As Hamas desperately seeks what Israeli media termed a “quality” terror attack, it escalated rocket fire from Gaza on Wednesday and Thursday by targeting Israel’s nuclear reactor in the southern town of Dimona and firing barrage after barrage at the densely-populated Tel Aviv area.
Hamas and its allies have fired around 300 missiles and rockets from Gaza over the past week. And, while many have reached deeper into Israel than ever before, very few have caused any real damage, and even fewer have actually harmed Israelis.
Despite the lack of casualties, the long-range attacks mean that no fewer than five million Israelis (out of an overall population of just under eight million) are now living under the direct threat of rocket fire.
Hamas operatives have also tried twice to infiltrate the southern Israel coast via the sea, only to be fatally intercepted by Israeli forces before they could reach their target, Kibbutz Zikim.
In light of these failures, Israeli commentators believe Hamas and its allies are going for something of a “Hail Mary” by trying to hit either the reactor in Dimona or score a multi-casualty impact in Greater Tel Aviv.
The chances of a real catastrophe are somewhat offset by the tremendous success of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, which has downed 90 percent of the Gaza missiles that threatened to hit population centers or other sensitive targets.
Still, the threat remains, and a hit on Dimona or a successful strike on Tel Aviv would provide a major morale boost to Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups, and would likely mean an even more intense and prolonged conflict necessitating an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ own Fatah faction has proudly joined the war on the side of Hamas, announcing that small groups of its fighters that remain in Gaza (including some Palestinian Authority police officers) have also started firing rockets at Israel.