Inside Story

Gaza strikes: Motives and consequences

As widespread attacks and counter-attacks continue, we ask if these are the opening shots in Israel’s election battle.

As Israel and Hamas fighters attack each other, fears are growing that their conflict could develop into a full-scale ground war in the Gaza Strip.

Israel says all options are on the table.

Hamas says dark days await Israel. It also says it has, for the first time, fired missiles at Tel Aviv.

The violence began after an Israeli airstrike killed Ahmad Jabari, Hamas’ military leader, on Wednesday.

[Israel] did not initiate this attack …. We continued to absorb a trickle of missiles, about a 100 missiles every day, and at a certain point in time the government of Israel says ‘enough is enough’ and we are going to change the basic situation.

– Raanan Gissin, one-time adviser to former Israeli PM

Israel then launched widespread attacks on the Gaza Strip, and Hamas retaliated.

World leaders have condemned the violence and loss of civilian lives, with countries including the US and Qatar urging peace and security.

Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ leader, while attending a conference in Sudan, talked about Israel’s attacks on Gaza:

“Today Israel is testing the pulse of the nation, testing Egypt, testing the Arabs and Muslims … if it is able to dictate its orders as in the past or [if] today’s leaders have another vision.”

Elsewhere, much has been said about the use of social media in this current offensive.

Often seen as a positive force for peaceful protest, are we now seeing the first concrete evidence of Twitter as a tool of military propaganda?

Israel surprised all the parts when they came and killed Ahmad Jabari and started to target everywhere in the north and south, even civilians … so what kind of excuses and justification is there to kill civilians or start a round of violence against people? …. Our message now is very clear: we will not allow Israel to kill our people without a price.

– Ghazi Hamad, deputy foreign minister for Hamas

The official Israeli military Twitter account announced the assassination of Hamas’ Ahmad Jabari by posting an image of his face with the words “Eliminated” superimposed on it.

The Twitter account, @IDFSpokesperson, has been working hard to update its over 100,000 followers in real time and in multiple languages. The Israeli army also has a blog.

Meanwhile, the Hamas Twitter account, under the name of @AlqassamBrigade, with just 15,000 followers, has no fancy graphics or optimised tweets. But it does post the occassional link to videos uploaded on YouTube.

So, what are the motives and the consequences of Israel’s latest series of attacks on Gaza? And could these be the opening shots in Binjamin Netanyahu’s election campaign?

To discuss this, Inside Story with presenter Teymoor Nabili is joined by guests: Ghazi Hamad, the deputy foreign minister for Hamas; Abdullah Al-Ashal, professor of international law and political science at the American University in Cairo, who is also a former Egyptian deputy foreign minister of foreign affairs; and Raanan Gissin, a one-time senior adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and also a former strategic analyst in the planning branch of the Israeli military.


  • Hamas military leader Ahmad Jabari was killed in an Israeli attack in Gaza 
  • After Jabari’s killing, Israel carried out barrage of airstrikes on Gaza 
  • Dozens of rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since Wednesday 
  • Israel: military operation meant to stop Gaza rockets 
  • US says Israel has the right to defend itself against attacks 
  • Israeli army says its defence system has intercepted dozens of rockets 
  • Egypt recalled its ambassador to Israel because of the Gaza attacks 
  • Egypt wants an emergency meeting with the Arab League to discuss the attacks 
  • Netanyahu: Israeli army is prepared to widen military operation in Gaza 
  • Israel’s ambassador to Egypt left Cairo on Wednesday night 
  • US president barack Obama spoke to leaders of Israel and Egypt about the Gaza violence 
  • Obama urged Netanyahu to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties