A week ago, Israel captured Bassem Saadi, the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the West Bank city of Jenin, after he had been involved in planning a number of terrorist attacks, most of which were foiled. PIJ, which is backed entirely by Iran, responded by threatening to fire anti-tank weapons at Israeli towns from its home base in Gaza. Then, on Friday, the IDF launched Operation Breaking Dawn with the successful assassination of PIJ’s chief of operations in the northern Gaza Strip, and not long thereafter killed his counterpart in the south, while the terrorist group began bombarding Israel with rockets and mortars. As of yesterday afternoon, local time, it had fired 780 rockets at both Tel Aviv and at border communities, 180 of which fell short and landed in Gaza—causing several tragic deaths. An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect in the evening, but whether it will hold is anyone’s guess.
Oded Granot takes stock of the situation thus far:
It was enough to see the concern on the face of Islamic Jihad’s leader, Ziad Nakhala, upon being informed during a television interview in Tehran that the IDF had launched Operation Breaking Dawn to understand his sudden realization that his equation had shattered. The arrests in Jenin hadn’t stopped, and instead of receiving his terms of surrender in the south, Israel eliminated one of his senior commanders and other terrorists in Gaza in a brilliant feint.
As the interview went on, his second trusted equation fell to pieces as well, whereby almost any time Israel attacks Gaza, all of the terrorist organizations—chief among them Hamas—rally to respond in unison. As the Islamic Jihad leader was assuring on air that “we are all coordinated and we are all in one fox hole,” Hamas didn’t fire one single rocket.
It’s safe to assume that Hamas is not happy in a situation where it is being accused of sitting on the fence. On the other hand, one can’t be entirely certain that it doesn’t also see the “positive” aspects, from its perspective, of the Israeli offensive: putting Islamic Jihad in its place, sending it a message that it isn’t allowed to plot terrorist attacks against Israel without Hamas’s approval, and making it obey the joint decisions that are made.