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Is Israel preparing for a new war on Gaza?

By Senussi Bsaikri

Although its major offensive on the Gaza Strip ended in January, Israel’s sporadic attacks have not stopped. Early last Sunday Israeli aircrafts launched raids on targets in the Gaza Strip, wounding seven Palestinians and destroying many buildings. The army justified its aggressive action claiming that a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip. The raids targeted a house, workshops, and a washing machines factory in the northern and central regions of Gaza. These raids were not the first nor would they be the last. They are widely seen as part of a broader mobilization against the territory’s inhabitants.

Many analysts of Palestinian affairs believe that another Israeli war on the Gaza Strip is likely. The Israelis failed to eliminate the resistance groups, headed by Hamas in Gaza. They failed to end their control of the Strip and, therefore, fear that Hamas might succeed in breaking the blockade and take advantage of the “truce” to enhance its military capabilities. The growing frequency of attacks and provocations must be seen in this context.

In the past two weeks, the Israeli media lunched a campaign against Hamas claiming that it has developed missiles capable of reaching central Israel. This campaign could well be the pre-war propaganda designed for internal Israeli consumption and the international community. The Israeli government hope’s that this new war would enable it to achieve what failed to accomplish during the last war. Characteristically, the Israeli government is using “self-defence” and the continuing threat of “terrorists” to Israeli security as a pretext to justify its aggressive plan.

Domestic and international observers are worried about what they see as subtle preparations for more attacks on Palestinians through the issuance of religious edicts justifying the killing of all Palestinians, without exception. A new edict was issued by rabbis permitting the killing of all Palestinians including children. Recent media reports talked about the increasing influence of religious leaders within the Israeli army. Those edicts create the conditions for the possibility of launching a new round of aggression on Gaza.

Israel’s escalation and continued aggression creates a constant state of insecurity and chaos. Although the Palestinian government in Gaza is trying to maintain calm by stopping rocket attacks and seeking a consensus with all factions in this regard, the Israeli aggression can only undermine such efforts. Many militant groups in Gaza reject the government’s decision on the ground that the Israeli military operations against the Palestinians have not stopped. This is precisely what transpired during the past two days as the Ansar al-Sunna claimed responsibility for rocket launches; they are widely believed to be associated with various salafi jihadi groups who also claimed responsibility for the targeting of the Israeli Special Forces east of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza Strip. The group’s spokesman said to United Press International that “This jihadist operation is a response to the attacks of the Zionists against our people in the city of Jerusalem, and in response to repeated provocations of the Zionist enemy in Gaza.”

The Israeli attacks against Palestinians never stopped. They take many forms, including the tightening of the blockade on the Gaza Strip and frequent incursions. The Israeli forces continue to kidnap and detain individuals In West Bank. The construction of the Security Wall and settlements has continued unabated in spite of international condemnation. Also the confiscation of land, demolition of houses and attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, all constitute persistent forms of aggression against the Palestinians and represent the most important factors in escalating tension and chaos in the region.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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