Israeli Army Believes Surging Gaza Violence Doesn't Justify Wider Conflict

Hamas chief Sinwar behind resurgence of border violence ■ Despite tensions in the south, Sunday’s West Bank terror attack is a bigger cause of concern for Israeli army

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, center, during his visit to the border with Israel, April 20, 2018.
Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, center, during his visit to the border with Israel, April 20, 2018.Credit: Khalil Hamra / AP
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

The resurgence of violent Hamas demonstrations along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip in the last several weeks is increasing the likelihood of military escalation in the south. The decision to resume the demonstrations and ratchet up the violence was made by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, in an effort to exert pressure on the Palestinian Authority and Israel to break through the stalemate in talks about plans to rehabilitate the Strip, which his organization controls.

Thousands of Palestinians have been protesting along the border with the Gaza Strip over the past few weeks on Sinwar’s instructions. There are about 20,000 protesters at each Friday demonstration, and smaller protests take place all day long during the week.

To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz

Protesters in Gaza setting fire to an IDF post, October 8

The Israel Defence Forces recently reinforced its presence by augmenting its Southern Command troops but up to now, the army has not found a solution for dealing with the border unrest, which has led to the deaths in recent months of roughly 200 Palestinians, in addition to the thousands wounded by Israeli sniper fire.

Still, the IDF is firm in its view that the situation in the Strip does not justify launching a broad military confrontation against Hamas. Defense officials believe that United Nations Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov and Egypt should be given a chance to come to an arrangement in Gaza that would restore calm and lead to reconstruction of the Strip’s infrastructure.

On Tuesday morning, following Mladenov’s efforts, two trucks carrying 35,000 liters of diesel fuel paid for by Qatar entered the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing, despite efforts to stymie the move by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Clashes at the Gaza Strip border fence, October

IDF sources believe coverage of events along the border by local news outlets and on social media has encouraged the fiery protests, and the army spokesman is now trying to influence the coverage by limiting the information about Gaza released by the IDF.

On Sunday Gazans broke through the inner border fence and set fire to camouflage netting at an unmanned Israeli army sniper post. On Monday, video clips of the incident were posted on social media, eliciting an IDF spokesman’s response, even though the IDF had not reported it. Before the fire, about 7,000 Gazans turned up near the Israeli border fence in the northern Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Zikim. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 29 Palestinians were wounded on Monday in clashes with the IDF, among them 11 by live fire.

Meanwhile, defense officials were concerned that Sunday’s terror attack in the West Bank industrial zone of Barkan, in which two Israelis were killed, would lead to an outbreak of violence in the West Bank. The army and the Shin Bet security service fear that the diplomatic stalemate between Israel and the PA, and the exclusion of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from negotiations on a longer-term arrangement in Gaza, might lead to a perceived “successful” terror attack that could usher in a wave of copycat assaults.

Escalation in the West Bank would mean increased friction with Israeli troops in Palestinian cities, bolstering security arrangements at the Jewish settlements, halting security coordination with the PA, and coping with terrorist attacks in the territories and inside Israel proper. Larger numbers of troops would then have to be deployed at the expense of IDF training exercises and courses, and would involve bringing in forces from other fronts.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage