Tension is rising in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank following several Israeli assassinations of resistance fighters. As Hamas fighters, along with fighters of several other groups, vowed retaliation, Egyptian security officers currently in Gaza are planning to meet with the armed wing of Hamas and other armed groups.
Tension is rising in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank following several Israeli assassinations of resistance fighters. As Hamas fighters, along with fighters of several other groups, vowed retaliation, Egyptian security officers currently in Gaza are planning to meet with the armed wing of Hamas and other armed groups. The officials are apparently trying to hold meetings with Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Israeli leaders in an attempt to avoid further escalation.
Hamas claimed responsibility for firing several homemade shells at Israeli targets adjacent to the Gaza Strip, while Israel claims that Hamas gunmen attempted to abduct an Israeli soldier on the Gaza border.
Israeli security sources reported on Tuesday that the army predicts that Israel would localize its operations in the Gaza Strip, but will not resort to a large military offensive and invasion.
The Israeli government said that no Israeli was hurt by the homemade shells fired, and that members of the Palestinian government plead with Israel not to carry out a large-scale ground offensive.
This is the first time that Hamas claims responsibility for firing homemade shells since the formation of the unity government between the movement and Fateh.
Meanwhile, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas stated on Tuesday that Israel must show restraint and avoid further security deterioration in the area especially after the Israeli army recently carried out a series of assassinations and attacks in the Palestinian territories.
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Hamas fired the first shell on Tuesday morning at 8 A.M. According to Haaretz report, Hamas claimed responsibility for firing 28 homemade shells, but the Israeli army stated that the number was lower since only 10 landing sites of these shells were located.
Haaretz added that Israel intends to submit a protest to the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
Hamas agreed to a full ceasefire in November and remained committed to the truce until Israel stepped-up its attacks and assassinations.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is planning to hold a consultation session on Wednesday morning to evaluate the Israeli response.
Haaretz also said that since Olmert did not hold an urgent session, and did not convene with the diplomatic-security cabinet, the Israeli response “will be moderate”.
According to Israeli military sources, Hamas fighters attempted to abduct an Israeli soldier via a tunnel into Israel, and that the firing of homemade shells was meant to provide cover for the attempt.
Also, the sources added that the recent statements of some Hamas leaders vowing that the movement will abduct Israeli soldiers helped Israel to foil any attempt.
Moreover, the Israeli government and the army rejected a Palestinian request to include the occupied West Bank as part of the truce, and government sources stated that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert does not believe that ceasefire in Gaza is honored by the armed Palestinian factions.
Israel also claimed that it recently approved the transfer of 50 jeeps to Palestinian security forces loyal to the Palestinian President. On Tuesday, the Palestinian cabinet’s spokesman, Ghazi Hammad, warned Tuesday of a possible collapse of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian resistance groups, in light of ongoing Israeli attacks on the Palestinian territories.