What Israel Gained and Lost in a Day of Fighting

On Tuesday, Khader Adnan, a senior member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) awaiting trial in an Israeli jail, succeeded in starving himself to death. Islamic Jihad, with the consent of Hamas, responded by firing some 100 rockets into southwestern Israel. After the IDF carried out retaliatory airstrikes, Egypt brokered a ceasefire, which went into effect on Wednesday morning. Ron Ben-Yishai takes stock:

Hamas . . . seeks to continue to enjoy the income from Gazans working in Israel and funds from Qatar while appearing to its people as an active partner in the Palestinian resistance. But why did Israel not respond more forcefully to over 100 rockets and why is the all-right-wing government doing nothing to restore deterrence along the border?

One possible explanation is that the current focus of the military is on the West Bank and the possible violence that could erupt in the wake of Khader Adnan [dying] in jail. Sooner or later [Israel] will have to launch a major operation in Jenin and Nablus to dissuade, at least temporarily, terror groups from action there. Another explanation is that Israel opted to end the latest cycle fearing the lack of international backing for an Israeli offensive after a prisoner died while in its custody.

The U.S. has been indicating to Jerusalem that it hopes for calm on the Palestinian front, especially in the West Bank, and a major Israeli operation in Gaza or even a significant bombing campaign there would help Palestinians drag Israel to the UN Security Council for condemnations supported by Russia, China, and perhaps even the U.S. Israel would also be required to call up reserve units and keep residents in the south in shelters, while the recent rockets caused little damage to the home front.

Israel’s only substantive gain this time around is that it did not succumb to Adnan’s demands that he be released due to his hunger strike, and [thus] may not be coerced by others in the future.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza Strip, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy