We issue a war warning for Israel versus Hamas over the next 7 days. This could involve low intensity operations including limited strikes via attack helicopters and drones by Israel and acts of terrorism and continued rocket exchanges by Hamas. However, there is a less probable chance that the war between the two foes could escalate significantly, especially if reports of Hamas stockpiling longer range rockets and what has been describe as a “mass of anti tank weapons” are true.
It would appear that Hamas wants to have a door to door battle with Israel and believes they have the means of disabling Israeli armor and thereby causing serious harm to any invading troops, with the hope of capturing dozens or even hundreds of Israeli soldiers and using them as a bargaining chip.
It does not appear that Hamas is working in cooperation or coordination with outside powers, other than being certain of Iran and Hezbollah giving material support. But this does not rule out the possibility that outside powers will not take advantage of the situation, especially the newly proclaimed “Caliphate” which has seized lands in Syria and Iraq and which envisions a Middle East without Israel or any of the current nations, a Middle East ruled by their new “Caliph”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Meanwhile, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal had claimed that his organization was not behind the kidnapping of the three Jewish teens whose deaths sparked the current crisis. There has been no positive proof of the cause or actors behind this murder and it may in fact be a criminal undertaking. That being said, the leader of Hamas has apparently given his approval for the escalation of rocket and mortar fire into Israel. Israel blames the Hamas leadership for the abductions, but some believe this to be a “cynical exploitation” of events to provide an excuse for a “final showdown” with Hamas.
While Hamas is firing rockets, the driving force behind events at this point appears to be Israel’s Prime Minister. Benjamin Netenyahu, who appears willing to risk a ground operation in Gaza to once and for all settle the score with Hamas. While the Arabs, including Fatah’s Abbas, are publicly condemning Israel, not a few of them will secretly be rooting for Hamas’s demise, and that in short order. Hamas is a Salafist organization that shares the views of groups like the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL), which views go against the thinking of most normal Muslims and against all the Arab states in the region that fight against Salafism and are pursuing a path of tolerance and. some might claim. “enlightened Islam”.
The players are Hamas and the Israeli government with most Arabs giving lip service to the Gazans while secretly wishing Hamas would in fact just go away. Therefore effective measures against Israel are not likely unless their operations extend to Fatah or include plans to do anything but turn over a “liberated” Gaza to Fatah and Arab, albeit not Salafist, control.
With all of this in mind, Israel is poised to go into full scale war with Hamas and if Hamas is as well equipped as some fear, outside powers such as Hezbollah, Iran, and ISIL, will no doubt seek ways to take advantage of the situation, even though Iran and ISIL are enemies themselves. the fact that Hamas is targeting Jerusalem is indeed offensive to Muslims themselves and this could indicate a certain radical desperation.
Currently, Israeli air strikes are hitting Gaza in waves, with 10 Arab casualties, among whom 4 were listed as civilians and possibly children, while Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to fire rockets into Israel, including towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel’s military spokesman has stated that Hamas has “gone over a line” and, regardless of whether they stop rocket attacks, “they will be made to pay”, which he noted must involve deteriorating their rocket launching capability and targeting both their leadership and their organizational infrastructure. The main problem with this stance is that it effectively removes the incentive for Hamas to step back. If Hamas feels that this is the FINAL BATTLE they will likely unleash everything they have, and outside actors may become engaged, such as Hezbollah and Iran especially.