Analysts cast doubt on the possibility of a war between Hamas and Israel this year, citing political changes since their last war in 2014. However, the reasons cited are the same ones that make another conflict highly likely. It was said in 2014 that neither side wanted a war due to certain political hindrances, but Israel launched Operation Protective Edge anyway.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened a harsher response than in 2014 days after Hamas admitted rebuilding tunnels in preparation for a future conflict. Each side is waiting for the other to begin military action.
Those believing another war is unlikely mostly cite Turkish-Israeli rapprochement as a deterrent to Tel Aviv attacking Hamas, which they see as supported by Ankara. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country must accept that it needs Israel. Ankara’s room for maneuver may be limited by tensions with both Moscow and Washington over Syria.
The Israelis and Hamas are waiting for the other to begin military action.Raed Omari
Israel’s only justification for its Gaza onslaughts in 2014, 2012, 2009 and 2008 was self-defense against Hamas rockets. This pretext still exists. Those doubtful of Israel waging another war say it would anger Washington by scuppering attempts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. However, Washington always reiterates Israel’s right to self-defense.
Some say Israel cannot wage another war in the run up to U.S. presidential elections. However, Tel Aviv could take the opportunity while the United States is preoccupied, and remind candidates that Israel must be America’s first priority.
It is also argued that Israel would be prevented from attacking Gaza by reconstruction efforts and international donors. However, previous wars against Gaza took place despite internationally-financed rebuilding efforts.
The world views Gaza as geographically and politically separate from the West Bank, which is the focus of international diplomacy to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This leaves Gaza all the more vulnerable.
Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via email@example.com, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2