The ceasefire between Hamas and Israel didn’t last long. Hamas members launched rockets into southern Israel on Saturday. Israel responded late Saturday night with airstrikes from fighter jets and helicopters in the city of Deir al-Balah and the southern city of Khan Younis. The IDF said that it targeted the terror group’s military capabilities.
“The Hamas terrorist organization bears responsibility for what is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip, and it will face the consequences for terrorist actions against Israeli citizens,” the IDF said in a statement released, adding that “the IDF will continue to act as necessary against attempts to harm Israeli civilians.”
After a recent spike in violence following the announcement of the proposed Trump peace plan, things had calmed down after envoys from Egypt tried to arrange a ceasefire. And after nearly a week with no violence, the Israelis, following assurances from Hamas that it would curtail the firing of rockets and the release of incendiary devices into Israel, decided to extend the fishing limits from Gaza shores to 15 miles, allowing cement to be imported into Gaza, and reinstate 500 work permits for Palestinians to work in Israel.
The IDF released a statement with the easing of restrictions and with a hopeful message: “This … weekend, will serve as a test of this stability.” Now, after more rocket fire and explosive-laden balloons launched into Israel, the easing of those restrictions has been rescinded.
During the day on Saturday, southern Israel was packed with tourists for the Darom Adom Festival, which literally translates into “Red South,” referring to the period when the Anemone flowers bloom in late January through mid-February. Tourists reported seeing several balloon explosive devices in the area. Then Hamas fired two rockets, targeting the Kibbutz Kissufim area, just east of the Gaza border, in the Eshkol region.
No injuries or damage were reported as the rockets missed the town and hit open fields.
Less than an hour before the Hamas rocket attack, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said to Channel 12 News in an interview that there had been a “dramatic decline” in rocket fire since he assumed the position of Defense Minister in November.
“From the three months before to the three months after I started as defense minister, the number of rockets dropped by 80 percent, and the riots on the border have stopped completely,” he said.
An unnamed Hamas official told the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar that the number of launches would be curtailed only after Israel met their demands. On Thursday, a number of balloon-borne incendiary devices were launched at Israel, one of which exploded above a school. Police sappers were then called out for numerous balloon bombs that landed over the southern Israeli region. The retaliatory airstrikes didn’t result in any reported casualties although Palestinian officials said that the buildings sustained significant damage.
Israeli officials have warned Hamas that further violence will be dealt with harshly. Bennett said a week ago that: “the lawless conduct of Hamas leadership is bringing us closer to fatal action against them. We will not announce when or where, but no one will be immune.”
“The State of Israel does not want a war with Hamas in Gaza, but we have a commitment to the security of southern residents,” he added. “Hamas faces the choice: to choose life and economic prosperity or to choose terror and pay an unbearable price.”
On Tuesday, the Palestinians will present to the U.N. their own “peace plan” which they say will usher in “peace not apartheid.” But the big question that will probably go unanswered is will Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan allow for the right of Israel to exist?