Following 55 hours of intense fighting, operation “Breaking Dawn”, launched by Israel against the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a ceasefire – brokered by Egypt – was declared and entered into force at 11:30 pm last night (Sunday).
This morning, the IDF cleared Israeli residents who live near the Gaza border from remaining in close proximity to secure rooms, and traffic in the area is expected to return to normal later in the day.
Israel conducted aerial strikes until the final moments, but did not retaliate when additional rockets were launched at Israel 10 minutes after the ceasefire went into effect. Currently, the ceasefire is holding without violations from either party involved.
The operation began on Friday, August 5th, when the Israeli Air Force (IAF) targeted Tayseer Jabari, the Islamic Jihad’s northern Gaza division commanding officer in a surgical strike, with other Islamic terrorists.
As the IDF and its air force continued striking terrorist posts, manufacturing facilities, tunnels and weapon stashes, the Islamic Jihad began firing rocket barrages over the border into Israel, reaching as far as Tel Aviv and the outskirts of Jerusalem.
The IDF targeted other Jihad leaders in Gaza and arrested dozens of operatives in the West Bank during the past three days. Learning from its past mistakes and international condemnation, this time Israel made sure to release audio-visual footage demonstrating the efforts it took in order to prevent civilian casualties, including delaying or halting strikes against Jihadist targets. It also documented Palestinian missile launches in order to show that it was their failed launches at Israel which were responsible for killing innocent Palestinian civilians.
Another round of fighting, no solution in sight
While nearly 1000 Palestinian rockets and missiles were fired at Israel during those 2+days. Luckily, Iron Dome had an interception success rate of 97%. As a result, there has been no loss of life or direct injury on the Israeli side, and relatively little damage to property.
The Gaza Strip wasn’t as fortunate. The Palestinians report that over 40 civilians, including children, lost their lives during this latest round of combat. Whether they were killed by Israeli warplanes because Jihad terrorists were using them as human shields, or whether it was a Palestinian missile falling short that killed them is, and should be, a topic of much discussion – but ultimately, the end result is the same. Once again, innocent people are dead.
Smoke billows following an IAF airstrike, Gaza Strip. August 7th 2022. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via REUTERS
Israel evacuated its settlements from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, but since then there has been no breakthrough in figuring out a long-term solution that would restore calm to both sides of the border, with combat round chasing combat round. As the Gaza population keeps growing (it is now around 2 million) and becomes increasingly desperate, it seems there is nowhere to do but down. And on the other side, Israeli children grow up in fear, never knowing when and where the next rocket will strike.
There is, however, a small beacon of hope: Up until Friday, the past year has been one of the quietest years in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Ganz, increased the number of permits enabling Gazans to enter Israel for work purposes, and bring back home respectable wages. The dire economic situation did improve a little, and this is perhaps the main reason why Hamas, interested in maintaining its sovereignty without civil unrest, did not join in on this latest round of fighting.
With a fresh round of elections in Israel around the corner, it will be interesting to see whether the new government will devote time and energy to Gaza in trying to devise a real social-political-economic solution, perhaps with the aid of regional and international partners, or whether it will just continue to drift between the tides of violence and calm.