Following the political defeat which was inflicted on Israel’s government by a unified Palestinian movement, Israel was forced into seeking a ceasefire with Gaza’s armed factions, now it is actively working to re-stoke tensions with Gaza.
Last Friday, at 2AM (local time, Palestine), an unconditional ceasefire went into effect between armed groups in Gaza and the Israeli military. So far this ceasefire has held, but is now heading towards another escalation due to constant Israeli provocation and pressure.
Israel, on the first day of the ceasefire, allowed for its armed occupation forces to again enter and attack Palestinian worshippers in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa compound and has done so several times since. This is key, because the violent raids of al-Aqsa mosque acted as the catalyst for the latest Palestinian uprising against the Israeli regime and sparked armed resistance from the Gaza Strip.
Violent assaults and the prevention of Palestinians from entering the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, whilst allowing illegal Israeli settlers to do so freely, has also stirred tensions greatly. The planned ethnic cleansing of around 550 Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in East Jerusalem, also played an integral role in working to escalate tensions with the Palestinian people. The ongoing plans to expel Palestinians and attacks on demonstrators throughout the city, by Israeli forces, again shows the intent to reignite the conflict from the Israeli side.
This Sunday, Israel and Egypt announced a complete closure of all entries and exits to the Gaza Strip. Israel’s Minister of War, Benny Gantz, also stated that he would only permit the entry of the bare minimum of humanitarian goods into the besieged coastal enclave. Gantz also went on to say that the only way the materials to rebuild Gaza and supply those in need could enter Gaza, is if Hamas handed over the bodies of invading occupation soldiers, to the Israelis.
The statement, coming from Benny Gantz, clearly indicates that Israel’s policy is one of collective punishment – an established war crime – and that Israel will not allow goods to enter the Gaza Strip after Israel’s military just displaced over 70,000 people and killed roughly 250.
The reason Palestinian armed groups keep the bodies of Israeli occupation forces, such as those that they killed during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2014, is so that they can get their own dead back from Israel and the release of political prisoners. Israel currently keeps the bodies of hundreds of Palestinians its forces murdered, for no justifiable reason, also incarcerating around 5,000 Palestinians in military prisons. The tactic of kidnapping Israeli soldiers, or taking their bodies from the battlefield, is done by Palestinian armed groups for the strategic purpose of freeing their prisoners who were placed behind bars by a kangaroo court with a near 100% conviction rate, as well as to free the bodies of their own dead (many of them were not even combatants).
Israeli police forces inside what’s known as Israel proper also announced a mass scale arrest campaign against Palestinian citizens of Israel this Sunday. Israel began violently arresting Palestinians in the cities of Lyd, Haifa, Nazareth, Jaffa, Umm Al-Fahm and elsewhere. The aim of the Israeli campaign was stated to amount to the arrests of 500 Palestinian activists, but provided no names and seemed to be arbitrary. Rights groups called the campaign a revenge attack and said it was aimed at providing a show of force against Palestinians who engaged in demonstrations and the national anti-Israel general strike the week before.
The Israeli government has also not allowed for an expansion of the fishing water territories, so that Gaza’s fisherman are unable to go out far enough to catch what is needed. Mock air raids were also launched on Sunday morning over the skies of Gaza’s beaches. The constant buzzing of drones is reported by Gaza’s residents as well, many of which now terrifyingly suspect Israel is planning further attacks on the territory.
In response, so far, we have seen Palestinians in Gaza send flaming objects attached to balloons over the separation fence. The balloons have caused fires in some small areas surrounding Israel’s settler communities.
If Israel continues to provoke Palestinians, attacking the people of Jerusalem and Palestinian citizens of Israel, it is likely that we will see another response from Palestinians. If the response from Palestinian society includes armed attacks, in the form of rockets from Gaza’s armed factions, it must be known that the issue did not begin with rocket fire. The ceasefire has already been broken, arguably, and Israel seems to be setting itself up to declare that all it’s recent violent and disproportionate acts were in “self-defense”, despite Gaza’s armed resistance demonstrably reacting to overt Israeli government violations of international law.