The Fourth War on Gaza … Only a Matter of Time

There is a conviction to many Palestinians when asked about the possibility of a new war on the Gaza Strip that “It’s just a matter of time, no more, pending further escalation.

Recently, rumors have varied and predictions have abounded about an inevitable Israeli war on Gaza due to the emergence of a number of indicators, including Israel’s shelling of a number of sites of the Palestinian resistance in the enclave.

Also, what raises the possibility of an imminent war in the Palestinian mind is the continued flight of Israeli warplanes, helicopters, and reconnaissance aircraft, as well as the near municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza, and the possibility of an Israeli retaliation against Hamas if it won the elections (N.B. The Palestinian Authority’s Supreme Court has announced a temporary suspension of the local elections in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip).

Director of the Palestinian Center of Policy Research and Strategic Studies: The next war will be disastrous

When will this war break out?

We tried to find an answer to this question, by asking a number of specialists and those concerned with the regional and international affairs. Salah Abd El-Ati, the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies, described the missile attack that the Strip has recently suffered (more than 60 Israeli raids) as a “foreshadowing of a real war that will bring more disasters because of what the Strip is suffering from exceptional circumstances caused by three wars in less than 5 years over 10 years.”

Abd El-Ati explained the size of the human and material losses that he expects in the case of the outbreak of a new war on Gaza, saying: “The poverty rate in the Gaza Strip is 65%, the unemployment rate is 47%, and there is a real tragedy related to the bad humanitarian conditions and the slow access of the construction materials to Gaza. Therefore, the Palestinian citizens fear that Israel might launch a new aggression, in exploitation of the regional conditions that the world is preoccupied with.”

While Abd El-Ati expects that the next war on Gaza will be “disastrous”, he believes that Israel is seeking to impose the equation of “calm for calm” or “calm for humanitarian facilities”, hoping to take advantage of that situation as an occupation authority.

Salah Abd El-Ati also said: “The occupation authorities do what they want, and because Israel has not yet been held accountable, we see what it is doing in the West Bank of cold-blood executions, and the expansion of settlements, as well as the continuing Judaization of Jerusalem. Therefore, there is a real fear, and the citizens have every right to fear from any coming aggression, especially in the absence of a serious prospect of a Palestinian reconciliation that could at least lead to masterminding the decision of peace and war within the Palestinian community.”

Palestinians have failed to formulate a combative strategy or a collective leadership

“The leaders of the Palestinian factions do not seek war, and they are fully aware of the serious humanitarian situation, but in the event of the imposition of war by the Israeli enemy, those leaders will not stand by and watch, but they will defend with all their strength, which is its right according to the international law,” said Salah Abd El-Ati. He also stressed that under the current circumstances, there is no need for any possible aggression, as the balance of power does not allow the Palestinians to make breakthroughs, and therefore they have to avoid further losses.

Abd El-Ati also stressed that the status of the West Bank is linked to the developments in the region, because of the Palestinians’ insistence on making their cause dependent on the issues of others, in addition to their failure to formulate a combative strategy or a collective leadership.

Abd El-Ati put a number of scenarios for the future of the situation in the Gaza Strip, pointing out that the best of these scenarios is the “achievement of a Palestinian reconciliation to rebuild the Palestinian political system, and avoid the risk of aggression, the continuation of the siege, and the slow pace of reconstruction mechanism.”

“However, there are also scenarios for imposing an aggression on the Gaza Strip in order to create a statelet in the Strip, or, a truce that could lead to the opening of a seaport in Gaza, and thereby assisting in the displacement of people,” Abdel-Ati explained, pointing out that there is a real fear for the future of Gaza and its separation from the West Bank if the current situation continues. He added that the occupation wants this scenario, which some organizations help its acceleration through firing rockets toward Israel without a national consensus on their action.

Political analyst: The two sides are preparing for the war as if it will break out tomorrow

According to Hani Habib, a political analyst, both parties (Hamas and Israel) are preparing for this new war as if it will break out tomorrow, although they reaffirm that they do not want it.

Habib said: “The current situation makes talking about war more expressive than talking about a truce or calm,” adding that “Both parties are calling for avoiding escalation. But at the same time, they are ready, and the war machine still works even in an artificial atmosphere of calm.”

Habib also sees that the next war will not be the last, as it will not constitute an existential threat to any of the parties, pointing out that “The coming war is just the beginning of wars to come, even if a clearer victory is settled for either party. The real victory which can stop wars is the termination of one of the two parties. Although this is not ruled out, however, it is impossible according to the current situation.”

Strategic experts: Sky over Gaza is loaded with rockets

Ibrahim Habib, a security and strategic expert, considers that the intensive flight of the reconnaissance aircraft – sometimes accompanied by warplanes – in the sky of the Gaza Strip, does not necessarily portend a coming war that Israel might wage against Gaza, adding that “However, this requires that the resistance must be cautious, because the situation that is prevailing in the sky over Gaza suggests that there is a real war.”

Habib explained that the excessive flights of the reconnaissance aircraft aim to reach specific targets, especially that the Israeli aircraft show in the skies of Gaza loaded with rockets, and this is a serious indicator in light of the complex regional circumstances that are not in favor of the Palestinians at all.

The security expert confirmed that the Israeli internal factors do not point to the advent of a war. He added that though Tel Aviv has not been able to eliminate the resistance in Gaza, but in the end, Israel may try to exploit the bad regional situation of the Arabs and wage a war against Gaza as part of the strategy of “killing the people” that it adopts against the Palestinian resistance.

Thabet Al-Amour, a political analyst, said that the excessive presence of the Israeli reconnaissance aircraft stems from the fact that Israel wants to monitor all moves in Gaza, preparing a new bank of targets to find out all the details, or to monitor the infiltration attempts from inside the occupied Gaza Strip.

Palestinian citizens: The underground separation wall and the next elections are sufficient reasons for war

Some citizens confirmed the possibility of the outbreak of the next war immediately after the occupation begins actually in the construction of the underground separation wall on the Gaza Strip border, which the resistance will meet with violent response, and may drag the region into a fierce war, especially if there were casualties or captives of the occupation soldiers during this period, or from the Palestinian side if the Israeli forces retaliated violently toward the Palestinian resistance’s shelling of the separation wall.

The Israeli authorities are planning to establish a concrete wall, above and under the ground along the border with the Gaza Strip to counter the threat of tunnels, according to a report it published.

Mohammed al-Masri, a Palestinian citizen, at the age of 26 years, confirmed that the Gazan street does not wish any future war. However, he expected that Israel would wage war if Hamas won the coming municipal elections, or if some factions – that do not want for the elections to succeed – hit targets inside the occupied territories to drag everyone to a strong war and end the dream of the Palestinian elections (The Palestinian Authority’s Supreme Court has announced a temporary suspension of the local elections in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip).

Um Yousef al-Najjar, a Palestinian woman in her forties, confirmed that the Palestinian people are unwilling to remember any manifestation of the war, saying: “We do not want war, and we do not want to hear the sound of rockets and shells, which remind us of the war two years back. My children also fear from their terrifying sound which deprives us of the ability to even sleep.”

Hamas spokesman: We do not seek war, but we are not afraid of confrontation

Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told the Middle East Observer that “Hamas does not seek war or escalation, but the movement is not afraid of confrontation, and is preparing to defend its people at any time,” pointing out that the Israeli repeated talk about war is meant to achieve several objectives, including affecting the members of the resistance, and pleasing the internal Israeli public, especially after the escalation of criticism of the Israeli government’s performance in the last war on Gaza.

Hamas spokesman did not hide the fact that the Palestinian street is unwilling to engage in a new war, saying: “The street does not want war because of the Israeli criminality and the size of barbarism with which the occupation army deals with the Palestinian people, which made the people interested in following with concern such threats. But, I think that our people trust the resistance.”

Abu Zuhri added: “The last war strengthened the confidence of the Palestinian people in the resistance, created a new equation, and made it difficult for the occupation to wage any aggression or action against Gaza, which is evident through the behavior on the ground.”

Hamas spokesman believes that the region countries are required to form a permanent pressure on the occupation to prevent it from committing any crime in Gaza.

The Israeli media warning

The Israeli newspapers and media outlets are relentlessly talking about or warning of a coming war on Gaza on almost a daily basis.

Hebrew Channel 2 has claimed that the next war which Israel will launch on the Gaza Strip will be more “aggressive” than the previous wars.

Israeli media also reported that what it called “Israel’s superiority” will be determined by the ground troops’ movement on the ground, and that the occupation army has decided to pay more attention to the ground troops that would be “more effective” in any coming confrontation.

Aouhaa Ofer, the correspondent of the Israeli NRG website, said that the prevailing calm on the border with the Gaza Strip is, possibly, because the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) continues to be affected by the deterrence of the last war in 2014, adding that many Israelis demand waging a “final war” on Gaza.

The Israeli writer confirmed that Hamas is not enthusiastic to enter into a new confrontation with Israel and that this is not due to being affected by deterrence only, but because it is drawing lessons from the previous war. He added that Hamas is also trying to improve its combat system through field exercises, building a network of tunnels, conducting missile tests towards the sea, and planning to carry out armed operations in the West Bank, in preparation for the next war.

Israeli exercises

Maariv has revealed that the Israeli army is conducting training and military exercises to deal with any emergency on both the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights fronts, including the evacuation of the wounded, and dealing with snipers in the cities.

Maariv’s military correspondent, Noam Amir, said that the latest of these exercises were carried out by the security departments of the settlement blocs around the Gaza Strip on the way to evacuate the wounded and injured on the Gaza border.

He pointed out that the military unit continues its training – summer and winter – in preparation for what may face the soldiers in the northern front, where there are armed groups that are involved in the Syrian war and are considered part of the potential threats to Israel.