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Botched Israeli Army operation in Gaza triggers sharp escalation in violence

13 November 2018

The Israeli military said at least 80 rockets were launched toward Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet to discuss Israel's next moves, and the military said it had sent infantry and armoured reinforcements to the Gaza frontier.

So far, Monday's rocket attacks have all been short-range, with the furthest hitting the town of Ashkelon about 6 miles (10 kilometers) away from Gaza.

According to Hamas sources, the Israeli commandos were traveling in a civilian vehicle dressed as Palestinians when they were stopped at a Hamas checkpoint. Later, a man was killed when a rocket hit a building in southern Israel.

Netanyahu's office said he cut short a visit to Paris because of the flare-up and he was set to arrive back in Israel on Monday morning.

The Gulf emirate has also started buying additional fuel for Gaza's sole power station, allowing outages to be reduced to their lowest level in years.

Israel said the station "broadcasts violent propaganda" and provides "operational messaging" to militants.

Israel and Hamas have gone to war three times, and rocket-fire from Gaza and Israeli air strikes against militant targets are a regular occurrence. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh led a funeral as masked gunmen in uniforms carried coffins draped in the flag of Hamas' armed wing and mourners chanted "revenge". Israeli media reported five other people wounded. It also restricted movement through crossings with Israel, preventing foreign journalists, local businessmen and some aid workers from leaving the territory.

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In response to the barrage, the heaviest since Operation Protective Edge, Israel struck more than 70 sites belonging to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the two largest terrorist groups based in Gaza.

As the latest attacks against Israel from Hamas have taken place in Gaza, the U.S. State Department condemned the terrorist group and reaffirmed that Israel has the right to defend itself. The IDF last mobilized and fought a full-blown war against Hamas in the summer of 2014 during Operation Protective Edge.

The prospects for progress appeared to brighten this weekend after Israel permitted US$15 million in cash from Qatar to be transported to Gaza in suitcases to pay long-delayed salaries of the civil servants in the Hamas government and ease the suffering of the territory's 2 million residents as a way to reduce tension.

At least 231 Palestinians have since been killed by Israeli fire, the majority shot during protests and clashes, while others died in tank fire or air strikes.

Jason Greenblatt, Trump's special representative for global negotiations, urged a conference of private British funders of the Israeli military to withhold their criticism of Trump's "Deal of the Century" - details of which are expected to be made public on or around 1 December - until they have seen the text for themselves.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the assessment among several Palestinian political analysts was that Hamas was still trying to avoid a major role with Israel because it wants too preserve its recent "achievements".

On Monday evening, Netanyahu held a security consultation at the Israeli military's headquarters in Tel Aviv with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and other top defense officials.

Botched Israeli Army operation in Gaza triggers sharp escalation in violence