The death of a Palestinian hunger striker, Khader Adnan, in an Israeli prison last week led to a brief exchange of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, and Israeli air attacks on the besieged territory. A regionally mediated truce quickly came into effect, but that was then suddenly broken in the early hours of Tuesday morning by a spate of Israeli air attacks that killed three top leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), as well as 10 others. All civilians. Including children.

This was the start of what Israel has called Operation Shield and Arrow. Factions in Gaza eventually fired rockets back at Israel on Wednesday, but the vast majority have been intercepted by Israel’s missile defence system. For its part, Israel continued to pound Gaza, where at the time of this writing 27 people had died, the majority civilians.

The spectre of war has therefore returned to Gaza, brought home in a shocking manner during a live broadcast by Al Jazeera’s Youmna El Sayed, when the horizon suddenly lit up with rockets launched from across Gaza.

Israel, having launched the attacks on the PIJ, now looks to be trying to de-escalate. And yet at the same time, the indications are that the Israelis are unwilling to give reassurances that the killing of PIJ leaders will stop anytime soon. Some analysts believe that this latest assault on Gaza has essentially been a political gambit more than a military operation: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to face growing opposition at home, where members of the far-right within his cabinet have raised the pressure to attack Gaza. The bet has been that Hamas won’t take the bait and fight back, which would cause a far more expansive conflict—a calculated risk that could lead to far more death and destruction if Netanyahu has guessed wrong.