Israeli Prime Minister’s Gaza gamble seems to have worked

AVIV Tel, Israel –

Israel’s prime minister took a gamble with a pre-emptive strike against jihadist fighters in Gaza, less than three months before he contested the general election to keep his post.

Yair Lapid believed that the militia Hamas rulers in Gaza should stay out of the war, thus enabling Israel to weaken Hamas’ smaller sister group while avoiding a full-blown escalation. At the same time, he may well have won political positions ahead of the polls.

With a cease-fire between the sides being held on Monday, after three days of violence, the calculations appear to be correct.

Hamas remained on the sidelines as Israeli jets hit targets in Gaza, killing two jihadist leaders in targeted attacks, and Israeli missile shields intercepted them. many of the hundreds of rockets fired by jihad.

The long-suffering civilians of Gaza once again bore the brunt of the violence, with 44 Palestinians killed, among them 15 children and 4 women. Israel said some were victims of falling rockets.

The Egypt-brokered ceasefire, which went into effect late Sunday, has limited one of the shortest waves of fighting since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007. Israel and Hamas have fought four battles. war over the past 15 years, when more than 2 million Gazans endured a suffocating war. The Israel-Egypt border blockade.

Since the last war in May 2021, Lapid and his government partner Naftali Bennett have been trying to create more impetus for Hamas to maintain quiet along the Gaza border, with the implied acknowledgment that this is the case. This will strengthen the dominance of the warriors.

As part of this strategy, Israel has granted permits to 12,000 Gaza workers to enter Israel, with the promise of more supplies if the situation continues to stabilize. Qatar and Egypt have also participated in rebuilding Gaza with Israeli support.

On Monday morning, Israel partially reopened Gaza crossings that had been closed during the fighting, signaling a swift return to the insights it had before the fighting.

Some say that Lapid scored political points at home with a short-term military campaign.

“Lapid is in a much stronger position than before because the main reason against him is that he is not experienced enough,” said Gayil Talshir, a political analyst from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. . “He could also claim that he is trying to achieve a paradigm shift” underpinning Israel’s Gaza policy.

During the Gaza offensive, the center of Lapid, a former TV presenter and author, lacked the security credentials that Israelis typically seek in their leaders. That was seen as a glaring weakness when he faced off against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a self-described security hawk, in the November election.

By Monday morning, Lapid appeared to have knocked out his security capabilities by hitting back at what he said was an imminent threat from the Palestinian militant group.

“It was very important to his campaign,” said Tal Schneider, a veteran Israeli political reporter. “It will be very helpful when you get more military experience when you vote.”

The events of the past few days also underscored Hamas’s shifting priorities, as it focuses on managing and maintaining power.

Mkhaimar Abusada, professor of political science at al-Azhar University of Gaza.

Israeli work permits are a lifeline for Gaza’s economy, battered by widespread devastation from Israeli attacks over the years and crippling movement restrictions.

Hossam al-Dajani, a political scientist at the Islamic University of Gaza, said the license was “certainly important for Hamas because it governs Gaza and is responsible for it”.

Lapid, meanwhile, has signaled other policy changes.

Throughout the fighting, Lapid made no mention of Hamas, breaking away from Netanyahu, who blamed Hamas for any flames emanating from Gaza.

At the same time, the outgoing Lapid-Bennett government attacked any and all fire from Gaza, including incendiary balloons. And Lapid seems to have gone further than self-proclaimed security expert Netanyahu, whose strategy primarily involves striking Gaza in response to missile attacks. Lapid chose a pre-emptive strike in the most recent round, citing specific threats from jihadist groups.

“This government has a zero-tolerance policy against any attack – of any kind – from Gaza to Israeli territory,” Lapid said at the start of Friday’s campaign.

Lapid is the architect of the outgoing coalition government – a coalition of eight diverse parties spread across Israeli politics, bound in large part by their shared aversion to Netanyahu.

The coalition, which included an Arab party for the first time in Israel’s history, ended the 12-year reign of Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. His Yesh Atid party is expected to be the second largest in parliament in the November elections and he could have a chance to form a government.

Unlike Netanyahu, who served in an elite unit in Israel’s conscription in the late 1960s, Lapid is a military journalist for a weekly magazine published by the Israeli military. As prime minister, Netanyahu guided Israel through three wars with Gaza, stepped up its campaign against enemy targets in Syria and messed with Iran over its nuclear program.

Lapid became famous for his promise to solve problems of living standards and become a hero for the mainstream, secular middle class, attracted by their cinematic talent and commitment to expanding their shekel. . They cared little about his less-than-heroic military service.

But Lapid was unable to break into other constituencies in part because he had little knowledge of security. During his duties in government, he served as minister of finance and foreign affairs, acquiring valuable skills in politics, administration and diplomacy but with no experience in security.

In the weeks following the attack, Netanyahu will likely seek to tear down what is seen as a military achievement in Israel. But after dragging Israel into three wars, much more costly in Gaza, and unable to quell the fire from Gaza during his more than decade in power, Netanyahu likely won’t succeed.

“Lapid will be able to claim that the policy he leads with Bennett is more effective than that of the man trying to replace him in the office of prime minister,” wrote Anshel Pfeffer, a columnist. Haaretz daily newspaper.


Rose reports from Jerusalem. Associated Press writer Fares Akram contributed to this report from Gaza City, Gaza Strip

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