Rocket tests, plans for revenge and the American factor: A closer look at tense situation on Israel-Gaza border.
While everyone watches events in America, Israel is also keeping a close watch on Gaza. The storm clouds are gathering as more signs point to high risk of an imminent military clash. Below are five factors to consider:
Gaza rocket tests: On Wednesday, terrorists test-fired at least four rockets into the sea. This has been happening frequently in recent weeks, with more than 15 launches so far. Meanwhile, Gaza’s factories continue to churn out new rockets every day.
Islamic Jihad seeks revenge: Last week, defense officials told the security cabinet to prepare for a potential fight. The IDF expects Islamic Jihad to carry out revenge attacks for the killing of a high-ranking commander a year ago (the anniversary is coming up soon).
IDF says Gaza more explosive than Lebanon: While Lebanon remains the most dangerous front, the Israel-Gaza border is more explosive, the IDF now says. The security cabinet is scheduled to convene again next week, with Gaza no doubt high on the agenda.
Hamas confidence breeds violence: The bad news for Israel is that Hamas confidence is high after containing the COVID-19 virus, military journalist Amir Bohbot says. He predicts that the next round of fighting will be very violent, and longer than usual (the last Gaza war lasted 50 days, but that was back in 2014. Since then there were a few brief clashes).
The American factor: Israel and Hamas are not interested in an all-out war, most observers say. But what if the conflict escalates and gets out of hand? If President Donald Trump loses the election, Israel could be tempted to launch a major operation while the friend from America is still in the White House.
Will Israel invade Gaza?
Israel will ultimately have to invade Gaza and terminate Hamas’ rule, former security chief Avi Dichter said last year (Dichter knows Gaza well. He was in charge of intelligence ops there before becoming the Shin Bet’s director). A wide-ranging operation is only a matter of time and will take months to complete, he said. Is the moment of truth nearing?
The IDF is certainly making some serious war preparations. IDF chief-of-staff Aviv Kochavi recently approved new battle plans that call for rapid attacks on prominent terrorists and key targets. The army says that it’s no longer interested in fights that end in a stalemate and wants to achieve a decisive victory.
The IDF also paved a new road network near the Israel-Gaza border to enable faster mobilization. Military vehicles will now have quicker access routes instead of driving through farmers fields. The army prepared a few more tricks that are expected to make the next war different than the last one (you can read about it here).
And a final thought: As aggressive IDF moves tend to draw global criticism, Israel prefers to fight wars while the world’s attention is elsewhere. With all eyes on America, surprises are possible far away in the Middle East.