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June 7, 2018 8:47 am

The Possibility of Another Gaza War Is Rising

avatar by Yoav Limor / JNS.org

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Mourners attend the funeral of Palestinian nurse Razan Al-Najar, June 2, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Mohammed Salem.

JNS.org Israel has repeatedly stated that it has no interest ‎in a military campaign in the Gaza Strip, but ‎reality may still drag it into one, perhaps even this ‎week.

The accumulation of shooting attacks and kite ‎terrorism, together with two highly volatile events ‎that Hamas plans to hold on the border, will once again ‎test the tenuous ceasefire achieved last week. ‎

The first event occurred on Tuesday, when the ‎Palestinians mark “Naksa Day,” mourning the Arab ‎defeat in the 1967 ‎Six Day War.‎‏ ‏

Hamas called for the Palestinian masses to ‎rush the security fence and breach Israeli ‎territory. The terrorist group aimed to ‎recreate the border violence that plagued the US ‎embassy move to Jerusalem on May 14.

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Hamas ‎has also called for border demonstrations to take place on Friday, ‎which is both the last Friday of Ramadan and the ‎Iranian “Quds Day” (Arabic for Jerusalem). This also reflects the ‎deep ties between Hamas and Iran, and Tehran’s ‎growing influence in the coastal enclave.‎

These efforts prove that Hamas is invested in provoking ‎violence on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, but it is ‎doubtful that even Gaza’s rulers fully understand the ‎volatile potential of this policy. ‎

This goes beyond the fact that, as the past few ‎weeks have shown, border protests easily spiral out ‎of control and result in a large number of ‎casualties. It also goes beyond Hamas’ unspoken approval of other ‎terrorist groups in Gaza firing rockets at Israel. ‎The increasing kite terrorism wreaking havoc on the ‎border-adjacent communities is not something Israel ‎can tolerate much longer.‎

So far, kite terrorism has posed little threat to ‎human lives. But the property damage it has caused ‎and the potential economic toll it would take on ‎Israel in the form of rising produce prices — not to ‎mention the erosion of Israeli deterrence by such a ‎basic, almost primitive, instrument — all mandate that the Jewish state ‎come up with countermeasures.

If we fail to mount a formidable response to kite ‎terrorism, Hamas may believe that Israel is willing to ‎tolerate its fields and forests being burned, and that Jerusalem is ‎refraining from striking back for fear of war. ‎

Defense officials said as much in a situation ‎assessment held earlier this week. Israel would prefer to avoid ‎another full-fledged conflict with Gaza because there is no way to know how or when one ‎would end and because it needs to stay focused on ‎the northern sector, but Jerusalem has to make it clear to ‎Hamas that the terror group has crossed the line and if it ‎keeps it up war will follow.‎

Such messages have yet to be relayed to Hamas’ ‎leadership, meaning that every tactical event in the ‎coming days has the potential to escalate into a ‎full-blown military campaign. ‎

Yoav Limor is a veteran Israeli journalist and columnist for Israel Hayom.

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