A week after hostilities broke out, life in Israel and Gaza is reported to have returned back to normality.
Since last week, no more rockets have been fired into Israel. The schools in Southern Israel have also been reopened. The tension between Gaza and Israel began a week earlier when hundreds of rockets were fired into Southern Israel. Israel has an iron-dome missile defence system which shot down rockets fired to the southern cities including Ashdod. The Israeli response to this rocket fire was a Gaza airstrike with at least 25 people killed. According to humanitarian organisations, people in Gaza slept with open windows not to be injured by broken glass. Many victims were civilians who were, according to Israel, used by terrorists as ‘human shields’.
Israel targeted the leaders of rocket attacks. IDF, the Israeli Army, killed Zuhair al-Qaissi, the head of the Gaza Popular Resistance Committee. According to Israel, al-Qaissi was responsible for terrorist attacks north of Eilat in August 2011, when terrorists attacked buses and private cars from the Sinai.
After five days of the Israeli air strike of Gaza, the Islamic Jihad, which governs in Gaza, asked Egypt to mediate in order to bring about a ceasefire. Simultaneously, Jihad threatened Israel with the claim that the rockets may reach Tel Aviv, which has so far been safe. One of the rockets exploded just 40 km from Tel Aviv. Egypt, weakened by the revolution, still has a huge influence in Gaza. The agreement on ceasefire was reached after a couple of days of fire attacks. Egypt, as the mediator, tried to reach the agreement as quickly as possible. However, both sides kept fighting till Tuesday.
Egypt, however, is not the only player in Gaza. Iran still has influence on Gaza politics and encouraged Gaza leaders to escalate the conflict by supplying regular weapons to the Gaza Strip as it was hoped that conflict with Gaza would weaken Israel and reduce the risk of intervention in Iran.
Nonetheless, both Israeli and Gaza leaders know that the escalating conflict is in neither party’s influence. The question of Palestinian states has never been so highly discussed on international forums. The Gaza Strip is usually considered more radical than the Palestinian Autonomy. However, this time it was Hamas who tried to agree ceasefire earlier than Israel. Israel are wary of IDF tactics.
Hamas political leaders also realise that international support for the Palestine state is the key issue and every terrorist attacks weaken Palestinian’s position in negotiations. That is why both sides try to present themselves as victims. Moreover, Israel tries to create the impression that it does not want to injure civilians, just terrorists, so the decision was made to ensure the Israeli-Gaza border remained open to enable humanitarian organisations to deliver goods and aid to Gaza, despite the airstrike.
However, the reality is more complicated. Israeli citizens in the south suffer from regular rocket attacks from Gaza, especially in the city of Beersheva. Simultaneously, the Gaza residents suffer from poverty and a severe lack of quick medical aid (it takes a lot of time for an ambulance to cross the Israeli-Gaza border). Israel does not allow it enough time to build new houses and wells before pitching another attack. Lack of drinking water is one the biggest problems in this area. Israel destroys those that have already been built. The IDF, under the guise of fighting against terrorism, also destroys power plants. However, Gaza is still a good environment for terrorism.
During the last Gaza conflict, the Israeli government declared a special situation in southern Israel, so the citizens are entitled to receive compensation for disruption of their daily lives. Controversially, no-one will declare the same for Gaza civilians who suffer too.