Israel: Hamas will suffer if rocket attacks continue (SCWU #287)

1. According to the Jerusalem Post, a senior Israeli military official said the Islamist Hamas movement is probably not responsible for a recent upsurge in rocket fire out of Gaza where it rules, but will be made to suffer if the salvoes continue. The official, who declined to be named, said Hamas should intervene to squash the violence, which he blamed on smaller militant groups backed by Iran. Hamas accused Israel on Thursday of exacerbating tensions and said it bore full responsibility for the renewed troubles. After months of unusual quiet along the fence that separates southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, some 20 missile launches have been detected in the last month, with five fired towards the Israeli city of Ashkelon overnight. Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system knocked out all five projectiles and the military responded with a series of strikes across Gaza, reviving memories of 2011 and 2012, when such tit-for-tat firing became the norm.

2. According to Reuters, in a statement that suggested a re-run of a sharp escalation in tension last year, North Korea has demanded that South Korea and the United States halt annual military drills due in February and March, saying they were a direct provocation. In 2013, North Korea said it would retaliate against any hostile moves by striking at the United States, Japan and South Korea, triggering a military buildup on the Korean peninsula and months of fiery rhetoric. The reclusive North has regularly denounced...

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