Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched air attacks on the Gaza Strip, what his government called "a targeted killing" of an Islamic Jihad commander.

Eight members of one Gaza Palestinian family were among the scores of Palestinians killed. However, in political terms, those missiles were not aimed at the Islamic Jihad.

"The timing of the attacks is a bit curious considering that Netanyahu is doing his best now to form a government and at the same time he's facing potential indictments on various corruption-related scandals," Edo Konrad, editor-in-chief of +972 Magazine, tells Al Jazeera.

"One needs to ask oneself whether or not these things are related. Netanyahu has a history of initiating or exacerbating violent conflict with Palestinians, whenever his legal or political predicaments get a little too sticky."

Yara Hawari, Palestine policy fellow at Al Shabaka think-tank, explains that attacks on Palestinians are often used by Israeli politicians to boost support in the electorate.

"This is quite a common practice, by Israeli politicians and especially by Netanyahu, to bomb Gaza or to attack Palestinians, to gain political points with the electorate, which, in Israel, unfortunately, is increasingly right-wing and increasingly violent towards the Palestinians," Hawari says.

The real target was Benny Gantz, Netanyahu's political rival. Gantz was manoeuvring to push Netanyahu out of office and piece together a coalition government. Gantz's efforts to convince Israeli Arab parties to support his would-be coalition might have given Netanyahu yet another reason to play the national security card.

"He was using that conflict to try to delegitimise any option for a minority coalition set by Benny Gantz with the support of the Arab parties within Israel to incite against those who are 20 percent of Israel population: the Palestinian citizens of Israel. He was trying to delegitimise their leaders as supporters of terror," media scholar Anat Balint says.

Netanyahu can also count on those in the media who tend to go along with the dominant narrative that Palestinians pose an "existential threat" to Israel.

Any kind of military assault on Gazans is seen as a form of strength, according to Tareq Baconi, an analyst with the International Crisis Group. He argues these forms of attacks are "seen as a form of defending the national security of the state of Israel".

"Therefore, the dehumanisation of Palestinians has become so effective that this is only seen in one dimension, which is one that gives political capital."

Contributors:

Yara Hawari - Palestine policy fellow, Al Shabaka

Anat Balint - media scholar

Tareq Baconi - analyst, International Crisis Group

Edo Konrad - editor-in-chief, +972 Magazine

Source: Al Jazeera News