After five months in which Palestinian resistance groups either refrained from or were not able to conduct attacks inside Israel, Hamas’s military wing carried out a double suicide attack in Be’er Shiva, killing 16, and wounding 100 Israelis.

Hamas announced that the attack came to revenge the successive assassinations of its two most prominent leaders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Dr. Abdul-Aziz Rantisi on February and March of this year.

The attack was carried by members of Hammas’s hard militant core in the city of Hebron, described by Israeli security as the most organized, trained, and secretive of all of Hamas’s West bank branches.

Looking into the first reactions, it is clear that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan became immune against reactions to painful attacks inside Israel.

Sharon, immediately after the attack, affirmed that he will go ahead with an even speeded up implementation of disengagement. To the surprise of many the extreme right wing criticisms were far from being outrageous or loud.

In similar cases in the past, similar attacks forced and end to any existing diplomatic efforts or political initiatives and created uproar within Israel.

So, what have changed?

Firstly, such attacks were immediately used in the past to disqualify the Palestinian Authority as a partner, either through accusations of indirect involvement or lack of preventive actions.

Unilateral disengagement requires no partner and is not likely to be influenced with whether a credible partner existed or not.

Yet, the immediate victim of the Be’er Shiva bombing is the Egyptian initiative, which was seen by many as the key to link Sharon’s disengagement with the road map initiative; exactly what Israel always attempted to avoid.

Also, the double bombing reminded Israeli generals with the Southern Lebanon pullout. It could happen under fire and might enforce the desire to continue the fight to force more unilateral-under fire-pullouts.

If to happen, it would be seen as a triumph to Hamas’s strategy of an open conflict targeting a unilateral withdrawal without the need to sign treaties or hand concessions in exchange.

To encounter such an effect, Israel might opt for an unprecedented escalation of military attacks, especially around the period in which the implementation of disengagement will be carried out.

In the five month period during which there were no attacks carried out inside Israel, army continued targeting resistance operatives with assassinations. Israel refrained or was not able to assassinate top Hamas political leaders.

Therefore, with the exception of pointing fingers at Syria and Hezbollah, and declaring that Hamas’s political leaders in the Palestinian territories and outside of it will be targeted, Israel would continue with the same measures employed during the past fie months.

Immediately after the attack loud voices rose, calling for speeding up the construction of the southern section of the separation wall, and used the Be’er Shiva bombing to stress its security value.

To avoid confusion, actual construction of certain sections and the planning for other sections never seized.

Certain revisions were forced by the Israeli High court and loud warnings were issued over the possible consequences of ignoring the international court of justice ruling.

Neither Palestinians nor the International Court of justice denied Israel’s right to build a fence inside its territories to protect its citizens. Both Palestinians and the international community were critical of building the wall in occupied territories with the aim of grabbing more land and creating isolated Palestinian cantons.

Israel is likely to press for speeding up the construction of the southern section of the separation wall ignoring the Israeli high court ruling and that of the International court of justice, therefore paying little attention to Palestinian living hardships.