Following the mediation efforts of Egypt and UN envoy to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov, as well as declarations of a ceasefire made by the Islamic Jihad, Monday night and Tuesday morning in the south have been quiet.
Still, in keeping with Home Front Command instructions, there will be no studies today at state schools and in colleges in the Gaza envelope communities, as well as in Ashkelon, Sderot and Netivot.
Since the beginning of this escalation, 21 casualties have been treated at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, among them one in moderate condition, 15 in mild condition and five panic victims.
IDF preparedness and alertness continues: the forces that joined the Gaza Division Monday to bolster the protection of the Israeli border communities will remain there. Roads that were blocked Monday were opened to traffic, and the railway line between Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva is operating again.
According to the home front command’s instructions, on Tuesday, work is allowed to resume only in places with easy access to a protected space. No outdoor events are permitted, these must all be conducted inside buildings and are limited to 300 participants.
Which reminds us of the fact that Israel is in the midst of another campaign – the election. In a week (five business days), Israelis will go to the polls. Again. And the latest voter surveys show a total stalemate: 56 seats to the rightwing-Haredi bloc, 56 to the center-left-Arab bloc. Except that now Likud is ahead of Blue&White by a seat (34 to 33), which, alas, is well within the margin of error.
IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi on Monday night addressed the escalation in the south, saying: “I’m not sure I have good news – it is unclear whether the security event is over or still underway, if it’s going to escalate or decline.”
Good to know.
Gaza officials told Kan 11 News that the Islamic Jihad leadership had agreed to a ceasefire on Sunday evening, and ordered its soldiers to cease fire on Monday at midnight, but then came the Israeli attack on Jihad targets near Damascus which killed several Jihad terrorists, and the terror group decided to continue the fire. Now the Islamic Jihad’s military arm has announced that it had completed its response to the Sunday incident at the border, in which its member was killed, as well as the attack in Damascus.
Clearly, they were fearing a massive Israeli response had they not stopped firing – Defense Minister Naftali Bennett would have been only too happy to level a few buildings in Gaza in response to the Jihad rocket barrages during the day Monday.
So the Jihad told the mediators that they had no interest in a new war in Gaza, not before the elections in Israel and not after.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has also been telling the mediators that he wanted to end the escalation in the south quickly. It was the Islamic Jihad that did the shooting over the past two days, but it was Hamas that let them.
Another thing DM Bennett would have to deal with, should he retain his post after the election.