Dangerously Close to Another Gaza Conflict

Tensions between Israel and Gaza are escalating significantly as Hamas make a series of new demands on Israel and continue to send incendiary devices over the border.

There has also been sporadic rocket fire into Israel, the latest one yesterday evening, when a projectile landed in an open field. It did not cause significant damage but caused rocket sirens to sound in the southern city of Ashkelon and Kibbutz Zikim, prompting thousands of Israelis to take shelter.

Screenshot of small fire from ILTV reportScreenshot of small fire from i24 News report

Benjamin Netanyahu is clear about the severity of the situation, saying:

“We have, for 10 days consecutively, been striking Hamas and terror groups’ infrastructure.
We are also applying various sanctions in areas that are important to Hamas.
Unfortunately, we are also preparing, as needed, for the possibility of a round, or rounds, [of fighting].
I hope we won’t get to this.”

More incendiary devices have been flown into Israel this morning, attached to balloons. Fires were reported near the town of Sderot and in the Be`eri forest. The Israelis are having to cope with as many as 40 of these attacks each day, some of which have started large fires.

The Egyptians and the Qataris are working to prevent further escalation but are facing major difficulties because both Hamas and Israel are refusing to change their current stance.

The only power plant in Gaza has shut down because Israel suspended fuel shipments in response to this barrage of incendiary balloons.

Gaza actually relies on Israel for most of its energy needs. The population have had about six hours of electricity supply each day followed by a power cut. Mohammad Thabet, an official in Gaza’s main power distribution company, said:

“The power feed may now decline to only four hours (per day).”

Once again it seems that Hamas leaders are prepared to make the population suffer while they pursue their own objectives.

In an interview with ILTV, Michael Milshtein of the Moshe Dayan Centre, Tel-Aviv University, said Hamas think Israel is currently focused on other issues; and facing an election in about 6 months, the Hamas leader is trying to strengthen his position by means of these attacks.