Conflicts & War

After a quiet year, violent tension escalate between Israel and Gaza

By Pablo Duer

Jerusalem, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- The month of August has been witness to incessant violence along Israel’s frontier with the Gaza Strip, with incendiary balloons, rockets, protests and reprisal bombings defining the summer month for those living on both sides of the border.

In a year marked by global suffering a pain amid the pandemic, the restive border area had remained unusually quiet until this point.

Small skirmishes and tension at the end of February ceded to a silence, paving the way even for negotiations on prisoner swaps and allowing authorities both in Israel and in the Gaza Strip to focus on their response to Covid-19 and the socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus.

At the beginning of August, however, militants in the Palestinian territory began to launch incendiary balloons over the divide.

Israel’s reaction was a few days in the making, but the military eventually decided to launch nighttime bombing raids on military targets belonging to the Islamist movement Hamas, which governs the Palestinian territory.

These have now gone on for 11 nights in a row. As of now the primary objective has been the destruction of military installments and, with the exception of two light injuries, have only resulted in material damage.

Militant groups in the Gaza Strip have responded, first with a rocket, then with two and then, on Thursday, the most violent night in six months, they launched 12. Most were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system, but fragments of one rocket impacted and severely damaged a house in Sderot.

According to Palestinian analysts, the new surge in violent activity from Hamas is part of a demand that Israel lifts the blockade imposed on the territory in 2007 and that it upholds its commitments as laid out in a ceasefire deal mediated by Egypt and the United Nations last year.

This, the analysts add, includes the expansion of the Gaza Strip’s fishing zones, and lifting of the embargo on certain products.

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