Islamic Jihad tries to drag Hamas, and Israel, into escalation

A trail of smoke from rockets fired by Palestinians from Gaza toward Israel is seen above Gaza City on Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Despite the dramatic rhetoric ​​Wednesday evening from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vowed that “if there is no quiet in our south, no quiet for the residents of Israel, there will be noise, lots of noise in Gaza… and that’s putting it mildly,” the decision on how to respond to the day’s massive rocket fire from Gaza was not a simple one.

A response of some kind was a given after more than 50 rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel late on Wednesday afternoon, but the government faced tough choices, nonetheless. First of all, it had to decide at whom to fire back.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the barrage, the worst since November 2012, and boasted that more was to come. It is apparent that this organization, which lost three operatives Tuesday near Khan Younis whom the IDF said were about to carry out an attack, is making a great effort to drag Israel, and Hamas along with it, into a fresh round of conflict.

For Islamic Jihad, the rockets fired Wednesday were an excellent means to embarrass Hamas, in order to prove that it sets the agenda in Gaza, while Hamas has neglected jihad and resistance in favor of power.