Israel’s attack on Gaza on Friday It has been weeks, Palestinian observers say, a deliberate act to gain public legitimacy, as Israel prepares for new elections in November.
On Friday, Israel launched rockets across the besieged Palestinian enclave, killing 10 people, including a 5-year-old girl, a 23-year-old woman, as well as Taysir al-Jabari, a commander of the army wing. Islamic Jihad.
The Islamic Jihad group said it fired more than 100 rockets at Israel in retaliation for the airstrikes. Violence raises fears of another war on Israel’s Gaza, just 15 months later a month-long conflict killing more than 260 people.
“Everybody is nervous, there is no interest in war,” said Tamer Qarmout from the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, who is from Gaza and has family there.
“Gaza has seen four or five major conflicts in the last 15 years. We are still talking about the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. Gaza has never really recoveredit just lives from conflict to conflict,” he told Al Jazeera.
The deadly Israeli attacks come after Israeli forces arrested Bassam al-Saadi, a senior member of the armed group, earlier this week. Al-Saadi was captured during an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin in which a teenager was killed.
‘Shocked and amazed’
Prior to the assassination of al-Jabari, Israel tightened its encirclement on the coastal region, having 15 years of brutal blockadeby closing all border crossings.
Israel also closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it prepared to respond to al-Saadi’s arrest.
Friday’s attack happened after previous attacks, including drone strikes on the Gaza Strip, leading some observers to suggest that the current escalation was a calculated move. The West Bank has also seen an increase in attacks by Israeli soldiers and settler as well as Palestinian arrests and demolitions.
“Israel is arming West Bank settlers to shoot and kill Palestinians, not to [do so] under the command of the army. So what we’re seeing right now is the strengthening of Israel’s military strategy of ‘shock and awe’, said Mariam Barghouti, a researcher at Ramallah.
“Also keep in mind that Israeli elections will take place this November, and there is a tendency for Israeli leaders to use Gaza as a weapon to rally Israel’s settled population.”
‘It’s a contest’
Israel appeared intent on escalating the situation as Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Thursday that Israel “will not shy away from the use of force to restore normal life in the south of the country, and we will not stop the policy of arresting terrorist fighters in Israel”.
Nour Odeh, a former Palestinian government spokesman and political analyst, said the latest attack could be politically motivated.
“Gaza is injured. It has not recovered yet. Hamas and Jihad tried to stay calm and give everyone a chance to breathe. No one is looking for escalation – except Lapid,” said Odeh.
“It was a contest to prove who was stronger. Lapid wants to prove that he has what it takes, even though he has no military background,” she added.
‘Gazans will pay’
Analysts say there are intertwined electoral influences driving Israel’s decision to start another war.
As is the case with most summers, the current ruling coalition in Israel is meant to look hawkish in the lead. election cycle in which the Likud Party – led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – is poised to make a comeback.
It also comes at a time when the US is gearing up for the midterm elections, and with Democrats lifted by a handful of minor legislative victories, the Biden administration will be more averse to asking Israel to stop the elections. attacks or attribution for war crimes such as the murder of a young girl and other civilians on Friday.
“Israel is using the Gazans as a sacrificial pawn in their ongoing struggle for power,” said Tariq Kenney-Shawa, a US-based policy fellow at Al Shabaka – The Palestine Policy. and are acting with retribution because they know no one can or will hold them accountable. Network, an independent, nonprofit consulting organization.
“The fact that no rockets were fired from Gaza before Israel decided to unilaterally start a massacre, despite the tightening of the blockade and the assassination of PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] leaders, it is evidence that concerns about Israel’s security are cast aside.
“Israel has shown a strong desire to attack the PIJ, so the PIJ will have to respond as they pointed out. This will continue to escalate and Gazans will pay the price.”