Is Increased Hostility on Gaza Border a Prelude to Another Major Conflict?

“Pay them according to their deeds, their malicious acts; according to their handiwork pay them, give them their deserts.” Psalms 28:4 (The Israel Bible™)

A rocket fired at Israel and increased incendiary balloon attacks are leading to tough Israeli measures, a cycle that has, in the past, led to war.

Just after midnight on Thursday, the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza towards southern Israel. Red alert air raid sirens went off, giving advance warning of the rocket attack. Israeli air-force jets responded by attacking military targets in the al-Rayyan neighborhood east of Rafah and another on in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City.

A spokesman for the Israeli fire service said incendiary balloons from Gaza caused seven fires on Tuesday. One of the attacks was carried out by means of an explosive device carried into Israel by a ballon. The bomb exploded over an Israeli town but no injuries or damage was reported.

The Israeli military announced on Wednesday that it would be shutting down all Gazan maritime activities in response to increased terrorist attacks of incendiary aerial devices launched from Gaza.

“Due to the continuous launching of incendiary balloons and kites from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, it has been decided tonight not to allow access to Gaza’s maritime space until further notice,” a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a unit of Israel’s defence ministry, said in a statement.

This comes after the IDF reduced the extent of the fishing zone to six nautical miles offshore from 10 nautical miles on Tuesday.

“We are worried about the increase in the arson terror and about the damage it’s causing to our nature and our agriculture,” Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni said in a statement. “This is the second year that we’re hearing that ‘this terror must stop,’ but meanwhile it continues. It is becoming a regular part of our lives,” he concluded.

This is the first rocket fired at Israel since the beginning of May when Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired approximately 700 rockets at Israeli cities, killing four civilians and injuring close to 80. That spurt of hostilities resulted in an unofficial Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in which Hamas agreed to stop the violent riots along the border fence and maintain a 300-meter buffer between protesters and the fence. Hamas also agreed to put an end to the launching of incendiary and explosive balloons towards Israeli communities.

Also on Wednesday, an unexploded rocket that had landed at some earlier date exploded in a cemetery in a town outside Ashdod. There were no reports of injuries.