Since 30th March Hamas has been orchestrating large-scale violence on the border between Gaza and Israel. The major flare-ups have generally occurred on Fridays, following mosque prayers, when we have repeatedly seen concerted action involving crowds of up to 40,000 people in five separate areas along the border. Violence and aggressive actions, including specific acts of terrorism involving explosives and firearms, have also occurred at other times during this period.
A Perfect Storm
Hamas intend to continue this violence until the 14th or 15th of May 2018. The 15th is the date they will commemorate as the 70th anniversary of ‘Nakba’ Day – ‘Castastrophe’ Day, the day after Israel’s declaration of statehood. There is however speculation that an upsurge in violence is now planned for the 14th, coinciding with the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. It is expected that the violence will reach a culminating point of intensity on one or both of those days, which, as well as coinciding with Nakba Day and the embassy opening, are also at the start of the Islamic month of Ramadan, when violence usually increases in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Hamas is currently planning to mobilise up to 200,000 people to the Gaza border, which — if it materialises — will be well over twice the maximum number seen previously. Hamas will also be determined to incite greater violence than ever before, and to make significant penetrations of the border fence. In the face of such efforts it is likely that there will be very high casualty figures among Palestinians.
In addition to the border area, there are Palestinian plans for significant violence elsewhere around this time including in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Although 15th May was originally intended as the culmination of six weeks’ violence on the Gaza border, Palestinians have recently declared an intent to maintain their aggression at the border throughout the month of Ramadan.