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Rocket From Gaza: New Escalation?

Summary: Hamas held to account for this week's rocket attack on Sderot, south Israel. The IDF hit back, targetting key terror assets in the Strip. Is further escalation likely with Hamas? Summary of the incident and overview of the border with Gaza.

Fears are growing over renewed rocket fire from Gaza into Israel's southern region. Escalating tensions from the Strip have met with a determined response from the Israeli Defence Forces, sending an unambiguous message to Hamas, that the government of Israel will not tolerate any incitement from Gaza and will move quickly to suppress any border threat.

This past Sunday, the southern Israeli town of Sderot was struck. Although the rocket landed in a residential area, no casualties were reported. Israeli military aircraft and tanks were swift to launch reprisal cross border hits into the Strip, targeting Beit Hanoun, in the northeast of Gaza, facing Sderot across the security boundary. Infrastructure used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, was either destroyed or damaged.

Israel will not tolerate incidents such as this but is equally unlikely to want to ignite any escalation with Hamas. The latest rocket fire comes at a time of relative quiet on the border. This was underscored by a senior Israeli official, stating that the attack was "out of the ordinary."

The border with Gaza, under the leadership of Hamas, represents a major security challenge to Israel, highlighted recently through the uncovering of renewed networks of terror tunnels, designed to infiltrate Israel, attack citizens and secure abductions.

In July 2014, the Israeli Defence Forces launched Operation Protective Edge, to try and curtail the incessant rocket fire from Gaza on its citizens and residential areas. This campaign played out on global media and saw Israel portrayed as waging unfair, asymmetric warfare on Gaza's inhabitants.

Others, who understood the underlying dynamics, believed Israel had just cause to attempt to bring an end to the threat and acted on a duty of care towards its own citizens, as any sovereign nation would.

Following the summer conflict of 2014, rockets from Gaza have been few, an uneasy de-facto ceasefire being observed by both sides. Notwithstanding this, the militarisation of the Strip continues unabated, millions being invested into new tunnels, weaponry, terror training and media indoctrination.

Sadly, much of these operational costs are globally underwritten by governmental and institutional funding of Hamas' Gaza to the tune of billions of dollars annually. Much income remains unaccounted and, recently, substantial amounts proved to be syphoned off for terror activities.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. But rather than ushering in an era of peace and moderate governance in the Strip, Hamas' ascension to power has resulted in an islamic terror reign, few human rights, extrajudicial killings and the growing menace of all out war with Israel.

To date, since Israel's withdrawal in 2005, more than 11,000 rockets have been fired into Israel and 5 million plus Israeli citizens live within rocket range from the Strip.

Thankfully, the IDF's policy of a strong hand in the south has prevented an occurrence of conflict since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. However, like Israel's precarious northern border with Syria, many feel a new war front is inevitable; it is simply a matter of expediency, logistics and timing on the part of Israel's enemies as to when that is likely to occur.

Meanwhile, we continue to pray for peace within and on Israel's strategic borders. Since the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948, peace simply means there is no major defensive war in progress with an Arab neighbour.

It is precarious at best and anything can ignite tensions, setting the nation on an unwanted war footing, with costs in terms of lives of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Hold on to the redemptive work of the Lord; for both peoples, to come to the knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus Christ. Only on these terms is reconciliation and lasting peace a viable solution between Jew and Arab, and the solution we must earnestly pray and work for.

About Ian Jupp

Ian Jupp is Executive Director of Return To Zion Ministries.
Ian's experience as a communicator, pastor, writer, teacher and his understanding of the Middle East, Israel, The Church and God's purposes, place him in a unique position to provide timely commentary on the urgent, prophetic events that are unfolding in our day.
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