Israel launched air strikes against 34 targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday of this week.
The attack followed the discovery of the bodies of three teenage Israeli settlers who had gone missing in the West Bank.
Settlers are Israelis who live on occupied Palestinian land in settlements that are illegal under international law.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an angry statement at an emergency session of his security cabinet.
“They were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by human animals,” he said. “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.”
Hamas denies involvement in the abduction. Its spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said, “Israel is attempting to make way for aggression against us.
“No Palestinian group has taken responsibility for the action, and thus the Israeli version can’t be trusted.”
It is unlikely that Hamas would have killed the settlers if it had kidnapped them.
It was able to secure the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011 in exchange for just one captive.
President Mahmoud Abbas is leader of the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank. He convened an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership to discuss the latest developments.
It remains to be seen what effect these events will have on a recent unity agreement signed with Hamas. In June the Palestinian Authority and Hamas formed a joint administration for the West Bank and Gaza for the first time in seven years.
Hamas has controlled the Gaza strip since 2007.
Israel had already begun to make the Palestinians “pay” for the kidnapping before the bodies were discovered.
Israeli forces have killed five Palestinians since the settlers went missing and arrested more than 400.
US president Barack Obama has been silent about these deaths, but issued a statement on the settlers. “I extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel,” he said.
He did not mention the name of Yusuf Abu-Zagher, an 18 year old Palestinian who was shot by Israeli forces on the same day.
He urged restraint—but Israel’s president Shimon Peres said, “We must punish these terrorist criminals”.
The crisis for US power in the region threaten’s Israel’s dominance. Now most of the voices in Israel are calling for blood.