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Who won Gaza’s battle of the incendiary balloons, Israel or the resistance?

September 2, 2020 at 3:16 pm

Gazans resume flying incendiary balloons to Israel [Anadolu Agency]

The Palestinian Resistance Movement, Hamas, announced on Monday night the end of a period of cross border tension. Thanking Egyptian and Qatari mediation for the understanding with Israel, Hamas stressed that it had won a new battle with the occupation state.

The Head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, made the announcement in Doha, where he is staying at the moment. He stressed that the Qatari mediation was “fruitful” and the “loyal” Qatari efforts brought tranquillity to the besieged coastal territory after a month of “continuous Israeli violations and aggression”.

The Hamas leader insisted that the Palestinian resistance had been successful against the Israeli occupation, in order to regain stability and achieve more than in previous ceasefires. Palestinian analysts praised the resistance leaders for their achievements and thanked the Palestinian people for their patience and support for the resistance.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the resistance decision to stop sending incendiary balloons across the nominal border towards illegal Israeli settlements, calling it a victory for Israel. He said that he could achieve calm for the Israeli settlers surrounding the Gaza Strip without shedding blood, but many Israelis, officials and writers argued that Netanyahu and the army had lost the battle.

READ: Israel strike targets in Gaza

One of the first comments came from the family of an Israeli soldier missing in Gaza, Hadar Goldin. “Again, the Israeli government surrenders to terrorism [sic] and leaves the families of the missing soldiers without a response,” they told local media.

Journalist Ron Ben-Yishai wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth that the Israeli government had not achieved anything and would not be able to keep the peace on the border for any length of time. “In the absence of a long-term and comprehensive agreement, there will be no extended ceasefire,” he claimed. “The agreement did not bring a truce.”

Ben-Yishai mocked the ceasefire agreement. “There is a lack of helium in the whole world, but in Gaza, they have enough. The next round of tension is just a matter of time.” Helium is used by the Palestinians to inflate their incendiary balloons. Sympathising with the families of the soldiers and others missing in Gaza, he added: “Israel did not exert any effort to return the prisoners from Gaza… They were mentioned in the talks, but Israel could not put pressure on Hamas.”

Another journalist, Tal Lev-Ram of Maariv, was equally dismissive and suggested that this was a massive defeat for the Israeli army. “The strongest army in the Middle East is suffering a crisis as it needed to publish a video of a bombing attack to prove that it achieved a victory in the ‘round of balloons’.”

Israel carries out 9 airstrikes in Gaza, in response to kites - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israel carries out airstrikes in Gaza, in response to kites – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israeli writer Noam Amir of Makor Rishon was angry with the Israeli government’s victory claim. “Using the most primitive weapons… the weakest organisation in the Middle East could make Israel lose its balance and pushed it to enter a state of madness.” Hamas, he said, simply refused to face such madness. “Using its primitive weapons it succeeded in dragging Israel into a public awareness battle that ended again with Israel containing the reality in the south and restoring the privileges to this organisation while abstaining from facing it.”

Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri said that this was a defeat for the Israeli government because it could not return the missing soldiers. “There was a chance. We lost it.” Furthermore, he criticised his government colleagues for allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza as part of the deal.

It was no surprise that former Foreign and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticised Netanyahu over the agreement. He complained about “years of forgetting the missing and Israeli prisoners.”

READ: Gazans resume flying incendiary balloons to Israel

According to Amir Bohbot on Walla news website, the round of tension ended with a big defeat for Israel and resounding victory for Hamas. After this agreement, he said, “Hamas is still undermining security in the Western Negev” and the army is still lacking a strategy to defeat the movement, “which continues to build up its power and prepare for the next war without obstacles.”

In summary, it is a fact that Hamas is not stronger than the Israeli army, which has one of the strongest and best-equipped armies in the world as well as more than 200 nuclear warheads. It takes a real sense of duty and commitment to defeat such a force, as well as the knowledge that you are fighting for a just cause and international law is on your side. The main armament of Hamas and the other Palestinian resistance groups is their legitimate right to their land, wherein Israel has carried out its crimes and ethnically cleansed the indigenous population in order to bring in settlers who have neither rights nor links to Palestine.

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