Alwaght– The Israeli fighter jets have been bombing Gaza Strip over the past three months, since the Palestinians launched a campaign, dubbed Great March of Return, on the Gaza border with the occupied territories calling for their right to return to their Israeli-seized lands. The Gaza-based factions responded with firing missiles into territories occupied by the Israeli regime. In the meantime, there have been some truces, including the one agreed on Saturday night with Egypt’s mediation. But the Israeli air force renewed pounding the people in Gaza to once again violate a shaky ceasefire.
The attacks so far took lives of a considerable number of the Gaza civilians. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that recent air raids have come in the largest wave since 2014 against Hamas, a movement with a strong base in Gaza. But what is Tel Aviv eyeing behind the new campaign?
Paving the way for “the deal of the century”
The new wave of airstrikes against Gaza targets by the Israelis comes while efforts by the Israeli leaders to finalize the US-sponsored “deal of the century” are going on. The initiative, proposed by the US President and pursued by his Jewish advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, remains undisclosed to the public. But some sources with insider information have suggested that the US plans to recognize the Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank and full annexation of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), which are seen illegal by the UN and the Europeans. The idea and a set of other steps taken by the US, including the relocation of the embassy to Al-Quds, have brought the deeply divided Palestinians under the umbrella of unity, with all rejecting to yield to the Americans’ actions. The main focus of the air assaults were positions of Hamas, the long-time opponent to any compromises to the Israeli regime. Tel Aviv hopes that the airstrikes will pressure the resistant movement to agree with the deal terms. But the Palestinians appear to be rigorously opposing it as so far none of them showed a willingness to negotiate.
Distracting Israeli public opinion
The Israeli intensification of air push against the Palestinians comes while the regime’s Premier is rocked at home by cases of corruption. So far, Netanyahu was subjected to police questions several times, mainly after revelations about cases of bribery. Members of his family, including his wife, are facing similar charges. Reports say that the PM’s case will be reopened soon, which means Netanyahu will go under further questioning. The bombing, some analysts believe, provides him a shield against the judicial probes amid mounting public pressure.
Flexing muscles for Gaza amid failures in Syria
It is not lacking sense if the recent anti-Gaza campaign is linked to the blind airstrikes in the Syrian territories. There is a belief that so far the intermittent strikes against Syrian positions have not achieved what they were launched for. So, Netanyahu is seeking a full-scale foreign front escalation out of the Gaza air raids. In other words, if the Israeli PM is enthusiastically seeking military tensions with a foreign party, his wishes can find grounds of materialization more in Gaza than in Syria.
Is a new war likely?
Despite the fact that there is no ultimate ceasefire to press Tel Aviv to halt its airstrikes, it does not seem realistic if we think that the bombings are simply a prelude to a full-scale war against Hamas. The Israelis have more than one obstacle ahead to start a new aggression against Gaza.
Hamas military capabilities
So far, Gaza underwent two comprehensive wars launched by the Israeli army, one in early 2009 and the other in mid-2014. But none proved a success to the aggressive Israelis as the Palestinian factions staged firm resistance to severe Israeli raids and responded with missiles. In the last one, lasted from July to August 2014, the Israeli side received huge blows, with 64 Israelis killed and over 500 injured. For the Israeli regime, the numbers were extremely huge. Now Hamas forces are stronger and more equipped than before. They have honed their combat skills over time, making it a certain issue that in case of a new Israeli war, their response will be more substantial and painful.
Israeli regime’s lack of strategic depth
The occupied territories lack strategic depth which is a privilege to face foreign escalation and battle. Tel Aviv has always found this a weak spot in its military strategy. For any Israeli regime, the security is a red line and they take pains to avoid any military confrontation damaging to their security. This means that despite playing high-and-mighty and frequently threatening with a sweeping operation, they do their most to make sure that the heated climate does not develop into a war risking their home calm. After all, they know a new conflict with Gaza will be costly and hard to win.
World public against Tel Aviv, Palestinians united
Beside all of the above-mentioned hurdles, Tel Aviv faces mounting anti-Israeli sentiments worldwide. Already tough, the world public opinion’s anger with the Israeli actions has boiled over as Tel Aviv barbarously attacked the Palestinians protesting the Trump administration’s moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Al-Quds in May. A strong international front against Tel Aviv has been in the making, represented by protests against Netanyahu visits to Western countries and a UN resolution with 190 members condemning the US measure.
Recent developments pushed the Palestinian groups to cultivate a consensus on the need to cohesively confront the Israeli violations and expansionist plans. Another challenge causing the Israelis to fear is the Palestinians and Arabs of Israeli-controlled Palestinian territories. They account for 20 percent of the Israeli population. Israeli leaders are afraid that in a climate of intra-Palestinian unity, Palestinians of occupied territories will revolt. So, the heavy cost of anti-Gaza war cannot simply be ignored by the Israeli strategists, something making it hard to imagine a war is presently likely against Gaza.