Hamas Warns of Deliberate Escalation, Israel Prepares to Respond
Truce that prevailed over the Gaza Strip is now under scrutiny as Hamas and other factions threatened to resume a policy of "deliberate escalation" in response to Israel’s stalling in implementing the agreements.
“We don’t want a war but we will escalate confrontation and the adoption of rough tools if Israel does not implement the understandings," an official told Asharq Al-Awsat. “We will not allow more bargaining and coercion.”
Threats by Hamas came hours after an Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip in response to the launching of a rocket, and a day before the “marches of the return,” which will be held along the borders.
On Thursday, the Israeli army launched an air strike on the Gaza Strip targeting agricultural land in Rafah, the southernmost of the Strip, without causing any casualties.
Israel said the raid came in retaliation for the launching of a missile intercepted by the Iron Dome. According to an army statement, Israeli fighter jets targeted an infrastructure in a Hamas military complex in the southern Gaza Strip in response to a rocket-propelled grenade fired from the Gaza Strip towards the Israeli settlement of Eshkol near the border with the Gaza Strip.
The past few days have witnessed the launch of many fire balloons towards the settlements, in a clear change from the calm policy pursued by Hamas. Six fires broke out on Wednesday and eight fires on Tuesday in Israeli-controlled areas.
“Due to the continued fires and flying of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip, it was decided this evening to impose a naval closure on the Strip until further notice,” the Israeli liaison to the Palestinian territories said in a statement.
Israel had announced it was imposing a full naval closure of the Gaza Strip, not allowing local fisherman access to the sea, in response to the wave of explosive attacks from the Gaza Strip.