Over the Sabbath and into Sunday, Hamas and Islamic Jihad broke the month old ceasefire firing over 500 rockets on Jewish population centers hitting as far as Kiryat Gat and Be’er Sheva. Men, women, and children spent the last 24 hours in bomb shelters. Despite the warnings, five Israeli’s have been killed.
Although there are periodic cycles of violence, the latest flare up risks turning into a widening war between Israel and the Iranian backed Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The real question is why now?
President Trump recently tightened sanctions on Iran preventing them from selling oil to anyone at this point. This went into effect on May 1st. The Iranians warned that they would retaliate. This appears to be it.
Will Israel Conquer Gaza?
While there are widespread calls to conquer Gaza and crush Hamas, the Israeli government, which is still in the process of forming a new cabinet after last month’s elections has opted to keep their attacks from the air only. However, this may be changing as reports indicate that they are sending the Golani brigade and an armored unit to the border.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has been wary of entering a full fledged assault on Hamas and Islamic Jihad as the last time there was a ground war, Israel lost countless soldiers before there was a ceasefire. Another consideration has been the rising likelihood that Iran would use Hamas to sucker Israel into a war in order to activate Hezbollah from the North, making it a dangerous two front war.
Soldiers manning the Har Dov outpost have told me anonymously in the past that they have been told to hold fire multiple times out of fear of starting a war with Hezbollah outside of the time frame Israel is working on.
Despite the above considerations, it appears that whatever regional strategy Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet has had, is about to be changed and influenced by Iran’s needs of the moment. For Iran the stakes are high. They are running out of money and their economy is collapsing. For the Ayatollah’s there is no better time than now.