Defense Officials: Recent Subdued Protests Constitute Incentive to Renew Fuel Transports to Gaza

Officials expected to take the opportunity to prevent severe deterioration in Gaza's humanitarian situation following defense minister's decision to stop allowing Qatari-funded fuel into the enclave

Palestinians protesting near the Gaza-Israel border fence, October 19, 2018.
MOHAMMED SALEM/Reuters

Defense officials are expected to take advantage of the relatively subdued nature of Palestinian protests near the Israel-Gaza border fence on Friday to try and resume the supply of fuel to the enclave.

The measures Hamas took to keep the protests under control – including, among other things, patrolling along the fence and preventing demonstrators from approaching it – has provided another incentive for these officials to try and restart the transport of fuel.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the halt of the transports last week until violence in Gaza, including the launching of incendiary balloons, ceased. The decision was taken against the opinions of senior members of the Israeli defense establishment. 

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IDF soldiers and demonstrators on the Gaza-Israel border fence, October 19. 2018.
Eliyahu Hershkowitz

Friday's protests included the launch of some incendiary balloons and the bruning of tires, alongside three attempts at crossing the fence into Israel. Regardless, some defense officials believe it is crucial to resume the provision of fuel, explaining that preventing the Qatari-funded fuel shipments from entering Gaza would have a severe effect on the humanitarian situation in the enclave. The defense minister and other officials are expected to depict Friday's protests as fulfilling the demands they made as a precondition to the continuation of fuel transports –  meaning they could resume as soon as Sunday.

Officials believe the resumption of the fuel transports will be interpreted in Gaza as a gesture indication a change of direction. The message that Israel will attempt to send is that if there is no violence, Gaza residents will be rewarded.

According to officials' assessments, Hamas is closely watching Israel's response to their efforts to control demonstrators and prevent violence.