June 6, 2023

Israeli and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip agreed to a ceasefire late Sunday night, a move expected to end a three-day conflict that killed dozens of Palestinians, including the militant commander, but that did not change The current situation in Gaza. Israel and the occupied territories.

The conflict began Friday afternoon when Israel launched airstrikes to thwart what it said was an imminent attack from Gaza, paralyzing parts of southern Israel and causing damage to several residential buildings and militant bases in Gaza.

According to Palestinian health officials, 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, were killed in the fighting. Dozens of Israelis were lightly wounded while taking cover from Palestinian rockets, and several others were hit by shrapnel. An unexploded rocket landed on a residential area in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, the broadcaster reported.

Still, the core dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the 15-year blockade of Gaza, remain, and this weekend’s escalation puts the two sides as far away from the possibility of peace talks. But the fighting revealed tensions between Islamic Jihad, the militia leading this latest battle with Israel, and Hamas, the militia that runs the Gaza Strip, which has chosen to stay on the brink of the conflict.

The fighting has severely damaged Gaza’s second-largest militia, Islamic Jihad. Two of its main leaders are now dead, and many of its bases and weapons factories have been destroyed – factors that have enabled Israel to emerge victorious in this round of fighting.

A senior Israeli official said in a statement that Israel had completed “a precise and effective operation that met all of its strategic objectives.”

The ceasefire, which officially went into effect at 11:30 p.m. local time, appeared to last into the early hours of Monday, except for a rocket fired 20 minutes later.

Israel declined to give further details about the agreement, but Islamic Jihad said they had received assurances from Egyptian officials who were mediating negotiations that Egypt would lobby Israel to release two of the group’s leading members, Bassem Saadi and Khalil Awawdeh, People currently held in Israeli prisons.

The conflict has highlighted the limitations and strengths of Israel’s strategy of offering small economic concessions to ordinary Gazans — particularly 14,000 work permits to help improve the Palestinian economy.

Since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, this approach has failed to prevent another fire in the enclave, which has endured at least six major episodes of violence. But by helping to persuade Hamas away from this particular conflict, the strategy could help shorten the length of the fight, which used to last weeks rather than days.

Inside Israel, the conflict also initially appeared to help elevate the status of Israel’s interim prime minister, Yar Rapid, who has long been accused by Israel’s critics of lacking the experience needed to lead the country in wartime.

Before the ceasefire was reached, Israeli analysts largely described the event as a victory and even a warning to Israel’s other enemies in the region, notably Lebanon’s Islamist militia Hezbollah, if They have also entered the area, and their fate will await them. All-out battle with Israel in the near future.

By contrast, life or prospects in Gaza and the West Bank have not changed, Palestinians have little to celebrate, and many families grieve the loss of their lives.Islamic Jihad also embarrassed video This appears to indicate that its rockets malfunctioned and hit civilian areas in Gaza.

“Objectively, if the ceasefire lasts, the Israelis will win,” said Ibrahim Dalalsha, director of the Horizon Center for the Palestinian Political Research Organization. “They isolated Islamic Jihad. “Islamic Jihad doesn’t have anything concrete to tell people other than rockets fired. Hamas didn’t participate because they had so much to lose, which is an achievement for Israel.”

The fighting also highlights the growing acceptance of Israel in parts of the Arab world. Past Gaza wars have drawn harsh criticism from other Arab countries. This time, the response was more muted.

Two of the three Arab countries that formally established relations with Israel in 2020, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, Express care About violence, but avoid criticizing Israel.Only the third country Bahrain directly condemn Strike in Israel.

But analysts say the battle has done little for Israelis or Palestinians more broadly.

By launching an attack on Friday and killing a leading militant leader, Israel has curbed what it says is a looming threat from Islamic Jihad. But the wider stalemate in Gaza will persist as long as Hamas remains in power, as the group remains reluctant to recognize Israel or disband its militias, making Israel reluctant to end the blockade it maintains with Egypt.

Tzipi Livni, a former senior Israeli minister and Palestinian chief negotiator, said the weekend’s war stopped a “ticking time bomb” but “would not bring about a strategic change in Gaza”.

She said Israel had not had a clear strategy for Gaza since its unilateral withdrawal from the enclave in 2005.

“When you don’t know what you want to achieve in the long run,” Ms. Livney said, “you go from one fight to another.”

In the short term, however, recent Israeli economic concessions to Gaza appear to have encouraged Hamas, at least for now, to adopt a less-than-stellar approach to rebuilding after a longer war last year. Radical approach.

According to UNICEF, nearly half of the roughly 2 million people living in the Gaza Strip are unemployed, and only one in 10 of them has access to clean water.

Since the last war, Israel has given work permits to 14,000 Gaza residents — a relatively small number, but a record high since Hamas took power in 2007, enough for the enclave’s Thousands of families provide a vital financial lifeline.

Mr Dalalsha said Hamas had now started “acting more rationally” out of fear of losing that concession. “They haven’t really recovered from last year’s blow, they’re more concerned with continuing to loosen and loosen restrictions on Gaza.”

Before the fighting began, Mr Rapid was accused of being too passive about Islamic Jihad. The group had threatened retaliation from Gaza after one of its top leaders was arrested in the occupied West Bank. In response, Rapid closed several roads near Gaza and imposed a curfew on Israeli communities near the border to keep residents out of the militant range.

Lapid is already known for being soft on national security compared to his main rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has amassed a wealth of experience as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

But analysts said that by launching the airstrikes on Friday, Mr. Rapide boosted his starting position in a political campaign that ends with few casualties on the Israeli side.

Lapid was photographed giving Netanyahu a formal security briefing on Sunday for a PR victory – a symbolic sign of how the balance of power has shifted between the pair .

But Mr Rapide has also been careful to share responsibility and the stage — and that means sharing the credit — with his defense secretary, former military chief of staff Benny Gantz.

“Rapid has now acquired the image of a prime minister leading military operations,” said Gayle Talhir, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “But clearly, the brain, planning and preparation will be more about Gantz than Lapid,” added Dr. Talshir.

In Gaza, however, the airstrikes only brought more pain and uncertainty.

Ghassan Abu Ramadan, a 65-year-old retired civil engineer who was hit during Friday’s strike in Israel, is recovering in hospital on Sunday during ceasefire talks.

“Our life in Gaza is complicated, we don’t know what will happen, what will our future hold,” said Mr. Abu Ramadan, lying on a bed in the intensive care unit of the Shifa hospital in Gaza city.

“How long will this last?” Mr Abu Ramadan added.

Raja Abdulrahim, Fady Hanona, Gabby Sobelman, Carol Sutherland and Iyad Abu Hweila contributed reporting.

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