Israel's three-day attacks, which came when the Gaza-based Jihad vowed to retaliate for the arrest of a senior Jihad member in the West Bank, are regarded by analysts as a muscle-flexing by Israel's ruling Yesh Atid party to win a broader base in the run-up to the parliamentary elections.
It's feared that a new round of clashes might break the truce any time, given the deep-seated grudge between Israel and Palestinian factions, especially the Gaza-ruling Hamas, and the lack of effective truce monitoring.
DRIVEN BY ELECTION INTERESTS
Key Jihad military facilities were bombed, and 44 people including two high-ranking commanders, were killed in Gaza during the three-day airstrikes by Israel. Caretaker Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid claimed that the Israeli operation has achieved all goals and that Jihad's "entire military high command was killed."
It was unusual for Israel to make a preemptive strike on the Palestinian territory. Ibrahim Abrash, a political science professor from Gaza, said that Lapid and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz were motivated by their election interests to launch the attacks with an aim to gain reputation and support.
Israel will hold parliamentary elections in November, the 5th in less than four years. Now polls show the centrist Yesh Atid party led by Lapid could win fewer seats than the right-wing Likud bloc led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Through the latest confrontation, the Israeli government also intended to divert attention from its crackdown on Palestinians in the West Bank, including the endless arrests and land confiscation, and expansion of Jewish settlements, said Abrash, also a former official in the Palestinian Authority.
In this round of conflict with Gaza, the Israeli military set their target very clearly: only the Jihad, not the Gaza-ruling Hamas, which is much more influential in the enclave with stronger military prowess. Israel did not want to play "overtime" in the conflict, considering that prolonged conflict could drive Hamas to join.
"There might be unnecessary failures and losses, no matter in terms of economic or military, and "therefore it sought to end the operations as soon as possible," Palestinian political commentator Ismat Mansour said.
On the other hand, the Jihad was believed to also want to reach a truce to stop the massive hemorrhage of members, as several commanders were killed and no signal of the release of its senior leader Bassam al-Saadi, whose arrest triggered off the recent conflict.
On Hamas' inaction on the Israel-Jihad conflict, Palestinian political analyst Nur Oda believed that it was probably because that Hamas has yet fully recovered from the bloody 21-day military conflict with Israel in May 2021. Experts also hold that this time Israel may further divide the Palestinian armed groups in the coastal enclave and weaken their internal cohesion.
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Israeli political commentator Gideon Levy said that no strategic goal other than policy inertia could be seen behind the fresh Israeli raids on Gaza. "There are no goals, except the desire to prove that ours is bigger," said Levy in an article published by Israel's Haaretz newspaper.
Anything less than recognizing Hamas, lifting the siege on Gaza is a direct continuation of the policies adopted by all Israel's governments, he added.
"The ceasefire will not solve the whole Gaza problem, nor will the greater Palestinian conflict with Israel," said Assaf Orion, a senior researcher at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies.
Both sides know it is uncertain how long the ceasefire will last. What stood in the way are not only the outstanding issues between the two warring sides, such as the Jihad's insistence on releasing its jailed members, but also the absence of a strong monitoring mechanism to implement the agreement, making another round of conflicts still looming.
On Monday, only one day after the ceasefire went into effect, Jihad General-Secretary Ziad Nakhaleh threatened to resume attacks if Saadi and another member currently held in Israel are not released. However, Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev told public broadcaster Kan that Israel has rejected the Jihad's demand.
Sporadic clashes already broke out between the Israeli military and Palestinians in the West Bank, days after the truce and may ignite an escalating conflict at any time.