Nine months after Israel’s last war on Gaza, amidst a host of concerns for pressing regional issues – the most important of which being successive developments in Egypt – security tensions in the Gaza Strip appeared without forewarning. After shrapnel from Palestinian rockets fell, Israel responded with rocket-propelled grenades and launched fiery threats against Hamas, threatening to start a new war.
Army generals threatened to respond to rockets falling on towns in Southern Israel in a number of ways, despite the admission that Israel faces difficulties in Gaza which stem from both weak intelligence and an inability to invoke a strategy of deterrence amidst confrontations with unidentifiable armed groups. These groups do not have coherence or structure that Israel is able to target.
Nonetheless, Israeli threats and warnings toward Gaza are above all due to the rockets being fired, a phenomenon considered to be a complex security threat due to concern that these are a precursor to more rockets. This logic emerges in light of intelligence that is available on five to six Global Jihad groups in the Sinai Peninsula that, over time, have attempted to carry out attacks against Israel’s goals.
The decision regarding a military strike in Gaza remains stalled
The acceleration of events on the ground at Gaza’s borders has consequently pushed Palestinians to expect the eruption of a renewed confrontation with Israel at some point or another. In anticipation of a potential operation in Gaza, many generals have announced military preparations – among them preparing soldiers, improving training levels, modifying and renewing various plans, and readying necessary equipment – wielding the slogan “Stronger than before, and tougher!”
Palestinian fear has increased after both the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt — a group that formed a protective shield for Hamas during the last war— and Israel’s prevention of further Hamas military operations. Israeli Generals have entered into conversations, behind closed doors, focusing on their understanding that the IDF’s capacity to invoke a strategy of deterrence has been on the decline following operation “Pillar of Cloud.” At the same time a number of Palestinian groups have attempted to carry out armed attacks as Hamas tries to stabilize the situation and prevent a dangerous breakdown in the area despite its tendency to normally overlook many of these activities.
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In recent days, Palestinians have watched and listened as the continuous threats against Gaza have increased in magnitude, and public opinion can be understood as a barometer for the potential of a confrontation at one point or another due to the breakdown of cease-fire arrangements.
Thus the western, northern, and southern borders of the Gaza Strip are witnessing more tangible mobilizations on the ground than ever before, to such a degree that some speculate a decision has been made – or will be made shortly – regarding the coastal band of the Strip.
The decision regarding a military strike in Gaza remains stalled, yet Israeli alarmism purports that the pervading quiet in Gaza today covers up Hamas’ continual efforts to stockpile arms and renew construction of fortifications, as it consolidates its rule over Gaza after extracting lessons from the last round of fighting, namely by sealing gaps and repairing shortcomings revealed during confrontation with the Israeli army.
Current regional events can either prevent or incite an Israeli military operation against Gaza. As events heat up in Egypt, and more specifically in the Sinai where a potential unanticipated reaction may harm Israel as it absorbs armed attacks, the response has been moderate overall.
Translated by Caitlyn Doucette and Matt Parsons. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of Your Middle East.