On Sunday, the Hamas associated terrorist group Islamic Jihad launched several missiles against Israeli targets. Tel Aviv responded in kind and conducted airstrikes against the group in the Gaza Strip and also in Syria on Sunday evening.
What About Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan?
At the end of January, President Trump unveiled his Middle East peace plan. It was a vision that was supposed to cease the violence and implement prosperity in the crisis-ridden region. Not even one month later, the ambitious and noble idea has not only been put in jeopardy but appears even more inconceivable than during its announcement.
The violence has returned and, with its immense potential for severe escalations. On Sunday, Islamic Jihad launched 20 missiles at Israel from the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. Ten of these missiles were reportedly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. The remaining ten hit uninhabited areas. The Israeli army has not published any information about possible fatalities nor injuries. Immediately after the attack, the Al-Quds Brigades, the military arm of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for conducting the strike.
Israel’s response came swiftly and direct. The Israeli army launched attacks against dozens of Islamic Jihad positions in the Gaza Strip. One of the targets was the individuals who had conducted the missile attacks against Israel. However, Israel’s army also hit targets in Syria, where Islamic Jihad also operates from the region’s hub, south of the capital of Damascus.
The Syrian state news agency Sana reported that “most of the enemy’s missiles” had been shot down before they reached their targets. Sana did not provide information regarding casualties or injuries.
IDF Fatally Shoots Palestinian on Gaza Border
The continuous tensions between Israel and militant Palestinians escalated again on Sunday after a fatal incident occurred on the Gaza border. Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian who sought to plant a bomb. Afterward, the Israeli armed forces recovered the body of the Palestinian by using a bulldozer. According to Islamic Jihad, the individual in question was a member of the organization’s militant group.
Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett spoke of a new policy whereby Israel does not return bodies from extremists to put pressure on Hamas ruling Gaza to return the corpses of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war. Previously, Bennett had denied allegations that using a bulldozer to move the bodies of Palestinians was inhumane and instead said it was Hamas who was inhumane, as they have not returned the Israeli bodies for six years.
Netanyahu: ‘I Am Talking About a War … We Have Prepared Something They Cannot Even Imagine’
The situation deteriorated further on Monday. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed Hamas it needed to intervene in the conflict and stop Islamic Jihad’s actions. If it did not, Israel would hold Hamas responsible directly and react. “I am talking about a war,” Netanyahu told the Israeli Army Radio. “War will always be the last resort, but we have prepared something they cannot even imagine,” Netanyahu continued.
For a brief period, Netanyahu’s threat appeared to work, as soon after Islamic Jihad unilaterally announced a ceasefire. Though the group’s official explanation was that the retaliation for the killing of their member had been concluded, Netanyahu’s statements notwithstanding.
However, the missile attacks on Israel continued on Monday evening. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad stated Israel was continuing to attack the organization’s bases in the Gaza Strip and warned that every further attack would be counter-attacked.
The conflict will further develop over the next days. However, Netanyahu cannot afford to show any weakness as it would put his reelection in even more jeopardy — likely to the detriment of Islamic Jihad and, indeed, Hamas.