The leader of the militant group Hamas viewed the rubble of his bombed office in Gaza on Wednesday, appearing in public as an uneasy calm took hold after two days of cross-border Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli air strikes.
But while violence eased amid Egyptian mediation, Israeli forces along the Gaza frontier and militants in the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave were on hair-trigger footing.
No deaths have been reported in Gaza and Israel since the latest clashes erupted on Monday. Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile interceptors have destroyed some Palestinian rockets and militants in Gaza vacated facilities hit in the air strikes.
Towns in southern Israel reopened classrooms and schools were also operating in Gaza, where streets were filled with traffic.
Hamas’s top leader, Ismail Haniya, emerged from a secret location to see what was left of his wrecked office, targeted by an Israeli air strike on Monday.
“The occupation,” he said, referring to Israel, “should not be under the illusion it can break the will of our people.”
A senior Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, retorted: “Haniya should find himself a new office before he starts sounding off.”
Israeli soldiers are seen next to mobile artillery units near the border with Gaza, in southern Israel, on March 27, 2019. (Reuters)
Security is a major issue for Netanyahu, in power for a decade and beset by corruption allegations that he denies. He is facing his strongest electoral challenge from a centrist coalition led by a former general.