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Israel’s early elections could trigger new Gaza violence

With early elections approaching in Israel, Hamas is wary of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu withdrawing from the Gaza arrangement and might opt for another wave of violence.
Palestinians survey the scene of an Israeli airstrike at a Hamas outpost in the central Gaza Strip October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa - RC1FBD3435D0
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The Gaza-Israeli border has been relatively calm for the past seven weeks, but the quiet appears about to end. Over the weekend of Dec. 21-22, four young Palestinian protesters were killed in clashes with Israeli troops along the border and Hamas' military leadership held back from responding. During last month's violence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exercised restraint after hundreds of rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, his sights set on the planned operation to expose and block the Hezbollah tunnels on Israel’s northern border. Despite domestic criticism of his decision on Gaza, Netanyahu decided to give the arrangement with Hamas a chance. Given the tensions in the south of Israel and the complex set of clashing interests there, Hamas and Israel are occasionally forced to restrain themselves, not always successfully.

Back in Jerusalem Dec. 26, the Knesset voted to disband and the next elections were pushed up from November 2019 to April 9. The Hamas leadership understands that the cease-fire arrangement reached with Israel in November could collapse if a campaigning Netanyahu faces heavy election pressure on the issue. The Israeli political system might not accept Netanyahu conducting business as usual with Hamas. The organization is therefore preparing to challenge Netanyahu so that he does not renege on the deal that has already yielded a series of achievements for them.

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