By Saveria Antonacci
On Monday, November 12, seven Palestinians and one Israeli were killed in a covert Israeli operation. The exchange occurred outside of the city of Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza strip. According to BBC News, an Israeli unit was traveling in a civilian vehicle when it fired at Nur Barakeh, a commander of Hamas’s military wing. Moments after, a gun battle broke out and Israeli tanks and aircraft opened fire in the immediate area. The impetus for the operation remains unclear, but Israeli officials claim that it was an effort to gain intelligence, rather than an assassination or abduction mission.
Army Chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said the Israeli officer had been killed in a “very meaningful operation to Israel’s security,” while senior member of the Hamas Political Bureau Musa Abu-Marzouq said that the operation “exposed the Israeli occupation’s hypocritical behavior with the international community,” according to CNN. This series of attacks follow efforts to initiate a ceasefire in the region, which have been supported by Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations.
Following the Palestinian deaths, at least 80 rockets were launched from Gaza and directed at Israel within one hour, furthering the violent nature of the conflict. Some of the projectiles were intercepted by the Israeli Defense Force’s “Iron Dome Aerial Defense System.” However, 10 additional Israelis were wounded as a result, reports CNN. Both Israeli and Palestinian forces increased levels of alertness in their emergency preparedness services. The attacks occurred days after Qatar sent $15 million in suitcases into Gaza. This was an effort to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and reduce tensions along the border.
Neither side expressed a clear desire to quell tensions. After a recent strike on the television station al-Aqsa TV, run by the Islamist militant group Hamas, Palestinian factions vowed to extend the range of their rockets, as stated by The Washington Post. A Hamas spokesperson went on to call the strike a “blatant aggression against journalism.” On the other hand, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, coordinator of Israeli government activities in the Palestinian territories, said that Hamas had crossed a “red line” and that the Israeli military would intensify its response. The Israeli military justified its attack by saying that the television network broadcasts propaganda and provides instructions on how to carry out attacks on Israel.
As a result of the conflict that has occurred within the last week, Israel faces domestic political turmoil. In an additional report, CNN states that former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned on Wednesday, which sparked a debate on how Israel would achieve a ceasefire. Talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rightwing Education Minister Naftali Bennett ended sour when the PM refused to hand over the defense portfolio. Bennett and other Ministers across the government have called for early elections. It is expected that a date for these elections will be announced on Sunday, after a meeting of heads of the coalition party.
The origin of the conflict between these two nations dates back to the first half of the 20th century. Encroachment of Israeli territory into Palestinian territory and the growth of terrorist attacks in the region has led to more frequent conflict in recent years. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in 10 years, with flare-ups becoming increasingly frequent in recent months. According to The New York Times, this Israeli incursion into Gaza is the first since “Operation Protective Edge” in July of 2014, which set off a seven-week war. Religious and ethnic tensions also play a large role in explaining the violence between the two nations.
It is apparent that the possibility of a ceasefire is in danger. Both Israeli and Palestinian forces must work together with renewed vigor if they would like to bring about an end to a conflict that has engulfed the region for decades.