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The Rockets and the Resignation

The Rockets and the Resignation

On November 17, 2018, Posted by , In Information Reports,Middle East, With Comments Off on The Rockets and the Resignation
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Written by Steven Tibbitts

Fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip this past week is culminating in a series of Israeli political changes that could produce another major conflict between the two sides.

On November 11, an Israeli special forces team operating inside the Gaza Strip was confronted by a Hamas squad, resulting in a firefight that left one Israeli soldier and seven Hamas members dead (Al-Maghrabi and Williams 2018; Najjar 2018). This engagement was followed by Hamas and its allies launching over 400 rockets into Israel, which Israel countered with airstrikes (Al-Maghrabi and Williams 2018; Najjar 2018; Meir Emit Intelligence and Terrorist Information Center 2018). The number of rockets was described as unprecedented by Israelis (Meir Emit Intelligence and Terrorist Information Center 2018; Glick 2018). Currently a peace treaty brokered by Egypt has restored uneasy calm, but tensions remain high as does the potential for conflict (Najjar 2018; Al-Maghrabi and Williams 2018; Aronson 2018).

The Gaza Strip is populated by approximately two million Palestinians living in dire economic conditions, while governance is left to the Islamist terror group Hamas (Najjar 2018). As a result of Hamas’ political and military gains in the Strip, Gaza has been under an intensive Israeli blockade for 11 years that has left the area nearly unlivable in the view of international observers (Aronson 2018; Kenner 2018; Nugent 2018; OCHA 2018). Gazans face a sinking economy, deteriorating infrastructure, and a dropping of the already dismal standard of living that is exacerbated by the blockade and Hamas’ own poor ruling of the enclave (Aronson 2018; The Economist 2018; Nugent 2018). Moreover, the last six months have seen massive Gazan protests against the blockade and the loss of Palestinian land in 1948; Israeli forces have killed over 220 Palestinians during these “March of Return” demonstrations (Al-Maghrabi and Williams 2018). However, polls suggest that many Gazans do not necessarily support Hamas (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research 2018; Pollack 2018).

In Israel, a political crisis is brewing over the recent fighting. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned from his post after the Israeli government accepted a ceasefire with Hamas, claiming that this represented a “capitulation to terror,” a perspective shared by a gleeful Hamas (Stratfor 2018; Caspit 2018; Asharq Al-Awsat 2018). Israelis from across the political spectrum, especially those in the south affected by rocket attacks, have condemned the ceasefire (Stratfor 2018; Glick 2018; Zieve 2018). Liberman’s departure, and the ensuing reaction of other members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightist government, is spurring the call for new elections being held early next year (Caspit 2018; Stratfor 2018). These elections could dramatically change the composition of the Israeli government and possibly even bring down Netanyahu; however, it is likely that all of those currently challenging Netanyahu will do so on the basis of promoting a stronger military response to Hamas (Caspit 2018; Stratfor 2018).

The Gaza Conflict seems to have no good or easy solutions. On one hand, the Israeli blockade and restrictions on aid into Gaza may be strengthening Hamas’ hand by pushing ordinary Gazans into terrible economic straits. However, the fact also remains that Hamas is a terrorist group with aims to reclaim all the land that is now Israel and, along with other groups such as Islamic Jihad, receives funding from Iran (Middle East Eye 2017; Meir Emit Intelligence and Terrorist Information Center 2018; The Economist 2018). Israel and Hamas are at continual loggerheads, and no political or economic solutions have been able to bridge the lack of trust between the mortal enemies. Caught in between are the citizens of Gaza who suffer the most.

Works Cited

Al-Maghrabi, Nidal and Dan Williams. 2018. “Gaza-Israel frontier calms as enemies warily cease fire.” Reuters, November 13. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-violence/gaza-israel-frontier-calms-as-enemies-warily-cease-fire-idUSKCN1NI0RS

Ari Gross, Judah and Times of Israel Staff. 2018. “Hamas official says neither side really wants another war in Gaza.” Times of Israel, October 17. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-official-says-neither-side-really-wants-another-war-in-gaza/

Aronson, Geoffrey. 2018. “Gaza on the verge.” Middle East Institute, November 16. Accessed November 17, 2018. http://www.mei.edu/publications/gaza-verge

Asharq Al-Awsat. 2018. “Hamas: Lieberman’s Resignation ‘Political Victory’ for Gaza.” Asharq Al-Awsat, November 15. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1463976/hamas-lieberman%E2%80%99s-resignation-political-victory-gaza

Caspit, Ben. 2018. “Is Israel heading toward snap elections?” Al-Monitor, November 16. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/11/israel-benjamin-netanyahu-avigdor-liberman-snap-elections.html

Glick, Caroline. 2018. “Why Israel let Hamas win.” Jerusalem Post, November 15. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Why-Israel-let-Hamas-win-572007

Kenner, David. 2018. “The Thin Line Between War and Peace in Gaza.” Atlantic, May 30. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/05/israel-hamas-gaza-palestine-netanyahu/561524/

Meir Emit Intelligence and Terrorist Information Center. 2018. “Escalation in the Gaza Strip (The situation on the ground as of 12:00 noon, November 13).” Meir Emit Intelligence and Terrorist Information Center, November 14. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/escalation-gaza-strip-situation-ground-1200-noon-november-13/

Middle East Eye. 2017. “Hamas in 2017: The document in full.” Middle East Eye, May 2. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/hamas-charter-1637794876

Najjar, Farah. 2018. “Palestinians sceptical Gaza ceasefire will hold.” Al-Jazeera, November 14. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/palestinians-sceptical-gaza-truce-hold-181114101544472.html

Nugent, Ciera. 2018. “The Gaza Strip Is Only 25 Miles Long. Here’s How It Became the Center of Decades of Conflict.” Time, May 30. Accessed November 17, 2018. http://time.com/5276048/gaza-conflict-history/

OCHA. “Gaza Blockade.” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.ochaopt.org/theme/gaza-blockade

Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. 2018. “Public Opinion Poll No -69.” Published September 20. Accessed November 17, 2018. http://pcpsr.org/en/node/736

Pollock, David. 2018. “New Polls Show Most Gazans Want Israeli Jobs, Not Hamas Mobs.” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, October 29. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/fikraforum/view/new-polls-show-most-gazans-want-jobs-not-mobs

Stratfor. 2018. “A Gaza Cease-Fire Threatens Israel’s Government.” Stratfor, November 15. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/gaza-cease-fire-threatens-israel-government

The Economist. 2018. “How to end the endless conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” The Economist, May 17. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/05/17/how-to-end-the-endless-conflict-between-israel-and-the-palestinians

Zieve, Tamara. 2018. “Southern Front: Was this the last straw for the ‘resilient’ South?” Jerusalem Post, November 15. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.jpost.com/Israel News/Southern-Front-Was-this-the-last-straw-for-the-resilient-South-572025

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