Tensions are rising on the Israeli border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Israel says its first airstrike on Gaza since the 50-day war months ago is a warning to the Islamic militant group Hamas, after Palestinians fired a rocket across the border.
The rocket did not cause any injuries or damage and it may have been fired by a renegade group. But Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says Hamas rules Gaza, and therefore, it is responsible.
Ya’alon warned Hamas firing even one rocket at Israel will not be tolerated.
Hamas is defiant, even though it took a severe beating during the seven-week war. More than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza were killed and more than 10,000 homes were destroyed.
Describing the Israeli airstrike as a dangerous escalation, Hamas threatened to retaliate.
The group’s spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, warned Israel against further air strikes and called for the international community to restrain Israel.
The tit-for-tat attacks and intensifying rhetoric have raised fears of a new round of conflict.
Rafah border crossing
Despite the escalation, tensions eased on Gaza’s other border. Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing on Sunday for the first time in nearly two months. Rafah is the only crossing not controlled by Israel that provides a connection between Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians and the outside world.
The border terminal will be opened for two days as a humanitarian gesture, but it does not signal a thaw in ties between Egypt and Hamas. Cairo shut the crossing in late October after Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula killed 33 Egyptian soldiers. Egypt believes the militants were assisted by Hamas in Gaza, a group with close ties to Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.