Three rockets from Gaza Strip fired into Israel overnight
Three Kassam rockets were fired from the northern Gaza Strip overnight Saturday. Two of the rockets exploded in open fields in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council and one in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. No injuries or damage was reported.
Palestinians reported Sunday morning that in response to the rockets, the IDF had struck a home in the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun. The IDF spokesperson denied that there was any attack on the Strip.
We've watched these rocket attacks escalate over the past several weeks, and speculation regarding exactly who is behind these attacks is growing:
The recent escalation in rocket fire is viewed in the IDF as part of an effort by global jihad-aligned groups in Gaza to undermine Hamas’s authority and rule by attacking Israel. It is believed that Hamas is not currently interested in a large-scale conflict, and therefore is not sanctioning the rocket attacks.
Another possibility is that Hamas is turning a blind eye to the attacks as part of an effort to remind Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the world that it should be taken into account in ongoing efforts to get a diplomatic process back on track.
Either way, it is a dangerous game that is now being played in this powder-keg:
3 Rocket Attacks Awaken Southern Israelis Overnight
For the fifth time in less than a week, rocket fire shook the night for residents of Israel's western Negev and southern coastal region.
Three short-range Kassam rockets were fired by terrorists from Gaza, the first exploding at approximately 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning in the Ashkelon Coast regional council district. Hours later, residents in the Sha'ar HaNegev regional council district were similarly awakened by two more rocket attacks.
On Friday night Gaza terrorists fired a Kassam rocket at the Eshkol regional council district. That missile also exploded in an open area, causing no physical injuries or damage as well.
At least 19 rocket and mortar shells have exploded in southern Israel in the past two and a half weeks, a number of which have caused property damage. One soldier was wounded by a roadside bomb as well.
And the predictable Israeli response:
The Israel Air Force also immediately retaliated in response to the Saturday night attacks, according to Palestinian Authority sources in Gaza.
IAF pilots aimed air strikes at targets south of the northern town of Beit Hanoun following the terrorist rocket attacks, according to the PA source. Medical personnel in Gaza claimed that seven people were injured in the attack.
After a period of relative calm, we're starting to see an increase in violence - there is no doubting that now.
Gaza rocket fire: Why now?
There does not seem to be one clear explanation for the latest resumption of rocket fire from Gaza, and theories abound.
The new escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza, still limited in scope, is the first of its kind since the bitter round of clashes at the beginning of April.
It seems that the upswing in violence of the past couple of weeks is primarily a result of Palestinian actions that are then met by Israeli air strikes, albeit relatively restrained ones.
As already stated, the fire of the last two weeks has been from smaller factions, among them Hamas deserters and groups taking their cues from Al-Qaida.
It is possible that Hamas will not this time stick its head above the parapet to rein in the fire, and the “motivational factor” is the power struggle with Fatah and Hamas’ desire to return to the center stage regarding the conflict with Israel
In other words, this an attempt to show Fatah that without any progress on a comprise agreement, Hamas is capable of making trouble with Israel on the diplomatic front, even before the PA goes to the United Nations in September with its plan for recognition of a Palestinian state.
We'll see. It is hard to imagine that Hamas isn't involved - either through "turning a blind eye" to these rocket attacks or covertly encouraging these attacks.
In another interesting development, we may be on the verge of major uprisings in Jordan; something that has been closely watched over the past months:
Jordan Under Fire for Bloody Violence against Journalists
Violent Jordan police beat up journalists covering a protest and may have inadvertently paved the way for a hot “Arab Spring” summer.
King Abdullah II generally has been spared the massive uprising that has rocked several Muslim countries n the Middle East and Africa, but he has not been immune.
Friday’s club-swinging police in the capital of Amman injured at least 15 people in an unusually violent confrontation with nearly 300 reporters, who nearly outnumbered the demonstrators. The attacks on journalists sparked outrage throughout the country, and Jordan- based journalists said they would stage a sit-in protest Sunday.
It reported that Friday was “a black day for journalism in Jordan following the first open-ended sit-in since March. Demonstrators and loyalists clashed at the protest Friday, and journalists were caught in the crossfire, the Jordan Times reported.
“Within 20 minutes, everything changed 180 degrees,” Nidal Mansour, director of the Amman-based Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists, told the newspaper. The violence “shattered Jordan’s image as a welcoming country for members of the press,” he added. “Friday was not just a black day for journalism; it was a bloody day.”
We have to keep in mind the fact that nothing is "accidental" in the Middle East these days, and if there is an increase in violence, there is a reason. Only time will tell, but right now, Gaza, Southern Israel and Jordan are worth watching very closely for further developments.