Given the recent rocket attacks on Israel and the fact that Hamas planned a larger-than-usual mass demonstration at the border fence for last Saturday, there has been ample reason to fear that another military confrontation, like that of 2014, could begin at any moment. The IDF had called up reserve units and prepared them to enter the Strip if necessary. But the protests were far less violent than the weekly riots of the past year, only a few rockets were fired, and Israeli snipers fastidiously held their fire. There has been quiet since. Alex Fishman explains what he refers to as the “Gaza timebomb”:
The Egyptians were able to find a convergence point between Israeli and Hamas interests at least for the next few days, perhaps even until after the April 9 elections. But the detonator is still attached and the charge is still hot. . . . Therefore, the entire army is still on alert in the south, in the north, and in the West Bank. [But] both sides have assumed a gradual process of normalization, which could even be extended—incrementally—to last for more than a year. . . .
In the first stage, Hamas commits itself to stopping the firebombs sent by balloon, the nightly harassment, and the flotillas. The demonstrations can continue, but all the [terrorist] organizations active in the Gaza Strip have promised the Egyptians that they will create a security cordon to prevent demonstrators from reaching the security fence—as was the case on Saturday. It turns out that of the tens of thousands who took part in the demonstrations [that day], almost 20 percent were “stewards” whose job was to prevent the masses from nearing the fence. . . .
As for the “mistaken” firing of long-range rockets into Israel, Hamas has promised the Egyptians—and has already launched—a comprehensive review of the firing locations and to correct all the “mishaps” and check the “procedures.” Failure to do so, the Egyptians declared, would mean settling accounts with [Cairo] after the next so-called mishap, and not with the Israelis.
For its part, Israel committed itself to restoring the border crossings into Gaza to normal operations and to send in fuel in order to restart the electricity turbines in the Strip. . . . Hamas has also been pledged $30 million per month for the next six months [from multiple third parties], which will go toward public works as part of UN projects, and Israel has promised to allow Hamas to export agricultural goods not only to the West Bank but also to Israel and Europe.