After years of relative tip-toeing (I did say "relative"), the terrorists who rule the Gaza Strip opened up on Israel this weekend with a massive rocket and mortar barrage that left many wounded and at least one dead.
Well, in less than two weeks, Israel will host the Eurovision Song Contest. For our American readers, that might not sound like much of a reason (though, of course, Hamas and its allies will use any excuse to kill a few more Jews), until you realize that Eurovision is among the most-watched annual televised events on the planet, with peak viewership reaching as high as 600 million viewers each year.
In other words, its a massive stage upon which the Palestinians hope to rekindle the international community's dedication to their violent cause. As such, this past weekend's rocket barrage could be just the beginning.
Already, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are threatening to extend the range of their attacks to Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport, just as throngs of contestants and fans are arriving for Eurovision.
Caring little for what this will mean for the resident of the Gaza Strip, the situation is likely seen by Hamas as a win-win. Either Israel is too afraid to take any real action, and the rocket attacks entirely disrupt Eurovision, or Israel uses a strong hand in protecting the international event, perhaps even by launching a ground incursion into Gaza, and thereby earning itself another round of global condemnation.
Then again, Hamas and Islamic Jihad might be miscalculating. It wouldn't be the first time.
This time around, the United States under President Trump is going to wholeheartedly back any Israeli military response, no matter how harsh. And, given that Europe is home to Eurovision and that many thousands of Europeans will be in Israel next week, the EU might just break with its policy of phony "evenhandedness" and actually follow the American lead in fully backing Israel against its terrorist enemies.
There were hints that the EU might go this unprecedented route when on Saturday a spokesman for its foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, demanded that Hamas immediately halt all rocket fire at Israel. Such statements usually only come after Israel has returned the favor by wreaking havoc in Gaza, and with a heavy dose of moral equivalence suggesting that Israel is at least partially to blame for the situation.
Either way, Israel is preparing for the worst, and has deployed additional armor to the Gaza border.
While Israel might have enough diplomatic backing to actually score a victory, rather than just reach a stalemate, for a fresh Gaza conflagration to overshadow the biggest non-sporting television event of the year will play right into Hamas' hands, the cost in human lives be damned.
PHOTO: Posters along Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv welcome guests to the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, and possible to a barrage of Hamas rockets. (Tomer Neuberg / Flash90)