ANALYSIS: What's Behind the Latest Escalation in Israel's South?

Friday, August 10, 2018 |  Yochanan Visser

The situation in southern Israel deteriorated significantly Wednesday night after Hamas started to pound the Israeli towns and communities in the Gaza belt with 180 rockets and mortar shells. Tens of thousands of Israelis spent several nights in bomb shelters, the IDF retaliated against over 150 terrorist targets, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his generals contemplated full-scale war.

According to Hamas, this brush with another destructive conflagration began as retaliation for an IDF attack on two of its snipers last Tuesday. 

The two were taking part in an exercise that was attended by Hamas leaders and aimed their rifles at an IDF position opposite the border after which they were taken out by a Merkava tank.

However, the lead-up to this fresh outbreak of violence really started on July 20th, when Hamas killed an IDF soldier close to the border fence in Gaza using a sniper.

Since then Hamas had been talking about a long-term truce with Israel which would include the full opening of the Keren Shalom border crossing which is used for the import of Israeli goods.

The demand Israel fully opens the Keren Shalom border crossing has nothing to do with Hamas’ desire to improve the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip but everything with rampant corruption within the top of the terror organization.

The Gatestone Insitute just published an investigative article detailing this corruption which has filled the coffers of the Hamas top since it violently took over control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Corruption is one way for Hamas to stay in power maintaining a low-intensity conflict with Israel is another. 

For this reason Hamas started the so-called ‘Great March of Return’ at the end of March the two-month-long violent confrontations along the border with Israel in Gaza which turned into the so-called ‘Kite Jihad’ the daily attacks with incendiary balloons and kites which have caused a ecological disaster in southern Israel.

Hamas started these violent confrontations to remain relevant and to curry favor with Iran that is using the terror group as another proxy army against Israel.

It is no coincidence Hamas leader al-Arouri, who is living in Lebanon and never visited Gaza, arrived in the coastal enclave last week officially to hold consultations with other Hamas leaders about the ‘imminent’ long-term ceasefire with Israel.

Al-Arouri, an arch terrorist who has spent years in Israeli prisons for organizing terror attacks, was responsible for the reconciliation between Hamas and the Islamist regime in Tehran in October 2017 and the resuming of Iranian aid to the Sunni Islamist terror organization.

Shortly after this reconciliation Hamas started to prepare for another round of violence with Israel but was careful not to enter into all-out war with the Jewish state.

Israeli politicians like Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have repeatedly accused Iran of being behind the current round of violence in Israel’s south.

Al-Arouri’s presence in Gaza could be the reason Hamas suddenly escalated the hostilities against Israel.

After all, Iran is working to create three fronts against Israel via its proxies as a preparation for a major war against the Jewish State: Lebanon, Syria -where Iran has taken-over the military as reported by the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday- and Gaza.

PHOTO: An Iron Dome battery in southern Israel intercepts an incoming rocket from Hamas-controlled Gaza. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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