Two events show us that an emboldened Hamas in the Gaza Strip is moving toward war with Israel.
First, an Israeli school bus, painted bright yellow, was hit by fire from the Gaza Strip and at least one child was seriously wounded. This is not just another terrorist attack but part of a wider strategy. What is strategically significant here is how the bus was attacked. Usually, attacks from the Gaza Strip — either carried out or sanctioned by the Hamas regime there — are by homemade rockets, mortars, or attempted cross-border ground attacks. Deaths and damage are usually random.
In this case, though, the attack was carried out with an advanced anti-tank rocket. In other words, a terrorist deliberately aimed at the bus and fired, hoping to kill the maximum number of children.
But there’s more. Hamas can fire an advanced anti-tank rocket because the Egyptian revolution has ended a regime that acted in its own interest to block most arms shipments to Hamas. The Egypt-Gaza border is now open. Terrorists and superior weapons are flooding into Gaza.
Another demonstration of this fact was the second major incident in which Hamas fired an Iranian-made Grad missile, far superior to the usual homemade rockets, at Israel. In this case, it was shot down by an Israeli anti-missile, part of the new defense system deployed only a few days earlier. A total of 50 rockets and mortars were fired on that one day, equaling the number shot from the Gaza Strip at Israel during the entire month of March. There were also several attempts at cross-border ground attacks, more in one day than at any time in the past.
It was clear to the Hamas leadership that this escalation — and probably more to follow — brings the situation closer to another war like the one fought in December 2008-January 2009 after Hamas ended the ceasefire and launched a massive rocket and mortar barrage against Israel.
While saved politically by Western intervention — which does not favor the overthrow of the Hamas regime and largely accepted Hamas propaganda portraying Israel as a villain — that war was a bad defeat for Hamas. Its forces fought quite poorly, especially when compared to Hizballah’s units in 2006 in Lebanon.