With Hamas having already gleefully claimed responsibility for the bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv earlier this afternoon in which 21 Israeli were injured, they have surely sent the clearest possible message that their attempts to negotiate a ceasefire with Israel are little more than a smokescreen to buy time for more attacks.

If Prime Minister Netanyahu was on the verge of agreeing to a cessation of the Israeli aerial targeting of Hamas sites in Gaza, the bus bomb has almost certainly thrown a very large spanner into the works. Now, Israeli acceptance of a deal would doubtless be seen by Hamas and by much of the international community as a panicked reaction to the bomb amid fear of such an incident happening again.

The bomb, instead of throwing ceasefire negotiations into clearer focus, has more likely forced both parties away from a deal and condemned the innocent citizens of Gaza, and Israelis living in the south and centre of the country, to more days and nights of bombs, missiles, air raid sirens, and frightening uncertainty.

Continued rocket fire from Gaza under the banner of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or any other radical Islamist group bent on the destruction of the State of Israel, will only ensure that the war goes on and increase the likelihood of Netanyahu and his team coming to a decision to insert ground troops into the territory in order to root out those who continue to pose a threat to Israeli security, while at the same time further endangering the lives of their own citizens in Gaza.

Those who were cheering and dancing on the streets of Gaza at the news of the Tel Aviv bus bomb may soon reflect to their cost that their joy was premature and the incident only served to extend Israel’s operation to nullify the capability of the terrorists in their midst.