Expert: 'Gradual escalation with Gaza isn't random'

'Hamas is sending a message, it's not happening randomly,' Arab affairs expert Avi Issacharoff says.

103FM ,

Iron Dome shoots down rocket over Israel
Iron Dome shoots down rocket over Israel
Flash 90

Walla!'s Arab affairs expert Avi Issacharoff and Maariv's military analyst Tal Lev-Ram spoke with 103 FM Radio regarding the recent tension on the Gaza-Israel border, and whether the issue of sovereignty influences that tension.

After a month of quiet, a rocket was fired Monday at Israel - the third since March. According to Lev-Ram, three rockets since March is a low number, and the rocket "exploded in an open area, and after that, there was the usual ritual: The IDF attacked Hamas posts. Most times it's just a signal, and it doesn't really aim to cause damage."

He also said he doesn't know who is behind the rocket attack: "It seems to me that the immediate suspect could be Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad was relatively constrained by Hamas' guidelines. There are exceptions every so often but during the coronavirus outbreak, Hamas managed to enforce quiet in Gaza almost completely, so that hardly even a balloon was launched."

In the past week, however, there have been "more explosive balloons, not in large quantities like there were in the past, but more. You see Hamas' threats regarding the March of Returns, that maybe they should resume, that maybe they should resume the violent disruptions of order on the border, that's what we're familiar with, usually."

Issacharoff added: "In the past two weeks there's been a feeling that we're witness to a gradual escalation, bit by bit Hamas is sending a message." In his opinion, "it's not happening randomly" and there are three reasons which influence the tensions with Gaza.

These three are the transfer of funds; "the economic situation in Gaza, which deteriorated even more since the coronavirus outbreak"; and "the third element, which hasn't really been expressed in the media, is that a month ago we were witness to dramatic reports about a deal... There were negotiations towards Israel freeing prisoners, and the deal evaporated. Right now we're completely stuck."

He added that the issue of sovereignty was "less interesting, since there hasn't been annexation yet. I don't see annexation happening, and certainly not on Gaza's doorstep. There's a preparation of Palestinian public opinion, if there is annexation, then Hamas will be among those responding."

"The public in Gaza, as we see it via our intelligence, isn't really interested in it. But Hamas' leadership definitely is interested in it, because it could be that they will be put in a situation that if there is a significant decision regarding annexation - which it doesn't seem there is at the moment - they will need to make a decision. But before that, definitely the economy, and economic stability, and the issue of the prisoners and missing people...is completely stuck. It's true that recent events have closed a bit of the gaps between Israel and Hamas, but not much more than that."

Regarding the families of the missing and kidnapped Israelis, Issacharoff said, "It seems a bit like they missed the opportunity of the past few months, to put more pressure, something more significant." However, he said that the chance of a deal to free terrorists happening "is very low right now."



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