IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Ran Kochav on Thursday morni9ng told Reshet Bet radio that “Gaza is the stable point at this time, despite the rocket last night and the significant retaliation attack the morning. Deterrence since operation Guardian of the Walls is working. This has been the quietest year in the Gaza Strip in the past 15 years.”
Meanwhile, the clashes on the Temple Mount continued as they have done every morning during the Passover holiday. PA media reported that Thursday morning, security forces entered the Temple Mount and locked worshipers in one of the mosques. Videos showed the forces using riot dispersing means and the Muslims firing fireworks at them. Seven suspects, residents of eastern Jerusalem, were arrested on suspicion of throwing Molotov cocktails from the Al-Aqsa Mosque at security forces on Wednesday. They were arrested after leaving the Temple Mount compound, and on Thursday Police will ask for their remand to detention.
The disturbances continue while the groups of Jewish visitors are ascending the holy compound.
According to Brig. Gen. Kochav, “the IDF carried out the most significant attack since Guardian of the Walls. We attacked a Hamas underground facility, inflicting enormous damage to their production capacity of rocket engines, as well as a warehouse of shoulder-fired missiles.”
As to the red alerts during the night in the Israeli Gaza envelope communities, the spokesman suggested they had been caused by machine-gun rounds that were perceived as rockets and activated the warning systems, “causing an unnecessary commotion to the residents of the envelope.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday made a similar point but used the relative quiet in Gaza under his rule to draw a distinction between his and his predecessor’s policy regarding the Strip and the terrorists who lurk there. He began, “The most significant enemy is Hamas – Netanyahu started with the suitcases of dollars, we stopped them.”
The reference was to financial support extended by the Qatari Committee for the Rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, beginning in 2018, during the tenure of the fourth Netanyahu government, and financial grants from Qatar were transferred to the Gaza Strip with the approval of the State of Israel. The money was transferred in beats, and in each beat, between $15 and $40 million in cash were transferred in suitcases. In May 2019, immediately after 700 rockets had been fired at Israel and four Israeli civilians had been killed, the Netanyahu government approved the transfer of $180 million in cash to the Gaza Strip. This policy was criticized by the right and left.
The reason the Qataris delivered their grants in suitcases full of cash had to do with the fact that Hamas is on every blacklist on the planet so that any bank––including those in Gaza––that would cash their checks would be cast off the international banking system.
In July 2021, the Bennett government announced it would no longer permit the transfer of Qatari cash in suitcases to Gaza but would seek an alternative mechanism. In August 2021, it was reported that Qatari envoy Muhammad al-Madi had reached an agreement with the Palestinian Authority to resume the flow of Qatari dollars into the Gaza Strip through Ramallah. Eventually, this mechanism started to work and Hamas government officials together with the needy residents of the Gaza Strip received their money. Israel was not a party to the agreement.
Bennett then took a ride on Netanyahu’s record in dealing with Gaza violence. “When they fly an incendiary balloon or a rocket, we bomb,” he said. “Originally, there was a failed policy of restraint in the face of 13,000 rockets that were shot at the residents of the south.”
But none of that bragging did anything to correct Bennett’s tarnished image on the right. One of the key beneficiaries of the year of quiet near the Gaza Strip, Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, told Reshet Bet, “I turned off the radio yesterday when I heard Naftali Bennett. Abbas and Ra’am set the conditions on the Temple Mount. Hamas holds the residents of Sderot hostage and pays no price for it. The Israeli government defines the hoisting of a flag in Jerusalem as a provocation, so it’s no wonder that we in Sderot pay seven times the price.”
Which stands to show you that Jerusalem, or rather who is the sovereign in Jerusalem, most poignantly the Temple Mount and the Old City, matters to Jews and Arabs in the south much more than the industrial peace the Bennett government has bought for the price of concessions to the Muslims.