Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012

Ahram Weekly

Hamas more potent

The resistance fighters are facing a clash with Israel reminiscent of the murderous 2008 assault on Gaza, reports Saleh Al-Naami

Al-Ahram Weekly

Heba Al-Meshherawi, 19, rushed up the stairs of her home on Wednesday night to grab her 11-month-old infant brother Omar after Al-Sabra district in central Gaza City came under attack. She picked him up and as she headed to the door, another missile was dropped by an Israeli warplane on the house, tearing her and her brother to pieces.
Heba and Omar are two of the 20 victims killed so far, along with dozens injured, on the second day of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, specifically targeting the leaders and members of Ezz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. The most senior ranking victim is deputy general commander of the Brigades Ahmed Al-Jaabari.
Israeli operations are also targeting training camps and rocket depots, as well as areas where rockets are being launched especially from the frontline area on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Israel is also targeting purely civilian targets as well, claiming they are being used by the resistance. Seven homes, two mosques and agricultural land were also bombed.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak listed three targets for the military assault on Gaza: restoring the power of deterrence in confronting the resistance; preventing Hamas from changing the rules of engagement which favoured Israel; and curtailing its ability to continue rocket attacks. But it seems that Hamas is not yet ready to surrender to Barak’s goals.
Hamas’s response was surprising and unlike Israel’s expectations. The assassination of Al-Jaabari did not dampen morale and for the first time Hamas rockets reached the outskirts of Tel Aviv, specifically Rishon LeZion. This area is not only home to a large number of Jewish settlers but also Israel’s economic and industrial infrastructure.
 It soon became apparent to Israel that the firepower of the resistance is potent; four settlers were killed in the rocket attack on Kiryat Malachi settlement in Naqab.
Unlike the 2008 war, Hamas did not stop bombing Jewish settlements as soon as they heard Al-Jaabari was killed. Now there are signs that Israel wants to quickly end the campaign. Israeli sources said that Israeli President Shimon Peres telephoned US President Barack Obama and asked him to pressure Egypt to force Hamas to accept a truce according to any Egyptian conditions. Indeed, Obama called Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi, but no information is available about what the two leaders discussed.
Meanwhile, Israel Radio revealed that Netanyahu’s office approached EU representatives and asked them to intervene with Hamas, but the group’s position was decisive and firm: it will not stop attacks until it avenges the death of its prominent military leader or agree to Israel’s conditions. If a ceasefire is not reached, confrontations will continue for longer than Israel had planned. Israeli television Channel 1 reported that Tel Aviv intended to end the assault within 48 hours if Hamas agreed to the rules of engagement as dictated by Israel.
If the status quo continues, there is a possibility that attacks will escalate until Israel launches a ground assault on the Gaza Strip, but this will depend on the level and amount of regional and international intervention and mediation.
There was keen interest in Israeli circles about Egypt’s position, which they argue is a sign of the transformation that occurred in Egypt after the 25 January Revolution. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon viewed Egypt’s preliminary and strong response of withdrawing its ambassador and calling in the Israeli ambassador – in comparison to Jordan’s “rational” response – as a reflection of the catastrophic repercussions of the Arab Spring on Israel’s strategic environment.

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