The weekend turned violent along the south of Israel again, the same week that Egypt reasserted restrictions on the flow of people and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip thanks to Palestinian political strife. The IDF reported on Twitter last Friday that 13,000 Gazans rioted on the border with Israel “throwing grenades and explosives. There were 3 incidents of Gazans breaking through the border fence into Israel. Our soldiers stopped them before they could reach the homes of Israeli families who live minutes away.”
In response, Israeli aircraft struck at military posts belonging to the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, according to a follow-up Tweet. Said the Twitter post, “The IDF holds Hamas responsible for all violence that emanates from the Gaza Strip.”
Just one day later, a rocket was fired from Gaza at Israel. The IDF Twitter feed said that Israeli fighter jets targeted two Hamas “underground structures,” noting that “We will continue operating to defend Israeli civilians.”
The flare-up in Gaza area violence follows a period of relative calm, which itself came only after another explosion of attacks back in November. Three months ago, over 400 rockets were launched at Israel in the largest escalation in some time.
The latest incidents may have been partly in response to inter-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported that the Palestinian Authority (PA) removed their representatives from the border with Egypt due to political strife with Hamas. As a result, Egypt shut down the border completely, reopening it slightly a week later on Sunday to allow persons to enter Gaza, with plans to allow food and fuel in as well.
However, Ma’an reported that Egypt is not willing to fully re-open the crossing until the PA is again supervising the border.
Hamas and the leading party of the PA—Fatah—are long-time political archenemies. Hamas violently threw Fatah out of Gaza in 2007 and multiple attempts to reconcile have ultimately failed.
With the PA-Hamas turmoil now impacting Gaza’s border with Egypt, the situation in Gaza could worsen and lead to additional bouts of conflict. Hamas violence against Israel could act as an attempt to garner attention or economic concessions, or serve as a distraction, during difficult times in Gaza.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, January 13, 2019)