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Israeli 'Deterrence' Strategy in Gaza Unlikely to Bring Stability

The recent clash between Israel and Palestinian groups suggests that the conclusions on deterrence drawn from Israel’s 2012 campaign in Gaza were flawed, writes Jean-Loup Samaan.
Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City November 18, 2012. Israel bombed militant targets in Gaza for a fifth straight day on Sunday, launching aerial and naval attacks as its military prepared for a possible ground invasion, though Egypt saw "some indications" of a truce ahead.  REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (GAZA - Tags: CONFLICT) - RTR3AJTN

On April 2, the Israeli Air Force launched an air strike on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the firing of three mortar shells into the western Negev. The Israeli fighters attacked two targets near Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza. In response to the IAF’s operations, two rockets were then launched by Palestinian militants into the southern town of Sderot. After this short round of violence, both sides appeared to opt for de-escalation.

This new clash occurred just two weeks after US President Obama’s visit to Israel and Palestine, which had already been marked by the firing of four rockets into Israel. Moreover, the Israeli military response of April 2 was the first strike since the declaration of a truce that ended the Operation Pillar of Defense last November. Although it is difficult to establish an explicit linkage, these skirmishes occurred in the midst of increasing tension in Palestinian territories over the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh. A Palestinian prisoner sentenced to life in 2002 for attempted murder, Maysara died of cancer in Israeli jails, and Palestinian claims of medical negligence have triggered widespread protests in the West Bank and Gaza. But beyond these tensions, the last round of fire between the Israelis and the Palestinians underlines some important lessons that had been ignored, or downplayed, back in November in the aftermath of Pillar of Defense.

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