Analysis: The situation is still under control

Despite spike in violence, there is an interest on all sides to avoid an escalation; escalation is akin to a conversation between two deaf people.

IDF soldiers on southern border 370 (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
IDF soldiers on southern border 370
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Neither Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt nor Hamas wishes to see another round of fighting. What we are seeing is akin to a conversation between two deaf people.
The escalating violence this week between Israel and the Palestinians has not completely spun out of control, at least not yet. We might see another rocket or two being launched from Gaza toward Israel, but by and large none of the regional players has any interest in expanding the cycle of violence, certainly not on Christmas, a day on which Bethlehem is decorated for a festive occasion.
Israel could not have continued to hold its fire, especially after Tuesday’s murder of Defense Ministry civilian employee Salah Shukri Abu Latyef, the 22-year-old from Rahat who worked along the security fence outside Gaza to repair the damage caused by the recent storm.
Israel also could not have ignored the string of terrorist incidents from recent days, including the explosive device that blew up on a bus in Bat Yam on Sunday as well as the stabbing of a traffic policemen near Jerusalem on Monday. In the past three months, terrorists have killed six Israelis.
That explains Israel’s decision to respond with a military blow. It was a joint operation that included IAF warplanes, tanks and artillery fire against Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip. In addition, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon decided to seal off the Gaza border crossings. While Israel’s response was sharp, it was a measured one considering regional circumstances.
From the Palestinian standpoint, the escalation began earlier – last Friday, to be more exact, when the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) launched arrest operations in the West Bank that left two Palestinians dead. In Gaza, meanwhile, the Palestinians will have a hard time restraining themselves in light of news that a mother and her infant were killed – apparently due to poor intelligence – in IDF operations on Tuesday.
One would be remiss not to mention that Hamas has been playing a dangerous game these past few months.
While it has no interest in sparking a large conflagration similar in scale to Operations Cast Lead (five years ago) and Pillar of Defense (just over a year ago), the movement’s financial and political standing is at an all-time low. Perhaps this can explain why it is seeking to demonstrate its relevance, refusing to surrender, that it is alive and kicking.
Against the backdrop of the escalation there is the ticking clock on the diplomatic negotiations with the PLO. If those talks do not end with an agreement, it will lead to another round of confrontation that would make the events of the past few months seem like child’s play.