As the Israeli Cabinet failed to reach a decision about Gaza operation, after a relatively quiet night the Palestinians Wednesday launched their heaviest barrage of rockets in the current conflict to date at Gush Dan. Hamas claimed responsibility for sending M-75s at the region.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s ceasefire ploy Tuesday, July 15, instead of calming the violence in Gaza, unleashed a furious spate of 140 rockets from the Gaza Strip, which drew dozens of Israel air strikes after a six-hour lull in operations. By the end of the eighth day of Operation Defensive Edge, the Israeli security cabinet saw it was saddled with a new dilemma: persuading the Egyptian ruler to punish Hamas to the full extent of his power. This is reported by debkafile’s Middle East and military sources.
But just as US President Barack Obama stayed clear of the Gaza conflict by hauling Secretary of State John Kerry out of range, so too the Egyptian president would much prefer Israel deal with Hamas, which he regards as the Palestinian branch of his archenemy the Muslim Brothers.
El-Sisi would not mind taking a hand in the all-out campaign against the Palestinian Islamists, so long as Israel takes the lead and conducts a wide-scale military operation to crush them. He would then collect the rewards.
Broad Israeli circles have commended the Netanyahu government for accepting the ceasefire proposed by Cairo – both because it lent Israel unquestioned justification for striking the rejectionist Hamas.
Cairo has its own perception of the situation created by the “truce”: Netanyahu manufactured a favorable international background for military action against Hamas and it was now up to him to go through with it.
Aware of this small crack in the camp ranged against them, Hamas and Jihad Islami outdid themselves Tuesday in hurling rockets – some 130 – against dozens of Israeli population centers as far as the Jordan Valley.
Now, say debkafile’s sources, Egypt, Hamas and Israel are in a holding pattern. Netanyahu and his defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, understand that El-Sisi will not lift a finger until Israel broadens its operation against Hamas. It is up to this duo to make the decisions, since the security cabinet is hamstrung by internal differences and embarrassing leaks.
The Egyptian president will be receiving the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo later Wednesday. He will decide how far he wants to cooperate with him when he sees how far Israel is willing to go against Hamas. The more devastating the blow, the more amenable he will be to working with Netanyahu rather than Abbas.
Whatever is decided between Cairo and Jerusalem, Hamas and Jihad Islami know they are in for trouble: and so they fall back on their knee-jerk reaction by redoubling their rocket fire on Israel.