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Israel's latest deadly assault on Gaza: why now?

Israel's latest deadly assault on Gaza: why now?
2 min read
09 May, 2023
Tuesday's bloody air attacks may well be for the sake of appeasing Netanyahu's political partners - at the expense of Palestinian lives.
Palestinian armed factions may now respond with force, triggering a deadly new conflict [Getty images]

Operation “Shield and Arrow”, launched by Israeli forces at dawn on Tuesday morning against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group in the Gaza Strip took out some of the movement’s most important military figures

The PIJ resistance movement had become a persistent thorn in the side for the Israeli military, growing in strength in the last year. 

Only last week, Israel and the PIJ had agreed a temporary truce after dozens of rockets were launched from Gaza when Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan died following 86 days on hunger strike in Israeli prison. 

The Israel decision to target the group's leaders seems to have been taken not only for their role in the latest rocket attacks, but as an attempt to reassert Israel’s complete military superiority in the Palestinian territories. 

A recent spat in the Israeli government spiralled after extremist national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of weakness and leniency towards Gaza - leading to a Knesset boycott by Ben-Gvir’s party Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power). 

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Otzma Yehudit is a key coalition partner that Netanyahu needs to pass key aspects of his legislative agenda - including the controversial judicial overhaul which brought Israel to a standstill as hundreds of thousands of Israelis protested against it. 

If Netanyahu cannot keep his electoral covenant in check, he faces more elections - and the prospect of further legal quagmires over corruption if he loses. 

Since this morning’s bloody attack, Otzma Yehudit have stopped their Knesset boycott, and have agreed to come back into the government fold. 

To some cynical observers, Netanyahu is triggering a war for the sake of internal politics - at the expense of Palestinian lives.

We are likely now to see Palestinian armed factions respond with force, triggering a deadly new conflict.  

And as we approach key dates in Israel’s national calendar - such as Jerusalem's Flag Day March, when Israelis provocatively celebrate their occupation of the city - military shows of strength play well with Netanyahu’s voter base, at a time when Israel sees challenges from Iran and Hezbollah looming larger on its northern border.