Tension surged in Gaza as the truce comes to an end
Israeli and Palestinian papers anticipated the possibility of violent consequences to the expiry of a six-month truce between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip.
However, on both sides there was a sense that Israel was struggling to find a policy option that would work for it in Gaza. In the Israeli press, some voices bemoaned the opportunity they felt the truce had given the militants to build up their strength and develop a strategy.
A Palestinian commentator suggested the militants were prepared for combat.
There were calls for calm in the Israeli press, warning of the consequences of escalating the conflict through a military strike. A Palestinian commentator suggested the truce would continue in spite of its announced end, as it was in both sides' interests for it to do so.
ALEX FISHMAN in Israeli YEDIOT AHARONOT
The horses have bolted. Hamas has established a long-term strategic wing, has constructed a defence apparatus... What the Israeli Army could have done six months ago is 10 times more complicated today.
AMIT COHEN in Israeli MA'ARIV
It seems [Hamas] now estimate they are able to defend their senior leaders from targeted killings better than in the past. This is Hezbollah's formula: The leaders go underground while the rocket brigades incessantly pounds the home front. In Hamas, they hope they will survive long enough to impose an upgraded [cease-fire] agreement on Israel.
ALUF BENN in Israeli HA'ARETZ
Defence Minister Ehud Barak... holds that it is better to wait: Perhaps something will change in the Palestinian arena or in the Arab world, thereby preventing a bloody war; if not, waiting until Hamas escalates the conflict will make it easier to mobilise both domestic and international support for an operation.
DANIEL LEVY in Israeli HA'ARETZ
An Israeli military escalation would probably speed up the splintering of Hamas' leadership and accelerate the emergence of more radical alternatives.
ISAM SHAWAR in Palestinian FILASTIN
I think that Israel will consider any step that it takes against the Gaza Strip very seriously, because retaliation will come not only in the form of a few rockets fired at Sderot and the neighbouring areas.
MUSTAFA AL-SAWWAF in Palestinian FILASTIN
Unless Israel abides by [commitments to] the suspension of aggression... lifting the siege, and opening the Rafah crossing, the resistance factions will be unable to renew the calm.
ADLI SADIQ in Palestinian AL-AYYAM
Invading would mean remaining [in Gaza] and not leaving quickly, which would mean a war of attrition. After that, [Israel] would be forced to leave, which would mean that Hamas and the other factions would be able to announce victory once again.
RAJAB ABU-SIRRIYAH in Palestinian AL-AYYAM
This will not be a calm that precedes the storm. It will rather be a calm that comes before a long-term truce. The calm is in the interest of both sides because it achieves political objectives for both of them.
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