Following its opening for two hours for internationals only to leave, Erez Crossing closed again, and those still queuing were advised to return to Gaza City.
Meanwhile, Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, said that Israeli air strikes had killed 15 Palestinian militants in the territory in the past week, and that “Israel could be forced to take more robust action.”
No Israelis have been killed during the same period, and only one Israeli soldier has been wounded – and that in response to Israeli military fire.
Despite the clear evidence that Israel is the aggressor, and the Gazan resistance is responding in self-defence, Israel continues its spin to justify what it hopes to be a vote-catching operation.
“If we need a ground operation, there will be a ground operation,” Ehud Barak told Israel Radio, while Netanyahu warned of “extensive and deeper action,” according to Ma’an.
Although the skies have been relatively quiet this afternoon, Gazawis remain on alert in expectation of further disproportionate Israeli response to Gaza’s legitimate exercise of the right to self-determination, resistance, and self-defence.
Expert in Israeli affairs Dr Adnan Abu Amer said at a press conference in Gaza City today that 100 days out from their elections, Israel is again beating the drums of war. With the prospect of US support for a strike against Iran fading fast, Netanyahu is turning his attention to Gaza in a bid to whip up an excuse for a display of strength, and the resulting votes, particularly from the southern settlements.
At the event held at the Government Media Office, Dr Abu Amer noted the increased presence and duration of the activity of Israeli forces on the Gaza borders, in military exercises that normally last four days to a week but which now persist.
Observing that the Israeli government needs something to increase its popularity with voters, he predicted they will resort to their traditional strategy of spilling Palestinian blood in the name of security.
While Syria, Lebanon and Iran have taken up much of Israel’s attention in recent months, muddying the waters in anticipating a possible Gaza strike, the latest attacks on Al Jihad and Al Qassam could well impact on the Israeli/Palestinian equation, he said.
He mentioned Israeli involvement in the Syrian situation, whereby Israel played a secret role when the internal civilian struggle first began, thus guaranteeing that what it wants from Syria is already happening without costing it anything. This has been followed by the second issue on the Israeli agenda, Lebanon, with the assassination of the Lebanese police intelligence chief two days ago – which many have attributed to Israel because of the meticulousness with which the operation was carried out, suggesting the involvement of highly professional state security services.
Abu Amer suggested that Israel may target one of the Al Qassam leaders to provide the justification it needs to start its war against Gaza.
“ Israeli F16 warplanes have not left the Gaza skies for days, and what they are up to we do not know,” he said.
A surprise attack on Gaza would be the “least expensive option” for Israel both economically and politically, but a land-based military operation is unlikely given the proximity of the southern settlements to Gaza, he considers.
A lightning-strike air offensive would be cheaper, more effective, and avoid dragging the country into a prolonged war during the electoral process. It would also serve the double purpose of creating heroes out of the air force, and of Netanyahu, who would be perceived by voters, especially in the southern settlements, as the emperor of security.
Dr Adnan Abu Amer noted the need for the Palestinian resistance factions to form a united operations team to be ready for any escalation of the situation, and to counter the inevitable asymmetrical warfare whereby Israel mobilises excuses and reasons to market in the external media, thus win over world public opinion against the Palestinians.
“Palestinians have several options to take a united stance to ensure Gaza is not left up for grabs by the hands of the occupation by a busy world which considers other regional issues more important,” he concluded.
Translation: Fatma Al Hasham