Israel-Gaza Violence Flares Israeli soldiers taking position on the Israel-Gaza border during March 2019 clashes. Photo: AP/Tsafrir Abayov

March 25, 2019

A rocket destroys a house in Mishmeret, 20 miles north of Tel Aviv, and injures seven people. In response, Israel Defense Forces planes bomb suspected Gaza military locations 12 hours later and injure seven Palestinians. Thirty rockets then are fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. Hamas neither claims nor denies responsibility for the rockets, but Egypt eventually brokers a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, neither of which is interested in an all-out war.

The violence occurs two weeks before a Knesset election in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a challenge from the new Blue and White list, led by retired Gen. Benny Gantz. How to deal with Gaza is a major issue in the campaign, as both Netanyahu and Gantz present themselves as tougher on Hamas. Facing an opposition led by Gantz and another former IDF chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, Netanyahu runs on a platform focused on maintaining a strong defense strategy.

The explosive military exchange takes place while Netanyahu is in the United States for meetings with President Donald Trump. The prime minister shortens his trip because of the bombings, forcing him to cancel dinner with Trump and a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.