In by far the sharpest escalation since late 2008, scores of rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel during recent days following Israel’s killing of the Gaza-based leader of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) Zuhair al-Qaisi and one of his lieutenants. Al-Qaisi was in the last stages of planning a major terror attack when he was killed.
The rocket attacks, creating a dilemma for Gaza’s Hamas rulers, are mainly being carried out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad with involvement from the smaller PRC.
From Hamas’ standpoint the escalation comes at an unwelcome time. The movement is in the midst of a tricky political process whereby it is seeking to extricate itself from the regional bloc led by Iran and to realign with the Sunni rulers of Egypt and Qatar. This move comes as a result of both problems and opportunities opened up by political upheavals in the Arab world — especially the largely Islamist revolution in Egypt — and by Iran’s backing for the Syrian government’s assault on the largely Sunni Arab population in the civil war there.