Most Palestinians organizations led by Hamas convened in Gaza City Monday night, Nov. 12, to approve the cessation of their three-day rocket offensive against Israel brokered by Egypt. The meeting was shunned by the Salafists, who instead signaled their repudiation of a truce by firing 5 heavy Grad rockets against the Israeli towns of Netivot, Beersheba and Ofakim.
debkafile’s counter-terror sources report that the Salafist extremists, some affiliated with al Qaeda, were behind most of the missile attacks during Monday, topping up the 300 assorted rockets fired against the southern Israeli population from Saturday.
Yet Israel, Egypt and even Hamas continued to delude themselves that an effective ceasefire was feasible.
So while, the IDF refrained from striking the rocket teams during the day in expectation of a ceasefire – and instead scattered leaflets reminding Gazans to stay 300 meters back from the Israeli border fence – the Salafists were busier than ever taking delivery of a fresh load of Grad rockets through the smuggling tunnels from Sinai to sustain their continuous barrage against Israel.
The easternmost point of those tunnels, the intersection of the Israeli, Egyptian and the Gaza Strip borders, is just out of reach of the Israeli army. For a strike to effectively stop the flow of smuggled hardware, Israel would have to hit the key section which runs through Egyptian territory.
Hamas can’t reach those tunnels either, because the Salafist groups which control the southern section of the Gaza Strip bar their access.
But the Jihad Islam is a different matter. This Iranian proxy does play ball with the Salafists and in fact shares with them some of its own Grad supplies. The Jihad thus plays both sides against the middle – cooperating with Hamas and Egypt to enforce a ceasefire, on the one hand, and helping the Salafists scupper it, with the other.
Gaza’s Palestinian terrorist organizations, including the ruling Hamas, have never upheld any truce for long, only reducing rocket fire to a trickle for long enough to stall a major Israeli attack, and reviving it full blast after a few weeks, The difference this time is that Jihad Islami holds the key to the truce. If Tehran, Damascus and Hizballah wanted a ceasefire to hold up, they would order Jihad to withhold its assistance from the Salafists. But this has not happened.
The view in the high IDF command, which handed its recommendations to the defense minister and prime minister Monday, is that even if the Salafists play along with the Egyptian truce bid for a couple of days to keep the Israeli military off their backs, when things quiet down, they will go back to shooting rockets.
Their purpose is to keep Israel on the hop and its Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the horns of a dilemma.