DAMASCUS, SYRIA (10:00 P.M)- Israel regime forces and Palestinian resistance groups have been trading fire over the past few days, resulting in the murder of Palestinian civilians and the squeals of Israelis. But why exactly is the Gaza Strip on the verge of a Fourth large-scale conflict with Israel and who started this?
Who started this latest round of airstrikes and rocket attacks?
To answer this question; Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced, this Friday evening (14th of July), that they would launch a renewed series of airstrikes upon the Gaza Strip. The reason that was given was a supposed punishment for kites flown into Israel, with flaming objects attached to them.
Earlier that same Friday, Israeli snipers targeted and executed 15 year old, Osman Halas, during a peaceful protest. The fifteen year old child was shot and killed on camera, 100+ demonstrators were also injured and an 18 year old named Mohammed Shurrab.
During early hours of Saturday morning, Israeli Forces carried out a campaign of aerial bombardments upon the Gaza Strip as promised. The armed wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, as well as other factions, returned fire at both Military and Settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip. Both sides fired back and forth, the Israelis inflicting significantly greater damage, on civilian infrastructure in Gaza.
Following an exchange of fire initiated by Israel, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement, asserting that Israel would escalate its bombing campaign according to the situation. Hamas and Islamic Jihad also stated their willingness to fire at Israel in retaliation for strikes conducted against the Gaza Strip.
After what seemed like relative calm, Israeli Forces launched what they called “the largest blow against Gaza since 2014”. In retaliation for a number of Israeli strikes, armed factions in Gaza carried out rocket attacks against surrounding Israeli towns and settlements. During this series of strikes, conducted upon areas throughout Gaza by Israel, two children were murdered and over 15 other civilians were injured. The children who were killed whilst playing in a park near an empty building, which was struck with 8 missiles, were identified by the Gaza Ministry of Health as Namir Al-Nimra (15 yrs old) and Luai Kheil (16 yrs old).
A ceasefire was later negotiated by Egypt which both Israel and Hamas/Islamic Jihad agreed to uphold. The ceasefire was broken with contradicting stories as to who fired the first shots.
What has led to these exchanges of fire?
Where it started
The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by Donald Trump in late 2017 set such escalations in motion.
The reason this recognition is so key, is that it gave Israel the green light to finish the Zionist project in Palestine. With the absolute death of the formerly agreed upon international census for a “Two-State Solution”, Israel has – with the help of the United States – been pushing towards the complete annexation of the West Bank, along with the continuation of their stated agenda to destroy Hamas.
Escalations: Israel’s path to conflict
Israel throughout the year has introduced new bills and changed the way they do things, all of which indicate they are positioning themselves for a new round of warfare.
In February, Israel Privatized its weapons manufacturing to Elbit Systems. Israel has historically had a nationalized weapons industry, most of which was managed through IMI and a number of smaller nationalized weapons manufacturers. All of this changed earlier this year when Israel saw the dollar signs. This is significant to mention, because the Israeli owned Elbit Systems will be pushing hard to sell its technology, which Israel historically has sold to upwards of 150 different countries. The way Israel markets its technology, is through advertising it as “tested in the battleground”, “the battleground” is Gaza.
On the first of June, earlier this year, the Israeli Knesset notably passed a bill which enables Netanyahu the ability to launch a war without government approval. The bill now means that the Prime Minister of Israel, has only to win the approval of his Defense Minister, before starting a war, the Knesset does not have to get a say. This inevitably has made the possibility of war all the more possible.
The pressure on the Netanyahu government has also been mounting, as Israelis are becoming more in favor of a conflict with Hamas.
Hebrew Channel 7, on the 3rd of June, conducted a poll showing that approximately 70% of Israelis disagreed with easing the siege of Gaza slightly. During the 7 week period of Great Return March – in which Israeli Snipers targeted and killed medics, journalists, women, children, elderly and the disabled – polls conducted concluded that roughly 87% of Israelis agreed with the way the Army’s Snipers had conducted themselves.
The Great Return March gave birth to a new phenomenon in resistance to Israel, kites with flaming objects attached to them. The kites, although barely a weapon of any sort, have proven frustrating for Israelis living in settlements close to Gaza. The kites have managed to cause many fires, which Israel has not found a way to stop. On July the 10th Israel officially tightened the siege of Gaza, this act of cruelty towards Gaza only escalated the number of kites that were to be sent. In addition to the Israeli populations frustration with the kites, protests have also been launched in a surge to plead for the return of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers bodies, whom were killed in combat with Hamas.
Escalations: Gaza’s back against the wall
Since the 22nd of February, the Gaza Strip has been in a state of declared emergency. The people of Gaza and their governing party Hamas, have been backed into a corner and forced to bite back.
The people of Gaza suffered a 50% decrease in services from local municipalities, on the 26th of February. The Palestinian Authority, in March, suspended all salaries for its members in Gaza.
The electricity has been supplied for 2-3 hours per day for 80+% of Gaza. The water is now 97% unfit for human consumption, meaning that people are knowingly having to poison their families in order to stay alive. The sea, is too polluted to swim in. The unemployment rate is 46% and 60% amongst the youth, these figures are subject to rise. Agricultural land has recently been targeted and destroyed in air-raids. The fishing range has yet again been reduced to 6 nautical miles. These are just a hand full of the hardships faced by the 2 million people (52% children, 70% refugees) living in an area more densely populated that Tokyo (Japan).
To provide some context to the recent escalations, it is important to understand that Hamas did not respond with rocket-fire into Israel during the seven week ‘Great Return March’ – starting on the 30th of March (Land Day) – when the Israeli military killed approximately 130 unarmed protestors and injured upwards of 14,000. During the Great Return March, there was not a single rocket fired into Israel.
On the 5th of May Israel killed 6 members of the Al-Qassam Brigades, with a booby-trapped telecommunications box near Khan Younis. Airstrikes were also conducted on the 5th of May against several sites throughout Southern Gaza, Hamas did not respond.
On the 6th of May, Israeli Newspaper ‘Haaretz’, released an article claiming that Hamas were showing signs of wanting a ceasefire truce with Israel, Israel did not respond to any such initiatives by Hamas.
At approximately 11:00 P.M on the 26th of May, Israel fired 25 missiles at sites in Khan Younis and Rafah, resulting in the murder of two members of ‘Islamic Jihad’ as they patrolled an outpost, there was no response to this unprovoked Israeli attack.
On the 28th, an unprovoked tank shelling of Beit Lahia killed a Hamas member. Hamas did not respond on the 28th.
Only after heavy shelling on the 29th of May did Hamas respond with a barrage of scrap-metal rockets, sometimes referred to by experts as glorified fireworks.
Hamas saw that peaceful demonstrations did not work to move the international community into action and have been responding, along with smaller militant factions, with rocket fire to Israel’s strikes since the above series of events.
After the sanctions placed upon Gaza by the Palestinian Authority, the recent tightening of the Israeli blockade – through the closure of the Karem Abu Salem Crossing on the 9th of July – and the deterioration of prominent international aid providers, such as UNRWA, the Gaza Strip has been all but left for dead.
The humanitarian situation in Gaza was already looking irreversible before the recent escalations and sanctions. Now there seems little hope for any means of survival, other than through the attempted means of armed resistance.
What is next?
In short, the answer is; Great suffering for the civilian population of Gaza.
Israel may look to “mow the lawn” as they put it. The only hesitation they may have, is due to the fact that striking any real blow against Hamas is nearly impossible, without great loss of life amongst their own forces. The Israeli population will not tolerate huge casualties amongst their soldiers and expect an easy win against Hamas. Killing civilians, as they have done in the past bombardments is easy for Israel, but dealing a blow against Hamas is more difficult, as Hamas operate in an underground sophisticated tunnel system.
Hamas may seek a strategy of escalating into, what may mean, a ground confrontation of some sort with Israel. This would mean the opportunity to kill Israeli soldiers and even perhaps force the international community to step in and deliver a deal which would result in the easing of the illegal blockade, which has just been tightened.
What happens next however, is all down to speculation. All that is promised, is the suffering of Gaza.
Sourced from ’21st Century Wire’: Original Article Here