Since the early morning, the continuous Israeli strikes in Gaza have resulted in the death of five Palestinians, including Bahaa Abu Al-Ata, the senior commander of the Jerusalem Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, and wounded, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza over 30 others.
Israeli army sources said that more than 160 rockets had been fired from Gaza towards Israeli targets, mainly the towns around Gaza, causing about 20 injuries, including 17 people wounded while making their way to bomb shelters.
The Palestinian resistance pledged to retaliate for the assassination of Abu Al-Ata and the attempted assassination of the member of Islamic Jihad’s political bureau in Syria, Akram Al-Ajjouri, whose house in Damascus was attacked killing his son and bodyguard.
As night falls on Gaza neither Hamas nor Israel have declared an end to the tensions, but we expect to hear that a deal has been struck very soon.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference earlier today that Tel Aviv does not want to escalate the situation in Gaza and its purpose for targeting the Strip has been achieved through the assassination on Abu Al-Ata who he described as a “ticking bomb”.
“We have no interest in escalation but will respond when necessary,” Netanyahu said, adding that “it might take time until the current operation will be concluded.”
Meanwhile, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that his movement is not interested in the escalation at this time because it is concentrating its efforts on reforming the national Palestinian home. He described the Israeli assassination of Abu Al-Ata as an “Israeli attempt to mix the cards spread on the Palestinian table.”
The movement’s spokesperson, Fawzi Barhoum added: “If the Israeli occupation expanded its crimes, the Palestinian resistance will not stay silent. The Palestinian resistance does not reject any side who intend to put an end to the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.”
Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad said its fighters carried out a mortar attack on an Israeli military base which led to the area being evacuated by military helicopter.
Israeli journalist Baruch Yedid told MEMO that he has leaked information to show that Israel does not want to escalate tensions and has reached out to Egypt to begin mediation efforts to end the unrest.
Egypt has, in turn, contacted the US and EU in an effort to de-escalate matters in the Strip.
This limited round of tension was designed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for political gains. Israel’s longest-serving prime minister has struggled to maintain his position at the helm of the country’s political sphere having twice failed to form a government this year.
Fearing the rein might completely fall from his hands, he has chosen to flex his military might by targeting Abu Al-Ata who he says has been ordering rocket attacks against Israel. If the unrest ends quickly, Netanyahu is a national hero who has protected Israel.
If the military offensive lasts too long, Netanyahu has another plan; using a scapegoat. As Defence Minister Naftali Bennett is heading the action against Gaza giving Netanyahu someone to hide behind and blame if the situation fails to go as planned.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.