After Rocket Fire, Israel Strikes Hamas Assets in Gaza
The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday evening struck three Hamas military positions in the Gaza Strip in retaliation to rocket fire earlier in the day. According to the IDF, one projectile launched from the Palestinian enclave landed in an open area in southern Israel, causing no injuries or damages. Jerusalem nevertheless has adopted a policy of responding to any violence emanating from Gaza by targeting assets belonging to its rulers. The incident shattered weeks of calm, as both sides contend with the coronavirus pandemic and as Israel and Hamas are exploring the possibility of a prisoner swap that could be a steppingstone toward a broader long-term and long-elusive cease-fire accord. Hamas is currently holding captive two Israeli civilians who are believed to have crossed into Gaza on their own accord, as well as the remains of two IDF soldiers killed in the territory during the 2014 war. For their return, the terror group is reportedly demanding that Israel release hundreds of jailed Palestinians. A major sticking point appears to be Hamas’ insistence on securing the freedom of many prisoners reincarcerated following their release in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal. That agreement saw Israel trade over 1,000 prisoners for the former IDF soldier who was kidnapped during a border raid and held hostage in Gaza for five years. Hamas is also reportedly pushing a two-step process in which some prisoners would initially be freed merely in exchange for “information” on the whereabouts and condition of the Israelis.