Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu talks about the rockets being fired from Gaza. (photo by IGPO via Ashernet)
Rockets were falling on southern and central Israel as the paper went to press this week. After the Israeli military killed Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata, Gaza once again erupted into full war footing.
The Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad called the assassination “a declaration of war against the Palestinian people” and declared, “Our response to this crime will have no limits.” Because they’re usually so restrained.
Schools were closed and Israelis, especially in the “envelope” area near the Gaza Strip but also in Tel Aviv, hunkered down in bomb shelters as Iron Dome deflected some but far from all of the rockets launched from the enclave.
The new, or renewed, conflict does not occur in a vacuum. Political leaders in Israel are in the midst of difficult negotiations to form a government after the second inconclusive election this year. Some critics claim the fighting is a scorched earth attempt by incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to shake up the status quo and tip domestic politics in his favour. But, among those who reject this assessment is Netanyahu’s chief rival, Benny Gantz, who is now leading the efforts to cobble together a working alliance in the Knesset.
It all has a feel of déjà vu, of course, because this scenario, in different permutations, has played out repeatedly. As we posited in this space recently, some people say the status quo cannot hold. It can. It has for decades. But intermittent, terrible flare-ups like this are a part of and a price for that status quo, a high price paid by both Israelis and Palestinians. Until someone finds a path for both peoples to coexist more peacefully, this is life.