Israel and fighters for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were engaged last week in a days-long clash that resulted in the deaths of at least 33 Palestinians that Israel killed in Gaza.
In response to Israel’s bombardment, rockets fired into Israel by Palestinians killed one Israeli and one Palestinian working in the country.
A ceasefire agreement was announced on Saturday that was brokered by Egypt. The U.S. said that it also worked with partners to end the violence.
The fragile agreement appeared to be violated Sunday evening after a rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel, which prompted Israel to strike two observation posts. Al Jazeera reported that the rocket fired from Gaza was in error and landed in an empty field.
The initial strikes occurred as tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad increased, with the group accusing Tel Aviv of carrying out assassinations of its top members.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who was praised for the ceasefire deal, urged Israel to “stop the unilateral measures that aim to destroy the future of the Palestinian state.”
Mohammed Jamjoom, a correspondent for Al Jazeera, reported that Israel has refused to agree to stop killing members of the group.
“We’ve seen five of their leaders over the course of the past two days assassinated by Israel and they’re saying they have the right to do that,” Jamjoom said.
Tareq Selmi, the spokesman for the Islamic Jihad, announced the ceasefire and said “any stupidity or assassination by the occupation will be met with a response and the Zionist enemy bears the responsibility.”
Tzachi Hanegbi, the Israeli national security adviser, said Saturday that Israel will respect the ceasefire. He said, “Quiet will be answered with quiet, and if Israel is attacked and threatened, it will do everything it needs to in order to protect itself.”
The violent clash started after Israel carried out attacks that killed three top PIJ figures. Al Jazeera reported that at least 10 civilians—mainly women and children—died in the original strikes. About 33 people—many civilians—died in Israeli shelling.
The latest outbreak in violence was another lopsided clash and resulted in the injuries of hundreds of civilians in Gaza.
Gisha, the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, told The Times of Israel that the conflict has taken a toll on residents in Gaza. About 290 patients and companions were prevented from “accessing medical treatment that is unavailable in Gaza, many of them cancer patients and others in need of life-saving treatment provided by hospitals in the West Bank or Israel.”
Israel said its Iron Dome was effective in intercepting 373 rockets—or about 91 percent of those fired into the country, according to the paper.
Israel also said it had carried out 371 targets that it identified as belonging to Islamic Jihad.
Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s controversial national security minister, called the operation “good and important” and said Israel’s next operation should be the West Bank, The Times of Israel reported.
“Quite a few terrorists come from there, so the next requirement is targeted killings there as well,” he said.
The Palestinian Authority called on the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant against the official over the comment that it called Ben-Gvir’s remarks akin to “a license to kill Palestinian citizens,” The Jerusalem Post reported. Palestinians also said his comments about the West Bank meant an “unjustified military escalation, which reflects an expansionist colonial mentality to perpetuate the gradual annexation” of the territory.
TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has reported extensively on the tension between Israel and Palestine under the new hardline government in Israel. (See “HUNGER STRIKER DEATH SPARKS ROCKET EXCHANGE BETWEEN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL” 9 May 2023, “ISRAEL KILLS 3 MORE PALESTINIANS DURING ANOTHER DEADLY WEEK” 14 March 2023, and “DOES ISRAEL SEEK A ‘FINAL SOLUTION FOR PALESTINIANS?’” 14 Feb 2023.)
We remind subscribers that in the 1967 six-day war, Israel invaded and seized Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, and the Syrian Golan Heights, expelling some 300,000 Palestinians from their homes, while gaining stolen territory that was three and a half times its original size. To date, some 670,000 Israelis live in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. They violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 which states, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a bellicose tone during the outbreak of violence and said, “Whoever comes to harm us—his blood is forfeit.”
But fissures emerged in his hardline coalition government.
Ben Gvir told reporters that the Likud Party [Netanyahu’s party] thought he would come with his tail between his legs, but “the situation is the opposite.”
“I come with a feeling that I influenced the operation. We will not topple the right-wing government but we won’t sit in a government that tows a line that is not right-wing,” he said according to The Times of Israel.
Michal Woldiger, a member of the Knesset from the Religious Zionism party, called on Israel to take a tougher stance on Palestinians.
“Hamas is the ruler of Gaza, and as such we must bring them to a situation in which it surrenders,” he tweeted, according to the paper.
Amiram Levin, a former deputy head of Mossad, took to Twitter to call for the Israeli military to “flatten” neighborhoods in Gaza.
“Allow them a port, an airport, and a beach riviera. But also, flatten every neighborhood from which rockets are fired towards our towns, [rockets] which are meant to kill tens and hundreds of peaceful citizens. Four years, four operations, same results, it’s time to change the equation,” he posted.
The Associated Press noted that tensions could quickly return to the region next week when Israel holds its contentious Flag March through a main Palestinian thoroughfare in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Last year, about 70,000 Jewish nationalists took part in the march to mark Jerusalem Day. Some protesters chanted to Palestinians, “May your villages burn” and “Death to Arabs.” The Times of Israel noted that five police officers and 40 Palestinians were wounded.
TRENDPOST: Again, it is worth noting that Russia is constantly criticized for shelling Ukraine while Israel is above reproach over fears of beings seen as anti-Semitic. One popular Lebanese geo-political commentator posted on Twitter explosions in Gaza, with smoke billowing in the sky.
She posted, “Ukraine? No, this is Gaza right now. Israel is dropping bombs on residential neighborhoods. This is a war crime. But don’t expect any calls for sanctions or ICC arrest warrants from the so-called international community.”
Instead, Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesman, told reporters that Washington confirmed its ironclad “commitment to Israel’s security, as reflected in our ongoing support for Iron Dome and other Israeli missile defense systems. We will remain engaged with our partners to promote calm in the weeks and months ahead.”