In the wake of a complex property dispute between Jews and Arabs in East Jerusalem, waves of violence rocked Israel in May. The most acute threats came from the relentless Hamas rocket salvos. Israel’s remarkable Iron Dome air-defense system neutralized most of the rockets. However, some snuck through, hitting civilian homes, with one projectile striking the strategic Ashkelon gas pipeline. Israel responded by striking key Hamas leaders as well as rocket production and storage facilities. Hamas has an estimated 30,000 rockets in its arsenal, enough to sustain a lengthy conflict. Israeli officials watched nervously as riots spread in towns and cities with large Arab communities.
This is only the latest in a string of skirmishes between Israel and Hamas dating back decades. However, there are other story lines to follow. Hamas is reeling from a recent intra-Palestinian political defeat, and it wants to reassert itself through a conflict with Israel. To that end, it has allowed itself to be wielded by Iran as a proxy in a gray-zone war that was months in the making. The Biden administration, obsessed with providing sanctions relief to Iran, is of little use as an honest broker.