This past week there was an increase in the level of violence from the Gaza Strip.

During the “return march” events and in the days afterwards there were attempts to break through the security fence and infiltrate into Israeli territory; an IED was launched into Israeli territory attached to a cluster of balloons; a rocket was launched at the southern Israeli city of Ashqelon. The IDF responded with attacks on Hamas targets.

The increase in tension on the ground was accompanied by Hamas complaints about the freezing of the third payment of money from Qatar and threats that if the funds did not reach the Gaza Strip by the end of the week they would gradually return to activity [i.e., violence] on the Israel border, which would peak the following Friday (Hezbollahaffiliated al-Akhbar, Lebanon, January 8, 2019).

Meanwhile, tensions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) reached a new high: there were mass detentions by Hamas of Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip; the PA personnel at the Rafah Crossing were evacuated and operatives of Hamas’ security forces replaced them; the offices of the PA television station in Gaza City were raided and vandalized, and workers were assaulted (senior Fatah and PA figures accused Hamas). The tension may increase Hamas’ motivation to raise the level of violence against Israel.

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