On Saturday July 14th, Israeli Security Forces (ISF) launched its most severe airstrike campaign against the Gaza Strip since the war of 2014 (i.e. Operation Protective Edge) after militants allegedly fired over 200 rockets and other projectiles towards Israeli controlled areas. Sirens reportedly went off in southern parts of Israel, including Sha’ar HaNegev, Sdot Negev, Hof Ashkelon and Eshkol Regional Councils. As such, due to a high state of tensions, Israeli authorities closed public beaches and restricted gatherings of large groups in those areas.
Israeli Palestinian conflict
Since the 42nd commemoration of the Palestinian Land Day that began on Saturday March 30th, Palestinians from the Gaza Strip launched a 46-day long campaign to mainly demand the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israeli controlled areas. The campaign was also meant to protest the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakbeh.
Mohamed Hamdan, also known as Abu Hamza, was targeted on Sun. 14th of January in a car bomb in the city of Sidon, southern Lebanon. According to reports, M. Hamdan survived the blast but was wounded in the attack, which required the amputation of his leg. Security sources and news channels claim that an explosive device weighing between 400g and 500g was placed under the seat of his car and was detonated as M. Hamdan was entering his vehicle.
The security situation in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque was elevated since July 14th 2017, when Israeli forces closed Al-Aqsa Mosque for two days after armed clashes erupted between three Palestinians and Israeli police in Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound 0.35 km SE of the Old City / Jerusalem. Which led to the death of the three Palestinians and two Israeli police officers.
Gaza’s sole power plant was shut-down on April 17th, as the fuel reserves were consumed. Debates are still ongoing between PA and Hamas on fuel tax exemption and revenue collection from electricity consumers. According to the ICRC, Gaza is on the verge of a “systemic collapse”.
The Palestinian Authority has been paying the Israeli Authorities to supply Gaza with electricity until April in which the PA declared payments will stop, while in May, the Israeli Authorities reduced the electricity provided to Gaza.
Tension and security situation that started in late 2015 continued throughout 2016. The Palestinian uprising that started in October 2015 was mainly characterized by lone-wolf attacks carried out by individuals non-aligned with Palestinian factions. Over 60% of attacks reported were conducted by individual Palestinians not backed by political parties, 23% belonged to a specific party but conducted individually without an order or coordination from the party’s leadership, and less than 17% of the attacks were carried out by individuals who were backed by a specific party.