The Israel Air Force conducted 50 airstrikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip late Sunday night, following a rocket fired into Israel by Palestinian militants earlier that day.
A Palestinian security source in Gaza told Breitbart Jerusalem several targets in the northern Strip were struck by Israeli fire, and a reservoir in Beit Hanoun was damaged. Israel also hit a base belonging to Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in nearby Beit Lahiya, witnesses said. The Palestinian security source said between two and five people were lightly wounded by Israel’s retaliatory fire.
This was the second Israeli bombardment of the day. Immediately following the rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon, Israeli aircraft and tanks also targeted Hamas installations in the northern Gaza Strip.
It appears Hamas wishes to avoid escalation. A Hamas source said that the movement’s leadership held emergency meetings with leaders of other groups to ensure they refrain from retaliating. He said that Salafi radicals tied to Islamic State ideology are likely behind the rocket fire.
“We are looking forward to the upcoming local elections and to rebuilding Gaza, a slow process that is funded by Qatar. We don’t wish to provoke Israel. On the contrary, we’ve decided to take part in the elections in order to bolster our ties with the rest of the world, chiefly Arab countries. Our leadership is driven by the interests of the Palestinian people and we have no intention of dragging them to a useless conflict that doesn’t serve the Palestinian interest.”
An Islamic Jihad source said Hamas demanded the other groups show restraint in face of Israel’s retaliation in the Strip.
The Islamic Jihad source also said that the leaders of the Palestinian factions were contacted by Egyptian officials who asked them to show restraint.
“I think that in light of Hamas’ strategic decision to take part in the elections and come across as a pragmatic movement, there will be no confrontation with Israel. At the same time, Hamas is bending over backwards to shed the image of Gaza as a hotbed of jihadi activity, and present it as a stable territory. As part of this effort, Hamas will continue to crack down on Salafi organizations, who in turn will respond occasionally by firing at Israel. The question is whether the Israeli side will seize the opportunity to start a large-scale conflict, against the will of the Palestinian resistance.”