Terrorism & Insurgency

Hamas incendiary attacks on Israel unlikely to provoke war, high risk of short-term escalation from unintended casualties

29 June 2018

Key Points

  • Hamas and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have demonstrated a willingness to minimise casualties and avoid targeting assets that would be most likely to trigger a war situation.
  • Hamas’s leadership is attempting to establish a level of impunity for attacks on Israel, and the IDF likely considers that at present there is no clear alternative to a Hamas government in Gaza, limiting the available political objectives that could be achieved by an engagement.
  • Israel will likely look to delay any conflict until its full defensive infrastructure is completed in the next 12 months, and the exact terms of the US administration’s peace proposal are known.


Hamas fired 12 rockets and mortar bombs at southern Israel in the early morning of 27 June.

Palestinians in central Gaza launch a kite loaded with incendiaries towards Israel on 8 June. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)Palestinians in central Gaza launch a kite loaded with incendiaries towards Israel on 8 June. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

Hamas claimed to have launched 19 rockets at southern Israel on 27 June, with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) stating that the Iron Dome missile defence system had intercepted three of the ballistic projectiles. No Israeli casualties were reported. The rocket fire was in response to an Israeli airstrike and tank fire on a vehicle in the Nusseirat camp and Hamas observation posts in north Gaza late at night on 25 June. On 20 June, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) issued a joint claim of responsibility for launching rockets into Israel, stating that any Israeli targeting of teams attempting to launch incendiary kites from Gaza would be considered justification for rocket or mortar attacks.

Since mid-April, Hamas has co-opted grassroots movements in Gaza to use kites and inflated balloons with incendiary material and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to cause significant damage to agricultural land and nature reserves in southern Israel’s Negev region neighbouring Gaza. Israel’s parliamentary foreign affairs and defence committee estimates that over 400 fires have resulted and at least USD1.92 million of damage caused.

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