The kidnapping of three Israeli settler youths in the West Bank has been used by Israel as an excuse to round up Hamas leaders in the West Bank with a view to possibly deporting them to the Gaza Strip. One wonders if, while the world’s attention is drawn to the crisis in Iraq, whether or not the Israelis might also be planning an all-out incursion into the Gaza Strip.
Without actually mentioning the Gaza Strip, Israeli commander in chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Grantz, has been quoted as saying: "We have a goal, and that is to find these three boys and bring them home”, but he also went on to say, “and to hit Hamas as hard as possible – and that is what we are going to do. We are on our way toward a significant campaign. We will get our plans in order," hinting that the ‘significant campaign’ may be to invade the Gaza Strip in order to put an end to Hamas’s control of the enclave just as soon as their ‘plans are in order’.
The Israeli reasoning behind such action may be that they believe that Sunni militancy at this time is very much on the nose as the violence by Sunni jihadists in Iraq are exposed and that, therefore, there would be little world sympathy for any action the Israelis take against those who they promote and claim to be Sunni extremists.
In just the last few hours Israeli attack aircraft have launched raids against targets the Israelis claim are weapon manufacturing facilities while other target are claimed to be storage facilities. These strikes are in response to Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel which, in turn, are retaliatory strikes on Israel for their recent spate of shootings of unarmed Palestinians working in fields close to the Israeli border fence.
As I wrote last week, Israel is deliberately attempting to provoke Palestinians both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into launching a Third Intifada so that Israel can respond with an all-out occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.