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‘No appetite for war’: Palestinians fear new Israeli offensive

Israel’s assault on Gaza on Friday was weeks within the making, a deliberate act to realize legitimacy with its public, say Palestinian observers, as Israel braces for brand new elections in November.

On Friday, Israel launched missiles all through the besieged Palestinian enclave, killing 10 individuals, together with a five-year-old woman, a 23-year-old lady, in addition to Taysir al-Jabari, a commander of Islamic Jihad’s navy wing.

Islamic Jihad group mentioned it fired greater than 100 rockets into Israel in retaliation for the air raids. The violence raised fears of one other struggle on Gaza by Israel, simply 15 months after a month-long battle that killed greater than 260 individuals.

“Everyone is nervous, there is no appetite for war,” mentioned Tamer Qarmout from the Doha Institute of Graduate Studies, who hails from Gaza and has household there.

“Gaza has witnessed four or five major conflicts over the last 15 years. We’re still talking about the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. Gaza has never really recovered, it just lives from conflict to conflict,” he informed Al Jazeera.

Israel’s lethal assaults got here after Israeli forces arrested Bassam al-Saadi, a senior member of the armed group, earlier within the week. Al-Saadi was detained throughout an Israeli raid within the West Bank metropolis of Jenin, throughout which a young person was killed.

‘Shock and awe’

Prior to the assassination of al-Jabari, Israel tightened its grip on the coastal enclave, already 15 years beneath a brutal blockade, by shutting down all border crossings.

Israel additionally closed roads round Gaza earlier this week and despatched reinforcements to the border because it braced for a response after al-Saadi’s arrest.

Friday’s assault got here on the heels of earlier assaults, together with drone strikes on the Gaza Strip, main some observers to recommend the present escalation is a calculated move. The West Bank, too, has additionally seen an increase in Israeli assaults by troopers and settlers alike, in addition to arrests of Palestinians and home demolitions.

“Israel is arming its settlers in the West Bank to shoot and kill Palestinians and not to [do so] under the chain of command of the military. So what we’re seeing right now is an intensification of Israel’s military strategy of ‘shock and awe’,” mentioned Mariam Barghouti, a Ramallah-based researcher.

“Let’s also keep in mind that Israeli elections are coming this November, and there’s this trend of Israeli leaders to use Gaza as a weapon to rally the Israeli settler population.”

Attack Gaza Pij
Palestinian ladies seem shocked following Israeli air raids on Khan Yunis within the southern Gaza Strip on Friday [Said Khatib/AFP]

‘It’s a contest’

Israel appeared intent on escalating the scenario when Prime Minister Yair Lapid mentioned on Thursday that Israel “will not shy away from using force to restore normal life in the south of the country, and we will not stop the policy of arresting terrorist operatives in Israel”.

Nour Odeh, a former Palestinian Authority authorities spokesman and a political analyst, prompt the most recent assault might be politically motivated.

“Gaza is traumatised. It has not recovered yet. Hamas and Jihad were going out of their way to maintain calm and give people a chance to breathe. No one was seeking an escalation – except Lapid,” mentioned Odeh.

“It’s a contest to show who’s more powerful. Lapid wants to prove he has what it takes, even though he has no military background,” she added.

Palestinian Medics Evacuate The Body Of A Man, Killed In An Israeli Air Strike On Gaza City.
Palestinian medics carry the physique of a person killed in an Israeli air raid on Gaza City on Friday [Mahmud Hams/AFP]

‘Gazans will pay’

Analysts mentioned there are intersecting electoral influences fueling Israel’s resolution to start out what may probably be one other struggle.

As is the case almost each summer season, the present governing coalition in Israel is which means to look hawkish within the lead-up to a different election cycle through which the Likud Party – headed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – is poised for a return.

It additionally got here at a time when the United States is gearing up for midterm elections, and with the Democrats elevated by some minor legislative victories, the Biden administration will likely be extra averse to telling Israel to stop its assaults, or holding it accountable for struggle crimes akin to the killing of the younger woman and different civilians on Friday.

“Israel is using Gazans as sacrificial pawns in their ongoing struggle for power and are acting with impunity because they know nobody can or will hold them accountable,” mentioned Tariq Kenney-Shawa, a US-based coverage fellow at Al Shabaka – The Palestinian Policy Network, an impartial, nonprofit think-tank.

“The indisputable fact that zero rockets had been fired from Gaza previous to Israel’s unilateral resolution to start out a bloodbath, regardless of the tightening of the blockade, and the assassination of PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] leaders, it’s proof of the vacuity of Israeli safety issues.

“Israel appears bent on striking PIJ hard, so PIJ will have to respond as they have already indicated. This is going to escalate again and Gazans will pay.”

Gideon Levy, an Israeli commentator and author for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, informed Al Jazeera that bombing Gaza has turn into a approach for Israeli politicians to point out their “strength” forward of voting.

“I’m very suspicious that it has to do with the elections. Any prime minister needs to prove himself, especially if he comes from the centre-left in Israel. And we have a new prime minister, and he wants to show that he’s macho like all the former prime ministers. All those are very poor excuses to go for another round in Gaza,” Levy mentioned.

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