Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians Has Fallen Off the Agenda

Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians Has Fallen Off the Agenda
Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, in Gaza City, May 13, 2023 (AP photo by Fatima Shbair).

Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel and the Palestinian Nakba, or “catastrophe.” It comes at a time when the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians are particularly dim. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are facing internal political challenges, while international peace efforts are lukewarm. Meanwhile, everyday violence between Israelis and Palestinians continues, punctuated by periodic outbreaks of heavier fighting. The latest episode saw five days of intense clashes between Israel and the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza, which ended with a cease-fire on Sunday.

An initial wave of violence began after Khader Adnan, a prominent member of the Islamic Jihad, died in an Israeli prison on May 2, following an 86-day hunger strike. The Islamic Jihad—an Iran-backed armed group based in Gaza that is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel—consequently launched rockets at Israeli targets, which the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, responded to by bombing Gaza. The ensuing cease-fire did not hold, as last Tuesday the IDF began what it called Operation Shield and Arrow, a campaign of airstrikes targeting Islamic Jihad leaders and over 400 sites in Gaza. On Wednesday, the Islamic Jihad reacted with what it called Operation Revenge of the Free, launching more than 1,500 rockets according to IDF estimates, including on Jerusalem, though many were intercepted by Israeli missile defenses. By the time the two sides agreed to another cease-fire on Sunday, the violence had left 34 Palestinians and one Israeli dead.

However, Sunday’s cease-fire did nothing to bring about any conditions that would pave the way for long-term deescalation. So although this latest episode was the most intense fighting between Israeli and Palestinian factions since 2014, it is unlikely to be the last.

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