It has now been a week and a half since the latest mini-war between Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) ended in a ceasefire.
However, quiet has not been restored in the border area with Gaza since Hamas apparently has decided to resort to old weapons against Israel and is once again organizing demonstrations along the Gaza border.
The rioters there throw Molotov cocktails at IDF soldiers and set car tires on fire to create toxic clouds of smoke, while Hamas says it is contemplating using incendiary balloons again against southern Israel.
Then there is the still-tense situation in Judea and Samaria, where violent incidents, such as shootings and car-ramming attacks remain a daily occurrence.
The IDF, from its side, continues imperturbably with “Operation Wave Breaker,” which began in April 2022 after a series of terror attacks in Israeli cities.
This operation aims to contain the expansion of Hamas and PIJ in Judea and Samaria, where the groups receive weapons and funding from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran, by its own admission.
The Gaza-based terror organization stepped up pressure on Israel ahead of the celebratory march from the center of Jerusalem to the Temple Mount in the Old City.
The terror group again warned against the “desecration” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and also demanded, you won’t believe this, “compensation” from Israel for its decision not to participate in the recent war against PIJ in Gaza.
It wanted Israel to lift most of the restrictions on Gaza and also demanded more work permits for the Arabs in the southern enclave.
Of course, the government in Jerusalem did not comply with these demands because that would still give the terrorist organizations in Gaza a victory.
Before looking at the situation in Judea and Samaria, a few more comments about Operation Shield and Arrow.
During that operation, the IDF took preemptive action against a terrorist movement for the first time in more than 10 years.
The planned assassination of three PIJ commanders at the start of the second confrontation with the Iran-sponsored terror organization took less than a minute, newly published data showed.
This opening move by the Israel Air Force was planned well ahead of the operation and it once again deprived the PIJ of its top military leaders.
The same happened in August 2022, when the IDF also liquidated the top commanders of PIJ.
The attacks on the buildings where the three PIJ commanders were hiding testified to thorough preparation.
The Israel Air Force used for the first time in Gaza F-35 stealth fighter planes that fired small guided missiles that only destroyed the apartments of the PIJ commanders, not the rest of the building.
After that, 12 strategically important targets were destroyed within a short time, among them weapons depots and an underground missile factory.
The preemptive nature of the first surprise attack on the PIJ leadership, and the series of precision strikes that followed, were meant to demoralize PIJ and should restore Israeli deterrence.
The question, however, is whether the latter goal was attained.
Those who follow the whole situation see that the terrorist organizations that threaten Israel are becoming increasingly fanatical.
This fanaticism is fueled not only by unbridled hatred of the Jewish state, but also by the hopeless situation that Hamas, PIJ and the Palestinian Authority have created in the areas they control.
In Gaza, for example, almost half of the working population is unemployed and has to survive on donations of $100 paid monthly by the Arab Gulf state of Qatar.
In Judea and Samaria, the situation is somewhat better with just over 13 percent of the population unemployed. Hebron and Jenin have the highest rate of unemployment, almost 17 percent, while the minimum wage is only $500 in the Palestinian Authority.
From here it is easy to understand that this situation is an ideal breeding ground for Palestinian terrorist organizations and for recruiting additional terrorists.
Then there is Hezbollah in Lebanon, which also got involved in the tensions leading up to Jerusalem Day.
The Lebanese terror organization also threatened renewed attacks on targets in Israel if the Jerusalem Day flag march went ahead, but those attacks never came.
On Sunday, however, Hezbollah held its first open military drill along the border with Israel.
The troops, among them the elite Radwan unit, carried missiles and rocket launchers with them and showed the invited press their ability to destroy Israeli flags and to jump through burning hoops.
UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in the border area, should have prevented Hezbollah’s exercise, according to UN Security Council resolution 1701, but remained, as usual, passive.
One might wonder: What is the Israeli government doing against all these threats?
In addition to showing military superiority, as was the case in Gaza, there is a psychological war going on the purpose of which is to demonstrate that Israel is a strong and sovereign state that will not be messed with.
For example, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Israeli Minister of Internal Security, decided to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem again.
Early Sunday morning, the minister went to the holy site where once the two Jewish Temples stood, and stated: “I am happy to be on the Temple Mount, the most important place for the people of Israel.”
He then warned: “All the threats from Hamas will not change anything, we own Jerusalem and the whole Land of Israel.”
It was no coincidence that on the same day, Ben-Gvir’s fellow faction member Betzalel Smotrich instructed the Treasury staff to find funds for the absorption of an additional 500,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria.
Smotrich also lifted a ban on Israelis entering northern Samaria, a ban that was imposed in 2005 during the destruction of Jewish villages in Gaza and northern Samaria under the so-called “disengagement law.”
Then there was Economy Minister Nir Barkat, who said in an interview with Channel 14 that the IDF should now attack Iran.
The former mayor of Jerusalem drew a comparison to what the United States did to the former Soviet Union during the so-called Bay of Pigs crisis in Cuba in 1962.
Just as the US then held the Soviet Union responsible for this missile crisis, Israel must now deal in the same way with Iran, said Barkat.
The purpose of all these actions is clear, they intend to deliver a message to the enemy: Israel will not be intimidated by Palestinian terrorists and the rogue regime in Tehran.
The question remains, however, whether this message will be understood by the various terrorist groups and Khamenei’s regime in Iran.
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