Even Closer to the Brink of War

On Tuesday the United Nations Mideast envoy said that Israel and Hamas were just “minutes away” from another “devastating confrontation” in Gaza on Saturday. He claimed that the clash was only prevented after UN and Egyptian diplomacy prompted both sides to “step back from the brink.”

United Nations Mideast envoy United Nations Mideast envoy Nikolay Mladenov

Nikolay Mladenov warned the UN Security Council that “unless we begin in earnest the crucial work required to change the current deteriorating dynamics, another explosion is almost a certainty.”

He was talking about an unofficial ceasefire reached in Israel at the weekend after Egypt warned Hamas that Israel would launch a war “in two hours” if they responded to retaliatory strikes into Gaza that followed the killing of an Israeli soldier by sniper fire.

Egypt is also reported to have threatened to impose sanctions on Hamas if it does not stop sending incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory.

Thus it is no surprise that a Catholic Priest said the people in Gaza “are really afraid about a new war.”

The situation flared up again on Wednesday when an Israeli soldier was wounded by sniper fire from Gaza. Israel’s retaliatory strikes killed 3 members of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, prompting another round of rocket fire towards Israel overnight. Thus the situation is extremely tense again on Thursday morning.

The situation in Gaza has been seriously aggravated by a lack of money since the United States cut funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) earlier this year. The World Bank has recently allocated $90 million in aid, an increase from $55 million in 2017. Their increased support coincides with UNRWA deciding to cut jobs in the Palestinian territories – affecting 154 employees in the West Bank and 113 in the Gaza Strip.

The lack of money is also a function of the long-standing power struggle between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

But war with Hamas in the south is not the only concern. Analysts have been warning for months about the danger of a new conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon to the north of Israel.

And the latest Syrian Government offensive to regain the southwest of its territory has also resulted in heightened tensions on Israel’s north-eastern border, exemplified by the shooting down of a Syrian fighter.

Thus the danger of a renewed war now seems very great on three fronts around Israel.


This article was updated on 26th July 2018.