Israel has stepped up its campaign against citizens of the Gaza strip, allegedly hitting 100 targets in the embargoed stretch of land.
The overwhelming response came after two long range rockets fired from Gaza reached Tel Aviv and hit a house. Despite allegations that the rockets may have been accidentally fired or that the blame lies with dissident anti-Hamas salafists (whom have been routinely tortured by Hamas authorities), Israel has blamed and targeted Hamas in spite of a Hamas’ denial of rocket fire claiming it goes “against national consensus“. Similarly, the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees have denied undertaking the militant action.
The hard hitting response should come as no surprise as embittered Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to improve his damaged reputation from this years corruption revelations and trial. However, he has seen himself outflanked by his newfound ultra-right reactionary government partners. The co leaders of the New Right (Hayamin Hehadash) party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, have called for further strikes stating “Bombing an empty building and then feeling good, as if this is what is deterring Hamas, is nonsense, it does not work.” Bennett has since said that he wishes for the IDF “to open the gates of hell” against Hamas. Despite this, it seems that Netanyahu has remained the budding face of the Israeli right, with a recent poll revealing that most Israelis think the PM is too weak on Gaza, but will vote for him anyway.
Since these events, recent developments have shown yet more heightened tensions on the Gaza border. In recent border clashes, it is alleged that Gaza protesters have thrown some 500 explosive at the IDF throughout Thursday night. The factions in Gaza have also called the Palestinian masses to yet again participate in the “Great Return March”. It comes one year after the deadly events of Land Day in March. Whilst organisers have called for the event to be peaceful, the IDF’s response is likely to be as aggressive as every other time Palestinians have marched to the border. The IDF has since showcased no signs of any peaceful intent.
All this has come amid a new atmosphere of budding American support for Israeli claims in the Middle East. This week saw the United States government recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israel had captured the territory after the 6 Days War and the construction of illegal settlements soon began after. The rest of the international community has long since regarded the area as being under occupation, which was showcased in the European Union member state’s unanimous rejection of Trumps proclamation.
In response to the US proclamation, locals in the Golan Heights participated in large scale demonstrations, with many holding posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, defiantly declaring their loyalty to Damascus. Syria itself has called the move “blatant aggression”, further stating that Washington was “the main enemy” of Arabs.
With tensions once again building, both Netanyahu and Trump are no doubt looking to play on their nationalist electorate as both find themselves embattled with investigations. Whilst Trump has considerably less pressure than Netanyahu, whom is soon to be facing trial for corruption, he is no doubt looking to once again whip up his nationalist voting base for next years election. Much of Trumps biggest support has come from New Right Evangelicals who support Israel wholeheartedly due to their apocalyptic belief that the Jews must return to Israel as a precondition for Christ’s Second Coming. Netanyahu meanwhile has attempted to placate his far right support base despite anger at perceived lack of action simmering from settlers and neo-fascists alike. Whatever lies ahead for the two figures, the occupied peoples of Gaza and Golan are likely to feel the brunt of the consequences from the decision making processes of Netanyahu and Trump.
Sam Glasper is TPN’s Foreign Affairs Commentator and studies at Manchester Metropolitain University.