A shaky ceasefire has put at least a temporary halt to the most serious violence in and around the Gaza Strip since the 2014 Gaza war. However, while the ceasefire managed for now to prevent the violence from spinning out of control into a much wider and destructive war between the Palestinian terrorists and Israel, it has left Hamas’s weaponry and military infrastructure intact for their use against Israeli civilians on another day. The terms of the ceasefire thus divided the Israeli government. Defense Minister Liberman resigned in protest, denouncing the ceasefire agreement as “surrendering to terror.” He said that his party would pull out of the ruling coalition, potentially precipitating early elections. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his government’s decision to enter into the ceasefire. He said that “in times of emergency, when making decisions crucial to security, the public can’t always be privy to the considerations that must be hidden from the enemy.”
Before the ceasefire took effect on Tuesday, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists had launched approximately 460 rockets and mortar rounds towards southern Israel, about a quarter of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. Enough of the rocket barrage aimed at civilian population centers in Israel got through, however, to cause multiple casualties and property damage, while sending terrified children to hide in bomb shelters. A Palestinian worker from Hebron was killed after a direct hit on a building in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. At least two women were critically injured.
The Palestinian terrorists’ attacks followed on the heels of their confrontation with members of an Israeli covert intelligence mission inside Gaza last Sunday. Seven Palestinian militants, including a senior Hamas military commander, and an Israeli lieutenant colonel died during the confrontation. Rather than agree to treat the incident as an isolated skirmish and maintain the tenuous ceasefire that had previously existed between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian terrorists deliberately put civilians in harm’s way by launching their barrage of rockets indiscriminately at Israeli cities and towns. In a virtual declaration of war, Hamas warned that “millions” more Israelis would be subject to rocket fire.