A Palestinian girl looks out of a classroom window as she attends a lesson on the first day of a new school year, at a United Nations-run school in Khan Young in the southern Gaza Strip.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
A day after the ceasefire that ended one of the short but brutal round of violence in Gaza, both the Israelis and the Palestinians are extremely grumpy.
This frustration is understood, especially among those Israelis who live in the southern part of the country and experienced more than 700 rockets over two days.
But the situation on the other side of the border is much worse, as the Muslim Palestinians in Gaza just entered the month of Ramadan under fire, with buildings collapsing around them after being targeted from the air.
The Israeli side, for obvious reasons, neglected to share the nature and details of the ceasefire agreement with Hamas. The Palestinian side, however, talked about a dramatic increase in Qatari aid, which will reach almost half a billion dollars, although most of it will go to the Palestinian Authority.
The direct link between peace and payment makes it even more obvious that it was all about the money to begin with.
The rounds of violence keep on taking the Israelis by surprise, although there is nothing surprising about them.
Despite some positive economic developments in recent months, the Gazans are desperate for cash. On the eve of Ramadan, the markets might be full with merchandise, but nobody can afford it. The excuses vary, but here’s a general rule: each time there is a setback in the transfer of money, trouble is on its way.
Why did we have to reach this point of crisis, less than a month after Netanyahu had to abruptly leave Washington days before Israel’s general elections, skipping his annual speech at AIPAC’s policy conference, for a previous escalation?
If Israel’s strategic choice is a long-term ceasefire in Gaza, why let it collapse every few weeks?
Not only are Israelis who are critical of the government asking these questions, Gazans are, too.
As opposed to previous rounds of war, there was very little enthusiasm for militarism in the street. People just failed to understand what was going on and how we got to this tipping point again.
Added to the general sense of gloom was that there was very little support from outside: the West Bankers, under Abbas’s rule, were minding their own business. Only a handful of people showed up to a rally in the center of Ramallah to show solidarity with the other half of the Palestinian people.
Maybe people were too busy shopping for Ramadan? Maybe they preferred not to be seen as supporting Hamas? Or maybe they just didn’t care enough?
What was formerly known as “the Arab Street” acted similarly. It was hardly a leading news item, and the Saudi affiliated media/social media, kept on blaming Hamas and its allies, Iran and Qatar, for the situation. “How many Iftar meals could you buy with the money it cost to launch all these rockets toward Israel?” asked a Lebanese TV star.
The indifference in the Arab world might also have bad implications: The people in Gaza feel isolated and deserted.
The Iranians are likely to push the Islamic Jihad and Hamas to punish Israel as things get harder for them with the Trump administration. The Qataris are mostly playing the role of an ATM machine, and the Egyptians have their own interests in the game that sometimes collide with Israeli ones.
Add to all this the internal pressure Hamas is facing from hungry Gazans, backed by the Palestinian Authority, you can rest assured that unless the broken diplomacy will be dramatically fixed, the next round of rockets is on its way.
Shimrit Meir is a Middle East analyst.
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