The largest confrontation between Israel and Gaza since May 2021 concluded with a ceasefire brokered by Egypt. After a mere 54 hours, Israel managed to completely demolish the command structure of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and prove to the world at large that it will not allow her citizens to be the indiscriminate target of attack.
Israel preemptively struck PIJ command after a surge in militant activity in Judea and Samaria (aka The West Bank) forced their hand. What began with the arrest of Bassam al-Saadi, the leader of PIJ, ended with the destruction of 170 PIJ targets, according to Israeli intelligence.
In retaliation for the strikes, PIJ launched over 1,100 rockets into Israeli civilian population centers, prompting millions in the small Jewish state to stay close to their bomb shelters. Due to a combination of PIJ incompetence and Iron Dome technology, no Israelis were killed.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the Palestinians within the Gazan borders. According to Brig. General Ran Kochav, 200 projectiles landed within the Gaza Strip, and 15 civilians were killed by PIJ fire. In total, PIJ claims that 44 people were killed, although it is unclear how many of those were civilian versus militant.
The ceasefire was brokered by Egypt, which is taking a central role in mediating disputes between Gaza and Israel. Qatar also had a hand in the ceasefire negotiations. As part of the ceasefire agreement, Egypt agreed to take on the work of ensuring the release of Khalil al-Awawda, a PIJ member who has been on a hunger strike while in Israeli detention. Egypt also claimed to work on the release of al-Saadi, although his heightened role in PIJ forced those with information to doubt that it would be achieved so easily.
Hamas, which is the ruling party in Gaza, managed to stay out of this conflict, allowing them to avoid the wrath of the IDF while witnessing their chief rivals in Gaza suffer a humiliating defeat. Hamas, which is continually stockpiling its weapons with the aid it receives from foreign nations, is now in a stronger position within Gaza, something that Israeli intelligence is keeping an eye on.
This strike was the first true test of interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who is running to retain his premiership after the dissolution of the coalition government. The new election, which is slated to be held in September, will determine if the Israeli people desire the return of Bibi Netanyahu.
Regarding the strikes, Lapid said to The Times of Israel, “The State of Israel will not apologize for protecting its residents using force, but the death of innocents, especially children, is heartbreaking,”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz mimicked Lapid’s words, saying that the successful operation sent a “clear message to our enemies” and “if it becomes necessary, we will launch a preemptive strike in the future, as well, to protect the citizens of Israel, its sovereignty, and its infrastructure.”
President Joe Biden thanked Egypt and Qatar for their role in the ceasefire and vowed to investigate the deaths in Gaza. “The reports of civilian casualties in Gaza are a tragedy, whether by Israeli strikes against Islamic Jihad positions or the dozens of Islamic Jihad rockets that reportedly fell inside Gaza.” a statement read. “My administration supports a timely and thorough investigation into all of these reports, and we also call on all parties to fully implement the ceasefire, and to ensure fuel and humanitarian supplies are flowing into Gaza as the fighting subsides.”
By Moshe Hill