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Palestinians inspect the damaged building of Said al-Mis'hal cultural center after it was hit bombed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. Palestinian officials say Israeli warplanes have attacked the cultural center in Gaza City. The Palestinian Health Ministry says seven bystanders were wounded in Thursday evening's airstrike in the Shati refugee camp. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Is Gaza Escalation Prelude to War?

Alwaght– Gaza Strip has been experiencing new escalation over the past few days. For many, the tensions usher in a new period of disputes that could develop into a full-scale war. The Israeli army began its air and artillery bombing of Gaza a few hours after the regime’s minister for war affairs Avigdor Lieberman warned on July 20 that Hamas movement was dragging Tel Aviv into a war bigger than 2014 war.

The tensions are mounting as during the “Great March of Return”, a Palestinian campaign asking for the right to return to their territories, the Israeli forces killed over 160 protestors and wounded 16,000 others.

Over the past week, the Israelis and Palestinians saw a rise in their exchange of fire. Gaza-based Palestinian factions launched some 180 rockets into the occupied territories after Tel Aviv stuck the besieged enclave with 150 missiles, which claimed lives of a 23-year pregnant women and her 18-month daughter.

The exchange of fire bears all hallmarks of upcoming intensification of tensions. In past wars, the intensified trading of rockets stood a prelude to the full-scale war. Last week, Egypt brokered a ceasefire deal between the two, with two sides’ remarks showing they wanted to de-escalate. Renewed Israeli air raids and retaliatory Hamas rockets, however, bring a cloud of uncertainty on the situation. The question is now that how much is it possible that the crisis develops into a war?

Tel Aviv concerned about citizens’ sense of insecurity

No matter what the results are, an outbreak of a war with Gaza will unavoidably expose the Israeli military’s weakness and capabilities.

For the Israeli leaders, it is an utmost accomplishment to provide the settlers with a sense of security and struggle to prevent total destruction of this sense. In fact, the foreign Jews come to the occupied territories after provision with the assurance that their residential areas are secure, which means any violation of this guarantee will bring forth a new challenge to the policy of population attraction from around the world.

With this in mind, it is clear how disconcerting and costly for the Israelis is even a single rocket fired into the occupied lands, especially if the much-vaunted Iron Dome and other anti-missile systems fail to intercept the Palestinian projectiles. So, the landing of a missile in the Israeli cities, even without causing destructions or taking lives, is equal to the devastation of Tel Aviv’s heavy investment on the citizens’ assurance that their areas are secure against military challenges.

The misfortune to the Israeli leaders is that over the past week a considerable number of the Palestinian factions’ rockets landed into their cities despite Tel Aviv military officials’ bragging about how effectively their anti-missile systems can address the challenge.

According to Israeli authorities, the Iron Dome system deployed to the Gaza border has only detected and destroyed 30 out of 180 Hamas and other Palestinian groups’ rockets launched into the Israeli areas on Friday.

The casualties’ figures are expressive of how penetrating the rockets were, an issue the Israeli leaders can hardly hide and setting up a new challenge ahead of the Israeli government-sponsored programs to attract Jews from across the world to the occupied lands.

Situation became more complex when Israeli media reported that that the army has deployed new Iron Dome batteries near capital city of  Tel Aviv, signaling that the system has been unsuccessful on the borders with Gaza and the regime struggles to establish a new shielding layer against missiles.

With Iron Dome proving to be a frustration, now it becomes obvious how vital it is for the Israeli leaders to avoid a new war and will do everything to prevent outbreak of a new war.

Afraid of a comprehensive Palestinian revolt

The US President Donald Trump’s recognition of al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the Israeli capital and relocation of the American embassy to the Muslim city and the US-sponsored “deal of the century”– which analysts say will be the US full recognition of al-Quds and Israeli settlements– make the Palestinian areas look like a powder keg ready to go off with any spark. An encompassing revolt can include not only Gaza but also West Bank, a development that can send the Israelis into dire straits. As Gaza bombing started, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority called on Tel Aviv to halt operations, asserting that he worked to form an international consensus against the anti-Gaza campaign.

Odds are that the protests develop into the occupied territories. Various Israeli cities have recently been theater to rallies against the recently approved “Jewish nation-state law”, which racistly recognizes the Israeli regime as a Jewish state. In case of a war, the Israeli government could face a home backlash. The issue is worth considering as we know Muslims and Arabs account for at least 20 percent of the Israeli population in occupied territories. Another factor is the leftists and anti-Netanyahu groups who back any anti-government moves. Their siding with the Palestinians against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a Gaza war situation is not unlikely.

International community against Israeli actions

After Trump’s embassy move, a big international consensus against Tel Aviv came to existence. The anti-Israeli diplomatic climate will certainly strongly question any new military adventure in Gaza. At the present time, the US and Europe are deeply divided on the controversial US “deal of the century.” The plan is even devoid of regional backers. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said Jordan and Egypt are against the US plan. The media recently reported that King Salman of Saudi Arabia withdrew the kingdom’s advocacy to the deal which was favored by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

With regard to the obstacles ahead of the deal, any fresh war will push Tel Aviv’s goals and schemes into an impasse. Therefore, the Israelis now see their maximum interests in avoiding a war against Gaza.

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