It was no surprise that, even while negotiating with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement through Egyptian mediators to defuse the tension in the Gaza Strip following the arrest of the movement's senior figure Bassam Al-Saadi in Jenin last week, Israel launched an aerial bombardment of the besieged territory. Such deception is in its nature, so there is no need to tire ourselves looking for the reasons for its treacherous attack. It is worth remembering, though, that another General Election is in the offing and interim Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid needs to show his credentials as a strong leader in the face of an electoral challenge from the extreme right-wing. It was the same with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel's archenemy Iran may well be the real target here, after both Lapid and Netanyahu failed to convince the US to launch a military strike against it, and Lapid has failed to form a military alliance — "a Middle East NATO" — with Arab allies against the Iranians. So why not target Iran's allies in the region, such as Islamic Jihad in Palestine, which gets financial and military support from Tehran. The Secretary-General of the movement, Ziad Al-Nakhalah, was actually in Tehran last week. And I wonder if this attack planned and agreed during the visit of US President Joe Biden to Israel last month.
Whatever the reasons for Israel's latest military offensive against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, this is the standard doctrine followed by the occupation state. It is a destructive presence in the region and continues to give its devastating military operations names which promote its twisted narrative. Hence, "Operation Breaking Dawn" fired missiles at civilian areas and killed dozens of Palestinians, including children and women while Israel claimed that "militants" were the targets. Hundreds more were injured as their homes were blown up around them. All of this in order to kill two Islamic Jihad officials; Tayseer Al-Jaabari and Khaled Saeed Mansour were alleged to have been planning to attack Israel. Palestinian civilians paid the price of Israel's deadly impunity.
There has been relative calm in Gaza since the Sword of Jerusalem battle in May last year which united Palestinians across their occupied land and beyond. They acted as one to pull Gaza out of its isolation imposed by the unjust Israel-led siege and to defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. The leaders of Hamas managed, with tact and intelligence, to link the resistance in the Gaza Strip to the city of Jerusalem in the rules of engagement, uniting Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Palestinian territories occupied since 1948 — Israel — in the struggle against the Israeli enemy. The Palestinian people rallied behind the resistance, regardless of their own affiliations, which not only came from Hamas, but also Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Brigades and Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which separated from the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas's puppet Palestinian Authority.
A joint operations room swung into action as part of an unprecedented united front. It will go down in history and remain imprinted on the collective memory. Israel will not forget what happened, and will be in constant fear of its internal front cracking and the collapse of the state with Palestinian resistance from the river to the sea.
For the first time since the Nakba, the Palestinian struggle has gathered pace in every part of occupied historic Palestine, thus thwarting the Israeli plot to separate Gaza from its Palestinian surroundings. From its stronghold in Gaza, the resistance managed to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque, and put the occupied city of Jerusalem under its protection.
While such unity is still in Zionist minds, it has fallen away from the Palestinians. They have not used it to forge a new and young national leadership to lead the liberation process instead of the puppet authority created by the Oslo Accords. Israel used its latest assault on Gaza to destroy the united front and the other positive results of the Sword of Jerusalem battle. The occupation state wants to have us all believe that the West Bank and 1948-occupied Palestine are entirely separate from Gaza; to end armed resistance in the West Bank; and to confront popular Palestinian solidarity in the rest of the occupied land. To achieve this, it mobilised ten battalions of border guards in Palestinian towns in the areas occupied in 1948 to confront solidarity demonstrations condemning the occupation, like those that took place in 2021.
The Israelis also want to drive wedges between the resistance factions and thus destroy the joint operations room. This is why they tried to keep Hamas neutral in the latest offensive by stating openly that they were not targeting the movement but were intent on hitting Al-Quds Brigades of Islamic Jihad due to their role in confronting military incursions across the occupied West Bank. Jenin, for example, has become home to armed resistance cells that challenge Israeli security forces and are not under the control of Abbas's PA security agents.
Al-Quds Brigades responded to this blatant aggression by bombing illegal Israeli settlements in the south of the occupation state, injuring many Israelis. The occupied city of Jerusalem and the settlement of Sderot faced rocket fire, as did other targets in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip, including a building in the city of Ashkelon. Israeli websites published a video of the building with smoke rising from it.
The puppet PA and its security coordination agents were missing completely from the scene and were content to watch this unfold as Palestinians were killed and their funerals took place; and as their homes were destroyed. Was the PA happy with these images because Israel was saving it from having to tackle these rebels? The PA is now a burden on the Palestinians, and getting rid of it is the first step towards liberation from the Israeli occupation.
Gaza is defending the dignity of an entire nation, and pays the price of this with the blood of its children. It is the fortress of dignity in a nation whose rulers have betrayed them and their people continue to be disappointed. Gaza is the last fortress of resistance in the nation today, and tomorrow it will be the first fortress of victory and the liberation of Palestine, God willing, with its strong people who are on the true path, unafraid of their enemy and unharmed by those who let them down.
There is nothing more beautiful to end with than the words about Gaza written by the late poet Mahmoud Darwish: "Gaza does not have horses, or jet fighters, or magic wands, or offices in capitals. Gaza frees herself of our attributes, our language, and of her conquerors all at once. And when we run into her, once upon a dream, she may not recognise us because she was born of fire while we were born of waiting and crying over our homes."
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.