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Panic in Tel Aviv indicates psychological warfare success for Hamas, say analysts

Three million Israelis spent Saturday evening in panic in anticipation of a strike by Hamas, which threatened to fire rockets at the Tel Aviv metropolitan area in response to Israel's deadly airstrikes on Gaza. A military analyst at Israel's Channel TV 2, Roni Daniel, said that in all of Israel's history, "no one has dared to threaten to attack Israel, let alone a major city and former capital [sic] like Tel Aviv."

The local media lamented Israel's "helplessness" in the face of the threat of Hamas rockets, which the movement said would target Tel Aviv and Gush Dan at 9:00 pm on Saturday. Channel 2's political analyst Amnon Abromovitch described what happened as "unprecedented", indicating a psychological warfare success for Hamas. "It appears to have achieved its objective," he added.

Similarly, the Wall Street Journal said that Hamas "succeeded in unnerving Tel Aviv residents and grabbing national attention with psychological warfare."

As rockets were fired by Hamas on Saturday night, Israelis tried to console themselves by broadcasting breaking news about the success of their warplanes in destroying the base from which they were launched. The Hamas response has rattled Israelis as it seemed to undermine the government's claim to have a firm grip on security; residents stood helpless waiting for the unknown.

Analysts interpret Saturday's rockets as a message that dealt a serious blow to Israeli security and so-called "military respect". They said that it may lead to a new phase in the conflict, including a ground operation, as Israel will seek to respond and have the final say in any ceasefire agreement.

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