Who Benefits And Why?
As more rockets hit southern Israel and more bombs fall on Gaza, it might be useful to recall the timeline - especially in light of misleading headlines like: "IDF strikes targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire"
1) Last Thursday, terrorists, crossing from Egyptian controlled Sinai, attack Israelis near Eilat, killing 8.
2) Within hours, Israel declares that the terrorists are from the Gaza based PRC, and bombs a PRC hideout in southern Gaza, killing 2 PRC leaders and 3 others.
3) Both the PRC and Hamas deny responsibility for the Eilat attack.
3) Israel declares that it holds Hamas responsible, and bombs workshops (claimed to be weapons factories) in northern Gaza, as well as the Gaza electric power plant.
4) Rockets are launched from Gaza into Israel. Various groups including Hamas and the PRC are involved.
5) Israel responds with more bombings in Gaza. 9 Palestinians and 1 Israeli are killed in this round of reciprocal attacks.
6) Israel declares that the PA is responsible.
7) A ceasefire is brokered by Egypt, both Israel and Hamas agree to stop rocket/bombing attacks.
8) After two days of quiet, early on Wednesday morning, the Israel Air Force killed an Islamic Jihad operative in the southern Gaza Strip - Ismael al-Asmar. (See here.)
9) Later that day Israel kills two "operatives" in the northern Gaza strip, claiming they were planning rocket attacks.
10) Still later that day numerous rockets and mortars are launched from Gaza into Israel.
11) Israel responds with more bombing of Gaza.
12) As of now reciprocal rocketing and bombing is continuing between Gaza and southern Israel. 12 Gazans and no Israelis have been killed in the fighting of Wednesday and Thursday.
What makes this particularly bizarre - at least at first thought - is that by now it is clear that neither the PRC nor Hamas had much of a role in last weeks attack near Eilat. (See here.) Israeli authorities have no doubt known this since at least a few hours after the attack - since they hold the bodies of several of the attackers, and the Egyptians have admitted that the at least three of the attackers and their leaders came from Sinai.
So why is Israel bombing Gaza, and provoking retaliatory rocketing of its own people? Well, several thoughts come to mind. Perhaps it is just an excuse to remove Palestinian militants who have long been on the IDF hit lists, and damn the consequences to Israeli citizens within Gazan rocket range. Or maybe its just a case of meeting pressure from the Israeli public to "do something." Or maybe its part of a strategy of appearing wild and unpredictable and dangerous - part of a larger (misguided, at least in this case) deterrence strategy. Or maybe its a way of defusing the large "tent movement" social protests that had been rocking Israel for the past month: in this it seems to have succeeded. Or maybe its part of a strategy to heat up the border, and discredit Hamas and the PA - in preparation for the PAs bid for U.N. recognition in 4 weeks. Or maybe its all of these combined.
Whatever the reason, it is Israel who has heated up the Gaza border - twice within a week now - and whatever its goals, it doesn't seem to mind if its own citizens in the south pay part of the price.