"Had Hamas wanted to break all the rules, it would have fired rockets at Herzliya or at Ben-Gurion Airport. It possesses the means and the capability," wrote Alex Fishman in the daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot. "But Hamas does not want to break all the rules. It just wants to test the limits and while doing so, to set new game rules."
The escalation is a test for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accused his predecessor Ehud Olmert of not responding forcefully enough to the hundreds of rockets from Gaza that preceded Operation Cast Lead.
Adding to the tension, Israeli military officials say that Gaza militants have armed themselves with Kornet missiles that can penetrate the armor of tanks.
Hamas has controlled Gaza since a violent takeover in June 2007. After declaring Gaza a "hostile" territory, Israel imposed an economic and military blockade on the strip. The economic blockade was partially relaxed following the international uproar over Israel's deadly intercept of a flotilla that challenged the blockade.