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Calm returns to the Gaza Strip border after two days of tension

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Calm returned to the borders of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after a two-day military confrontation between Israel and Islamic Jihad, which raised fears of escalation a week before the Israeli elections.

From midnight on Monday to Tuesday, no rocket or mortar shells were fired from the Strip towards Israeli towns, and Israel has not carried out any air or artillery strikes, according to identical Palestinian and Israeli sources.

The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, declared a cease-fire on Monday evening, but it retreated for a while, accusing Israel of breaking it. It launched a number of missiles, and the army launched several air strikes at night, targeting military positions of the Islamic Movement.

A source in the jihad said that “a mutual calm” had come into effect at around 11:30 (local time) before midnight, but, as in previous times, there was no official Israeli confirmation.

In the Gaza Strip, life was organized as usual on Tuesday, and life also returned to normal in the Israeli areas close to the Strip.

The army said in a statement that it allowed the citizens of these areas to return to their work and lift the restrictions imposed. The roads and the rail network were reopened, but about sixty-five thousand students did not go to their schools on this day.

The Israeli Defense Ministry said that the main border crossing of Beit Hanoun (Erez) between the Strip and Israel was “reopened to Palestinian patients”, after it closed on Monday.

An official Palestinian source confirmed the return of the crossing “partly” to work.

– Rocket attacks –

The fighters of Al-Jihad movement, which is the second largest armed faction in the sector after the Hamas movement that controls the sector, fired more than 80 rockets and mortar shells towards the Israeli towns after the army killed at dawn Sunday one of its activists whom the army accused of planting an explosive device near the border in Khan Yunis, south of the sector .

Palestinian activists broadcast on social networks videos of an Israeli military bulldozer pulling the dead body of the dead man towards the Israeli region on the border, which angered the Palestinians.

Jamal Al-Fadi, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said that broadcasting this video “prompted the” jihad movement “to restore consideration and say that it can respond strongly if Israel wants to impose a new reality.”

Most of the missiles fired by Jihad were intercepted by the Iron Dome system of the Israeli air defenses.

The army said that a missile landed in an empty field. Israeli combat aircraft and helicopters responded with strikes against jihad targets in different areas of the Strip, as well as targeting a movement’s location in Syria.

According to Al-Fadhi, Sunday’s tension is considered the “most violent” between Israel and jihad since November, when Israel killed Baha Abu al-Atta, the movement’s most prominent military leader. What led to the outbreak of a military confrontation that lasted three days, during which 35 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded, without any casualties in Israel, despite the launch of hundreds of rockets from Gaza.

A fragile calm prevails in the Gaza Strip, which was brokered by Hamas and Israel under Egyptian mediation in late 2018 and renewed several times after clashes erupted.

Under the truce understandings, Israel allowed a partial easing of its blockade imposed on the Strip since 2006, and agreed to enter the State of Qatar about thirty million dollars a month to pay for fuel for the only power station in Gaza and pay cash assistance to about one hundred and twenty thousand poor families in the Strip.

Since 2008, the Gaza Strip has witnessed three wars, the last of which was in 2014.

– Israeli elections –

Al-Fadhi said that the jihad movement took advantage of the atmosphere that precedes the elections in Israel (scheduled for March 2) to reinforce it as “an influential figure in any equation, whether calm versus calm or calm in exchange for understandings.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to launch a “massive military campaign” to stop rocket fire from Gaza.

Netanyahu is seeking re-election in light of an imminent trial.

These elections are the third in Israel in less than a year, in light of strong competition between the right-wing Likud party led by Netanyahu and the blue-white centrist party led by former chief of staff Benny Gantz.

Gantz pledged that if he was elected prime minister, he would “strike Hamas, jihad and any other terrorist element with vigor, at any time.” “We will restore deterrence by force,” he said.

For his part, Hamas spokesman, Hazem Qassem, affirmed in a statement that “the resistance is able to overturn the equation and scatter the cards of the Zionist entity politically, militarily and in the field.”

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