Today’s bus bombing in central Tel Aviv–the first in more than six years–injured twenty-three people and will likely rule out any cease fire in the Gaza conflict in the coming days. The location of the blast is significant: it occurred a short distance away from the Kirya, the nerve center of Israel’s military. The attack was also timed to coincide with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Israel, and sends a message of contempt to the U.S.

The likely result is that Israel will continue with plans for a ground invasion of Gaza, just as it used a successful ground assault on terrorists in the West Bank during Operation Defensive Shield following a series of terror attacks in the spring of 2002. It is not clear that the bombing originated from Gaza; it could have come from the West Bank or a terror cell inside Israel. Regardless, it is an escalation Israel cannot ignore.

Hamas claimed credit for the attack, and Gaza residents reportedly celebrated. It is possible that provoking a ground attack is precisely what Hamas–and its sponsor, Iran–wants, either to drag Israel into clashes that will harden international opinion against it, or to distract Israel while a new front is opened by Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border. The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday by that two rockets aimed at Israel, of unknown origin, had been dismantled by the Lebanese Army in southern Lebanon.

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