Hamas has withdrawn its 900-strong rocket prevention force “to protest” against Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip

“The field forces that are posted near the border with Israel were withdrawn to protest the latest escalation and Israeli attacks against Gaza,” a security source said on condition of anonymity.

Those attacks are believed to be airstrikes on Thursday night, ordered in response to a rocket attack on the southern city of Netivot earlier that day.

The unit, charged with enforcing the shaky ceasefire, is in addition to the regular Hamas security forces stationed along the border with Israel.

Analysts point out that rocket attacks have increased in recent weeks, with 14 attacks in January – three times as many as the 2013 average.

This weekend, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz threatened a ground invasion to topple the Hamas government if the rocket fire continued.

“If the drip of rockets from Gaza continues, we will have no choice but to go inside [Gaza] in order to eliminate Hamas and allow the Palestinian Authority to regain control of the Gaza Strip,” he said.