Gaza City – The threat of another war in Gaza continues to increase as the Palestinians demand an end to the devastating 13-year blockade and Israel tightens the screws on Gaza’s economy while targeting Hamas positions.
Israeli warplanes and tanks bombed Hamas military sites early Tuesday in response to incendiary balloons launched from Gaza into southern Israel, according to an IDF statement.
It was the 15th day in a row that Israel launched attacks on Hamas infrastructure and farmland in the Gaza Strip. Gaza’s military factions did not respond on Tuesday, although they had already launched rockets at Israel after the attacks last week.
No serious injuries were reported on either side.
The current escalation between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and Israel has been caused by the launching of incendiary balloons by Palestinians in southern Israel over the past two weeks in an effort to pressure Israel to lift its crippling blockade imposed in 2007. Balloons and rigged kites often start flames on farms in Israel.
Over the past two years, following the momentum of the Great March of Return protests, multiple agreements have been reached between Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel with the mediation of Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations. United Nations.
Hamas, which rules Gaza, was to provide security along the dividing line between Palestinians and Israelis in return for Israel easing the blockade.
But Palestinian leaders in Gaza have accused Israel of continuing to give up on implementing its end of the bargain.
According to local Palestinian media, Israel has failed to extend Gaza’s authorized fishing zone to 20 nautical miles, to allow construction of a new power line in the Gaza Strip, to enable the Gaza power station. operate on natural gas and facilitate the movement of goods. , including the entry of 1,200 trucks per day, through the Karem Abu Salem crossing (known as Kerem Shalom to the Israelis).
In response to the launching of incendiary balloons, Israel took punitive measures against Gaza by restricting goods passing through the crossing point, completely closing the sea to Gaza fishermen and cutting off the fuel supply, causing the closure of the crossing. the only power station in the territory with a reduction of electricity to four hours per day.
“The current escalation is a confrontation between the Palestinian factions which are fighting to lift the blockade of Gaza and Israel which is fighting twice as hard to keep the blockade in place,” political analyst Husam al-Jazeera told Al Jazeera. Dajani.
“Whenever Palestinians protest and demand that the blockade be lifted or even eased, Israel is responding by tightening the blockade and exacerbating the crisis in Gaza,” he added.
“By doing this, Israel adds more fuel to the fire and steers the situation towards further escalation and instability. You solve a problem by attacking its cause, not by exacerbating the cause. ”
Al-Dajani said the stalemate could lead to another full-fledged military confrontation.
“And now that Israel is threatening Gaza with another military operation, it is astonishing that Israel does not even consider loosening its blockade on Gaza and considers any other alternative,” he said.
‘The situation is exploding’
Hamas official Basem Naim told Al Jazeera that despite efforts to “prevent the situation from exploding,” Israel continues to escalate the siege on Gaza and avoid committing to previous agreements.
“The Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip live in unbearably miserable and grim conditions… Gaza factions have told mediators that Gaza will not remain silent in these tragic conditions. ”
Gaza armed groups and Israeli forces are now on high alert and preparing for further clashes. Hamas officials are declaring this time that they will not cooperate until Israel fully lifts its blockade on Gaza.
In anticipation of an escalation, the IDF on Sunday stepped up the deployment of Iron Dome missile batteries in the south.
Meanwhile, the incendiary balloon units issued a statement on Saturday saying, “We will not back down and rest until the demands of our people are met and the blockade lifted.”
In Gaza, Palestinian factions are united behind Israel’s demand to lift the blockade.
The Gaza Common House of Palestinian Resistance Factions, which includes 13 armed groups, issued a statement on Friday.
“We will not allow the enemy to continue the unjust siege of our people … It is the right of our people to express, by all appropriate means, their rejection of the blockade,” he declared.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to assassinate the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad if the fire balloons continued, and suggested that another war on Gaza was possible.
Gaza has been under Israeli blockade since 2007 when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip.
The siege inflicted severe hardship on residents. The poverty rate among the population of Gaza has reached 53 percent, while “extreme poverty” stands at 33.8 percent, according to statistics from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).
About 68 percent of families do not have enough to eat, while 80 percent of Gazans depend on aid. The region’s unemployment rate is 45.1%, according to the PCBS.
“The Israeli occupation wants to keep the blockade in place on the Gaza Strip,” said Talal Abu Zarifa, senior official of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
“Israel wants to impose calm on Gaza without lifting the siege, and the Palestinians reject this equation. ”
Abu Zarifa added: “When the occupation closes the crossing points and prevents fishing at sea, these acts constitute collective punishment and this is against international and humanitarian law. ”
He noted that “the occupation” bears responsibility for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip.
The international community must pressure Israel to lift the blockade and stop all forms of collective punishment against the Palestinian people, Abu Zarifa added.
Naim said the suffering of Gazans has become “a forgotten problem”.
“In light of this, the Palestinian people and Palestinian factions have no choice but to take the lead and speak out against this deteriorating humanitarian situation, and to say that we will not accept not to die in silence, ”he said.