"There will be no way to avoid one day temporarily taking over Gaza," Yuval Steinitz, Netanyahu’s energy minister said just days before the latest ceasefire. "That day has not arrived for all kinds of reasons. I think the day will come, if not now than in the coming years."
Though the next war on Gaza may not explode immediately, that will be because of Palestinian patience not because of Israeli peace or forbearance from provocation. Israeli is retracing the same path to war it just walked.
The Same Path
The initial cause of the recent war on Gaza was the displacement of Palestinians from their homes: Israel’s illegal planned eviction of forty families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Only days after the announcement of the ceasefire, Israel provocatively went down the same path by announcing the construction of 560 settler units in Bethlehem on Palestinian land in the West Bank. Days earlier, occupation authorities approved another 90 units in the same vicinity.
Brazenly, the announced housing projects coincided with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit to Jerusalem where he warned Israeli leaders that "evictions of Palestinians from their homes where they lived for decades and generations, the demolitions of housing" could "spark tension, conflict and war" and "spark another round of violence."
But the response is not surprising from an Israeli administration that has told the Americans to mind their own business. Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat recently told US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that the Biden administration should stay out of the crisis in Gaza and not put any pressure on Israel.
The illegal eviction in Sheikh Jarrah led to protests that Israel responded to by repeatedly raiding the Al-Aqsa Mosque and by firing rubber bullets at worshippers in the mosque while assaulting them with tear gas and stun grenades. But the ceasefire was not hours old before Israeli security forces trod the same dangerously provocative path, firing teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at worshippers inside the Al-Aqsa mosque.
And the ceasefire was not even a few days old before Israeli police launched operation “Law and Order,” an “extensive arrest operation” that was approved by the Minister of Internal Security and the Police Commissioner that set a goal of arresting 500 Palestinians.
Preparing for the Same Path
Israel is not only walking down the same provocative path – a path they have never really left – they are also preparing for the path’s destination.
As the ceasefire was being signed, President Biden emphatically promised that "There is no shift in my commitment to the security of Israel. Period. No shift, not at all."
And that turned out to be true. The US already gives Israel $3.8 billion in military aid over a ten year period that started in 2016. Though the agreement was for $3.8 billion, it promised that Israel could ask for more. They did. In the middle of bombing Gaza, the Biden administration approved the sale of an additional $735 million of "precision-guided weapons."
Citing a prohibition enshrined in the Leahy law that prohibits the US from providing military assistance to a country that is committing a "violation of human rights," Senator Bernie Sanders recently demanded that congress "take a hard look" at the over $4 billion of military equipment being sold to the Israeli military. UN human rights chief Michele Bachelet recently said that the latest round of "Israeli strikes might constitute war crimes."
Apparently not enough, though, and despite the Leahy law, Israel is poised to ask the US for another lump sum billion dollars’ worth of emergency aid. What’s the emergency? Israel needs the US to finance the war it just fought against the Palestinians. The money is needed to replenish the Iron Dome aerial defense system that was used up in the war and to resupply the precision-guided bombs that were dropped on Gaza.
Honest broker that it is, the US is providing aid to both sides: billions of dollars of military aid to resupply Israel for the next war; $110 million in humanitarian aid to rebuild Gaza from the last one.
Ted Snider has a graduate degree in philosophy and writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and history.