DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:00 A.M)- Tensions between Israel and Gaza are again high, as Israeli aggression against Gaza sparks crisis.
The question now is, does this mean war?
On Sunday afternoon two actions taken against Gaza, set in motion what may have created a slippery slope, which may soon result in war.
Firstly, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) decided to impose a new round of sanction upon Gaza. The sanctions included the withdrawal of PA forces from the Rafah border, with Egypt, also cutting PA salaries in Gaza.
The Egypt-Gaza border was formerly controlled by Hamas, following their removal of the PA in 2007, but this changed in 2017 when a ‘Unity deal’ was signed between rivaling Palestinian factions. Part of the Unity Deal arrangement was to station PA forces at Rafah, readying a further facilitation of PA power in the Gaza Strip. The removal of PA forces from Rafah, is significant because it effectively killed the Unity Deal entirely.
The second major action, was taken by Israel, when an Israeli helicopter launched a rocket attacked upon Khan Yunis (Southern Gaza Strip). The attack, according to the IDF, was targeting two Hamas positions.
The timing of this helicopter attack however was not mere coincidence, this was strategically played by Israel, as they anticipated a response.
The Hamas response came, on Monday morning, in the form of several projectiles fired into Israel. Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ air defense system reportedly intercepted one, the rest hitting nothing. This then gave Israel the green light to strike Gaza again.
Israel reportedly struck Gaza in both the South and North, a particular focus was concerted on the areas Jabalia refugee camp and the Al-Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City, according to Palestinian media.
It’s important to note, that most, if not all, press coverage in the West, reported that Israel had responded to rocket fire from Gaza, conveniently leaving out the initial Israeli helicopter strike. (Film Below)
#فيديو : لحظة قصف طائرات الاحتلال المروحية مرصدًا للمقاومة شرق مدينة خان يونس جنوبي قطاع #غزة مساء اليوم.
Posted by Shehab News Agency on Sunday, January 6, 2019
On Monday, Israel then announced, that the third installment of Qatari aid money to Gaza ($15 million), will be stopped.
Israel claims that this comes in response to the new escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip.
Following the November trade of fire, embarrassing Israel, a de facto agreement was reached between Israel and Gaza, negotiated through Egypt as their proxy. The agreement was that all violence would stop between the two sides, with Hamas calming down the protests in Gaza and Israel allowing for Qatar to send installments of cash to Hamas.
Israel broke this ceasefire the following day, shooting a fisherman in the head and killing him. However the agreement held, until this Monday.
Egypt also confirmed on Monday, that the Rafah border crossing will now be closed.
What will happen now?
Gaza is now on the brink of complete collapse, since February of 2018 it has been in a declared state of emergency. Hamas are also battling to find finances, their only lifeline was the recent aid from Qatar.
The best case scenario, is that the PA resumes talks with Hamas and the tensions with Israel de-escalate. If the Rafah border re-opens and the money from Qatar can yet again be supplied to Gaza, this could possibly restore relative “calm” in Gaza.
However, if Israel continues to prevent Qatari aid from reaching Hamas and follows up with further provocations, such as killing Gazan protestors or conducting airstrikes, the situation could escalate into a new war.
Elections are coming up in Israel and PM Benjamin Netanyahu still carries the humiliation of November, in Gaza. Avigdor Leiberman, former Israeli Defense Minister also continues to attack Netanyahu over Gaza. In order to look good for the elections, Netanyahu may be looking to start a war.
Within the past 12 months, Israel have carried out an admitted 865 strikes against Gaza.
The timing of the recent helicopter attack, shows that Israel were looking to take advantage of the PA sanctions on Gaza. Israel has effectively closed the border, hurt workers, limited electricity and stopped Qatari aid to Hamas, all in one day. In fact, it is my own opinion that without the insidious actions of Mahmoud Abbas, Israel may not have even chosen now to apply pressure to Gaza.
Israel may be looking for a new war against Gaza, or may just be planning appear strong, but regardless, there will be something new that is awaiting the oppressed population of the besieged Gaza Strip, one way or another.