AnalysisIDF quickly said its forces weren't in Gaza to kill, kidnap

Dollars trump death: Hamas seems committed to truce despite deadly Gaza flareup

For now, both sides seem more interested in reaping the benefits of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire than in escalating tensions

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Palestinians stand next to the remains of a car said to be destroyed following an Israeli airstrike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Palestinians stand next to the remains of a car said to be destroyed following an Israeli airstrike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

The deadly firefight in the Gaza Strip overnight does not change the fact that both Israel and Hamas are not interested in escalating tensions in the Palestinian territory, with both sides, as of Monday morning, managing to pull back from the brink of another round of violence.

At around 1:30 a.m. Monday, Hamas ended its barrage of rockets and mortar shells into Israel despite the heavy price it had paid — seven dead, including a senior commander, and seven wounded. The terrorist group may have boasted afterwards about its forces’ “victory,” which “drove the Zionist forces out of Gaza,” but in reality, the overnight raid was a heavy blow for Hamas.

Israeli special forces had been operating in Hamas’s own backyard, and even managed to return home, albeit not intact.

Among those killed in the late-night firefight was Hamas’s battalion leader for Khan Younis, Nour Barakeh, a commander who is considered to be a senior member of the terrorist organization’s military wing.

Hamas terrorist Nour Barakeh (Hadashot TV Screenshot)

Typically, these kinds of casualties would have prompted severe retaliation from Hamas, but someone in the organization apparently decided against it.

Even seven dead fighters was not enough for Hamas to abandon more important efforts: brokering a long-term ceasefire agreement with Israel.

The ultimate goal of quiet and improvements to Gaza’s flagging economy beat out calls for vengeance and other inflammatory statements by the Hamas leadership.

There is also a desire for calm on the Israeli side. On Monday morning, the IDF published a clarification saying the officers operating in the Gaza Strip overnight were not there to kill or abduct Hamas operatives. The army admitted that the mission in Khan Younis was an operation that went awry, sending Hamas a message that Israel was not seeking to further escalate tensions.

Members of the Palestinian security forces gather at a hospital morgue where the bodies of five of the six men killed during an Israeli operation on Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip were transported on November 11, 2018. (Said KHATIB / AFP)

Still, just as Hamas is preparing for the possibility of another war with Israel, Israel is also preparing accordingly.

Israel’s actions in the framework of the long-term ceasefire deal brokered by Egypt will include complex intelligence operations, similar to the one overnight. These are complicated operations and require a great deal of courage by the elite soldiers who sneaked into Khan Younis, and, after they were “burned,” faced a long and difficult path back home.

And now, even though a lieutenant colonel in a special forces unit was killed, Israel is choosing to stick with the terms of the emerging agreement and will not halt the transfer of millions of dollars from Qatar to pay the salaries of Hamas officials.

The $15 million in cash that entered the Gaza Strip in suitcases, mafia-style, with Israel’s blessing at the weekend was just the first in several cash transfers that were negotiated under the ceasefire deal.

A Palestinian man shows his money after receiving his salary in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip November 9, 2018. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Over the next six months, a Qatari plane loaded with cash will regularly land in Israel and the money will be put into suitcases and driven to the Gaza Strip where it will be distributed to Hamas members, including those in the military wing. Yes, the same military wing that was responsible for killing an IDF officer and wounding another last night.

Hamas understands the magnitude of its “achievement” in killing an Israeli elite forces officer, and is already reaping the PR rewards among the Palestinian public. Nonetheless, for now, Hamas is choosing the path of diplomacy, because salaries and electricity are easier to sell than seven dead fighters.

Most Popular
read more: