Israel launches more than 40 airstrikes against Gaza terrorists
As expected, Israel's response to the discovery of three dead teenagers in a field outside of Hebron who were missing for 18 days was swift and decisive. The IDF launched at least 40 attacks on terrorists and their infrastructure in Gaza, striking at the heart of Hamas and their terrorist allies.
The West Bank homes of the two prime suspects Israel has identified in the kidnapping case were destroyed. And Israeli security forces stepped up airstrikes on Gaza.
Overnight into Tuesday, more than 40 Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza, according to Palestinian security and medical sources. The strikes targeted Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups, the sources said.
The Israeli military later said that forces had carried out strikes against 34 targets in Gaza, targeting terror infrastructure, after the firing of 18 rockets at Israel since Sunday evening.
"The war on terror continues. It didn't begin now and it will not be over soon," Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon of the Israel Defense Forces said Monday, vowing to pursue those responsible for the teenagers' deaths.
It was unclear Tuesday what further steps Israeli officials planned to take.
Complicating the picture further, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported Tuesday that a little known group called Ansar as-Dawla al-Islamiya (Supporters of the Islamic State) had claimed responsibility for the killings and threatened to "slaughter" the Palestinian Authority.
CNN wasn't immediately able to independently verify the claim.
The ploy to place blame on another, unknown terrorist group won't work, although Hamas sympathizers in the west will probably buy into it. As for the real culprits, the IDF is still searching for them:
The Israel Security Agency said last week it believed that two "Hamas activists from Hebron" were behind the teens' disappearances. It identified them as Marwan Qawasmeh, 29, and Amar Abu-Isa, 32.
Within days of the teenagers' disappearance, Israeli security forces began conducting extensive hunts for them and their abductors, searching homes and detaining large numbers of Palestinians.
Palestinian medical sources told CNN on Tuesday that man was fatally shot in the chest in the West Bank, making him the sixth Palestinian to be killed by the Israeli military since the disappearance.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, suggested Monday that the Palestinian Authority also bore some responsibility for what happened.
"It's clear that the terrorists came from areas under Palestinian Authority control and returned to territories under Palestinian Authority control," he said.
Regev urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to annul his pact with Hamas.
Abbas called an emergency meeting of his own. The Palestinian leadership is expected to meet Tuesday to discuss the developments.
If Abbas wants an excuse to split with Hamas, he's got it. It has always been a marriage of convenience between the two factions, and Abbas might see an opportunity to separate himself from Hamas while generating some good will with the rest of the world.
In the meantime, Israel must decide how far to go to punish Hamas. There appears to be no desire for another "Operation Cast Lead" where ground troops would be used, No reserves have been called up - yet. But going after missile sites and leadership targets will no doubt continue for a few days.