Israel-Gaza: Hamas involvement will determine if escalation spirals into war
'The threat you pose to this region will be removed one way or another'
Gaza’s ruling Hamas group is refraining from joining the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in launching rockets at Israel as a response to the Israeli army’s offensive campaign on Friday.
But according to a senior Israeli official, whether the Islamist militant movement gets involved will determine if the latest escalation evolves into an all-out war.
Click here for updates on the latest escalation on Israel's southern front with Gaza.
Israel declared a military campaign against the PIJ in the Gaza Strip – codenamed Operation "Breaking Dawn" – amid threats from the group following the arrest of two of its commanders in the West Bank earlier this week.
In an airstrike, the Israeli military assassinated the head of the PIJ’s military wing, Tayseer al-Jabari, in northern Gaza, prompting the group to launch 160 rockets toward Israel.
While Hamas blamed Israel for the escalation and issued threats of its own, Israeli security officials believe the Sunni-Islamic group is wary of getting involved in a wider confrontation with Israel.
Officials have also said that Hamas won’t join the current fighting because they “can only lose.”
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Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Friday warned Gaza’s two Palestinian militant factions: “To our enemies, and specifically to the leadership of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, I would like to emphasize: your time is up.”
“The threat you pose to this region will be removed one way or another,” he added.
The last time conflict erupted between Israel and Hamas was the 11-day war in May 2021, which left over 250 Palestinians and over a dozen Israelis dead.