Last week, it seemed that the ongoing attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip were finally winding down, as Egypt seemed close to brokering a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. But the weekly demonstration at the Gaza border fence again turned into a deadly riot, and IDF border guards returned fire, killing five. Islamic Jihad, a Gaza-based and Iran-backed terrorist group, then responded by launching a barrage of rockets at Israeli town and villages—to which Jerusalem responded with some 80 airstrikes on Hamas military installations in the Strip. Now calm has returned. Yoni Ben Menachem argues that Iran was directly responsible for the attacks:
Iran is bankrolling all the activities of Islamic Jihad in Gaza and the West Bank and providing it with new weapons. Islamic Jihad is the second-largest organization in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, and there is a very high level of coordination between both groups. According to sources in Gaza, [the group’s leader], Ziad Nahlah, received instructions from Iran to sabotage the understandings with Egypt. . . . Additionally, on a personal level, he is angry with the leaders of Egyptian intelligence because they ignored his new initiative for internal Palestinian reconciliation, and for this reason he is not participating in the talks on reducing hostilities with Israel. . . .
[Another] reason for Iran ordering Islamic Jihad to escalate the situation in Gaza is connected to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Oman on October 26. The Iranians are concerned that Oman will mediate between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and will help President Trump implement his new diplomatic plan for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. . . .
Iran intends to drag Israel into an extensive military conflict in the Gaza Strip through provocations from Islamic Jihad, thus burying any chance of Omani mediation in the political process and keeping the IDF and Israeli air force occupied on the southern front instead of in the north, where Iran is building its military presence in Syria.