Are we on the verge of another Gaza war?

If so, it will start the same way the last one, in 2014, started — with relentless and massive Palestinian rocket fire into Israeli cities and towns, from locations among civilians in Gaza.

As before, the international media and anti-Israel activists will blame Israel, and will invent false claims of war crimes. Pallywood will be in out in full force, with journalists on location in Gaza threatened and in fear of death if they report the truth.

It’s all too predictable, and it’s playing out as we write.

This round ostensibly started when Palestinian snipers shot two Israeli soldiers on the Israeli side of the border, wounding one seriously. Israel immediately struck a nearby Hamas post, killing two terrorists. The deaths of those two were then used as the justification for Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing several hundred rockets.

But that’s not really what’s going on. Hamas and Islamic Jihad believe they can extract concessions from Israel (primarily allowing large transfers of Qatari cash) without risking a full-scale war because Israel is about to host Eurovision. Avi Issacharoff at the Times of Israel explains, Why the Gaza rocket fire? Because Hamas thinks Israel is vulnerable to extortion:

At some point overnight Friday-Saturday, Hamas evidently decided to launch a controlled escalation of rocket fire into Israel. It began with rocket fire at Israeli communities near the Gaza border, continued north to Ashdod, and seems set to widen further, as of this writing, given that Beersheba has decided to open its municipal bomb shelters.

This escalation of violence is not solely in response to the deaths of two Hamas terrorists on the Gaza border Friday afternoon, following a Gaza sniper’s fire that injured two Israeli soldiers. Rather, it reflects the decision by the terror organization to try to gain from what it recognizes as a situation in which Israel can be pressured into significant concessions, most especially regarding the transfer of Qatari funds into the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is clearly prepared to take the risk of a still wider conflict, gambling that Israel desperately wants a ceasefire at this moment.

The next 10 days are thus going to be extremely complicated for Israel. The Gaza terror group smells blood.

In four days time, the State of Israel will mark Memorial Day and then Independence Day, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not want to be marking those occasions in the midst of a major escalation with Gaza. In 10 days time, the Palestinians will mark Nakba Day, the anniversary of what they consider the catastrophe that befell them with the establishment of the State of Israel, while Israel will be hosting the semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. Huge numbers of people around the world will be turning their attention to Tel Aviv.

Hamas recognizes that given the imminent Eurovision festivities, it has a real opportunity to create pressure points and obtain significant concessions on the ground. In other words: to blackmail Israel.

We will continue to cover the events as they unfold.

These videos clearly show rockets being launched in the middle of civilian areas of Gaza, near apartment buildings (just like in 2014):

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These videos show Palestinians in Gaza cheering the rockets being fired from city center:

This shows Iron Dome intercepting a rocket over the Israeli city of Ashdod:

This shows Iron Dome intercepting rockets over the Israeli City of Ashkelon.

Not all the rockets were intercepted:

Israel has retaliated against (empty) Hamas and Islamic Jihad military installations. Israel uses the “roof tap” method to alert people in the building to evacuate, and also sends messages to the cell phones.

Israel destroyed an Islamic Jihad attack tunnel built under the border in southern Gaza:

As usual, Palestinians and their media are blaming Israel for deaths caused by failed rocket fire.

The Israeli military denied Palestinian claims that a 14-month-old baby and her pregnant mother were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, instead blaming a terror group’s failed rocket launch for their deaths….

On Saturday evening, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reported that a 14-month-old Palestinian child, Saba Mahmoud Hamdan Abu Arar, had been killed and her mother, Falastin Saleh Abu Arar, when an Israeli airstrikes hit their house in Gaza City. Several hours later, the ministry said that Falastin had succumbed to her wounds.

On Twitter, the Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic-language spokesman said the mother and child did not appear to have been killed in an Israeli attack.

Adraee indicated that the deaths may have been caused by a failed rocket attack against Israel, noting that many of the projectiles fired at Israel were launched from within populated areas.

“There are more and more indications reaching us from the Gaza Strip that put serious doubt on the truth of the statement from Hamas’s healthy ministry about the death of the baby Saba Mahmoud Hamdan Abu Arar and her mother Falastin Saleh Abu Arar,” Maj. Avichay Adraee wrote in a tweet.

“According to these indications, the death was caused by terrorist activities by Palestinian militants and not by an Israeli strike,” he said.

We will continue to update as needed.


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