— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) June 7, 2015
Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel has resumed intermittently over the past week and into the weekend. The third attack came on Saturday, June 6, when a rocket fired from Gaza landed in open area near Hof-Ashkelon. These attacks have not caused any casualties so far, However, they are effectively working to further strain relations and raise public tensions after last year’s war with Hamas, the terror group that has functioned as the governing entity of Gaza since the mandatory Israeli pull out in 2005.
While Hamas is being held responsible by the Israeli government, the terror group is busy passing the blame onto another terror group in the Strip known as the Salafists. Radical Islamists who support ISIS, Salafists have been growing in numbers over the past decade. The Times of Israel reports that they number around 1,000 members, not enough to cause serious damage, but enough to push Hamas and Israel into another war:
Hamas has generally tolerated the Salafists since they emerged in Gaza a decade ago, though there have been occasional confrontations. In 2009, Hamas killed a Salafi leader who declared an Islamic emirate in the southern town of Rafah. Since then Hamas has worked quietly to dismantle the groups.
“Now, they are scattered groups, sometimes made up of 10 people who have an ideological problem with Hamas,” said Adnan Abu Amer, an analyst from Gaza. “They could not find a popular incubator to contain them in Gaza.”
But in recent months, Gaza’s Salafists have been emboldened by the rise of the Islamic State group, which seized about a third of Iraq and Syria and declared an Islamic caliphate on the territory it controls. At the same time, Hamas has been weakened by last year’s war while a stifling blockade of Gaza’s borders by Israel and Egypt remains in place.
The Israeli government is following normal protocol as a result of the attacks, closing selective crossings to all but medical and humanitarian aid and attacking terrorist hideouts via targeted airstrikes.