The keys to the battle for Gaza, an uninhabitable territory | International
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More than two million Palestinians are crowded into the Gaza Strip, a narrow coastal strip of 365 square kilometers -somewhat larger than tiny Malta-, after more than 15 years of military blockade and four devastating wars with Israel (in 2008-2009 , 2012, 2014 and 2021). With an unemployment rate that exceeds 50% (70% for young people), nine out of ten aquifers are contaminated and the electricity supply does not exceed, at most, 10 hours a day. The UN has been warning for some time that the Mediterranean enclave, considered by international NGOs to be a large open-air prison, has become an uninhabitable territory. Tens of thousands of Gazans have left the Strip in the last four years, when Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing (south). These are some of the keys to the latest outbreak of war.
What is Islamic Jihad? The Palestinian Islamic Jihad shares the armed resistance against Israel with Hamas, the majority Islamist movement that governs de facto in Gaza for three decades. However, this group, with a few thousand militants in its ranks, maintains a much more radical line after having strengthened ties with Iran, the regional arch-enemy of the Jewish State. Its secretary general and main leader, Ziad al Najala, is now in Tehran, where he has met with the president of the Islamic Republic, Ebrahim Raisi, and with the head of the Guardians of the Revolution, General Hossein Salami. The Iranian regime moves against Israel the geopolitical chips of its allies in Lebanon (the Hezbollah militia party), to the north, and now in Gaza, to the south, with the Jihad. The Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of this Palestinian movement, possess an arsenal of short- and medium-range rockets, mortar shells and, Israel’s main concern, the lethal Kornet anti-tank rockets supplied by Iran.
What attitude does Hamas maintain in hostilities? The Islamic resistance movement Hamas is the Palestinian section of the Muslim Brotherhood, the pan-Arab organization founded a century ago in Egypt (where it once triumphed at the polls before being overthrown in a military coup in 2013). It also spreads through Jordan and inspires the political Islamism installed in power in Turkey, with electoral endorsement, and in Qatar, autocratically. Founded during the First Intifada (1987-1991), Hamas has evolved from fundamentalist positions towards a certain pragmatism after having exercised power in Gaza. After his undisputed victory in the 2006 legislative elections, the following year he displaced by force of arms the Fatah government, the nationalist party of the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Like Islamic Jihad, it is classified as a terrorist group by the US and the EU. In this conflict, however, he has chosen to remain on the sidelines, seeing it as a settling of scores between Israel and the other Islamist group. Your direct intervention can trigger a large-scale conflict with unpredictable consequences.
Why has the current escalation broken out? The selective assassination of a commander of the al Quds Brigades, Taysir al Jabari, better known as Abu Mahmud, on Friday afternoon was the trigger. An Israeli missile hit the home of Al Jabari, a military leader in the northern part of the Strip, considered to be the official link between the second Gaza militia and Hamas forces. Since then, more than a dozen Palestinians have been killed in the bombing, including a five-year-old girl. The preventive attack, which is already going on for more than a day, came after four days of a strict military blockade of the Strip by Israel. The Army feared attacks with anti-tank missiles and reprisals against border towns as a result of the arrest, last Monday, of Bassam al Saaidi, head of the Jihad in the West Bank. The Israeli Army has now captured 19 members of the organization in the troubled province of Jenin, in the north of the West Bank, an insurgent stronghold that escapes the control of the Palestinian Authority.
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What are Israel’s arguments? Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid alleges that he has ordered a massive preventive operation in the face of the “imminent threat” of a retaliatory attack by Islamic Jihad, which he described as an “Iranian agent.” Lapid had already announced on Friday night that Operation Dawn’s Awakening will last “as long as it takes.” The Army has warned that it will last at least a week. The current Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, was the general in command of the operations of the 2014 Gaza war, the second longest conflict that Israel has faced since the one that broke out when it proclaimed its independence in 1948. Gantz has now warned that the ongoing military operation is going to cause “serious damage” to the Jihad in Gaza with the aim of “restoring peace in the area”.
What are the consequences of the explosion? The state of maximum alert has led to the isolation of thousands of Israelis in the towns that border the Strip within a radius of 80 kilometers. The blockade of the Gaza Strip has forced the suspension of service at the only power plant in the Palestinian enclave due to lack of fuel. Dozens of Gazan cancer patients are unable to receive specialized care in East Jerusalem hospitals following the border closure. The Israeli authorities have also ordered the diversion of the approach and take-off routes to the David Ben Gurion international airport, in the Tel Aviv area, due to the danger posed by the launch of rockets from the Strip. In the cultural and economic capital of Israel, the alarm sirens have already been activated and the anti-aircraft shelters have been prepared for their immediate opening. The tension has forced the friendly match that Atlético de Madrid and Juventus had planned to play this Sunday in Tel Aviv to be transferred to Turin.
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