Sources in the Israeli military say the next 24 hours will be crucial to determining the future of the ceasefire between the Israeli government and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, after an exchange of strikes between the two sides left the five-month long ceasefire in apparent shambles.
The conflict started when Israeli forces raided a house in central Gaza which they allege was the starting point of a tunnel being constructed to kidnap an Israeli soldier, sparking a clash that killed one Hamas fighter. This led to an Israeli air-strike which killed another five people.
This led Hamas to launch a barrage of more than 40 rockets into Israel. This sparked yet another Israeli air strike, which reportedly killed a member of Islamic Jihad. Israel also closed off border crossings to the strip, while Foreign Minister hit out at the “blatant violations of the truce.”
The Israeli military does not, however, see its own strikes into Gaza, including the deployment of ground forces which sparked the latest conflict, as violations of the truce, and touted it as a “pinpoint operation.”
Israel and Hamas agreed to the Egypt-brokered ceasefire in June, in which both sides halted hostilities in return for an opening of the Gaza border to humanitarian goods. Both sides have frequently accused the other of violating the ceasefire since then, and Israel shuts the Gaza border on a fairly regular basis. Still, this is the most significant conflict between the sides since the fragile ceasefire went into effect, and it remains to be seen if it can survive.