Rumors and Threats of Wars



Hundreds of rockets, explosive-laden drones vs. Targeted assassinations, militant homes hit: This time was different, and the next round will be even deadlier.

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM. MAY 6, 2019. The Jerusalem post.

For the sixth time in a year Hamas and Israel almost went to war. But this one was different. Both Hamas and Israel upped the ante to a level not seen in years. It was deadly.

It began on Friday, after sniper fire by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) during Great Return March protests injured an IDF officer and female soldier. Israel had been waiting for weeks for the PIJ to carry out a terror attack and the Air Force was given the order to strike a Hamas target in Gaza, killing two militants.

Usually it ends there, but this time it didn’t. Already then it was different. There were considerations such as the upcoming Memorial and Independence Days. And there was Eurovision which PIJ had hoped to ruin for Israel.

It escalated into the deadliest round of intense fighting between Israel and terror groups in the blockaded coastal enclave in five years: close to 700 rockets were fired in less than 48 hours by first PIJ following by coordinated launches by the two groups. 

These rocket barrages claimed the lives of three Israeli civilians: Moshe Agadi, the first Israeli civilian to be killed since 2014 after he was struck by shrapnel to his stomach and chest.  Ziad Alhamamda  was killed after he was critically injured in his chest by shrapnel from a direct strike on a factory in Ashkelon. Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman was killed Sunday evening after he suffered severe shrapnel injuries to his chest while running to a shelter in Ashdod. 

During this last round of fighting Hamas and PIJ attempted to overrun the Iron Dome missile system with their massive barrage and tried to use an explosive-laden drone.  Hamas also fired launched a Kornet anti-tank missile to a civilian van on Route 34 near Kibbutz Erez outside of Sderot, killing 68-year-old Moshe Feder from Kfar Saba.

It wasn’t the first time that terror groups in the Hamas-run enclave have used Kornet missiles. They’ve been used against civilians before and in November a military bus was struck at the Black Arrow site across from northern Gaza, injuring two. But nobody was killed as Hamas waited until the soldiers on the bus had gotten off. 

But with the death of Feder, Israel in turn returned to one of it’s significant tools: Targeted assassinations of senior operatives.

On Sunday afternoon shortly after the Kornet struck Feder’s van, the Israeli Air Force struck the car of Hamed al-Khoudary who Israel accused of being the man in charge of transferring funds from Iran to terror groups in the Strip. 

His killing was given the green light even despite military officials who were concerned it could escalate the violence even further, even perhaps dragging the two sides into a war. 

The Head of the Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Hertzi Halevy, spoke following Khoudary’s killing in broad daylight in the heart of Gaza City on Sunday, warning that Israel’s policy of targeted killings would continue.

And it did. Another Hamas operative was struck while riding his motorcycle on Salah al-Din Street, near the city of Khan Younis.

The Israeli military also targeted the private homes of other senior Hamas activists. 

While the Israeli military struck mainly Hamas targets, 40 targets belonged to PIJ including a cross-border attack tunnel which the military feared the group could use to carry out a serious terror attack during the fighting. 

The message was clear from both sides: This time around it’s different.

With a population of 2 million people living in dire humanitarian conditions, Hamas is desperate to secure an easing of Israeli restrictions on the beleaguered coastal enclave and the end to Israel’s 12 year blockade.

Hamas wanted a ceasefire early on, but Israel continued to strike. The IDF wanted to twist the arms of PIJ and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire on their terms and not to stay bound to the terms of a ceasefire set by factions in Gaza.

Netanyahu has been under heavy criticism from right-wing politicians who he now has to form a coalition government with.  He was blasted on Monday morning by many who said that the IDF has failed to restore its deterrence and needs to exact a heavy price from Hamas for the rockets.

While the military contends that deterrence remains, they know that the red-line which they have placed has an expiry date.  

The next round of fighting, and even a war, is not far away. Everyone knows that.

This round of violence was not only different, but more worrisome. It showed that the next round will be even more intense, deadlier.

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