Hamas remained largely on the sidelines in the fighting in Gaza on Saturday, raising the chances that the current round of cross-border violence will be contained in both scope and duration.
The leader of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, made non-binding statements, saying that Israel bears full responsibility for the recent escalation without making clear the intentions of Hamas itself.
One of the reasons could be jobs. Since the last major conflict in Gaza in May last year, Israel has changed its policy toward Gaza in what officials describe as an effort to preserve peace, offering economic incentives to two million civilians in the coastal enclave and raising the stakes for Hamas. If you decide to join hostilities.
Israeli security officials have issued thousands of permits to Gazans to allow them to enter Israel daily to work in agriculture and construction. About 14,000 Palestinian workers from Gaza work in Israel over the past few months, the largest number since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, and Israel promised to raise the number to 20,000.
In addition to this economic stimulus, the IDF has also warned of the dire consequences of another major round of fighting in Gaza. Military officials have published what they describe as intelligence reports showing Hamas tunnels and other military infrastructure constructed in the heart of Gaza’s residential areas, suggesting that civilian casualties are inevitable in a military campaign.
In addition to work permits, Israel has also allowed improvements in recent months that have expanded Gaza’s water and electricity supply and expanded import and export capacity.
Military officials said more medical equipment was imported, and exports of agricultural products from Gaza, fisheries, textile industries and furniture doubled in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.
But in recent days, when Islamic Jihad has threatened revenge from Gaza for Israel’s arrest of one of the group’s top leaders in the West Bank, Israel has closed border crossings, preventing the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza. Israeli residents living near the border were effectively placed under a curfew, with all roads in areas near Gaza closed.
Major General Ghassan Alyan, head of the military apparatus responsible for liaising with civilian affairs in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, conveyed a stark message to Hamas on Friday, outlining the choice it faces in terms of supporting Islamic Jihad or remaining outside it. Fighting round.
“The responsibility lies with Hamas,” he said in a video clip posted on the Arab Agency’s Facebook page. “Is she more concerned with helping the people of Gaza, or is she more interested in helping dissident organizations?”
Hamas’ decision to remain on the sidelines so far is reminiscent of a brief round of cross-border fighting in 2019. That cycle also opened with an Israeli airstrike that killed senior Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Atta, alongside him. Wife, Asmaa Abu al-Atta, prompted Islamic Jihad to launch hundreds of rockets into Israel.
Over the next two days, Israel killed 34 people in Gaza, including about two dozen activists and several children. But Hamas chose not to join, to contain the scope of hostilities.
By contrast, it was Hamas that launched the last major conflagration in Gaza in May 2021, when it launched a barrage of rockets toward Jerusalem after weeks of heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions and clashes in the contested city.