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Israel Eases Blockade; Hamas Steps Up War

The prevailing topic of discussion here is the Carmel fire and its implications — at least one political career is in crisis amid the torrent of recriminations and dire warnings about Israel’s overall readiness for catastrophe — but the war to the southwest is still going on. Hamas has kicked things up a notch, in fact.

Things had already begun to heat up last month. On one busy occasion, Hamas spent a full night shooting Qassams into the western Negev, then capped it off with a long-range Grad strike and seven mortars, one of which contained phosphorus.

A few days ago, two armed terrorists were killed by the IDF as they attempted to plant explosives at the border fence near Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Yesterday (Wednesday), during the day, Hamas shot mortars into a Negev kibbutz, damaging a civilian home. In the evening, another mortar barrage from Gaza into the Eshkol border region injured the head of security at one of the area kibbutzim; he was airlifted to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva with shrapnel that landed in his neck while he was standing outside his house. Local Israelis have been instructed to stay indoors until further notice and the IAF has struck three locations in the Gaza Strip, at least two of which are confirmed to have been Hamas training sites.

Now, that wasn’t all that happened yesterday. The Israeli security cabinet also voted to ease the blockade on Gaza.

That kind of thing obviously doesn’t impress Hamas, so the Israelis are flapping their hands at the rest of the world. “The cabinet announcement,” so Haaretz tells us, “stipulated that alongside Israel’s efforts to better the economic situation of the population in Gaza, Israel would demand that the international community continue its boycott of the Hamas regime and continue taking steps to prevent Hamas from attaining missiles.”

I’ll leave the obvious riposte unspoken. Suffice it to say Israeli citizens are now stuck inside their homes — again — to protect themselves from Palestinian rockets. Blockade or no blockade, Hamas wants a war. The odds are growing that they will get their wish.