Hamas reportedly broke the ceasefire with Israel by launching incendiary balloons into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Israel responded with air strikes in the early hours of Wednesday, the BBC reported.
Hamas’ incendiary balloons caused multiple fires in Israeli territory on Tuesday, the Israeli fire service reported.
In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its fighter jets had hit Hamas military compounds in Khan Yunis and Gaza City. The IDF said “terrorist activity” took place in the compound.
The IDF also claimed it was “prepared for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities, in the face of continued terror acts from the Gaza Strip.”
The exchange marks the first significant flare-up since 11 days of fighting ended in a ceasefire on May 21.
The recent conflict began after Palestinian protesters violently attacked Israeli police while protesting an Israeli Supreme Court case that would likely uphold the lawful eviction of squatters who refused to pay rent after they agreed to acknowledge a Jewish land claim over their homes. The protesters attacked police, who responded with crowd-control measures that injured hundreds.
Hamas responded by firing thousands of rockets into Israel. The Iron Dome interceptor system has blocked the vast majority of the rockets, but the attacks have killed at least ten people in Israeli, including two children.
Israel responded with rockets of their own, and Gaza has reported at least 230 Palestinians killed, including 65 children. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has claimed to have killed several Hamas commanders in the strikes.
According to the IDF, many of Hamas’ rockets have misfired, so the Palestinian terrorist group may be responsible for many of the deaths in the Gaza Strip. Israel has claimed that Hamas misfired 350 rockets in the first 3 days, killing innocent civilians in Gaza.
Before Israel sends precision-strike rockets, it first warns occupants of the targeted building, allowing people time to leave before destroying buildings that allegedly house Hamas weapons and intelligence. Hamas gives no such warnings to Israeli targets.
“International law requires all combatants — Israel and Hamas — to adhere to the principle of distinction. Distinction means military and civilian forces need to be separated and clearly marked, so that both sides can target each other’s military without killing civilians. Mixing the military amongst the civilians, putting military targets — military installations, rocket facilities — in or in proximity to civilian targets, itself is a violation of the law of war, and that’s what Hamas is doing,” Kontorovich explained.
“On the other hand, in fighting a war, the law of war and the Geneva Conventions understand it’s impossible to have a war without civilian casualties and the rule is those civilian casualties need to be proportionate to the military objective. Right now, Israel has destroyed much of Hamas’ capabilities, and the civilian casualties — while regrettable — are both proportionate and a direct result of Hamas’ using civilians as human shields,” he added.
In one chilling example, an IDF officer called Hamas to warn about an imminent missile strike.
“Listen, we are going to bomb the building,” the IDF officer said, telling the Hamas soldier to evacuate as soon as possible.
“You want to bomb?” the Palestinian answered, “Bomb whatever you want.”
“No, brother, we need to do everything we can so you don’t die,” the Israeli responded.
“We want to die,” the Palestinian shot back.
“But you have a responsibility for children’s lives,” the IDF officer replied.
“If the children need to die, then they’ll die,” the Hamas operative insisted.
“God forbid! God forbid! What, do you want to die?” the Israeli asked, aghast.
“This is how we reveal your cruelty,” the Hamas operative said.
Hamas may be intent on killing every single Israeli it can, but it is also waging a propaganda war.
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Because the ceasefire did not deal with the underlying cause of the conflict, I predicted that the truce would soon break down. It remains to be seen whether the recent Hamas arson and Israeli airstrikes will breathe new air into the conflict.