After two days in which more than 600 rockets were fired at Israel killing four people, Israel agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip — a decision not welcomed by many Israelis who have lived through several deadly cycles of rocket barrages in the past decade.
The ceasefire was agreed to after Israel threatened to cut off fuel supplies into Gaza and just as Muslims began Ramadan, the month of daylong fasting and nighttime feasts.
Many Israelis, especially residents of the South, know this pattern all too well. Past truces were fragile and usually crumble after just a few weeks or months. It doesn’t take much to trigger a single rocket or another rocket barrage from the Palestinians. This latest one, which began on Saturday, is the second deadly barrage in just a few months.
“The ceasefire, given the circumstances under which it was reached, lacks achievements for Israel,” said Gidon Saar, a Likud minister. “The time ranges between the rounds of violent attacks on Israel and its citizens are getting shorter, and the terrorist organizations in Gaza use the periods in between to get stronger. The campaign has not been prevented, but postponed.”
The truce agreement, brokered by Egypt and Qatar, requires Israel to ease its blockade of goods in the Gaza Strip and limits on Gaza’s fishing zone to 12 nautical miles off the coast plus make improvements to Gaza’s electricity and fuel situation.
While Israelis are not interested in war, they are interested in security. The residents of the south feel abandoned to political decisions that leave them as the victims in this lethal game of chicken. They are weary of having to run to shelters.
“In a month, in two weeks, in a month and a half, it will all happen again – we achieved nothing,” said Haim Cohen, 69, from Ashdod. “I think Israel needs to strike them very, very hard so that they learn their lesson.”
The Israeli military struck 350 militant targets during this escalation and assassinated an individual believed to have been Iran’s money man in the Gaza Strip. Nine militants and the same number of Palestinian civilians, including two children, were killed. It was the worst violence between the two sides since a 50-day war in 2014.
Since Israel pulled its Jewish citizens out of Gaza in 2005 and gave complete control of the coastal enclave over the the Palestinians, Hamas has been launching rockets at Israel. In the past year there have been eight rounds of fighting, some lasting little more than a day. Broader wars occurred in 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2014.
But the real Gaza showdown is just around the corner, according to IDF Chief of Staff Lt. General Aviv Kochavi who believes that a military campaign will likely take place later this summer.
Kochavi is also intentionally redefining these events. He called the latest attacks the “days of battle” rather than the usual “rounds of violence.” He calls Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror “armies” rather than “organizations.”
Ultimately, Hamas is driven more by hatred of Israel than by wanting to help their own people who are living in squalid conditions of extreme poverty and utter hopelessness. Basically this means the fighting won’t stop outside of divine intervention.
Meanwhile, Israel has learned that giving away land did not bring peace and until now, they have been unable to stop the cycle of violence.