The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) announced on Monday that they had launched airstrikes at militant positions and infrastructure in the northern Gaza Strip, allegedly in response to a rocket fired from Gaza that landed in an open field.
The rocket, alleged to have been fired at the city of Ashkelon to the north of Gaza, landed in an open field without causing material damage or injuries. The Israeli military announced its military operation on its official Twitter account, claiming that:
“IDF aircraft recently attacked an infrastructure used for underground operations by the Hamas terrorist organization in the southern Gaza Strip… In addition, IDF tanks attacked the organization’s military positions. The attacks were carried out in response to the rocket fire launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, earlier this evening.”
According to a Gaza correspondent for Jerusalem’s al-Quds newspaper, Israeli artillery also targeted “a number of resistance observatories on the eastern borders of southern and central Gaza,” including Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah.
Gaza-based Shehab News Agency reported that two Israeli missiles also hit “open land” near the remnants of the Yasser Arafat International Airport in Rafah, destroyed by Israeli forces in 2000.
Relations between Israel and Palestine have been effectively terminated following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement earlier this year that he intends to formally annex large parts of the West Bank.
Netanyahu lost no time in pushing ahead with the idea, declaring during the swearing in ceremony of the new government before the Knesset last month that Israeli sovereignty should be asserted over all of the illegal West Bank settlements inhabited by around 400,000 Israelis in the occupied Palestinian territory, saying: “It’s time to apply the Israeli law and write another glorious chapter in the history of Zionism.” LINK
Although the plan has received the support of the US administration and much of the US Congress, it has been condemned by most of the rest of the ‘international community’. The King of Jordan was particularly emphatic in his denunciation of the plan, which he warned could provoke a major conflict in the region.
King Abdullah II of Jordan stated in an interview with German news outlet Der Speigel, last month that any attempt to annex parts of the West Bank “will lead to a massive conflict with Jordan.” The official website of the King’s Royal Hashemite Court elaborated on this point several days later:
Asked about the impact of Israel potentially moving forward with the annexation of parts of the West Bank, the King said it could lead to a massive conflict with Jordan.
“I don’t want to make threats and create an atmosphere of loggerheads, but we are considering all options. We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of strength should not apply in the Middle East,” His Majesty added.
He reaffirmed Jordan’s position that “the two-state solution is the only way for us to be able to move forward,” and urged all countries in the region to focus on collective efforts to fight coronavirus instead of provoking more conflict.
King Abdullah II further stated: “Leaders who advocate a one-state solution do not understand what that would mean. What would happen if the Palestinian National Authority collapsed? There would be more chaos and extremism in the region.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who visited Israel last week, also warned Israel it faced sanctions and possibly other dire repercussions if it attempts to extend its sovereignty over parts of the West Bank which the EU considers Palestinian territories, as clearly stipulated by international law.
On 1 July, the Israeli Knesset plans to vote on a bill that would extend sovereignty over some 30 per cent of the West Bank, an initiative that has enraged Palestinians as well as most of the Arab and Muslim world.
It has also led to greater polarisation within Israeli society and among political factions. A recent poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute showed that 50 per cent of respondents supported the idea of applying sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, around 31 per cent were opposed to the move, while 19 per cent said they were undecided.
Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is also been split over its attitude to the plan.
Netanyahu’s Likud political party is the main protagonist behind the planned extension of Israeli sovereignty. Although it appears that the party is united in favour of the plan, there have been voices within Likud that expressed dissatisfaction with the “deal of the century” plan announced by US President Donald Trump at the end of January.
It appears that Benny Gantz’s Blue and White alliance will back Netanyahu’s move and vote in favour of the application of Israeli law on certain territories in the West Bank, providing 51 of the 61 votes required to pass the bill.
While it is also likely to be supported by some of the smaller parties, it faces strong opposition from the Joint Arab List which has 15 seats in the Knesset and supports the two-state solution and respecting the rights of Palestinians.
Nitzan Horowitz, the head of the left-wing party Meretz with its three seats, called the move a criminal act.
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