For the first time since 2014, rockets are being fired by Hamas militants from Gaza and the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) is bombarding the Gaza strip with frequent, lethal air strikes. So far, 48 people were killed in Gaza, including 14 children, while 6 people had died in Israel due to this fresh outbreak of violence, highlighting the asymmetry of power between the two opposing groups. Israel is by far the most militarily and technologically advanced state in the Middle East, and regularly asserts its power over the hapless Palestinian minority settled in Gaza and the West Bank. The fresh violence reminded everyone of the 2014 Israel-Hamas war that devastated Gaza, with no resolution in sight as yet.
Parts of Gaza resembled burnt down ruins with Israeli air strikes flattening two apartment towers and many of Hamas’ military compounds, including Gaza’a police headquarters. On the other hand, the constant stream of rockets fired by Hamas militants from Gaza left Israel’s missile defence systems struggling to neutralize incoming fire, as air raid sirens blared in Tel Aviv and other large cities, with explosions being heard frequently.
The latest spurt in violence emanated from clashes between Palestinians and heavy-handed Israeli police near the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Monday. Alongside, communal violence has erupted in several Israeli cities with a mixed population of Jewish and Arab residents. Businesses and religious places have been attacked, cars have been targeted, and shootings have occurred as a consequence of protests turning violent. On Wednesday, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz instructed border protection forces to be deployed alongside police units to help maintain law and order.
The violence has only hardened the stance of both sides. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to take the offensive wider and deeper, while Hamas has declared a full-scale Intifada (or uprising). What is interesting to note, however, is that the present conflict coincides with a political crisis in Israel where Netanyahu finds himself in a quandary wherein, despite not being able to win a majority in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), he needs to stay on as Prime Minister if he wants to stave off the prospect of having to go to prison on charges of corruption. As a hawkish right-wing politician, the latest violence is expected Netanyahu cobble together a majority citing a threat to national security and keep opposition leader Yair Lapid from being able to do so.