The current crisis between Hamas and Israel started a few days ago when Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, stepped up missiles launches against Israeli targets.
The origins of the crisis began months earlier.
Iran has recently begun to smuggle new missiles into the Gaza Strip. They are designated as the FAJR-3 and FAJR-5 missiles with solid fuel propellants, longer ranges, improved accuracy and larger warheads. Israel found out about this smuggling operation and is now striking back to destroy such missiles in both the Gaza Strip and in Sudanese warehouses.
The Muslim Brotherhood has long been supportive of Hamas. The Egyptian government is diplomatically trying to defuse the conflict in Gaza. But it is unlikely that Egypt would try to intervene using its military to forestall an Israeli ground attack.
Iran, by increasing tensions between Hamas and Israel, also gains at least short-term distraction from its efforts in Syria to sustain the current Syrian government in power against Sunni-led insurgents. And don’t forget Israeli concerns about Iran nuclear ambitions.
While Israel and Hamas were far apart in their demands, both sides, according to The Associated Press, said they were open to a diplomatic solution — and prepared for further escalation if that failed.
Iran seems to be the real source of the conflict in Gaza by replacing Hamas’ homemade missiles with sophisticated weapons being used in strikes against Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel is aggressively defending itself, the normal reaction in such escalation against that country.
How the United States will respond will be a grave challenge considering that Egypt, Iran, Hamas and Israel are all part of the conflict, not to mention Syria, Iran, Russia, China, the Arab League and, for that matter, the entire Arab Spring.