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Can Israel stop Hamas, Islamic Jihad arms race?

The latest round of violence showed Israel that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have each an impressive arsenal of rockets and improved abilities to use them.
Streaks of light are pictured as rockets are launched from the  Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from the Israeli side of the border March 25, 2019 REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RC1BAFEB0A50
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The Israeli security echelon believes that an arrangement with Hamas would guarantee that the recently agreed-on cease-fire would be upheld. According to publications, Israel and Hamas agreed May 6 to end the fatal round of escalation of the past weekend. At the Cabinet meeting at noon May 5, after more than 400 rockets had been fired into Israel that day (over 650 rockets were fired in less than 48 hours), the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reprised the same old song that the fire must be contained. In other words, the IDF was saying that Israel should indeed strike back, but wisely, in order not to break the rules of the game. The IDF estimates that without an advance in reaching an arrangement, any quiet or cease-fire would last mere days or weeks until the next round, which would likely be more severe and more fatal.

But, and it’s a big but, this last conflict with Gaza, which was the most fatal since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, created serious doubts among those in Israel who believe that improving Gaza’s economy would ensure against the next war. It seems that every time, there’s another reason or even a misunderstanding that drags the two sides to an armed conflict, even unwillingly. And in the meantime, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad continue in their arms race, stockpile more rockets more powerful than the previous ones and challenge the Iron Dome missile defense system with massive fire. This time, too, Hamas and Israel did not plan on a violent round of fire and certainly not a war, but we can assume that if not for the Eurovision song contest that is to take place in Tel Aviv next week and Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day events on May 8 and May 9 the picture would look different.

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