TV station was destroyed. The latest news is that another ceasefire has been agreed and the area is now calm.