While the world was busy with the American elections, it is not paying attention to what is going on in the besieged Gaza Strip and its surroundings. Early this week, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to urgently help by sending testing kits for COVID-19 as the number of new cases has been increasing steadily since the first four cases were discovered outside the quarantine centers in August. Yesterday, 303 new cases were recorded and one death.
At the same time, the Health Ministry announced that the intensive care unit in Al-Aqsa Hospital, the main hospital which serves the central area of the Gaza Strip, was on verge of breaking down due to the severe lack of medical equipment and a shortage of oxygen. Rights groups in Gaza amplified the concerns of the Health Ministry, reiterating that the general health and humanitarian conditions in Gaza, which has been under a strict 14-year Israeli siege, is deteriorating.
Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation army has repeatedly carried out brief invasions along the eastern area of the Gaza Strip and opened fire at Palestinian fishermen and farmers several times, injuring at least one fisherman.
“Mass media and analyses reflect what is going on in the minds of the Israeli decision-makers,” specialist Talaat Al-Khatib said, pointing out that Israeli media has been reporting about repeated military exercises in the sea and on the ground near the Gaza Strip, and Israeli analysts have warned that Israel is expecting a major incident in the “south [of Israel]” on the anniversary of Israel’s assassination of senior Islamic Jihad official, Bahaa Abul-Ata, tomorrow.
After the conclusion of the wide-scale military exercises ten days ago, the largest this year, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, Aviv Kohavi, said: “This exercise is a special exercise that we set for ourselves a goal of improving our attack capability.”
“This is an exercise that draws a line from the level of the battalion all the way up to the General Staff, with all the coordination and cooperation [up the chain of command] between the different branches [of the military].”
Israeli media has been reporting every single action carried out Al-Qassam Brigade, including the launching of missiles into the sea and organizing military marches. When an alleged Hamas tunnel was uncovered beneath the eastern side of Gaza, the Israeli media and military analysts gave numerous column inches to the incident. A couple of days ago, the Israeli media commented on the launch of a rocket in the sea saying Hamas continues improving its attack abilities.
End Gaza Siege! – Cartoon [Sabaaneh]
“Israel is planning to carry out a major attack in Syria or Iran before the end of US President Donald Trump’s time in office,” specialist in Israeli affairs Walid Al-Agha told me. “Therefore, Israel is afraid that Gaza might be involved in an Iranian escalation against Israel in retaliation for such an attack. So Israeli drones have been hovering over the Gaza skies 24 hours a day over the last few days.”
Meanwhile, Al-Khatib said that the Israeli occupation army is expecting Islamic Jihad’s military wing to launch a barrage of rockets towards Israel on the first anniversary of Abul-Ata’s assassination. “If this happens,” Al-Khatib said, “the Israeli army would use it as a pretext to launch an offensive on Gaza.” However, Al-Agha stressed: “If this happened, Israeli would only attack Islamic Jihad targets like what happened during the escalation which was erupted by Abul-Ata’s assassination.”
For its part, Hamas said it is ready for any scenario. “The Palestinian resistance exists due to the existence of the Israeli occupation,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told me, stressing that the Palestinian resistance “is united and ready to protect the Palestinian people from any Israeli aggression.”
Commenting on the intensive Israeli army drills and the recently repeated Israeli aggression on the Palestinians in Gaza, Barhoum said: “The Israeli occupation does not respect any agreement with anyone, not only the Palestinians. It is either attacking the Palestinians or preparing to carry out attacks against them all the time.”
It is not just Palestinian in Gaza who are enduring hardship, their counterparts in the West Bank “are suffering under a brutal Israeli occupation, which restricts their movement, suppresses their freedoms and undermines their human rights.”
In May 2019, the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and Israel reached a ceasefire that ended the deadliest round of tension between the two sides since the Israel’s major offensive on Gaza in 2014. At least 27 Palestinians were killed in Israeli bombings of Gaza and scores more were injured, while four Israelis, were killed, according to Israeli media.
The ceasefire, which was mediated by the UN, Egypt and Qatar, stipulated, according to an AP report, that Qatar would send $480 million to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Qatar said that $300 million would support health and education programmers of the Palestinian Authority, while $180 million would be allocated to “urgent humanitarian relief” in UN programmers and toward electricity. The ceasefire broke down several times, but the mediators saved it.
“As the Israeli occupation has not committed to its obligations under the ceasefire,” Al-Agha stressed, “the Palestinian resistance in Gaza might announce its breakdown under any Israeli violation and resume its action against the Israeli occupation.”