Tags: israel | islamic jihad | hamas

Israel's Fight With Islamic Jihad Differs from Past Conflict With Hamas

Israel's Fight With Islamic Jihad Differs from Past Conflict With Hamas

Israeli firefighter trucks douse a burning factory in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, after it was reportedly hit with rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on November 12, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images)

By Thursday, 14 November 2019 04:37 PM Current | Bio | Archive

For two days, almost exactly 48 hours, intense conflict enveloped Israel and Islamic Jihad.

This conflict, emanating out of Gaza, was not cut of the same cloth as the many previous conflicts that erupt in this area of the Middle East. This conflict was unique in many ways.

Most significantly, the conflict pit Islamic Jihad directly against Israel. Islamic Jihad — not Hamas. And while they are both documented terrorist organizations, and while they both headquarter out of Gaza, they are not the same. This time, Hamas stood on the sidelines. While they tried to present the image of supporting Islamic Jihad — their words were sparse and there was no action, no call to arms, no military engagement against Israel, their sworn mutual enemy.

Actually, Hamas is pleased with the existing ceasefire they brokered with Israel and that has been in place since May. They did not sanction Islamic Jihad's attacks against Israel and Israel recognized that. As a result, Israel did not hold Hamas responsible for Islamic Jihad's actions and attacks even though, in an effort to display unity, Hamas and Islamic Jihad released a joint statement. In the statement they claimed that they are united. But it is not true. Their statement read: "We will not accept efforts by the occupation to resume their cowardly policy of targeted killings." That was simply window dressing, and a rather limp declaration.

Neither party, not Israel and not Islamic Jihad, wanted an escalation in hostility. They did what they did because it was required. Israel successfully targeted their senior operative and commander, the mastermind behind multiple attacks against Israel and Israelis and Islamic Jihad responded with a barrage of missiles. Hamas certainly did not want the situation to be prolonged or more involved and intense, evidenced by their decision to steer clear of the fray. Islamic Jihad needed to save face and hit back at Israel, and even they were stunned and awed by the precise, surgical targeting of Israel.

Not many militaries can hit a target asleep, in bed, inside their home, and take out only the intended target and his wife.

Israel's subsequent strikes were as surgical as their first strike. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) has become adept at taking out above-ground Islamic Jihad rockets. Even their targeting of Chief Islamic Jihad Commanderal Atta was confirmed with a drone that was literally able to see him and confirm that it was he who was asleep in his bed with his wife before launching their strike.

Hamas does not control Islamic Jihad. While Hamas is in charge of Gaza, Islamic Jihad is a private organization of about 8,000. They are funded and beholden to Iran. They want an Islamic state in all of Palestine.

And Hamas smiled to themselves — better yet, smirked — as Israel took Islamic Jihad down a few notches. In the course of 48 hours, Islamic Jihad's missile and rocket depots were either depleted or destroyed. Islamic Jihad launched well over 450 rockets into Israel in a 48 hour period. That averages out to nearly 10 per hour — one rocket every 360 seconds. That's what happens when you shoot so very many rockets in such quick succession. Of course, Iran will pay to refresh Islamic Jihad's supply caches, but building new rockets takes time.

Islamic Jihad is unpredictable. Targeting their leader saved Israeli lives — never doubt that. And the aftermath was predictable. But now the status quo and quiet will resume. Thankfully, despite the vast number of missiles hurtling into Israel, and while there was property damage, no Israelis were killed. 32 Palestinians died. Israel maintains that almost all were terrorists.

And there's a reason for that.

Throughout this conflict, Islamic Jihad committed two critical international war crimes.

Number one, they hid their weapons amongst civilians.

Number two, they aimed and shot their weapons at civilians. And as if that wasn't enough, Islamic Jihad also threatened the international diplomats who were delivering messages from Israel. The threats were two-fold. Intermediaries could get hurt because they were in the way and they could be hurt because they were delivering messages from Israel. Egypt, in large part responsible for brokering the cease fire both sides badly wanted and needed, persisted nevertheless.

The military exchange started on Tuesday and ended on Thursday. The cease fire between Islamic Jihad and Israel went into effect early Thursday morning at 5:30 a.m. Not surprisingly, as has become the custom, air raid sirens and rockets attacks persisted even after the cut off time.

It's over, technically, but it's never really over between Islamic Jihad and Israel.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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For two days, almost exactly 48 hours, intense conflict enveloped Israel and Islamic Jihad.
israel, islamic jihad, hamas
Thursday, 14 November 2019 04:37 PM
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