A wounded Palestinian child is carried into a hospital after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip November 17, 2012. Image Credit: REUTERS

To explain the escalation of violence in Gaza, Stratfor Global Intelligence claims we should look to October 23 when Israel’s covert air strike against the Yarmouk arms facility in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, destroyed missiles from Iran headed presumably for the sorry Strip.

Egypt would then up mediation efforts for a truce on October 25 that were interrupted by smaller militant factions such as PFLP and Islamic Jihad. Whether or not Hamas wanted to reign in those attacks, the Islamic Resistance Movement found itself in the same position as Fatah and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) used to be when negotiating with Israel and Hamas would launch rocket attacks as the opposition.

As mentioned by leading analysts Hussain Agha and Robert Malley: “In Palestine, Islamic Jihad is the new Hamas, firing rockets to embarrass Gaza’s rulers; Hamas, the new Fatah, claiming to be a resistance movement while clamping down on those who dare resist.” This is a simplification, but transmits the point: It’s always easier to be in the opposition, “firing” away.

Hamas then tried to coax the smaller militant groups into holding their fire, but Israel now had an excuse to go after Ahmad Jabari, head of Hamas’ militant wing, Izz Al Din Al Qassam Brigades. His targeted assassination on November 14 was reminiscent of the targeted killing of Hamas Minister of Interior, Syed Siam, on January 15, 2009; of Hamas’ co-founder, Abdul Aziz Al Rantissi, on April 17, 2004; of Hamas’ spiritual leader, Shaikh Yassin, on March 22, 2004; and so on …

Shortly after killing Jabari, the Israeli air force went on to pinpoint the houses of the Masharawi family and of Salah Jalal Arafat in the Al Zaytoun neighbourhood in eastern Gaza — an 11-month baby, a five-year-old child and a woman were killed — for what? Israel went on to shoot at training sites and fighter movements up and down the Gaza Strip — more deaths ensued and more rockets were fired.

Other casualties

None of this is really news to anyone. This scenario has been rehearsed again and again. Israel has been itching for war with Iran and has been waiting for the occasion to re-engage in Gaza. Israel knew exactly whom it wanted to take out — the other casualties are collateral ... This is a warm-up round for Israel; this is just target practice.

Born of the armed resistance against Israel, Hamas is bracing itself for another land incursion and they will be ready — each time Israel invades, Hamas is a little more ready.

The proof is in the quantity and quality of the missiles being launched from Gaza. Once hazardous and sporadic home-made missiles spiralling like fireworks across the border into southern Israel, now the Fajr missiles — meaning “dawn” in Arabic — reach Tel Aviv commercial centres and for the first time since 1970 they have landed in occupied Jerusalem. These missiles are also called the M75s for the distance they can go in kilometres.

The Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 supposedly come from Iran and are also found in south Lebanon with Hezbollah who could also engage the northern front of Israel with a few Fajrs launched at Haifa, as they had during the July 2006 war. Israel wants revenge for not having won and Hezbollah like Hamas has been getting ready ever since for yet another confrontation.

Revolted or dumbfounded

Anyone watching the horrible sequence of death and destruction unfold once again between Israelis and Palestinians will be disgusted, revolted or dumbfounded by the sheer stupidity and unnecessary loss. This is all part of Israel’s ploy to maintain a constant threat to its security, to perpetuate the guise of a menace to its existence.

Knowing that Hamas and Hezbollah and smaller fighter groups can hardly dent its military machine, Israel can use the escalation of violence in Gaza as a deflection from the diplomatic overtures coming from Mahmoud Abbas’s more pacific leadership in Ramallah that is attempting to gain international recognition for Palestine at the United Nations.

Once again, this has all been rehearsed by Israel as the easy answer to maintaining the military on constant alert, fine-tuning weapons and moving weaponry around, getting rid of some missiles, etc, but the novelty here is that the regional equation has shifted. Never before have so many national leaders visited Gaza in such a short period.

Just weeks after the visit of the Emir of Qatar, the Prime Minister of Egypt and the Foreign Minister of Tunisia both visited Gaza — all three presenting pro-Islamist agendas of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Israel is not making any new friends in the region, nor does it seem to want to — it seems intentionally oblivious to the new “dawn” rising across the Arab world because it fits its agenda perfectly.

Stuart Reigeluth is founding editor of Revolve magazine and works at the Council for European Palestinian Relations in Brussels.

See also D2