Hamas: A Boast Too Far

Israel carried out air strikes against the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza before dawn on Wednesday, in retaliation for incendiary balloons launched from Gaza into southern Israel on Tuesday.

The BBC initially described the terrorist activity as including ‘several balloons’ sent over the border from Gaza into Israel. But reports from local media described more than 30 fires resulting from Hamas’ resumption of terrorism by balloon.

Explosion in southern part of Gaza Strip (screenshot from BBC video)Explosion in southern part of Gaza Strip (screenshot from BBC video)

An IDF spokesman said that the air strikes targeted Hamas training camps and mustering points.

This was the first military action approved by Israel’s new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennet. In the past he has taken the view that attacks using balloons and kites to carry incendiary devices should be treated in the same way as rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

An official IDF statement said:

“The IDF is prepared for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities,
in the face of continued terrorist acts from the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas described the air strikes as:

“A failed attempt to stop our people’s solidarity and resistance with the Holy City,
and to cover up the unprecedented state of confusion for the Zionist establishment
in organising the so-called ‘Flag March’.”

However, it seems that the terrorist group brought the strikes upon themselves, not just by launching the incendiary balloons, but also by boasting that they had won a victory after the rescheduled Jerusalem Day march required heavy security and was re-routed away from the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

The original march was cut short on 10th May when Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem – triggering the recent 11 days of conflict.

Omer Bar-Lev, Israel’s Minister for Internal Security, said:

“The right to demonstrate is a right in all democracies. The police are ready and we
will do everything in our power to preserve the delicate thread of coexistence.”

The March of the Flags celebrates Israel’s reunification of the city of Jerusalem in 1967, when they captured the eastern part of the city from the Jordanian Army.

Palestinians view the march as provocative because they perceive it to be right-wing Jews flaunting their sovereignty over the city and previous marches have included chants of “Death to Arabs”.

Sadly, the same was true of Tuesday’s march and Israel’s new Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, criticised the chanting in strong terms.

He tweeted that it was right to approve the march and praised Omer Barlev’s management of the event but added:

“The fact that there are extremist elements for whom the Israeli flag represents
hatred and racism is abominable and unforgivable.”