Are we witnessing a contagion similar to that which preceded the “eleven-day war” between the Israeli army and Hamas in Gaza in May 2021? Signs of heightened tensions have been mounting for weeks between Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank, and now in Gaza. While the situation remains particularly explosive in Jerusalem, particularly on the Esplanade of the Mosques, rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip on the morning of Thursday 21 April to fall on a field in the town of Sderot, without of injured.
→ ANALYSIS. Between Hamas and Israel, a fragile balance
The Israeli army retaliated at dawn with airstrikes against military positions in the Palestinian enclave and against “the entrance to a tunnel leading to an underground complex where chemicals used to propel rockets are stored”. It is “the most significant operation” on Gaza since the May 2021 war, the IDF said, three days after similar exchanges. “We are trying to calm the situation and separate the frontsadded Israeli army spokesman Ran Kochav. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Gaza has become the most stable front. »
Hamas on a ridge line
Unlike in the hours leading up to the war last year, Gaza’s ruling Hamas did not claim responsibility for the rocket attacks. But his spokesman Hazem Qassem said the strikes would “increase the resolve of our people and the resistance (…) in order to defend our holy places in Jerusalem, regardless of the sacrifices”.
Since the start of the daily clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators in the middle of Ramadan on the esplanade of the Mosques, the Islamist party has set itself up, as in 2021, as a defender of holy places. But it has no interest, for the time being, in entering into an incendiary logic. “Hamas is on a fine line between showing Israel that it is a military opposition force – even if its means are not the same – and the need to ensure political control in the Strip. Gaza”, explains Thomas Vescovi, professor and independent researcher in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
→ REPORT. Israeli-Palestinian conflict: in besieged Jenin, the fear of a third Intifada
The Islamist movement must also deal with a population barely recovered from the May 2021 war and eager for political answers. “The question of Palestinian leadership and its strategy against Israel arises. The Palestinian population feels neglected by Hamas in Gaza and by Fatah in the West Bank. She does not see her situation changing in the face of colonization and the blockade, so, faced with this situation of injustice, the slightest spark provokes a reaction”, adds the specialist.
Cries of “Death to the Arabs”
On the Israeli side, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has no more interest in escalation: his very heterogeneous coalition already no longer has a majority in the Knesset and has seen the Arab Israeli Raam party suspend its participation in protest against the violence on the esplanade of the Mosques. To prevent the situation from escalating further on the ground and on the political spectrum, the Israeli police prevented hundreds of Jewish nationalist demonstrators from approaching the Muslim quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday evening. opportunity for a great march to the flags. The demonstration, during which cries “Death to the Arabs” were heard, was described as ” provocation “ by the government.
Strongly threatened by this nationalist right, which he is nevertheless close to, Naftali Bennett is playing his political survival. “Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jewish supremacists Itamar Ben Gvir seek to bring him down by any means possible, says Thomas Vescovi. Their goal is to attract hatred and bring the population to confrontation. » The resumption of the parliamentary session in the Knesset in a few days will tell if the government coalition has the means to contain and stop in time the dynamics of violence at work in Jerusalem, as in Gaza.