On the night of Jan. 13-14, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) aircraft reportedly bombed “terror targets” in the Gaza Strip. In the morning, it emerged that this was a Hamas attack tunnel, the fourth one to be destroyed in recent months and the most important of its type. This tunnel had strategic potential for a mass terror attack in Israel; it also violated Egyptian sovereignty in the Sinai Peninsula, thus becoming a virtual bomb that could torpedo the Hamas-Egyptian honeymoon as well as Palestinian reconciliation. Meanwhile, the PLO Central Council under President Mahmoud Abbas was supposed to convene in Ramallah in the evening of Jan. 14 in order to draw conclusions from US President Donald Trump’s “Jerusalem proclamation” and then make those conclusions public. Also, Abbas was to officially sign the divorce decree from the Trump administration.
These two events — the tunnel bombing and Palestinian-US crisis — caused much satisfaction in Jerusalem: On the one hand, the peace process is deader than ever. This time, not only is there no partner, but there is also no mediator. On the other hand, the Palestinian reconciliation in the Gaza Strip that worried Israel (and with which Israel was forced to cooperate) is also threatening to collapse. No wonder that the higher-ups in Jerusalem have been showing signs of satisfaction in recent weeks, rubbing their hands with glee. The only problem is that the dead end reached by the Palestinians on both fronts may well beget calamity. The last time this happened was the summer of 2014, when all sides were dragged into the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict (Operation Protective Edge). According to the Israeli defense system, this scenario may well repeat itself.