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Fears of a New War in Gaza | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A rocket is launched from the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Ramallah – Tensions escalated in Gaza after Israeli army launched series of strikes in response to rockets fired from the strip. Israeli warplanes launched retaliatory intensified airstrikes on Hamas targets in Gaza early Tuesday.

Security forces in Gaza reported F16 warplanes targeting Badr site of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, north of Shati camp. The F16 then targeted another site of the Brigades northeast of Rafah, south of Gaza strip.

Israeli navy participated in the attacks as well and launched several strikes from the sea.

No injuries were reported, but the missiles destroyed several nearby houses, as it seemed as though Israel didn’t want to escalate the situation further.

Israeli Military spokesperson said that in response to projectile fire from Gaza earlier, Israeli aircraft targeted two Hamas military infrastructures in north and south Gaza.

On Monday night, a rocket fell in an open area at the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, causing no injuries or damage.

Ahfad al-Sahaba, an organization affiliated with ISIS, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, but Hamas was doubtful about the launch. The organization accused Israel of fabricating false claims of the rocket fire in order to justify attacks in Gaza.

Hamas warned Israel not to continue with its dangerous escalation in the Gaza Strip and said that it must bear the consequences of its policy and actions.

In a statement issued, Hamas said: “The Israeli claim of a rocket being fired from Gaza and the ‘release’ of a claim on behalf of ISIS to excuse what happened afterward, escalation and an attack of resistance positions, are part of a dangerous and transparent Israeli game.”

The escalation occurred at a time Israeli army increased the readiness of combat soldiers and commanders on Gaza borders, after joint evaluations of the Shin Bet leaders and army commanders of a possible escalation in the strip.

Intelligence reports stated that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating because of infrastructure problems which affect the water and electricity supply, in addition to the financial and political pressure exerted by the Palestinian Authority on Hamas.

Furthermore, Qatar, which hosts several Hamas leaders, is dealing with a diplomatic boycott and international pressure, which could affect its financial support for the militant movement.

A general assumption is that Hamas will take aggressive measures and start a new war to improve the economic situation and its position in the Arab world. Hamas wants to improve its status in the Arab world as many countries began referring to it as a terrorist entity.

Hamas believes that images from a conflict with Israel could definitely help the organization achieve that goal, according to Shin Bet officials.

Israeli officials believe that Hamas will use the “halted” Tel Aviv’s project of building a wall on Gaza borders which will destroy all tunnels of the movement.

Israeli sources reported that Hamas increased its border patrol and established several checkpoints. An Israeli commander of the southern region said that Hamas is very interested in the construction on the border, adding that officials are working on securing both the region and the worker, but tension and pressures are escalating as the work progresses.

Israel is expected to rely on movable wall system to secure the project, which includes walls with machine guns in an indication of expected clashes that could turn into a new war.