The occasional tensions and violence between Israel and Palestine transferred to a new dimension this year on Jerusalem day in May.
Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim): Some Jewish groups in Israel celebrate the anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel occupied East Jerusalem according to the Hebrew calendar, as Jerusalem Day.
Groups formed by these people made raid calls at the Masjid/al-Aqsa Mosque on the occasion of the “Jerusalem day”, which falls on 9-10 May this year. The fact that Jerusalem Day took place this year in the month of Ramadan, which is considered sacred by Muslims made the Palestinian people more sensitive to these actions of Jewish groups and were perceived as provocative acts by them.
Another reason why the tension so severe between the two sides is that Israel tried to evict Palestinian families living in the Sheikh Jarrah region of East Jerusalem from their homes and there were altercations between the two sides.
Sheikh Jarrah: Located north of Jerusalem’s Old City, the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood is named after the personal physician of Saladin, the Muslim general who captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders.
While Palestinian families stated that they bought their houses from Jordanian authorities who controlled the region before 1967, the Israelis argue that these houses were occupied by Palestinians after the war in 1948.
Finally, it is necessary to evaluate the developments in terms of the Palestinian elections planned to be held on May 22, 2021, and the results of the Israeli elections in March. In the last Palestinian elections held in 2006, voting was carried out in all Palestinian regions, including East Jerusalem, and therefore, in the new process too, an application was made to the Israeli authorities to hold elections in East Jerusalem. Failure to respond to the applications by Israel has prevented nearly 400 thousand Palestinian citizens living in East Jerusalem from participating in the elections and created a new issue of tension between the two sides. Israel finally held early general elections on March 23, 2021, but a new government has not yet been formed. For this reason, it can be said that the recent developments have evoked the perception in the international public opinion that right-wing actors and politicians led by Netanyahu are trying to occupy the agenda of Israel, which is in the process of establishing a new government, with Palestinian issues.
With the intensification of tensions, Israel has been carrying out various air and land attacks on the Gaza Strip since May 10. After the Israeli police did not retreat from Masjid al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah, many rockets were launched into Israel by Hamas. Thereupon, the Israeli army announced that a military operation called “Guardian of the Walls” was launched against the Gaza Strip. According to the information from the Ministry of Health of Gaza, 232 people, 65 of whom were children, lost their lives and 1530 people were injured in the attacks on the Gaza Strip, which has been under blockade since May 10. In a written statement made by the Municipality of Gaza, it was stated that Israel “deliberately targeted the vital streets and intersections in the city”. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel’s attacks on Gaza so far are “just the beginning”.
How are the air attack systems of the two countries working?
Hamas is using the “Ayyash-250” missile against Israel. The Ayyash rocket takes its name from Yahya Ayyash, the leading commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, who died as a result of the assassination in 1996. It is said that the missiles produced by Hamas under the conditions of the embargo reached a distance of 250 km for the first time in the south of Palestine. Although these missiles are not new, they are generally known to have a wider range and a larger explosive carrying capacity. It is known that among the missiles owned by Hamas, Qassam is effective up to 10 km, Grad and Sejil are effective up to 55 km and that M-302s can reach a range of 250 km. One of the most important parts of these missiles is the surface-to-surface missiles. These missiles are thought to have been brought to Gaza from tunnels in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
The “Iron Dome” developed by Israel is an air defense system that has been used for about 10 years. Developed by defense company Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industry, the system is produced in a facility in northern Israel. Half of the system components are produced in the USA with the financial support received from the USA to be able to mass production. The Iron Dome is designed to work both day and night, in all weather conditions. Thanks to the radar system that detects the threat, it is determined to what extent the rocket poses a threat. Then, if the rocket is fired towards settlements or important infrastructure facilities, it sends an opposing missile to destroy it. Since these missiles can be fired from mobile units or fixed points, they can destroy the incoming rocket in the air. Although Iron Dome is good at destroying most rockets, it cannot destroy all of them at the same time. The successive firing of the defense missiles used by Hamas exhausts the system of the Iron Dome so that some missiles can break through the shield.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the cost of production of short-range rockets fired from Gaza varies between $ 300 and $ 800, while this figure is doubled or tripled for long-range rockets. It costs 50 to 100 thousand dollars for Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system to destroy each rocket fired from Gaza.
NOTE: After 11 days, it was announced that a ceasefire decision was made between the parties. In the Israeli press, it was claimed that the ceasefire will begin tonight (Friday) at 02:00 local time. How applicable the ceasefire decision will be determined in the coming days.
Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this analysis are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MEPEI. Any content provided by our authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.
About the author:
Ms. Erva Nur KÖK is a final year student at the International Relations Department at Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Turkey. Erva’s academic interests are the Middle East region, war studies, human rights, and international law. She wants to study for a master's degree in the field of International Law and Human rights. She is a junior researcher at the Middle East Research Center of Ariel University. Erva has also been writing and managing EU projects for a few years, performing volunteer works at various foundations and associations.