After nine people were killed in southern Israel on Thursday in an attack on a bus, there has been a steady exchange of rockets over southern Israel and Israeli bombs on the Gaza Strip.
More than 80 rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel until, on Sunday evening, Hamas declared a cease-fire, brokered by Egypt, and West Jerusalem accepted the terms. An additional 12 rockets and mortar shells were fired on Monday, but Israeli officials remained silent in an apparent attempt not to escalate the tension.
Meanwhile, Egypt's military rulers and the Israeli Government also seemed to have staved off any immediate conflict over Israel's killing of four Egyptians in the response to the bus bombing.
So, what do these developments indicate?
First of all, Hamas appears fragile and divided over its actions, nearing a possible September vote in the United Nations General Assembly on recognition of a Palestinian state. The contrast between Saturday's announcement of responsibility of four rockets fired on the Israeli town of Ofakim and the announcement of the cease-fire point to different voices in the organisation.
Secondly, Monday's re-escalation highlights that Hamas has no control over other militant organisations, particularly Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, and/or it sought an advantage by turning a blind eye to these groups' attacks from Egyptian territories.
Thirdly, we have seen the furthest point that both Hamas and Israel can reach. Hamas cannot risk the September vote through escalation and Israel cannot pursue a repeat of Operation Cast Lead --- the invasion of Gaza in 2008/9 --- and risk Washington's "veto" in the Security Council. Such a move could bring the formal Palestinian state that West Jerusalem is trying to avoid.
Fourthly, Hamas showed once again --- despite its weakness and division --- that it exists in the Gaza Strip and that Israel has to negotiate with it if West Jerusalem wants order in the south of the country. The immediate escalation after the bus attack increased Hamas's bargaining powerwith Israel, Egypt and, indirectly, with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.