Terrorism & Insurgency

Implementation of ceasefire conditions reduces immediate likelihood of resumed escalation between Israel and Gazan militant groups

13 May 2019

Gaza residents queue outside a post office in Gaza City to receive cash aid transfers from Qatar on 13 May 2019. Source: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

A ceasefire arrangement was agreed between Israel and Gaza-based Islamist militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad (PIJ), on 6 May. The ceasefire was reported in Israeli and Palestinian media as subject to the implementation of terms agreed to in early April - including the transfer of Qatari money to Hamas, an easing of the economic blockade of Gaza, and on an extension of fishing access off the Gaza coast. Israeli newspaper Times of Israel reported on 13 May that the Qatari envoy had crossed into Gaza to distribute approximately USD30 million to Hamas and civilians.

  • The escalation was probably an attempt by Hamas to raise the cost for Israel to delay the implementation of previous ceasefire arrangements. For the three previous days, there had been a significant escalation after two Palestinians were killed during protests at the border and two Israeli soldiers wounded. The total number of casualties was higher. Gaza groups subsequently fired approximately 690 rockets into Israel, with 240 intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system. Four Israeli citizens were killed. Israel carried out air and artillery strikes not seen since the 2014 Gaza operation and resumed targeted killings of Hamas officials.
  • Full implementation of the ceasefire arrangement conditions would reduce the likelihood of an immediate return rocket launches and the risk of conflict escalation. Any perceived stalling by Israel to implement the terms of the ceasefire (not all of which are under Israeli control) would increase the likelihood of another confrontation in the one-month outlook. This will be highly dependent on the regular transfer of the amount agreed upon across the border by the Qatari envoy, and ensuring that the border crossings into Gaza from Israel remain open to the transfer of fuel and commodities.
  • Although neither side is looking for a return to prolonged conflict, the Gaza leadership probably calculates that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's vulnerable position makes him likely to offer concessions.

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