Photo: EPA
תרגיל חמאס רצועה רצועת עזה
Photo: EPA
Ron Ben-Yishai

Clasped in a bear hug with Hamas

Analysis: The short flare-up Israel and Hamas experienced Wednesday demonstrates the fragile reality we live in, with a half-baked arrangement that doesn't satisfy Hamas' political needs, and the Islamic Jihad's desire to satisfy its Iranian patrons

The mini-escalation in the Gaza Strip's boarder, overnight Thursday is one of the characteristics of the bear hug that Israel, Hamas, Egypt and the U.N. are clasped in.



On one hand, there is diplomatic progress, and Gazans are experiencing an easing of some of the restrictions imposed on them. But on the other hand, there are sill rounds of clashes, since Hamas isn't satisfied with the slow progression towards the deal, and other unruly militants like the Islamic Jihad stir things up to prevent any long-term arrangement with Israel.


Hamas militants with firebombs (Photo: AFP)
Hamas militants with firebombs (Photo: AFP)


Recent events are an excellent example of the way the conflict between Israel and the Strip has been managed, since last October.


Understandings regarding the second phase of the long-term ceasefire arrangement are pretty much agreed on by both sides, but Hamas claims that Israel has only been performing a small part of its commitments.


Israel, on its part, tries to fulfil its commitments, but things are not always under its control. There are no direct talks with Hamas, and both negotiations and operative steps are managed by the U.N., Egypt and Qatar.

Often Israeli bureaucracy slows down good intentions,


Hamas resumed the launching firebombs and explosives at Israeli border communities on Wednesday, in order to get Israel moving. After a short period of calm, explosions were herd again throughout Wednesday night, when Hamas' nightly disturbance unit, hoping to hassle the border communities on the Israeli side, returned to its ovenight clashes along the border fence.


Israel's responded by an overnight attack of a Hamas army facility in the northern part of the strip, was quick to come.

Despite the fact that Israel's interest is to avoid an escalation at this time.


The Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers, followed by Independence Day, the Eurovision song contest and of course the new government on its way, would all benefit from quiet in the Gaza front, so that tourists don't flea the country and the political situation remains stable.


File photo: an Islamic Jihad launching facility in the Gaza Strip (Photo: Reuters)
File photo: an Islamic Jihad launching facility in the Gaza Strip (Photo: Reuters)


That’s exactly why the IDF was restrained when a rocket was launched by Islamic Jihad militants, earlier this week, and landed at sea.


The terror group, backed by Iran, is trying to disturb the efforts towards a long-term ceasefire, either to preserve a constant state of conflict or to satisfy its Iranian patrons. But the Wednesday clashes were all Hamas, that now lost yet another military facility.


We can assume that this is the end of this mini-flare-up. It's clear that both Hamas and Israel are interested in preserving the calm. But it does exemplify how fragile the situation is, and how quickly we can be drawn into a large clash, perhaps even involving ground forces, with no prior warning.


The way events have unfolded, and the prospects for the future, are all explained by the passing year and its weekly March of Return protest. It started in March 2018, and throughout the year cost the lives of 187 Palestinians by the border fence. Thousands of other Gazans were injured, Israel lost two IDF soldiers and several Israeli civilians were hurt from Hamas' rocket fire.


But behind the scenes, negotiation was ongoing, initiated by Hamas' leadership. Despite clashes on the border fence, Hamas informed the U.N. back in March 2018 that they are prepared to reach an arrangement in return for "the removal of the siege" and the easing of the humanitarian situation in the Strip.


After a year of clashes, and as the arrangement seems to ripen, both sides are walking on a fine line, and must calculate every step.


פרסום ראשון: 05.02.19, 14:47
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