Experts on both sides said the outcome of the flare-up had essentially restored the situation to what it was.
“The main title of this round is ‘Rules of Engagement,’ ” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza. Hamas and Islamic Jihad argued that Israel was trying to change the rules of the 2014 cease-fire over the past few months, he said, by bombing targets in the Gaza Strip such as attack tunnels leading to Israel, or by launching the deadly strike against the Islamic Jihad post over the weekend
Now, Professor Abusada said by phone, the groups believe that their rocket and mortar fire had succeeded in sending “a crystal-clear message to Israel that if Israel targets Palestinians and bombs Gaza, it should expect Palestinian retaliation.”
Israel, for its part, has been taking aggressive action on various fronts to deter its enemies, including recent wide-scale action against Iranian targets in Syria. With the recent hostilities in Gaza, experts said, Israel had reminded Hamas of its air superiority and intelligence dominance and had driven home the point that testing Israel was not worth it.
“At end of day, we have taken some very effective strikes against the positions and elements of the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” said Yossi Kuperwasser, a former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. That, he said, “led the terror organizations to conclude that it is against their interest to continue at this point in time.”
Mr. Kuperwasser said the groups had “paid a heavy price.”
“They know it better than most people who are not familiar with the infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” he said, adding, “We are going back to where we were.”
The Israeli military said its targets had included drone storage facilities, rocket manufacturing sites and naval weaponry. Expecting an onslaught, the militants deserted their posts well ahead of time. The last wave of Israeli airstrikes ended around 1 a.m. Other stated targets included military compounds and training facilities, which might have been not much more than patches of empty ground.