Israel and Hamas have both agreed to end hostilities on the border, bringing some hope that this brief moment of peace could last after months of conflict which had escalated to dangerous levels over the last few days, according to the New York Times.
Hamas and Israel claimed that their respective side had been able to deter the other from engaging in further conflict, easing fears that the exchange of fire would spiral up to a broader conflict. Israeli officials indicated that the government is willing not to strike any more targets on the Palestinian territory unless Hamas initiated another round of mortar shell attacks.
According to the report, the announcement came after a dire escalation in the conflict, which was the fiercest exchange of fire since the 50-day war in the summer of 2014. As many as 120 Palestinians have died since March 30 — half of the casualties happening on a single day on May 14 when Israel used snipers to gun down a number of protesters who had mobilized for the Great Return March. It was organized to challenge an 11-year blockade of Gaza by Israel, with protesters claiming that Israel had taken Palestinian lands on the border by force and declared them part of the Israeli national territory.
It appears that Israel and Hamas both calibrated their attacks with the intention not to further the conflict in a major way. Although Israel bombed 65 coastal military bases of Hamas on Palestinian coastal territory, the attacks were made on unmanned facilities. Similarly, the mortar shell attacks and short-range missiles fired by Gaza were done in southern Israel, avoiding major population centers and therefore any casualties. Experts claim that both sides see another war as being deeply detrimental to the region’s stability on the whole.
The 2014 ceasefire was brokered by Egypt, and Hamas claimed that Israel had broken the “Rules of Engagement” early this year by “bombing targets in the Gaza Strip such as attack tunnels leading to Israel, or by launching the deadly strike against the Islamic Jihad post over the weekend.”
But now Hamas believes that it has been able to successfully deter Israel from launching further attacks, which is what the Israeli believe about Hamas. Yossi Kuperwasser, a former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said that it is in the interest of Hamas not to make any aggressive moves against Israel, and its government has only stopped going on the affront against the militant group because the latter has reached the conclusion on its own.
“At end of day, we have taken some very effective strikes against the positions and elements of the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” he said, adding, “[that] has led the terror organizations to conclude that it is against their interest to continue at this point in time.”