Israeli Merkava tanks drive near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip as they return from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclave on August 5, 2014 (Photo: THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

Gaza Swinging Between Cease-fire and War

At least three armed Palestinians killed while trying to infiltrate Israel

Intermittent violence continues to erupt in the Gaza Strip, despite an unofficial cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

On Saturday night, the Israel Defense Forces killed at least three armed Palestinians, reportedly members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who were attempting to cross the security fence along the Gaza border. It was the fourth attempted infiltration from Gaza into Israel over the past two weeks. 

The latest incident came after rockets were launched from the coastal enclave into southern Israel on two successive days. In response, the IDF struck Hamas-controlled facilities in Gaza.

When reached by The Media Line a Hamas spokesperson refused to comment. 

Mazen Safi, a Gaza-based political analyst who works for the Palestinian Ministry of Health, told The Media Line that Hamas’ moves were “in reaction to Israel’s systematic escalation against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank as well as Jerusalem.

“The latest clashes are the result of Israeli government policies in support of the settlers [a term for Jews living in the West Bank] and their behavior,” Safi said.

He further claimed that the IDF had allowed settlers to break into the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which “provoked the religious feelings of the Palestinians and triggered individual reactions and operations. 

“I believe that the attacks have been carried out by angry and frustrated Palestinians, rather than by the factions [Hamas and Islamic Jihad],” Safi contended. 

Nevertheless, Safi does not believe the current situation will affect the Israeli elections scheduled for September 17. “Based on what the polls are showing, the majority of Israelis support [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and what he is promoting, regardless of what the Palestinians do. Israel’s policy,” he continued, “aims to empty Gaza and Jerusalem of Palestinians, increase the siege on the [coastal enclave] and keep it separate from the West Bank. [Netanyahu] wants to strip the Palestinian Authority of its powers and prevent it from changing the situation or fulfilling its duties.”

In an interview with The Media Line, Gad Shimron, an Israeli political analyst, said that “there is absolutely no logic behind the rockets being fired from Gaza, but it won’t affect the elections in any case. Almost nothing can change how [Netanyahu] supporters vote, unless a rocket lands on a kindergarten or public place and causes fatalities.” 

However, Shimron emphasized that it is impossible to forecast what will happen next along the Gaza border.

The increasing tensions come after a few months of relative calm, which followed a major flare-up in May and more than a year of weekly “March of Return” mass protests by Gazans along the shared frontier. 

Ali Abd al-Hamad, an Egyptian political analyst, told The Media Line that the current tensions are the result of Israeli provocations.

“The Israelis want Gaza to stay like a fireball to keep the signs of any potential battle going,” he argued. “Israel is working to kill the will of the resistance in Gaza, but the people will not be broken.”

Al-Aamad said the recent series of attacks from Gaza were not ordered or directed by “any official Palestinian parties, which are trying to protect whatever is left of the indirect talks with the Zionist enemy.” 

He concluded that Gazans are trying to “send a clear message to Israel that the Palestinian resistance won’t stop because of negotiations with the Israeli side, even if the Arab states have abandoned their responsibilities towards the Palestinian people.”

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