The fragile peace between Israel and Hamas has been placed in jeopardy once again after Israel and militants exchanged gunfire over the Israel-Gaza border. The gunfire broke the ceasefire agreement that had been in place since November last year.
The fragile truce which had led to extended ceasefire talks in Egypt last month now seems to be in dire straits due to renewed hostilities.
According to the New York Times, “The rocket fire from Gaza was the third such violation of the cease-fire brokered by Egypt in November, evidence of its fragility.”
The Mujahadeen Shura Council — Environs of Jerusalem — an Islamist group operating out of Gaza, claimed responsibility for the rocket strikes into Israel on Tuesday. On Wednesday two more rockets were fired into the Israeli border town of Sderot. Israel responded by sending in warplanes to attack two open areas in northern Gaza.
Various Israeli officials have made it clear that they will not sit idle while Israel is under attack. Israel Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon stated, “We will not allow shooting of any sort, even sporadic, toward our citizens and our forces.” Israel's chief military spokesman, Brig Gen. Yoav Mordechai echoed Yalon’s sentiments saying, “Israel will not tolerate returning to the days before the fighting in November where Palestinian rocket attacks were common.”
The latest hostilities seem to have been provoked by the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh. The 64-year old Palestinian political prisoner died of cancer in an Israeli jail amongst Palestinian charges of medical negligence. Abu Hamdiyeh was serving a life sentence for a failed suicide bombing attempt on a café in Jerusalem. Word of Abu Hamdiyeh’s death led to protests throughout the region. Some 4,600 prisoners went on a hunger strike, while others hurled objects and banged on cell doors. Protestors in Jerusalem and the West Bank attacked soldiers with fire bombs and rocks.
The Ma’an News Agency reports that Abu Hamdiyeh’s body has been turned over to Palestinian forensics institute for an autopsy. The autopsy was ordered by The Palestinian Authority's attorney-general Abdul Ghani Oweiwi.