Hamas warned Israel on Wednesday that it had opened the gates of hell in targeting a notorious terror chieftain Ahmed Jabari. In truth, however, a reluctant Israeli government (Israel has no desire to be drawn into prolonged military conflict with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip) plainly felt it had little choice but to launch Operation Pillar of Defense, an escalated air assault on Hamas targets.
The incident that prompted this latest drastic flare-up on Israel’s southern border saw an anti-tank missile fired at an Israeli army jeep that was traveling not on the Gaza side of the border, as was erroneously claimed in some initial reports — nor even on the very border line itself — but rather making a routine journey some 150 yards inside sovereign Israeli territory. As the father of one of the four soldiers who were in that jeep noted, it was “miraculous” that all four were not killed in the unprovoked attack. All four were injured, however, one of them very seriously.
More profoundly, the norm by which Israeli troops could reasonably expect to not be attacked by high-precision enemy fire when moving about fairly far inside that part of sovereign Israel was violently shattered. There is a precedent for such developments, and it is a precedent Israel is anxious not to see repeated.