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War escalation between Israel and Hamas: who is who?

The current attacks between Israelis and Palestinians have not been seen since 2014. Until this Friday, Israel continued shelling and artillery fire on Gaza, in a military escalation with Hamas, the Islamist group that dominates Gaza. Here are the keys to the dispute.

The current attacks between Israelis and Palestinians have not been seen since 2014. Until this Friday, Israel continued shelling and artillery fire on Gaza, in a military escalation with Hamas, the Islamist group that dominates Gaza, which has over 120 since Monday, May 10. dead, mostly Palestinians, including 31 children. In Israel, where the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted about 90% of the 1,800 missiles launched from Gaza this week, the balance turned to nine dead and hundreds injured.

The triggers of the current Israel-Hamas dispute initially focused on Jerusalem, where a number of factors converged: clashes between Israeli and Palestinian civilians, the possible expulsion of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and two interventions, in less then two days of Israeli police at the Esplanade mosque, Islam’s third holy site.

Hamas, regarded by Israel as a terrorist group, presented itself as the defender of Palestinian families at risk of deportation in favor of Jewish settlers. This area, and the Esplanade Mosque, an ultra-sensitive spot between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem’s Old City, was the focus of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians that left more than 500 injured. According to Israeli police, Palestinians fired projectiles at security forces, which they replicated with deafening grenades and rubber bullets. These riots caused a hail of rockets anticipating frenetic times, a dangerous escalation in the middle of an unstable region.

Since Hamas began firing rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that he would intensify his attacks on the Islamist group. “I say to terrorist organizations: Israel will respond vigorously to any act of aggression from the Gaza Strip.” That’s why the world’s alarms went off. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was talking to parties this week to ease tensions. “Israeli security forces should exercise maximum restraint and coordinate the use of force,” said Guterres, adding that “the arbitrary launch of rockets and mortars on Israeli population centers is unacceptable.”

What is Hamas?

Hamas is one of the Islamist militant organizations controlling the Gaza Strip, from which it confronts Israel. They are listed as terrorists by the US and Israel. Its Arabic name means Islamic resistance movement and its origins date back to the days of the 1987 Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the past week, the organization acknowledged having launched more than 1,500 missiles in Tel Aviv.

Since 2004, it has been headed by Palestinian political leader Khaled Meshaal, who took office after the assassination of Abbael Aziz ar-Rantisi. Hamas’s main goal is to create the Islamic fundamentalist Palestinian state, that is, a state that would liberate Palestinians from Israeli oppression. The structure includes departments dedicated to religious, political, military and security activities. However, over the years they were split into two groups pursuing different goals.

This is how the Qassam brigades came into being, which gambled on the military route. The other, more political group not only rejected armed action, but made them want to engage in projects such as building hospitals and helping Palestinians with social issues.

What are mixed neighborhoods?

The conflict with Hamas is also contributing to the escalation between Arabs and Jews in several mixed cities in Israel, a level of violence not seen for decades, according to Israeli police. Nearly 1,000 border police members have been called to fortify cities, the scene of inter-community riots since Tuesday, May 11. More than 400 people, Jews and Arabs were arrested.

On Thursday evening, a man opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon against a group of Jews, injuring a person in Lod, near Tel Aviv, according to a witness and police who reported a synagogue on fire and 43 people overnight. arrested. The city of Lod has long been a symbol of coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians, but this week the coexistence burst into pieces.

Israeli far-right groups faced Israeli security forces and Arabs in cities, the descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land after Israel was founded in 1948. “We will not tolerate anarchy,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday ordered a massive deployment of security forces in mixed Israeli cities.

What’s behind the conflict?

War escalation between Israel and Hamas

Some analysts say the showdown that broke out in Sheikh Jarrah is just an excuse, because behind it lies a much bigger conflict. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s decision to postpone elections indefinitely increased tensions between his lay movement, Fatah, and Hamas Islamists. “Suddenly they realize that these elections can be lost and that Hamas can win, and they cancel the election. And what we are seeing now is the response of this Islamist group to that. The logic of Hamas is ‘if there are no elections and there is no peace for us, there is no peace for anyone,’ said Gabriel Ben-Tasgal, a journalist specializing in the Middle East.

While Mkhaimar Abused, a professor of political science at Al Azhar University in Gaza, told the New York Times, “Hamas is somehow trying to tell Abbas that ‘you’re not the only person or party making the decisions.’ . ”

How are the Palestinian Territories composed?

The Palestinian Territories are made up of two areas geographically separated by Israel: the West Bank, which theoretically includes East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Both, according to the so-called “two-state solution,” should form a Palestinian state that co-exists with the Jew, but that possibility seems further away than ever due to the expansion of Jewish colonies in the Palestinian territories.

The West Bank, for example, is an area that the Israeli Prime Minister has long wanted to include in his country. So far, the Representative has been cautious in his statements against criticism from the European Union and international bodies opposing any annexation, and against pressure from the United States to implement it as soon as possible.

The complexity of the subject starts in the same definition as in the region. To the United Nations, the West Bank is an occupied Palestinian territory. But Israel does not think the same and is waging a semantic war against the status of the so-called “Zone C”, which encompasses much of the West Bank and concentrates the countries it wants to annex. The division was agreed in the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, which divided the area into three major areas called A, B and C.

The first two occupy 40% of the territory and are largely under Palestinian control, while Zone C (60%) is under Israeli military and administrative control, although the idea is that under the Oslo Accords, that power should be transferred to the Palestinians by sign a final peace agreement. This issue of distribution returned to the center today with the January announcement of the US Middle East Plan, which envisages the annexation by Israel of the Jordan Valley and the hundreds of Israeli colonies in the West Bank, as well as the creation of a Palestinian state. in a small territory.

What is the Gaza Strip?

The Gaza Strip is bordered to the north and east by Israeli territory, to the west by the Mediterranean Sea and to the south by Egypt. It is a narrow enclave of only 362 km2, 41 km long and between 6 and 12 km wide, where two million Palestinians live in overpopulation.

In 2005, the Israeli military withdrew from the Palestinian enclave, before imposing a land, air and naval blockade, reinforced in 2007, when the Islamist Hamas movement took power after fratricide battles with Mahmud Abbas’ Fatah. Since then, Hamas and Israel have collided in three wars (2008, 2012 and 2014).

The territory is being mined by unemployment, which is about 50% according to the World Bank (WB). More than two thirds of the population depend on humanitarian aid and one in two lives below the poverty line.

Hospitals in the area have been overwhelmed by the coronavirus and in recent days by hundreds of people affected by Israeli bombings. Residents woke up Friday between holes in the street, houses reduced to dust and debris after rocket impacts.

What can the international community do?

The international community soon spoke out about this new military confrontation. So much so that the United Nations Security Council will hold a virtual public meeting on Sunday, diplomats reported Thursday. The event, originally scheduled for Friday, was requested by Tunisia, Norway and China. Until Friday it was expected that the UN envoy to the Middle East, the Noor Tor Wennesland, and representatives of Israel and the Palestinians would be present.

For his part, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously told the press that he was in favor of holding an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council “early next week,” but agreed to move it to Sunday. “I hope this will give diplomacy some time to get results and see if we can get a real de-economy,” said Blinken, who sent an envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on the eve.

Days earlier, the German government stated that “these are terrorist attacks with one goal: to murder people without discrimination and to sow fear,” said Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for that country’s Federal Chancellery, adding that Merkel’s government defends “Israel’s right to self-defense against these attacks. These missiles must be stopped immediately.”