Targeting Jerusalem is an enormous escalation and very risky, much more so [than] rockets toward Tel Aviv. Rocketing Tel Aviv to my mind guaranteed an eventual Israeli ground invasion, but attempting to bombard Jerusalem just exacerbates the situation to an exponential degree. Blake Hounshell tweeted earlier that Hamas firing at Jerusalem is the equivalent of scoring on your own goal, and I think that analogy is an apt one. It says to me that Hamas is getting desperate, and I think this move is going to backfire in a big way, both in terms of creating a more ferocious Israeli response and costing Hamas important points in the court of public opinion. Hamas is now acting in ways that could cause large numbers of Palestinian casualties and damage to Muslim holy sites, and I think that there will be consequences for this strategy.
Daniel Byman goes over Hamas' options:
Israel's usual strategy [of holding host governments responsible for the actions of the militants] might not bring about such decisive results this time. Hamas will find it hard to pull itself back from the brink and start stopping others' rocket fire. Jabari's death has infuriated Hamas' military wing, and whoever replaces him will be just as militant, if not more. Such a leader will press for revenge and warn Hamas' governing arm that his troops might well join rival groups if Hamas throws in the towel. After all, Hamas is trying to be both a resistance movement and a government. In many ways, it has succeeded as a government, establishing law and order and delivering basic services in Gaza. But Hamas must take care not to lose credibility among Palestinians for its willingness to fight — and die — in the struggle against Israel. So Hamas has tried to walk a fine line by allowing some attacks — and, at times, even participating in them — to maintain its militant street cred while shying away from an all-out assault that would push Israel to repeat Cast Lead.
Hussein Ibish wrote yesterday that "at least some forces in Gaza evidently have no interest in containing the conflict":
By targeting Israel's main city, militants in Gaza have performed a major escalation of their own, at least as provocative as Israel's assassination of Jabari. Israel, it appears, escalated, but wanted a limited war. Others, it seems, want a major war. Whoever is funding, arming and encouraging the factions in Gaza that are firing missiles at Tel Aviv clearly have no interest in a contained or limited conflict.
(Photo: A picture taken from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows a rockets being launched from the Gaza strip into Israel on November 16, 2012. Israeli warplanes carried out multiple new air strikes on the Palestinian territory, including several hits on Gaza City, the third day of an intensive campaign which the military has said is aimed at stamping out rocket fire on southern Israel. By Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)