Why Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are fighting again – Washington Examiner

Posted By on August 6, 2022

Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad began a new conflict on Friday, following Israel's arrest of the group's senior West Bank commander earlier this week and killing of a senior PIJ commander, Tayseer Jabari, on Friday.

The PIJ has fired more than a hundred rockets at Israel, warning it has "no red lines." In turn, Israeli forces launched retaliatory airstrikes against PIJ facilities and personnel in Gaza. Both sides are blaming each other for the new round of violence. But the major cause of this escalation is the PIJ's plotting to conduct a new round of terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. Facing a tight election on Nov. 1, Prime Minister Yair Lapid's caretaker government has evidently decided to take a robust stance against the PIJ's threat. Israel is also concerned that the PIJ may be able to conduct longer-range rocket strikes against Tel Aviv, which the group has explicitly threatened, if Israel does not aggressively target the PIJ's rocket apparatus. But if the rocket fire from Gaza is the urgent threat, the Israeli security establishment is also interested in sending a message to Tehran.

Funded, armed, and heavily influenced by Iran, the PIJ is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's primary conduit to the Palestinian cause and a key means of Iran's covert war on Israel. The PIJ has escalated its preparations for attacks in recent months, including with increased influence and activity in the West Bank. But Iran's role looms large. Evincing as much, PIJ leader Ziad Nakhaleh is currently holding multiday consultations in Tehran. On Friday, Nakhaleh described the current conflict as "a test for all parts of the resistance" and pledged that his group is "going into battle. There are no ceasefires after an attack." Considering the escalating concerns in Israel over a possible Iranian breakout toward developing a nuclear weapon, it is a consensus viewpoint on the part of the Israeli security establishment that Iran must be actively deterred. Also noteworthy in this regard are the growing tensions between the Lebanese Hezbollah and Israel over energy development in the Mediterranean Sea.

Top line: We should expect this new conflict to continue for at least for a few days until Israel believes it has effectively restored deterrence. That said, Iran's influence on the PIJ may mean that the group decides to continue fighting even as the costs on its capabilities and Palestinian civilian infrastructure escalate.

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Why Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are fighting again - Washington Examiner

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