Analysis: Current round of Gaza hostilities likely over, but powder keg could blow any minute
At least four ministers support the establishment of a well-inspected port for Gaza, but the prime minister and defense minister are ignoring their opinion.
A tense quiet fell on the Israel-Gaza border on Saturday. The Palestinians did not fire any mortar shells and the IDF did not respond with tank fire, canons or air strikes, as had happened over the last week.
One of the reasons for Saturday’s quiet were the messages that each side sent to the other publicly and through third parties, such as Egypt, in which they said that they have no interest in increasing tensions, and certainly no intention to go to war. Hamas’s prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, expressly stated this in his weekly sermon on Friday.
An additional reason for the quiet is the fact that the IDF finished its work on the recently uncovered Gaza tunnel in the 100 meters adjacent to the border fence inside the Gaza Strip and left the area.
According to the understandings reached between Israel and Hamas through Egyptian mediation after summer 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, the IDF is allowed to operate in this area in certain instances, in which suspicions arise that the other side intends to act against Israel.
The recent escalation came amid increased activity by the IDF, which operated heavy engineering equipment and new technological means to locate tunnels. This activity led to the uncovering of two attack tunnels leading into Israel from southern Gaza within the last month. One tunnel was dug prior to Operation Protective Edge, but was fortified afterward. Hamas quietly witnessed its uncovering. However, when the IDF announced the discovery of the second tunnel last week, Hamas responded with mortar fire. The organization wanted to signal to Israel that it would not accept IDF activity to uncover tunnels within the thin strip of land near the border fence within Gaza. Thus, Hamas attempted to set new red lines between the sides.
Hamas’s fire was measured, as were the IDF’s reprisals. However, the defense establishment believes that Hamas understood that the IDF will not be deterred from actions to uncover tunnels in the narrow strip adjacent to the border fence within Gaza if it has cause to do so.
The defense establishment has emphasized this fact. If, through intel or new technological advancements, there are signs of additional
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