Early Monday morning, militants in Gaza launched a rocket that hit a home in the vicinity of Tel Aviv, injuring several residents, including two small children. Israel responded with extensive airstrikes at Hamas targets in Gaza, returned by dozens of Hamas rockets aimed at communities near the Strip. On Tuesday the terrorist group announced a ceasefire even as balloons with explosives attached were still being launched into Israel. It is too soon to know whether the rocket fire will resume. Yoav Limor comments:
If Hamas acts with [some] degree of restraint, perhaps this round of escalation—the umpteenth such round over the past year—will not become war. [However], Hamas’s rocket attack on Monday was a message to Israel. It was a warning that the terrorist group could have just as easily hit the Ben-Gurion International Airport and other strategic assets. Another terrorist group, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, can also do the same. . . .
Israel [should] try to make sure this latest escalation ends with actual gains. It cannot let Hamas’s repeated harassment of border communities with airborne incendiary devices go unpunished. Israel must also change the rules of the game by creating a secure perimeter near the border fence that would be off-limits to rioters. And above all, Israel must extract a clearcut statement from Hamas pledging not to engage in rocket fire and to prevent others from doing so.
Such a statement would be issued only if Hamas feels it has something to lose. Israel must not yield on this because otherwise the hostilities will erupt again.