The shocking attack east of Tel Aviv is pushing Israel closer to reviving a more aggressive anti-terror doctrine. The government and defense chiefs will be hard pressed to consider the failure of the current policy and target Hamas in Gaza directly.
The brutal killing of three Israelis, hacked to death with an axe in the town of Elad, is highlighting the need for stronger moves. Hamas leaders encouraged and celebrated the violence without paying a price so far.
But Israel will now be rethinking its approach of isolating Gaza from events elsewhere. The climate of terror and hatred that enabled many recent attacks has been actively promoted by Hamas, and especially its terror chief Yahya Sinwar.
Journalists from across the political spectrum are now calling on Israel’s leaders to hit Hamas hard, and to target Sinwar for assassination. The pressure will be building up on Prime Minister Bennett, whose lowly approval ratings may sink further.
In the past, assassinating terror leaders proved to be an effective tactic in changing the calculations of Gaza’s armed factions. However, this may require a sustained campaign of pinpoint strikes and could trigger a broader conflict.
Israel in recent months collected precise intelligence on numerous targets in Gaza, including strategic military assets. The security services are also monitoring the movements of high-provile terrorists, who will now be taking stricter safety measures to avoid detection.
With each additional attack and further terror incitement from Gaza, Israel is moving closer to changing the rules of the game. The army has already modified its war plans based on lessons learned in the 2021 conflict.
By this point, both Israel and Hamas are heading down the familiar path of escalation. Without a dramatic change, a large-scale military clash will likely erupt this year.