2 day clashes in Gaza, the most intense since the 2014 Gaza war, have led to an Egyptian negotiated ceasefire in what has been seen as a blow to what remains of the right wing Netanyahu government. The Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has subsequently resigned denouncing the move as “surrendering to terror”. He has since stated that his ultra right, anti integrationist party will pull out of the ruling coalition possibly leading to an early election.
The conflict and subsequent ceasefire deal comes after months of tensions as outlined in an earlier TPN piece. The military response of the Palestinian armed factions in Gaza, including Hamas and the PFLP, was launched following a botched Israeli intelligence mission that left 7 Palestinians and 1 Israeli dead. In an act of reprisal, the armed factions launched some 460 rockets with most penetrating Israel’s Iron Dome system. Israel responded with more than hundred and fifty strikes, including some on a local Palestinian television studio.
The deal reached has seen an Israeli commitment to freer movement of goods in and out of Gaza and a Qatari commitment of 15 million dollars cash to Hamas leaders. The deal can be examined as tentative as the regions actors remain cautious of events in Gaza. Egypt’s president Sisi, who has played an important role in the Gaza blockade since coming to power, has no sympathy for Hamas, an offshoot of the now persecuted Muslim Brotherhood. Yet with half of Egyptians living either at the poverty line or below it, he is eager to see the inflamed and seemingly everlasting situation resolved as Egypt relies on its importation of wheat from neighbouring states.
Similarly, Israel and its dominant right wing forces are at a standstill with Gaza. Despite numerous heavy-handed and viscous operations into the blockaded Gaza Strip, Israel cannot ostensibly crush the armed Palestinian resistance it faces there. The armed factions successful use of the Soviet and North Korean manufactured Kornet missile system is a worry for Israel. It was decisive in Israel’s defeat in southern Lebanon in 2006 and a critical factor in ending Israel’s occupation of the country through armed actions by Hezbollah. Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, has proudly admitted to supplying rockets to Gaza despite tensions between Hamas and Hezbollah owing to the Syrian civil war. The appearance of this unity and presence of these weapons have no doubt given Netanyahu serious pause.
Meanwhile, the radical armed factions of Gaza have grown in both confidence and support from the 2 day insurrection. Already, Hamas have busted a spying network responsible for the botched operation and resistance supporters have rallied across the occupied territories, celebrating a perceived Israeli embarrassment.
Events have once again proven that Israel cannot hope to crush the Palestinian resistance movement through military measures. Its only hope for an end to the conflict whilst maintaining its status as a nation is through the peace process. However, with internal right wing anger at the believed lack of action growing and a developing corruption investigation into Netanyahu and his associates, the current government is unlikely to pursue any long-lasting commitment to peace in the region.