As was the case with the last truce, jihadists are pressing additional demands — namely, the extension of the truce to the West Bank — now that the cease-fire is in place. And despite these violations, if Israel acts, it will be cast as the aggressor, and if it doesn’t act, it is at the mercy of Hamas to control the behavior of other jihadist groups in the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza truce was violated again on Thursday as terrorists fired a Kassam rocket at the western Negev.
The rocket landed near a gas station in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, causing no casualties or damage.
The Fatah-affiliated Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. In a text message sent to reporters, it said “the truce must include the West Bank and all sorts of aggression must stop.”
Nevertheless, Israel has stated on numerous occasions that it holds Hamas responsible for any attack emanating from Gaza, irrespective of which faction carries it out.
The rocket attack was the third time that the cease-fire was broken by Palestinians since it went into effect last Thursday. On Tuesday, Islamic Jihad fired three Kassam rockets at the South, damaging a Sderot home, and a mortar shell was fired at Israel the previous day.
Thursday’s rocket fire came as Hamas accused Israel of violating the terms of the cease-fire after the Defense Ministry decided to keep the Gaza border crossings closed for the day, except for special humanitarian cases, in response to Tuesday’s attack.
“If the crossings remain closed, the truce will collapse,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
Defense officials had said Wednesday night that they planned to open the crossings between Gaza and Israel on Friday if there were no more violations of the cease-fire.
Also Thursday, Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shihab said that from now on, the group would coordinate its “responses to Israel’s actions” with Hamas.
At the end of a meeting in Gaza between representatives of both groups, Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shihab said that while his Gaza faction could not, therefore, immediately respond to Israeli actions, the move would not stop the Islamic Jihad from operating in the West Bank.
Islamic Jihad official Nafez Azzam said that while the truce agreement applied to Gaza only, Israeli “crimes” like its “targeted killing” in Nablus on Monday night “embarrassed the Palestinian factions.”
On Wednesday, an aide to Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the decision to end talks on reopening the Rafah border crossing between Sinai and Gaza was a response to the cease-fire violations. The aide was responding to a report in Kuwait’s Al-Qabas newspaper, according to which Israel had agreed to refrain from responding to Tuesday’s rocket attacks.