For the third day in a row, the Israeli Occupation Forces have been bombing the besieged Gaza Strip. They killed, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, 25 Palestinians and wounded 76 others, mostly children.
More than 150 apartments were either completely or partially damaged and two multi-storey homes were demolished, rendering hundreds of internally displaced people who are living with host families.
The Israeli bombing started on Tuesday night at around 2:20 am, by the killing of three Islamic Jihad commanders. Several family members – all women and children – were killed or wounded. In addition, a famous dentist, his wife and his son – all of them were doctors – were also killed.
Former Military Israeli Army Advocate, reserve Lieutenant Colonel, Maurice Hirsch, said: “Considering the military advantage gained by eliminating these senior terrorists, it is irrelevant to ask how many children were incidentally killed.” This proves that killing women and children was intentional.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads a coalition government that consists of right, centre right and far-right extremist ministers, said that Israel “is ready for any possibility”; Israel was waiting for the response of the Palestinian Resistance to the killing of the Palestinian people.
Netanyahu and his Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, claimed that the Israeli bombing “amputated the organisation [Islamic Jihad]’s leadership in Gaza”. With great defiance, he added: “Our principle is clear: Whoever harms us, we harm them, and with greater force. Our long arm reaches every terrorist at the time and place of our choosing … I advise our enemies: Don’t mess with us.”
But his defiance proved to be fake, as Israel was completely paralysed just over the silence of the Palestinian Resistance, which promised to make “the occupation state pay the price for murdering the commanders of the Palestinian Resistance.”
However, while Netanyahu claimed the strikes had “amputated” the Islamic Jihad leadership, his security cabinet ordered Israelis living at a distance of 40 km from Gaza to evacuate their homes or stay near bomb shelters. The Israeli army deployed the Iron Dome to intercept the expected Palestinian missiles. He himself does not have confidence in his own words.
Then, the Palestinian Resistance waited for about 40 hours before launching any rocket in response to the killing of the Palestinians. Netanyahu, his ministers and the Israeli people, who expected to see tens of rockets showering the Gaza peripheries in a couple of hours, followed by a ceasefire announcement, ran out of patience. They want to return to their normal life.
Under much internal popular and political pressure, Netanyahu decided to address his nation and claim victory and set 8:00 pm as the time for his speech. He convened his security cabinet and decided to go ahead with his address. Suddenly, the Palestinian Resistance launched large barrages of rockets from Gaza towards Israel, not at a range of 40 km, but 80 km, obliging him to cancel his address.
His security echelon pushed him to give his address, and he did, but after two hours from the planned time. He stood beside Gallant and said: “When we started Operation Shield and Arrow, we were ready for any scenarios,” pointing out that Israel was “at the end of the operation.” While standing beside him, his Defence Minister wished that the operation would have ended soon.
The speeches of Netanyahu and Gallant were delivered amidst intensive efforts to reach a ceasefire with the Palestinian Resistance. Netanyahu thought he would have returned to his office, but found that the Palestinian Resistance insisted on its demand, and extended paralysis to the Israeli settlements and cities for an unlimited period.
After all of this, Netanyahu found himself facing continuous paralysis in Israel, high expenses for the temporary relocation of the Israelis from the south to the centre, or the north, economic paralysis, suspension of schools and universities, residents from the south say they do not want to return home, coalition members who do not support him and opposition which believes the goals of the operation was achieved and it should stop, and many other major issues. He found himself swamped in a backlog of crises that make his mission as a Prime Minister very difficult.
Regarding the deterrence, he said that he killed the Islamic Jihad commanders to end the phenomenon of firing rockets from Gaza but, according to his Defence Ministry, the Palestinian Resistance launched 547 rockets and mortars at Israel – only 175 were intercepted by Iron Dome and David’s Sling. The Defence Ministry also pointed out that at least 394 of the projectiles crossed the border and only 124 fell short in Gaza.
Then, Netanyahu claimed he would not accept a conditional ceasefire with terms imposed by the Palestinian Resistance. However, on the ground, he has started an undeclared ceasefire as he almost stopped his bombings, returned to the policy of a strike for strike, and begged the Arab and UN mediators to persuade Hamas not to take part in the fighting in order not to be obliged to extend the round of fighting.
Contrary to what he has claimed, Netanyahu is not ready for an extended round of fighting because of the ongoing contradictions inside his reduced cabinet, Imad Abu Awwad, head of Al Quds for Israeli Studies, said. “He pretends to be reluctant to a conditional ceasefire, but he is begging it,” Abu Awwad told Al Jazeera Arabic TV.
If Netanyahu did not reach a declared or undeclared ceasefire, at this point, he would not have regained Israel’s deterrence. Dating back to 2008, Israel sought to eliminate Hamas rule in Gaza; a couple of years later, it sought to stop rocket attacks from Gaza; then, it sought to stop Palestinians from developing their arms and now it is seeking calm for calm.
Expressing Israel’s defeatist condition, Netanyahu’s Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich told Ynet news: “From our perspective, if they stop firing at us, there’s no reason to continue.” Netanyahu himself stopped seeking to strip Palestinian Resistance of its arms as he said that Israel will chase only those who harm it. “We will reach anyone who harms us,” he repeatedly said, since the start of the ongoing offensive. Hadashot Yesrael reported a resident of Sderot saying: “We do not need to laugh at each other. They paralysed the country, despite the continuous army strikes.”
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