The latest clash over Gaza may be over for now, but violence is on the rise. For the first time since the 2014 war, there have been so many deaths.
Balance of recent escalations: Four fatalities on the Israeli side, 27 dead in the Gaza Strip Photo: dpa
Four fatalities on the Israeli side, 27 dead in the Gaza Strip, hundreds injured and enormous devastation is the balance of the latest battle between Israel and Palestinian Islamists. In just two days, Israel’s air force bombed 350 targets in the Gaza Strip, from which, conversely, nearly 700 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel.
"We have defeated Hamas and Islamic Jihad with great force," commented Israel’s head of government Benjamin Netanyahu, announcing that "the campaign is not over yet." Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Suhri summed up the situation in almost identical terms, saying that the conflict would not end until the Palestinians "get their rights. Around 7 a.m. Monday morning, Israel’s security services gave the green light for the school to begin operating.
Egyptian intelligence and UN representatives mediated between the two boycotting parties and reached the cease-fire just before the start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan and the commemoration of fallen soldiers and the anniversary of the founding of the state in Israel.
Violence has ebbed every few weeks for well over a year, with rocket attacks against Israel and airstrikes on Gaza, until both sides quickly relented and put their weapons to rest. But violence on both sides is on the rise. For the first time since the 2014 war, there have been many deaths and the targeted execution of a Hamas official. Hamad al-Hodori, 34, allegedly organized the financing of Hamas armed forces in the Gaza Strip with the help of Iran, a financial backer.
Reactions to ceasefire
Israel’s goal is calm and security for citizens living in localities not far from the Gaza Strip. Hamas is trying to divert attention from internal problems and force ways out of the dramatic economic crisis. Qatar is ready to pay $30 million a month. Israel already agreed to transfer the money after the last round of fighting in early April. The terms of the cease-fire are expected to remain more or less the same.
Tamar Sandberg, leader of the leftist Meretz party, welcomed the cease-fire and called on Netanyahu to announce details of the agreements as well as his political plans for Gaza. According to Netanyahu’s party colleague Gideon Saar, the intervals between battles are getting shorter and shorter, while the "terror groups in Gaza are getting stronger and stronger."
Bezalel Smotrich, a member of parliament from the openly racist United Right party, with which Netanyahu is currently engaged in coalition negotiations, also voiced criticism. For tactical reasons, Smotrich tweeted, the battle in Gaza should have ended "with 700 dead terrorists" "one for every rocket." Former Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz, head of the largest opposition Blue and White party, spoke of "another surrender" to Hamas.