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There are common interests in a Gaza truce

June 17, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Israelis, especially in military circles, are preparing to launch a new war on Gaza after several Palestinian groups decided to launch rockets into Israel. The Israeli army cannot otherwise break the rules of the game with Hamas and launch another war against Gaza without such an excuse.

From an Israeli point of view, the resistance movement is focusing a great deal of its energies on creating a sense of stability in Gaza, and Israel no longer considers Hamas to be responsible for breaking the ceasefire and ensuring security and stability in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, the Israeli military is working to improve its capabilities in order to address the threats posed by ceasefire violations, tunnels and other forms of infiltration.

The Israeli authorities, especially the military and intelligence agencies, know very well that the intention behind launching the latest series of rockets from the Gaza Strip is to re-ignite hostilities with Hamas and that the people responsible want nothing more than for this to happen. The reality is not that complicated and such people will not stop until they achieve the outcome that they want.

What renders the situation more and more complicated in Gaza is that Israel wants Hamas to remain weak and unorganised so that the movement will not be able to challenge it, while allowing it to be strong enough to contain the situation in Gaza, which is in the common interest. The movement is capable of doing this as it cleans up the people’s wounds and tries to deliver and cater to their needs despite their pain and suffering.

Interestingly enough, in light of the Israeli military’s desire to maintain the relative calm and the ceasefire, more than 82 per cent of Israelis expect a new round of fighting with the factions in the Gaza Strip in response to calls for a new war next summer. Hamas’s own capabilities and influence are getting stronger as it attempts to rebuild Gaza’s infrastructure and tunnels.

Even so, the Israeli demands for an attack on Gaza are actually very few in number; they tend to ignore the fact that the army learned many lessons during its ground invasion last year. The results of that offensive proved that the Israeli army needed to take a step back as it was not prepared to deal with the threat posed by the tunnels.

In any case, Israel views the rockets that are being launched by Palestinian factions in Gaza as a sign of internal strife within the enclave and not part of Hamas’s strategic plan to counter Israel. Despite Israel’s increased talk of the need to respond to rocket fire, these sentiments all go back to its desire not to have to deal with it through a ground invasion, from which it has little to gain, even if it causes yet more damage in the coastal territory.

This reaction is indicative of a new political outlook, especially regarding Hamas, which Israel has described as a force that must be “held under siege and contained” rather than “confronted militarily”. It seems that Israel today is the only entity in the world that is working towards maintaining the ceasefire in Gaza; it has allowed many international third parties to act as a mediator between Tel Aviv and Hamas. It is for this reason that many are arguing that we may not see much of a confrontation unfold this summer in Gaza itself. The tactic will be to threaten the factions in Gaza with the possibility of a response rather than an actual offensive.

All of this does not in any way mean that Israel has any type of insurance policy when it comes to responding to scattered rocket fire from Gaza; the question of whether Salafis are in conflict with Hamas does not concern Israel because as far as it is concerned, Hamas is responsible as the de facto government. Moreover, Hamas will continue to be held accountable if the ceasefire is broken because it has not and will not change its political ideology when it comes to Israel.

Translated from Felesteen newspaper, 15 June, 2015.

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