As the fighting between Israel and Hamas goes from escalation to conflagration, the first reports of missiles fired at major Israeli cities may foreshadow a larger war.
First, the Israeli Defense Forces are now confirming that rockets have been fired by Hamas (and other terrorist groups in Gaza) at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the two largest Israeli cities, fulfilling a threat the terrorist organization made yesterday if Israel continued its strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza.
Air raid sirens most of Israel's major cities including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Beersheba and outlying areas— Ilån Bεn Zıon (@IlanBenZion) July 8, 2014
Hamas also claimed to have fired a rocket at Haifa, Israel's third-largest city near the border with Lebanon, but there hasn't been confirmation yet.
Folks, IF and this is a big IF, a projectile reached Haifa, Israel is unlikely to admit it unless they have to.— Yousef Munayyer (@YousefMunayyer) July 8, 2014
According to Channel 2, a rocket has landed in Hadera. Hadera is around 45 KM north of Tel Aviv and 45 KM south of Haifa. Wow.— Raphael Gellar (@raphaelg23) July 8, 2014
Since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 following the Israeli disengagement two years earlier, the cycle of violence has followed a particular regimen: Hamas haphazardly lobs a few rockets at small Israeli towns in the south and Israel responds with targeted airstrikes. International calls for restraint are issued and the sides return to their tense standstill until the next violent episode ensues.
Until this week, there have been two major exceptions: The Gaza Wars of 2008-2009 and 2012 (also known as Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense). In those battles, the rivulet of missile fire expanded into a stream, bringing bigger Israeli cities under fire and increasing the death toll, particularly on the Palestinian side as Israeli forces strike targets in densely populated Gaza.